In the small desert area of Busaya, Iraqis of different sects have lived together peacefully for decades. Locals pride themselves on their hospitality and unity.
Up until recently not many outsiders really knew much about the southern Iraqi sub-district of Busaya.
In the middle of the desert and close to the border of Saudi Arabia, the area tends to be Bedouin in nature, closer to the culture of the nomadic Arabs of the Gulf States than many other Iraqis. It recently came to public attention because a group of Qatari hunters in the area for sport, were abducted in 2015. The hunting party, which apparently included members of the Qatari royal family, was released in April 2017.
The area is well known as a stop for migrating birds from Europe and hunters commonly come here, to seek out birds and hares.
Most of the around 2,200 people here are either dependent on their own livestock or the Iraqi government for jobs. And around three-quarters of them are Sunni Muslims. Yet somehow, they still elected Shiite Muslims to their local government. Locals say that they don’t let what is going on elsewhere in Iraq affect local relationships.
Around another 5,000 locals, many of whom speak with an accent that sounds more Gulf States than Iraq, are nomadic. And the area is so well known for its hospitality that there are no cafes or restaurants here. Visitors to the district are always invited to eat at locals’ homes, another Bedouin tradition.