Iraq's food business booms despite war, economic slump

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi businessman Zaid Nazo has always been sure of his nation’s deep passion for food and wasn’t afraid to dream big when he transformed his small Baghdad coffee shop in 1999 into a casual dining and takeaway restaurant.

Many Iraqi entrepreneurs are finding restaurants and eateries a safe business bet, despite the country’s slumping economy, prevailing violence and an ongoing war with the Islamic State group.

Nazo and his business partner, his close friend Marwan Rassam, established their first eatery — Saj al-Reef or “Country Bread” in Arabic — in the upscale Baghdad neighborhood of Karrada 18 years ago.

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