Beacon of Baghdad: Shabandar Café
Updated 21:31, 20-Mar-2023

Shabandar Café is located on Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad. Owned for the past 60 years by Mohamad al-Khashali, it has become a cultural haven, patronized by the city's intellectual elite and ordinary people alike. The walls are covered with old photographs. They've been there since 1963, and tell the story of al-Khashali and his family.

In March 2007, Mutanabbi Street was targeted in a car bomb attack. The café was left in ruins, and four of al-Khashali's sons were killed. His wife died shortly afterwards. The loss of most of his family came as a terrible shock for the old man. It took him a long time to recover, before he set about rebuilding the café, which he renamed to commemorate the victims of the blast, especially his own family. "I feel they're always with me in the café. I've devoted my life to this café. I want to keep its culture alive."

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