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The ‘Book Market of Baghdad’ - Al-Mutanabbi Street

Welcome to Al-Mutanabbi Street the ‘Book Market of Baghdad’, where books remain in the street at night because Iraqis say: “The reader does not steal and the thief does not read.”

We explore the rich heritage of the historic book market on Al-Mutanabbi Street…

Image credit Baghdadi.History on IG


Al-Mutanabbi Street is the historic center of Baghdad bookselling, that dates back to the time of the Abbasids. Located near the old quarter of Baghdad, Al-Mutanabbi Street was Baghdad’s first book traders’ market.

Image credit Baghdadi.History on IG


Al-Mutanabbi Street has been, since time immemorial, the historic heart and soul of the Baghdad literary and intellectual community.

Image credit @overacupofqahwa on Twitter


Due to Al-Mutanabbi Street’s infinite supply of books, it served as a contemporary witness to the never-ending political and cultural changes that took place in Mesopotamia over the years.

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Al-Mutanabbi Street has been a refuge for writers of all faiths since at least the 8th century. Today, the rubble has been cleared, and the road is recovering.

Rising from the ashes of war, neglect and instability, Baghdad is going through a cultural renaissance. Al Mutanabbi Street, home to the city’s historic book market and the centre of intellectual life, lies at the heart of that revival.

Image credit @AliKhadr_ on Twitter


Al-Mutanabbi Street was first inaugurated in 1932 by King Faisal I and named after the celebrated 10th-century poet Abul Tayeb al-Mutanabbi, who was born under the Abbasid dynasty in what would become modern-day Iraq.

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Abu al-Tayyib, Ahmad ibn al-Hussein al-Mutanabbi (915-965 A.D) is one of the most acclaimed of the classical Arab poets, he is the author of the 10th-century Diwan, a collection of poems featuring skillfully crafted panegyrics or praiseful verses written for the poet’s patrons.

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Al-Mutanabbi is considered as one of the Greatest Arabic Poets. The art of Arabic poetry is one of the disciplines, which characterize the Arab people. It has a unique nature among the broad field of world poetry.

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I am the one whose literature can be seen (even) by the blind

& whose words are heard (even) by the deaf.

The steed, the night & the desert all know me

As do the sword, the spear, the scripture & the pen

Al- Mutannabi

Image credit @voojl on IG ‏أبو علي - أقدم بائع للكتب المستعملة في شارع المتنبى العراق ‏Abu Ali - Oldest book seller on al-Mutanabbi street in Baghdad


A narrow street in the heart of old Baghdad, Al-Mutanabbi has long drawn students and young people, usually on Fridays. But it is also frequented by intellectuals and older bibliophiles.

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Al-Mutanabbi streets new look comes alongside art exhibitions, gallery openings, book fairs and festivals reflecting a fledgling cultural renaissance, recalling a golden age when Baghdad was considered one of the Arab world’s cultural capitals.

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You can find at Al-Mutanabbi Street hundreds of bookstores and outdoor bookstalls, cafes, stationery shops, and even tea shops. It has been and still is the heart and soul of Baghdad’s intellectual community that will never change.

Image credit The Daily Persian on Tumblr


Despite a bombing over a decade ago that tore the street’s heart, Al Mutanabbi's spirit perseveres stronger than ever. It was an attack on Iraq’s literature community and cultural institutions. But those who try to erase thought will never succeed…


Sources of Inspiration & Information


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