London, Asharq Al-Awsat- A number of cars dating back from the royal era of Iraq went on display in al Zawra Park near al Rasafa in Baghdad, as part of the ‘Baghdad Day’ celebrations.
The exhibition was held on the anniversary of the founding of Baghdad that was built by the Abbassid Caliph Abu Jaafar al Mansour. Baghdad, known as Dar Assalam, became a hub for sciences, culture and art for over four centuries.
Al Mustansiriya University still stands today as one of the oldest Islamic universities in the world. Furthermore, the Abbasid palace that was built overlooking the Tigris River reflects the beauty of Abbasid architecture.
As part of the exhibition, a Mercedes model LK 500 that was given to King Ghazi I of Iraq by Adolf Hitler went on show. King Ghazi was the second king of Iraq succeeding his father, King Faisal I.
King Ghazi was renowned for his love for cars and owned various German, American and British vehicles.
Due to the King’s admiration for the nationalist ideology that Hitler advocated, he was presented a 1932 Mercedes model from the Nazi dictator.
Another vehicle on show at the exhibition was a Rolls Royce that belonged to the former president Abdul Salam Arif who became president in 1963. He used this vehicle to receive guests. The car was adorned with the emblem of the Iraqi republic on its two front doors. The national emblem, the Arab hawk, replaced the royal coat of arms that depicted a crown with a horse and a lion and the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
In the past, the cars were on show in a private museum in Al Zawra Park until Uday Hussein, son of the deposed president Saddam Hussein, closed the museum and seized the cars. Uday Hussein also loved cars and some residents of Baghdad remember seeing him driving these classic vehicles in the streets of the Iraqi capital.
When US forces entered Baghdad in April 2003, a mob attacked one of Uday’s palaces and stole a number of royal cars, members of which were seen driving one of the German vehicles.