Quotes: MENA   Enter Symbol: NewsLetter: Search: advanced

Northern Iraq cafe paints history in wall-to-wall photos  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - AFP - 13/05/2014
No. of Ratings : 0
Add to Mixx!



(MENAFN - AFP) Even before speaking with Mam Khalil, it is clear he loves photographs -- they cover almost every inch of his cafe in northern Iraq, providing windows into the country's history.

The pictures on the walls go all the way to the ceiling, overlooking patrons as they sip tea, smoke cigarettes or fill their spoons with mastaw, a yogurt-like dish served in bowls with ice.

Though small and located on a sidestreet in the city's covered market, the cafe is well-known in Arbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, attracting everyone from ordinary citizens to senior politicians.

"I don't love money, but I love photos," says its owner, an ageing man with a thin grey moustache who is known by the affectionate title of "Mam", meaning "uncle" in Kurdish.

Mam Khalil's love affair with pictures began when he was still a young man.

He began collecting them, turning the cafe into a gallery awash with photos that portray Iraq as it moved through monarchy, dictatorship and into its current fragile democracy.

Arbil has also changed significantly since Mam Khalil first began his career -- when he was a youth, there was only the citadel, which still towers over the market, and four neighbourhoods, he says.

But oil money has since transformed it into a sprawling city of gleaming new buildings and modern infrastructure.

Now, there are "better houses, better living conditions, better cars, better streets, better wives," he says with a grin.

Carpet-covered bench seating is built into the walls of the cafe, but it is impossible to sit back in most places without leaning on a photo frame.

And the pictures continue all the way up to the cafe's curved plaster ceiling.

One shows Faisal II, Iraq's last king, who was overthrown in a 1958 coup, inspecting the royal guards.

Another pictures Mulla Mustafa Barzani, a famed Kurdish guerrilla and the father of the current president of Iraqi Kurdistan, standing with a rifle at his side.

And another black-and-white shot shows a smiling, moustachioed Saddam Hussein raising Barzani's hand aloft, a photo likely taken sometime between the conclusion and collapse of a 1970 peace deal between the two sides.

- Providing for his family -

More recent snapshots show Kurdish and Arab politicians who now hold sway in Iraq, some of them photographed during visits to the cafe.

Some photos bear captions, but the people shown in others are known only to Mam Khalil, or lost to history.

Mam Khalil has also collected and framed currency used in Iraq over the years "as a record," the oldest of which he says dates to the Ottoman Empire.

There are also pictures of Mam Khalil himself, including a colour photo taken more than 60 years ago when he was just a boy, his hair black instead of grey, a hint of a smile on his face.

Mam Khalil, dressed in black with a black and white scarf on his head, says he started work at the cafe some seven decades ago.

"My father died in September 1948," he says.

He was a student at the time, but his mother told him that: "Your father has passed away and we have no one to provide a living."

He began working in 1948 before moving to his current cafe a few years later.

He would hang photos on its walls, much to the chagrin of his boss, who "hated it" but let him continue because he worked hard.

But after buying the cafe in 1967, he was free to hang as many photos as the walls could hold.

While he has four children, they will not follow him in running the cafe, Mam Khalil says, though someone else may seek to keep the tradition alive after his death.

When he tires of answering questions, Mam Khalil asks that he be given a print of a photo taken in his cafe that day, another addition to his collection. He then slowly shuffles off to greet newly arrived guests.


 


AFP




  MENA News Headlines
 May 30 2015 - Etihad Airways profits double to USD73m in 2014MENAFN
(MENAFN) Etihad Airways said its profit rose by more than half to USD73 million last year as it carried more passengers and used its stakes in other airlines, Arab News reported.The government-backed ...

 May 30 2015 - Saudi's SAMA net assets down to USD678.8b in AprilMENAFN
(MENAFN) Net foreign assets at Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency fell to USD678.8 billion in April, down by USD11.8 billion or 1.7 percent from March, Arab News reported.Assets dropped 6.8 percent from a ...

 May 30 2015 - Oman to invest USD7b in Indonesia projectMENAFN
(MENAFN) Oman has committed to invest USD7 billion to build oil storage facilities, a petrochemical plant and a refinery in Indonesia, Arab News reported.Oman also agreed to supply crude oil to the ...

 May 30 2015 - Qatar- Preparations for 2022 World Cup to continueThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Qatar yesterday defended its successful bid for the 2022 Fifa World Cup and said it was moving forward with preparations to host the event. Qatar will "cooperate fully with ...

 May 30 2015 - IS seizes control of airport in Libya's Sirte: Tripoli govtThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) The Islamic State jihadist group has seized control of the airport in the city of Sirte after forces of a Tripoli-based Libyan government withdrew, a spokesman said Friday. ...

 May 30 2015 - 4 dead as Saudi 'foils' attack on Shiite mosque: ministryThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) A car blast outside a Saudi mosque during Friday prayers killed four people, including its driver, in an attack that was "foiled" by the authorities, the interior ministry ...

 May 30 2015 - Iraq- 85,000 flee Ramadi since IS capture: UNThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Around 85,000 people have fled Ramadi since the Islamic State group captured the Iraqi provincial capital two weeks ago, the UN said Friday, warning that Iraqi authorities ...

 May 30 2015 - IS bombs second Saudi Shiite mosque, killing 3The Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) An Islamic State jihadist killed three people Friday when he blew himself up in a car outside a Shiite mosque in Saudi Arabia, the second such attack in a week. The bombing, ...

 May 30 2015 - Huthi rebels kill Yemen capital's governor: relativesThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Yemen's Shiite Huthi rebels have killed the capital's governor in clashes that erupted during an attempt to detain him, his relatives said Friday. Sanaa governor Abdulghani ...

 May 30 2015 - Yemen's Saleh says Saudi offered him 'millions' to fight HuthisThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Yemen's ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh said in an interview broadcast Friday he had rejected "millions of dollars" Saudi Arabia offered him if he stood up to the Shiite ...

more...


 






Google

Arab Advisors_12th convergence conf

 
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

MENAFN News Market Data Countries Tools Section  
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network
Arabic MENAFN

Main News
News By Industry
News By Country

Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

Commodoties

Oil & Energy

Currencies Cross Rates
Currencies Updates
Currency Converter

USA Stocks
Arab Stocks
 

Algeria 
Bahrain 
Egypt 
Iraq
Jordan 
Kuwait 
Lebanon
Morocco 
Oman 
Palestine
Qatar 
Saudi Arabia 
Syria
Tunisia 
UAE 
Yemen

Weather
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary


Financial Calculators

RSS Feeds [XML]

Corporate Monitor

Events

Real Estate
Submit Your Property

Arab Research
Buy a Research

Press Releases
Submit your PR

Join Newsletters


 
© 2014 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help