Conflict and capital

Posted by Layla Karim Shaikley on September 29, 2011
Sep 292011

Below is an excerpt from my blog,, that I found incredibly relevant after addressing crisis and conflict. Conflict is profitable, as the stark juxtaposition in  the entry below may suggest:

April 2011–Peppered with business savvy folk of all ethnicities, the Emirates Air Basra flight surprised me a little. Once Iraq’s most romantic riverside town, Basra is a governance in Southern Iraq located on water and oil. Having been warned of potential danger, I was told to stick to my second tongue of Iraqi dialect Arabic. Yet, this plane had business men from China, Eastern Europe, India, and America. I was baffled. I took my seat next to an American government personnel in camouflage shorts and an arm camouflaged in war scene tattoos. A California girl, I couldn’t help but wonder if our similarities were more than our hypersensitive differences. Ironic, I thought, that I am most appalled by the man on the plane that I could probably carry the longest conversation with. Just saying.

There’s a widely accepted notion that the first impression is the most lasting.  Judgments are formed as a result of being deeply intrigued, bored, or entertained by somebody when meeting them for the first time. In visiting a foreign land, I see the trip from the airport to the city in a parallel manner.

Upon arriving to Basra, our driver and bodyguard Saad jumped into the car and proceeded to simultaneously slip a gun into his holster while fastening his seat belt. Impression formed.

We pulled up to the first set of homes, arguably slums, from the airport. At first glance, the lot is merely a sea of satellite dishes.  Masonry homes with cloth draping off of conjunctive tents swayed with the wind. Next thing I knew, I found my mother, sister, and I in a GMC with an armed man that we just met. In the middle of the desert. Baba’s car drove behind us. A great beginning to a Hollywood tragic ending.

Then we pulled up to a hotel…square in the middle of some of the worst slums that I have ever seen, our palace awaited.


Basrah International Hotel, lobby

Photo credit: Layla Shaikley

Basrah International Hotel, courtyard view

Photo credit: Layla Shaikley


And the surrounding urban fabric..

Photo credit: Layla Shaikley


Basrah International Hotel, photo from balcony

Photo credit: Layla Shaikley



Who is the audience for such extravagance?  Just a suggestion…

Photo credit: Layla Shaikley