MOSUL: Mountains of kitchen supplies, back-to-back butchers: the historic wholesale market in Iraq’s Mosul is battling the odds — from extremists to epidemic — to revive the city’s reputation as a trading hub.
The northern city was a commercial hub for centuries, strategically located along transport routes linking Baghdad to the south, Syria to the west, Turkey further north and Iran in the east.
Thirty years ago, Mosul opened a bulk market known as “Al-Bursa,” whose shops sold food, homeware and other goods directly to consumers as well as to smaller shops.
“The market raked in around $12 million every month,” said economist Mohammad Naef, a native of Mosul.
But those golden days came to a screeching halt in 2014, when the Daesh group began a brutal reign over Mosul that ended in 2017 after months of fierce fighting.
West Mosul, where Al-Bursa lies, was left in ruins — but its entrepreneurial residents have worked hard to revive it.
The first to return was young Abdallah Mahmud, 27, who sells cleaning supplies and is proud of Al-Bursa’s heritage. “The Bursa opened in 1990 and as the years went by, these simple little shops became the most important market in the whole province,” he said.
Of the 500 shops there in 2014, around 300 have already reopened with individual financing, he said.
The level of trade has made an impressive recovery but has yet to reach previous levels.