An unparalleled monument to the ageless art of story-telling, the tales of the One Thousand and One Nights have, for many centuries, titillated the imaginations of generations the world over. With her hair flowing down her back, her mouth curved into just the hint of a smile, her bronze hands gesturing gracefully, she spins tales of thieves and sailors and magic lamps for King Shahryar, who reclines in front of her.

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Masgouf is one of the most popular Iraqi dishes – traditionally cooked on the shores of the river Tigris, a seasoned butterflied carp cooked next to an open fire. Originating in the basin of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, grilled fish has been around since the Babylonian times. It’s one of those unique, exotic foods you just have to try in Baghdad.

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Al-Kadhimiya Mosque is a shrine located in the northern neighbourhood of Kadhimiya district in Baghdad on the west bank of river Tigris. It contains the tombs of the seventh Shia’i Imam Musa Al-Kadhim and the ninth Shia’i Imam Muhammad al-Jawad. Also buried within this mosque are the famous historical scholars, Shaikh Mufid and Shaikh Nasir ad-Dīn aṭ-Ṭusi. Due to its special geographical location, Kadhimiya has been considered important and its history is thought to date back before Jesus Christ. This place was then known as Shoneezi, an Arab name meaning the Black Grain.

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Iraqi cuisine has developed over the course of a long and rich history. Pache, a veritable witch’s brew of sheep offal is celebrated as rare delicacy, having its origin in early Mesopotamian civilisation. Another charm that adds on to the wacky tinge of this adventure food is that is made with a Sheep’s (or goat’s or lamb’s) head, the stomach and its hooves (cleaned and processed under sanitary measures) boiled slowly, mashed up and served with khubz (flatbread) sunken in hot, watery and oily broth.

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Nowruz is a Farsi word, with “Now-” meaning new, and “-ruz” meaning “morning light” signifying the coming of a new day. Nowruz originates from ancient Zoroastrian religious traditions and is marked as the beginning of the new year. No one knows exactly how far back Nowruz dates. The best estimates sit somewhere in the range of 2,500 to 3,000 years. There are various stories regarding Nowruz’ origins, but based on Kurdish mythology, Kawa Asinger, a blacksmith bravely ended the tyrannical reign of King Zahak aka Dehak on this day.

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