Friday, August 08, 2003

Outside the shop, one of scores hawking everything from tumble dryers to satellite dishes on Baghdad's chaotic Karrada Street, a fresh shipment of more than 100 boxes of Chinese televisions is piled high on the cracked pavement.

Inside, Satami's dusty "showroom" is cluttered with ACs, washing machines, satellite dishes and a range of Korean decoders – one of his best-selling items.

This is the new consumer Iraq, where after three wars and 13 years of international sanctions, almost anything the average person ever wanted is suddenly available – at a price.

Every day, and especially on Fridays, Karrada Street is teeming with shoppers looking to buy the things they either couldn't get or weren't allowed to have when Saddam Hussain ruled over them, particularly satellite dishes.

"Before, everyone was afraid for the future so they didn't buy expensive things," says a salesman. "Now the future is clearer, there are less rules and people are confident, so they spend."

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