BAGHDAD: Baghdad was inaugurated as the 2013 Arab Capital of Culture on Saturday, the latest in a series of steps which officials hope will put Iraq back on the map after decades of conflict.
The ceremony marking the event was held under a massive tent in the Iraqi capital’s Zawraa Park, and featured a choir singing songs and a performance by renowned Iraqi musician Naseer Shamma, as well as speeches by senior Iraqi politicians and Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi.
The events surrounding the Arab Capital of Culture included music and dance performances, photography exhibitions, as well as folk arts and crafts shows.
“Baghdad, which was a source of knowledge for the entire world, is rising again today thanks to the efforts of Iraqis and their Arab brothers,” Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said in a speech.
It is the latest in a series of efforts by Iraq to raise its global profile after three decades of war and sanctions which led to its international isolation, economically as well as culturally.