"Baghdad is Booming"
|"Baghdad is booming," says Mohammed Fadhil Ali, one of three remarkable Ali brothers who oversee the Web log, Iraqthemodel.com. Mohammed and his younger brother Omar came this week to the Journal's offices, their first trip to the States, to discuss Iraq's future.
They were not overwhelmed by New York's holiday crush; Baghdad's population is roughly 5.7 million people. Stores there are overflowing with goods and the streets jammed with shoppers. It appears that the number of cars has doubled in a year. "The middle class is growing," says Omar. After the April 9, 2003, "liberation," Mohammed was determined to photograph every new building in Baghdad. "Now there is a new building in Baghdad every day; I can't count them all." Land and real-estate prices are surging. Most of the investment is coming out of the Arab world, not the West.
They made a couple of other interesting points about Iraq's political mood. One, Iraqis won't vote for a government dominated by Islamist religionists. Why? The abhorred next-door example of Iran's mullahs...