Venice of the Middle-East: The Floating Basket Homes of Iraq

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Little is known to the world about Iraq’s Tigris-Euphrates marshlands – an area that, at one time, covered over 9,000 square miles – bigger than Venice’s lagoon and Florida’s Everglades combined. The marshland was inhabited continuously for over 5,000 years and at its peak, it was home to half-a-million ‘Marsh Arabs’ or ‘Ma’dan’.

The Ma’dan consisted of several tribes that had developed a beautiful, eco-friendly culture that centered on the marshes’ natural resources. One of the truly admirable aspects of their lifestyle was their beautifully elaborate dwellings – floating houses made entirely out of reeds that were harvested from the open water.

These architectural wonders, strongly reminiscent of the ‘casoni’ of the Venetian fishermen, were called ‘mudhif’. They were temporary structures built of reeds in only three days, without the use of nails or wood. Even the islands that the houses would rest on were made of complicated arrangements of mud and rushes.

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Iraqi Farmer Says He Is Addicted to Eating Scorpions Every Day

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Ismail Jasim Mohammed, a farmer from Samara, Iraq, claims he consumes at least one live scorpion every day, and experiences symptoms of withdrawal if he goes three days without eating a nasty stinger.

When people like David Gracer started preaching about the benefits of eating bugs, I don’t think they meant potentially deadly live scorpions. But that hasn’t stopped 34-year-old Ismail Jasim Mohammed from feasting on them for the last 15 years. Tired of getting stung by scorpions around the village of Agelam, near the Iraqi city of Samara, the farmer decided to turn the tables and give them a taste of their own medicine. One day, he caught a live scorpion, put it in his mouth and ate it alive. He actually liked the taste and he has been snacking on them ever since. Obviously, he was stung in the mouth a few times throughout the years, but Ismail says that helped him develop an immunity to the scorpion venom. These days, the man is addicted to his unusual diet, and says he eats at least one scorpion a day. If he goes three days without consuming a nasty critter he experiences signs of withdrawal.

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Meet Qamar Hashim, an 8-Year-Old Professional Photographer

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Qamar Hashim looks like any other 8-year-old. But the cute Iraqi lad has a unique talent of his own – he’s a national celebrity for his photography skills.

Qamar is the youngest certified photographer in Iraq. He has several beautiful photographs to his credit, many of which have been displayed in prominent exhibits in Baghdad. He showed interest in the art and began to take pictures at the age of four. At the time he was only imitating his father who is a photo journalist. He started by taking pictures of the Tigris river, birds, old houses, and places of historical importance. While Qamar’s father does not permit him to photograph violent happenings in the city, he did manage to make his way through security detail once, and took a picture of the Mayor of Baghdad. After this incident, the government official presented him with his very first digital camera. In his sweet, innocent child’s voice, he tells reporters, “When I see something I like, I look at it through my lens, zoom in if it’s far away and click. As for my height, I am not short, I can reach.” He says that the biggest difficulty he faces is when the camera runs out of battery.

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