There are other images from space being beamed into Iraq these days, the kind that come from television satellites.
Since the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime, there’s been an explosion in the kinds of modern technology available to average Iraqi citizens. And as VOA-TV’s Margaret Kennedy reports from Baghdad, Iraqis are flocking to see what the rest of the world has to offer.
Only weeks ago, if Shireen Abdul Ghani al Nimei had been caught doing this she would have gone to jail and been fined.
Under Saddam Hussein’s rule, having satellite television was a crime. The Iraqi government wanted to keep its citizens cut off from information.
NATURAL SOUND: TUNISIAN MUSIC VIDEO
The world has now rushed into Iraqi everyday life. In an incredibly short time, satellite dishes have appeared everywhere, offering almost 200 channels in many languages as well as Arabic.
The Al Nimei family lives in a pleasant middle class neighborhood in Baghdad. They got their dish a month ago. It cost 250 dollars, but Mrs. Al Nimei says it was really worth it.
SIREEN ABDUL GHANI AL NIMEI: (IN ARABIC)
She explains the old Iraqi programs were all politics, weapons and sports. Among her favorite stations?
SIREEN ABDUL GHANI AL NIMEI
“Al Jezeera, Abu Dhabi, Tunis, Libya, …” The family has 5 children and she and her husband have set rules for watching TV.
SIREEEN ABDUL GHANI AL NIMEI: (ARABIC UNDER)
They have to go to bed by 9 p.m. and can only watch certain programs.
AYA AL NIMEI: (IN ARABIC)
15-year-old Aya says she thinks life is more enjoyable now.
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Dish shops are easy to find all over town. Emir Adbul Ameer says he sells between 12 and 20 dishes a week, ranging in price from 150 to 290 dollars. They come from Turkey or Syria. And what about financing?
EMIR ABDUL AMEER
You have to pay in dollars, but don’t worry, a money exchange shop is just next-door to change your Iraqi dinar. There’s also a curbside television shop in case your old set doesn’t provide the best picture.
There’s competition too. Another dish shop is just a few steps away. This one also sells generators to keep the TV on during those rolling electrical blackouts Baghdad is experiencing.
The customers just keep coming.