Residents of the capital were not surprised by the results of a recent survey that ranked Baghdad as the worst city in the world in terms of the quality of living.
“We have to admit, this city is getting worse everyday in regard to the quality of life,” said Fadia Ibraheem, a senior official at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. “As long as US troops remain, the city will continue to deteriorate.”
Zurich ranked first in the survey, conducted by London-based Mercer Human Resource Consulting, with a total score of 108.2 points. In contrast, Baghdad was ranked as the least attractive city for expatriates, for a third consecutive year, with a total score of 14.5. Other cities at the lower end of the scale were Brazzaville in the Congo Republic (30.3), Bangui in the Central African Republic (30.6) and Khartoum in Sudan (31.7).
Baghdad residents hardly dispute the designation. “For the past 20 years, we’ve existed without any kind of diversions or happiness,” said Barak Abdullah, a resident of the Mansour district of the capital. “Despite its ancient civilisation, Baghdad has become a very bad city.”
Mercer bases its quality-of-life survey on 39 factors, ranging from political stability, education and environmental considerations to the availability of restaurants, transportation and health facilities.
“What makes Baghdad so bad is the peoples’ fear to venture out into the streets,” said Fadia Ibraheem. “There’s also the sectarian violence and poverty… all this can only change when a government is formed and is seen to be working for the people.”
Residents claim that, in the prevailing atmosphere of violence and insecurity, they have also suffered psychologically, especially given the lack of available recreation.
“I remember as a child I used to go out to the streets and fly my kite and at night my family would go to nice places where there was music and dancing,” recalled Baghdad resident Waleed Obaid. “Today, the only visits my children can make are to relatives – it’s too dangerous to go anywhere else.”