(BAGHDAD) -- In the most encouraging sign in months that a sense of normality may be returning to Iraq, more than 1,200 companies from 13 countries traveled to Baghdad for Iraq's first international trade fair since Saddam Hussein's regime.
The 10-day fair comes as Iraq is trying to rebuild its economy, racked by years of sanctions by the West during the last years of Hussein's reign, as well as an invasion by the U.S. and its allies and a vicious insurgency fueled by al Qaeda and ethnic tensions.
Iraqi Prime Minister Noori Maliki opened the exhibitions Monday saying, "Today with such international presence and global companies participation, Baghdad is rising after years of suffering." He added the fair is a message to the world that "Iraq is standing up and rebuilding and is on the right path."
The biggest exhibition halls were given to the French, the Iranians and the Turks.
A quick tour of the fair, which has the slogan "The World's Opportunity for Trading and Investment in Iraq," showed displays from companies selling products ranging from oil industries needs, high tech technologies, agriculture to companies that sell honey and detergents.
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