more boats, less bombs

We wouldn’t have even thought of this. Very cool.

Mariam Khaled squinted her eyes, drew in her sail against the wind and set her white dinghy towards a point on the riverbank: Adhamiya, to be precise, in central Baghdad. With the orange sunset saturating the sky, a cluster of mostly teenage sailors, windsurfers and jet-skiers were making waves along the river Tigris.

“It’s a difficult sport that requires a lot of effort, and plenty of patience and perseverance,” 16-year-old Khaled, a former junior swimming champion, said. “But I want to show everyone that we, Iraqi women, can succeed,” she added, after pulling her dinghy up the muddy bank.

The water sports are also revolutionizing how Iraqis interact with the historic Tigris and Euphrates, which gave the country its byname of the “land between the two rivers” millennia ago. Water levels in the twin rivers have dropped by half because of dams upstream in neighboring Turkey and Iran. Read on.