The Power is Now

Baghdad Loses Green Space to Real Estate Boom – The New York Times

Mr. al-Jabouri’s family has been living on the land since his great-grandfather came from Syria in 1841, he said. Some of the neighbors, he said, decided to sell after security forces cut off water to their orchards. While his palm trees remained, the less resilient orange, apple and pear trees have withered from lack of water.

“Agriculture is finished because there is no government support at all,” Mr. al-Jabouri said.

For many Baghdad residents, the gardens are a reminder of a more gracious era before families were scattered by conflict, when children played in greenery and lunch was served outdoors. Around Baghdad’s predominantly low-rise residences, even the most modest homes often had a small garden.

In Adhamiya, one of Baghdad’s oldest neighborhoods, one longtime resident, Nofa Abbas, walked in what was left of her family’s garden, pointing out pink jasmine, lilies, pomegranate, date palm and magnolia trees. As is common in Baghdad, trees were protected from the sun with netting. Some of the palm trees, watered from a well, were planted by her grandfather in the past century, she said.

Adhamiya, with its huge orchards near the Tigris River, was traditionally one of the coolest areas of Baghdad in the summer. The thick eucalyptus and Oriental plane trees that dotted almost every street blocked the dust.

“Even in August, you only needed a fan,” said Ms. Abbas, 54. “This area was five degrees cooler than the rest of Baghdad.”

The orchards have gradually been sold off by family members, many of whom have left the country. Ms. Abbas’s home, once shielded from neighbors by acres of palm trees, is now overshadowed by the concrete wall of a multistory house.

She said at least 70 houses had been built on the orchards her family used to own, many of them with no trees or gardens.

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