Chai with the Marsh Arab
Chai with the Marsh Arab

The oil rich area of Southern Iraq is normally associated with arid desert.

But a short drive from the bare infertile plains, which contain the huge oils fields, lies an incredible wetland ecosystem called the Iraqi Marshes.

The area, supplied by its water from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, was originally 20,000 km2, but under the presidency of Saddam Hussain – in an attempt to find more oil and reprisals for uprising by its Shi’a inhabitants – is now only 10% of its original size.

Reed House with a B6, GMC parked outside
Reed House with a B6, GMC parked outside

The hospitality of the indigenous peoples that I meet on my travels never ceases to amaze me, and this was no exception.

The Marsh Arabs’ willingness to share their food and meagre provisions, a true example of their simple but honest way of life.

Not far where I drank my chai, men prepared for battle. Their objective – to kill of be killed.

But for a couple hours that afternoon, I was transported to a bye gone age where customs took precedence over all else.

Marsh Arab meeting hall
Marsh Arab meeting hall

 

The creed of these simple people who’s ancestors – the ancient Sumerians –  had moved the the area  of thousands of years before, to protect their guests no matter what their differences where.

 

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