First Published: 2018-01-12

New life in Mosul as scars of IS rule begin to fade
In districts of Iraq's second city not left totally devastated by ferocious fighting to oust jihadists, life is buzzing with more vibrancy than ever.
Middle East Online

Girls walk towards ceremony for re-opening of the Bab al-Saray market in old city of Mosul.

MOSUL - Even before the Islamic State group took over her home city of Mosul, Iraqi 31-year-old Nesrine never imagined she would have a job working late into the evening at a fashion boutique.

But now, in districts of Iraq's second city not left totally devastated by the ferocious fighting to oust the jihadists, life is buzzing again -- with more vibrancy than ever.

"We have experienced depression, hunger, ruin and oppression. It is a miracle that we are still alive," Nesrine said.

"We went through a long nightmare and now we have woken up transformed."

Nesrine is employed at a gleaming new clothing shop that has opened up on the east bank of the river Tigris -- liberated from IS months before the group's final defeat in western districts six months ago -- selling skinny jeans and colourful tops from Turkey.

As pop music blares from loud speakers, she works alongside male colleagues advising customers lured in during a late-evening stroll by images of fashion models.

In the shop window, a mannequin wearing an above-the-knee skirt is on display.

- 'Unimaginable' -

Mosul has long had a reputation as a bedrock of conservatism and became a hub for Sunni jihadists after the US-led ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

But when IS seized control as it swept across northern Iraq in 2014 the group imposed a radical interpretation of Islamic law far more severe than anything residents had known before.

"If a boy and a girl were discovered together then they risked being executed," said Rahma, 21.

Now Mosul University where she studies English is busy with groups of boys with gelled up hair and girls wearing colourful headscarves.

Even before the arrival of IS it was "unimaginable" for girls to get a job outside the home working alongside men, unless it was in a staid public administration office, she said.

- 'Lost in a desert' -

Ziad Dabbagh has just opened up a restaurant to give people somewhere else to go in the commercial neighbourhood of al-Zuhur.

"People in Mosul used to go to other provinces of Iraq to go out," the entrepeneur said.

Families dine and young men sip tea on the terraces and in the dining hall.

"It was as if we were lost in the middle of a desert, cut off from everything," said Roua al-Malah, 34, who was out with her family.

"And now all at once we have rediscovered that we can have a good time."

Behind a green glass door men sip brightly coloured fruit juice in the neighbouring building as they play cards and billiards amid a cloud of smoke from hookah pipes.

Owner Mazen Aziz opened up in May even as fierce fighting was still raging across the river in Mosul's Old City, which is still a deserted ghost town today.

His billiard club with its smoking, card playing and loud music would have been a prime target for the jihadists who dominated the city for a decade.

"For years in Mosul, after six in the evening there was no one in the streets. Now I can head home at two or three in the morning without fear," he said.

"A new life is beginning."


Saudi to carry out nuclear power deal with or without US

Egyptians prepare to vote with Sisi reelection guaranteed

Israel ministers welcome US appointment of 'friend' Bolton

Iran slams US sanctions over hacking scheme

Exiled Syrian doctors treat refugees in Turkey

Mother Courage: Iraqi widow who saved recruits from slaughter

Quick victory unlikely in Egypt assault on IS

Sisi, Egypt's undisputed leader and 'father figure'

PKK to quit northwest Iraq after Turkish threat

Iraqi asylum seeker gets life sentence for London bombing

UK says Israeli sentencing of Palestinian teenage girl "emblematic"

Sarkozy vows to clear name in Libya probe

Syria announces second evacuation deal for rebel-held Eastern Ghouta.

Three dead after suspected IS gunman takes hostages in France

170,000 flee violence in Syria's Afrin

Norway proposes bill to ban full-face veils in education

Turkey says EU statements on Cyprus 'unacceptable'

Air strikes hit Ghouta despite rebel ceasefire effort

US approves $1 billion in Saudi defence contracts

In world first, flight to Israel crosses Saudi airspace

Saudi, US must pursue 'urgent efforts' for Yemen peace: Mattis

US, Jordan launch new counterterrorism training centre

Turkey’s largest media group to be sold to Erdogan ally

Rebels evacuate Syria's Eastern Ghouta

Two Hamas security force members killed in raid on bomb suspect

Turkey gives watchdog power to block internet broadcasts

EU leaders to condemn Turkey’s ‘illegal’ actions in Mediterranean

Sarkozy says life ‘living hell’ since corruption allegations

Hezbollah leader says debt threatens Lebanon disaster

Ahed Tamimi reaches plea deal for eight months in jail

UN launching final push to salvage Libya political agreement

Conditions for displaced from Syria's Ghouta 'tragic': UN

Sisi urges Egyptians to vote, denies excluding rivals

Rights Watch says Libya not ready for elections

Saudis revamp school curriculum to combat Muslim Brotherhood

American mother trapped in Syria’s Ghouta calls out Trump

Syria workers say French firm abandoned them to jihadists

Grim Nowruz for Kurds fleeing Afrin

Sarkozy back in custody for second day of questioning

'Saudization' taking its toll on salesmen

Syrian rebels reach evacuation deal in Eastern Ghouta town

Israel confirms it hit suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007

UN says Turkey security measures 'curtail human rights'

Netanyahu says African migrants threaten Jewish majority

US Senate votes on involvement in Yemen war as Saudi prince visits