Hugh In Iraq
Hugh has sent these words and photos. He spent the weekend in Erbil, capital of autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan. It doesn't look like Baghdad, does it?
"This mall, built by an Erbil-based company the Hewa group opened in November. Here are some more snaps from inside.
Pinch yourself. Yes, this is Iraq. Here's the supermarket - inside it's a bit like Carrefour, or a big Sainsbury's (I wasn't allowed to take pictures inside):
They shopped till they dropped ...in for a coffee.
Zahida Ased and her daughter Teibah and Teibah's sons Joseph, aged 5 and Diar who is 1. Maya is their maid. She is from Nepal.
Erbil children, on their way to Tae Kwondo
Turkish businessman Muzaffer Gunay (left), investing in Erbil - with a colleague. The little boy was unknown to them - he just asked if he could be in the photo. I can't imagine that happening so warmly in my homeland, with its stranger paranoia.
Erbil's main square, overlooked by the Citadel. 4,000 years old. 30 metre-high walls. It's being restored by UNESCO - a bit over-restored in places.
Relaxing by the fountains. Businessmen and tourists can fly direct to Erbil from several international destinations - including Frankfurt, Vienna, Malmo, Stockholm, Dubai and Istanbul.
And here's a taste - I wish it could be the spicy smell - of Erbil's ancient souk":