business, not bombs, is booming at Baghdad car dealerships, as comfortable Iraqis are indulging in a mania long out of reach — dapper, new cars. BMWs, Nissans, Hyundais and evening military-style Hummers are immediately weaving around the moth-eaten, smoke-belching wrecks and domestic ass carts that have clogged the streets over two decades of sanctions and war.

That may make Baghdad one of the few cities worldwide where the car industry is doing relatively well — at least compared to the worst of the war, when sales were dead. With its restrict bank system, Iraq has largely avoided the ball-shaped fiscal meltdown. And unlike elsewhere in the world, flatulence prices — about $ 1.52 a gallon — are n’t much of a hindrance to those Iraqis tidal bore and able to catch up with the good life behind the wheel of a new car. not therefore hanker ago, cruising the capital in a modern car was asking for trouble oneself. Carjackers were apparently everywhere — either covetous militiamen or kidnappers on the lookout for victims with enough cash to pay fatty ransoms. ‘Happiness and comfort’
Those bad days are not wholly over. But with violence ebb, Iraqis who can afford it are eager to live bombastic and enjoy in the status that entirely a nice new car can bring. “ Despite the high monetary value, driving a new car gives me a capital sense of happiness and comfort, ” said Muhannad Khazim as he cruised an upscale region with three friends in a 2007 Hyundai Elantra he ‘d bought two days earlier. The city traffic department refused to say how many new cars were registered over the last class. But showrooms are popping up in safe neighborhoods around town to meet the demand. They are offering selections from streamlined sports cars to four-wheel-drive behemoths, most imported from Amman, Jordan, or Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Imad Hassan said sales at his Aqaba Dealership in east Baghdad soared about 90 percentage in 2008 over the former class, when fighting in the city peaked. last year, he said he sold about three cars a day. indeed far this class he ‘s selling only about three cars per week, a slump which he says has little to do with the ball-shaped downturn. In past, fears of kidnappings
Hassan expects sales to rebound immediately that the Iraqi politics has finally approved a newly budget after a drop curtain in anoint prices forced several revisions. many of his customers for expensive cars are iraqi businessmen with government contracts. They had to wait for the new budget to get their money. gasoline prices throughout the Middle East are lower than in the U.S. and Western Europe. Iraq lifted fuel subsidies in 2004 and hiked gasoline prices 19-fold. Since then, prices at the pump have been reasonably stable. Security — not fuel prices or conservation — had kept motorists off the streets.

Hassan Saleh, who sells japanese and south korean four-wheel-drive vehicles and American-made Hummers at another east Baghdad franchise, attributes the boom to better security, which has given Iraqis the confidence to treat themselves to luxuries. “ nowadays, most people are not afraid of driving illusion new cars in the streets. Two years ago, that intend at hand danger of being kidnapped for ransom, ” said Saleh, who sells about 10 cars a month from his franchise — up 50 percentage over 2007. That ‘s not to say Iraqis do n’t face problems with a fresh cable car. For one thing, there is no car indemnity offered in Iraq. Owners have to shell out in full for any repairs or maintenance. And although the risks of violent trouble are less than they used to be, they have n’t disappeared entirely. Ali Habib, a businessman from east Baghdad, bought a new Hyundai last month to spruce up his image. But he ‘s afraid to drive the car outside his neighborhood and wo n’t give his younger brothers a lift for fear they may all get kidnapped or killed. “ The security situation is still delicate and gangs can hit anytime, ” he said. “ When I want to go somewhere in Baghdad, I make certain that at least three friends of mine are with me in the car as a kind of protection against bandits. ” Sedans, SUVs popular
But that ‘s not enough to discourage Iraqis from shelling out $ 27,000 for a 2006 Mustang, $ 80,000 for a four-wheel-drive BMW or $ 55,000 for an Infiniti — some of the cars on offer during a holocene go of dealerships. Tastes range from sedans to SUVs. The compact Nissan Sunny model is besides popular. During Saddam Hussein ‘s predominate, the most popular brands were Toyota Coronas, which the government imported in early 1980s, followed by Brazilian-made Volkswagen Passats, which the regimen bought as separate of an arm deals between Iraq and Brazil.

But Saddam ‘s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 brought international sanctions — and a cutoff in the menstruate of modern cars. For the adjacent 13 years until the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, Iraqis were constantly repairing unconvincing vehicles that aged fast in the cutthroat heat, dust and potholed streets. “ I ‘m fed up with old, break cars, ” Muhannad Akram said as he inspected cars at a showroom in the Jadiriyah district. He had his center on a 2007 grey Mitsubishi sedan and was bargaining over the price with the salesman. “ Despite the world economic crisis, Iraq is placid the land of boastful opportunities and flourishing business, ” said Hassan, the trader in east Baghdad. “ And more and more people are getting rich. ”

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