Camping Adventures Amidst New Year's Celebrations

Basra’s Youth Escape to the Desert for ‘Keshtat’

BASRA, January 1 — As Basra city was gearing up for New Year’s celebration with various events, a group of its young residents chose a different path. Opting to leave behind the city’s hustle and bustle, they are venturing into the remote deserts of Basra for a unique camping experience, known locally as “Keshtat.”

Ali Kareem, an organizer of a camping trip, told 964media, “We are preparing to celebrate the New Year in the Ghazlani area outskirts of Basra, where the land is turning green. We aim to distance ourselves from the city’s noisy parties.” He highlights the growing interest among the youth in experiencing nature, exploring wild areas, and living nomadically, as an escape from the constraints of social media and the ennui of ongoing political and social conflicts.

Kareem recently led a group of 14, including students and professionals, into the desert for such an excursion. The camping activities center around the campfire, where traditional dishes like ‘Majboos’ are cooked, either with meat or chicken.

Hussein Al-Mayahi, a camping enthusiast, talks about the educational aspect of these trips, “We have learned about various local plants, such as ‘Shukra,’ ‘Al-Ghada,’ ‘Ghazil,’ ‘Al-Ghazlani,’ ‘Halaawa,’ and ‘Dhaleeli.’ We often join young people from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait residing in Iraq, sharing and enjoying the experience together.” He also emphasizes their commitment to preserving nature by cleaning the campsite before and after use.

Habib Naeem, another camping organizer, detailed the logistical aspects: “Essential items for camping include wild tents, which cost between 250,000 to 1 million dinars based on size and quality. These are typically purchased in Safwan district or Zubair, with notable manufacturers like ‘Al-Qadi,’ ‘Al-Sanidi,’ ‘Al-Sabahiya,’ and ‘Basman.'” The cost per camping trip is divided among participants, with each contributing 25,000 dinars for food and drinks. Activities range from card games, dominoes, and chess to enjoying music and poetry.

Camper Kawkab Hussein extols the natural beauty of the wilderness, “The desert offers a chance to observe stars and shooting stars vividly, and breathe pure air not found in the city.” He appreciates the opportunity camping provides for real conversations, away from the distractions of phone screens.