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Minnesota National Guard
What a grand opening

Oasis Restaurant opens at bazaar

COB BASRA" To mark exactly three months of the Oasis Bazaar at Contingency Operating Base Basra being open, the Al Moosawi Group celebrated with a grand opening of the Oasis Restaurant, Dec 26

This opening was more than just a chance to try traditional Iraqi fare; it was a way of thanking the 34th Infantry Division for all their support over the months in making the bazaar a reality

The Oasis started as a brainstorming idea to provide a cultural experience for the American Soldiers and strengthen the Iraqi economy and local businesses By working with the Al Moosawi Group, the 34th Inf Div was able to move forward with the project, said Capt Andrew Nathan, Oasis liaison officer, with the 34th Inf Div out of Minneapolis Minn

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"The whole idea is, it's a campaign where you are trying to build that positive relationship between the local nationals and us," said Nathan "It's bringing us together to have a better relationship not only for the present, but for the future"

The Basrah Provincial Reconstruction Team was already working with the Al Moosawi Group and suggested a partnership to Nathan, believing the group was the best choice to represent the Iraqi start-up and the Iraqi people to provide the cultural experience Nathan was looking for in a bazaar

By August, the project was approved by Maj Gen Richard Nash, commander of Multi-National Division South, allowing Nathan to proceed with the mission

The Al Moosawi Group funded the majority of the bazaar, said Nathan and provided most of the materials Very little of it was funded by the US  

Most importantly, it provides a partnership to build on
Abdul Hussain Al Matar, the bazaar manager, described it as a cultural bridge

 "It is not only a business, but more of a relationship," said Abdul Hussain "The Moosawi family decided this bazaar is a window to have cooperation with our friends, the US forces and local society We try to be a bridge between the two sides and we are successful"

The grand opening of the restaurant was one more step in strengthening the relationship, said Nash

"This restaurant opening is much more than simply a dining experience It is a solid example of our valued partnership and friendship advancing to a higher level," he said "Built upon the success of the Oasis Bazaar, it offers an opportunity for both US forces and local business"

Abdul Hussain agreed that the opening is about sharing more than just food He wants the bazaar to be a place for the Soldiers to relax and meet local residents

"[We want to] be sure that when he [the Soldier] comes here not to just shop, but to relax, because it's a good chance to meet local people, have a good time, and a good experience," said Abdul Hussain

Through a translator during his speech, Abdul Hussain stressed the importance of the role the bazaar plays

"This bazaar is a place where ideas and thoughts can converge and can be exchanged between two different cultures," he said

By Spc Francesca Stanchi
December 29, 2009


Article source: http://www.theredbulls.org/article00538



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