It’s a heartbreak that I never visited Baghdad, the capital of civilization, especially as I’ve heard my grandfather, Abdulaziz Aldakhil, may he rest in peace, tell us about Buraydah in the center of Najd before cars were invented, and how it was and still is the largest camel market in the world.
My grandfather and his father’s trade was selling back-then the most important means of transportation, the “ship of the desert,” i.e. the camel, as the case was with a large number of people in Najd. These people were dubbed the “Agailat Community” because they tied their camels. The term actually comes from the word “agal”, the cord which Arabs wear on top of the shemagh. Once they arrived to their destination, they took off their agal and used it to tie their camels, like we park our cars today in shaded areas.
It’s rare to find a Saudi who does not have a memory in Iraq or with the Iraqis as water from the Tigris and the Euphrates was an attraction and the shade of Basra’s palms extended to our cities and deserts through Az ZubayrTurki Aldakhil
When speaking about Iraq, my father and uncles talk fondly of it and its people. Some paternal cousins are still there ever since our grandfathers began immigrating there around 200 years ago.
The rupture of Saudi ties with the Iraqis and vice versa became a reality ever since Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait in the 1990s. This rupture, which lasted until recently, lasted for a quarter of a century, or a bit more.
As much as this rupture pains me, I console myself with the thousands of those exiled from Iraq from all sects and ethnicities, who feel a great deal of pain for not being where they grew up and for being away from their family and friends.
I’ve seen Iraqis who are financially well-off in Europe and America, but once I talk to them about Iraq, they get very emotional and teary eyed. How wouldn’t they, for as it’s said: “No matter how many homes on earth are familiar to a man, his longing is always to his first home.”