The next 15 megacities #1: Iraq’s capital remains a profoundly damaged place, but the city feels more stable these days – at times even vibrant
After an exhausting journey through Baghdad’s vast and grimy suburbs, the pastel-coloured blocks of Besmaya Dream City rise up above the rushes just beyond one of the modern gates marking the edge of the city.
The orderliness of these dozens of towers – some lived in, some unfinished – is a shock in the otherwise chaotic jumble of low-rise cityscape. The residential complex is being built by a South Korean company, Hanwha, and will house 100,000 people once its delayed construction is complete.
By 2035 another 15 cities will have populations above 10 million, according to the latest United Nations projections, taking the total number of megacities to 48.
Baghdadis have long relied on Zawra amusement park for entertainment
The Mohamed family in their Dream City apartment
Guardian photographer Sean Smith has worked in Baghdad a number of times over the past 15 years, capturing key moments in the city’s history
Baghdad street food
Few queues … the international ticket hall in Baghdad train station
Jassim Hussein inside his squat beneath the Dora expressway