I came to Iraq in 2009 for the first time since 1978 – but that is another story for another time. Work was what brought me out here, as I had seen an opportunity for expanding my own business and for offering products not available in Iraq. I intended to be a bridge between the Iraqi market with all its gaps, and the Western companies outside who only have the media as a guide. I took the flight from Dubai to Basrah, via Amman because there were few direct flights back then. I did not know what to expect and could not even define my feelings : was I happy ? was I excited ? was I anxious or fearful ? I think I was just numb. I told the lady that I was sat next to that I had not been back in Iraq for over 30 years and she said ‘khatiya’ meaning ‘you poor thing’. For this is one thing most Iraqis have in common, the love for Iraq even with its ugliness and hardship. We landed. I stood on top of the stairs, feeling the warm dry air, a welcome relief from Dubai’s mugginess, and looked around. I have never experienced such a feeling of belonging. Everything looked more familiar than the stuff that I have been looking at for 30 years. Everything looked and felt familiar, right down to the weeds growing out of the cracks in the tarmac, to the dust on the side of runway. It was as if I had never been away. Iraq did not tell me off for staying away. It did not complain or turn its back on me, but it welcomed me with open arms, embracing me tight and it has not let go of that embrace since.