SHANGHAI - Amid songs and cheers of children from China and Iraq waving national flags, the Iraq Pavilion opened Tuesday at the Shanghai World Expo, one month into the global event.
The pavilion, with the theme "Next City," covers about 380 square meters in the Asia Joint Pavilion III, which also houses pavilions of Laos and Myanmar.
The pavilion exhibits cultural relics carved with cuneiform characters and a model of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World.
It also displays pictures of well-known Arabic folk tales, photos of Iraqi children and replicas of an Iraqi family's furniture.
In addition, visitors can see a model of a city rebuilding program that is to be launched in the Shiite holy city of Najaf.
"Iraq has overcome many difficulties in participating in the Shanghai World Expo and opening the pavilion at last," said Rahman L. Muhsin, a diplomatic official from the Iraqi embassy to China, at the opening ceremony.
The first group of visitors to the pavilion included children and teenagers from Shanghai and more than 20 Iraqi families from eastern Chinese city of Yiwu, the country's largest distribution center of small commodities where many Arab merchants do business.
Shaimaa brought her 8-year-old daughter, Sahara, and 7-year-old son, Jafer, to the Expo.
"We moved to Yiwu from Baghdad in 2008. Both cities are very important for our children," Shaimaa said. "I will take my children to tour the Expo site in the next few days."
A group of children from the "Little White Dove" kindergarten in Shanghai were invited to attend the opening of the pavilion, and children of the two countries exchanged gifts to mark the International Children's Day.
"Iraq confirmed in April its participation in the Expo. Despite many difficulties, Iraq has presented an exquisite pavilion to visitors," said Zhou Hanmin, deputy director of the Expo's executive committee.
The Expo, with the theme "Better City, Better Life," has drawn participation by an unprecedented 189 countries and 57 international organizations. The event runs from May 1 to October 31.
Iraq is the last of the 246 participants to open its pavilion.
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