BAGHDAD, April 15 (Xinhua) — Under the slogan “Baghdad plants flowers, and embraces creativity,” the 11th Baghdad International Flower Festival kicked off Monday in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, with the participation of 15 foreign countries.
The message behind the festival is that “Baghdad, a city full of life, is now regaining its breath,” Thikra Alwash, mayor of Baghdad, told reporters at the festival.
The five-day event is held at Baghdad’s al-Zawraa Park, where hundreds of Baghdadi families already flocked in since the early opening hours to enjoy moments of respite and to forget the anguish of the city’s recent past.
Many Iraqi officials and representatives of the diplomatic delegations in Baghdad attended the opening ceremony, during which the Iraqi national anthem was played and the folklore music was performed by local musicians.
Alwash, who assumed office four years ago, noted that through the large participation in the festival, “we tell everyone that life is burgeoning in the city that has suffered from war.”
The festival is also evidence of the remarkable improvement in the security situation in Baghdad.
Alice Walpole, a United Nations envoy to Iraq, told Xinhua that “the number of people here today is a very strong indicator that people want normality, and visiting a flower festival is a wonderful way of celebrating that.”
“I think it’s very important for all of us, and particularly the international community, to understand that life goes on in Iraq, and it’s a real pleasure for us to engage with communities in Baghdad in their leisure time, and see families and particularly children, enjoying the flowers,” Walpole added.
Over 4 million seedlings were planted in squares and public parks across the city in accordance with the flower festival, the mayor’s office said in a statement earlier in the day.
LINK ORIGINAL: Xinhuanet