Business booming for local cafés

Revitalized Mosul Corniche proves youth hotspot

MOSUL — As night falls over Mosul City’s Old Bridge Corniche, the streets come alive with the glow of lights. Rows of mostly young men gather on the sidewalks, sipping tea, smoking hookah, and playing dominoes. It’s a scene that unfolds after the day’s fast during Ramadan, as people come together to unwind and recover from a day of fasting.

The Old Bridge Corniche on the right bank of Mosul has emerged as a favored destination for young people, drawn particularly to the array of cafes lining both sides of the street.

These establishments serve as gathering spots for youth who frequent the area daily after iftar to socialize and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.

Stretching approximately 600 meters from the historic Mosul Bridge to the Abu Tammam statue, the Old Bridge Corniche stands as a prominent landmark. Positioned between the Degla River on the left and the Bab Al-Saray Market on the right, it houses the Northern Cement Auxiliary Circle in its midst.

In the past, the Corniche area was bustling with activity, serving as a hub for food and currency exchange. However, the military operation to expel the Islamic State from Mosul left every commercial establishment in ruins, abandoned by their owners.

In 2021, Abdullah Al-Rahal, a young entrepreneur took the initiative to open a small café, marking the beginning of a revival for the area. This initiative spurred the opening of several other popular cafes by young entrepreneurs, offering a variety of cold and hot drinks as well as hookahs at affordable prices.

Al-Rahal highlighted the evolution of the area: “I opened the first café on Corniche Street in 2021, and now there are 13 cafés in the area.” He explained that the area’s appeal stemmed from its affordability, citing hot drinks priced between 250-750 dinar and hookahs priced at 4,000 dinar. Al-Rahal noted that the bustling season spans from March to October, with indoor operations during winter months, primarily catering to regular customers. During Ramadan, they extend their hours from after iftar until suhoor.

Zidan Raad, a kiosk owner, shared his journey: “A year ago, I rented a kiosk installed by the Mosul municipality on the Corniche pavement and turned it into a popular café, contributing to the revival of this area that was a tourist attraction in the 1990s.”

He said during iftar or suhoor in Ramadan, he offers free seating where anyone can bring their food, and “we provide water and tea at no cost.”