>> This was once nicknamed the Venice of the East, and tourists used to flock here. But Basra in Southern Iraq has suffered decades of war and neglect. From war with Iran just across the border in the 1980s to two US led wars, preserving these Ottoman era buildings famous for their wood carvings has dropped to the bottom of the government's priorities, says Reuter's Ulf Lessing.
>> See behind me is a channel, there's hardly any water left, it's totally dirty, garbage gets dumped here all the time and locals complain there are no services. They're hard to get electricity, the water pipes were never restored and this is just, the smell hits you the minute you arrive here.
>> Basra's old water works broke down decades ago and haven't been fixed. Even major roads are potholed. Yet the city has a thriving middle class, and lies close to Iraq's richest oil fields.>> Many locals are very sad that their city has gone this way. Despite the fact that Basra is producing much of Iraq's oil, which is the main source of income for this Arab country.
Many locals also blame corruption, incompetence, and it's a sad story. Most have given up hope that things will improve.>> Local artists are doing their bit. This renovated palace hosts exhibitions and concerts. Trouble is, you have to pick your way through garbage strewn streets to get there.