Roses at a premium as Baghdadis look to better days | world | Hindustan Times
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Roses at a premium as Baghdadis look to better days

world Updated: Feb 14, 2009 11:49 IST
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Red roses are selling at a premium for Valentine's Day this year, with a hint of optimism in the air alongside the romance despite the fragility of Baghdad's improved security.

"The old customers are coming back, security is better. There's a marked difference this year," said Yussef Mohammed, the owner of Flowers of Babylon shop in Al-Arassat district of central Baghdad.

The florists around town have been filled with cuddly teddy bears, red hearts and roses.

This year's event coincides with the run-up to a major Shiite religious festival in Karbala that has half-emptied Baghdad as millions of pilgrims converge on the city south of the capital.

That festival has been blighted by a series of bomb attacks that have killed dozens of pilgrims.

But business has been good for Baghdad's florists, exactly two years after the introduction of a US military surge that has seen a clear improvement in security despite regular bloody attacks.

"For some time now we haven't been scared to stay open until 8 at night, or even 9," said Mohammed, who is of Lebanese origin, as he opened a refrigerator filled with red roses imported from Syria.