The Babylon International Festival kicked off Thursday after not being held in Iraq since the US invasion of the country in 2003.
The opening ceremony of the five-day festival was held in Babylon, which was once the capital of Babylonia, a state in ancient Mesopotamia. It included a speech by Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, the festival’s official sponsor, followed by a speech by the governor of Babylon delivered by the festival's president.
The festival will feature many activities and events, including music, dancing, folk arts and singing.
In a statement, the Iraqi Culture Ministry said representatives of 54 countries including Russia, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Egypt, Syria and Kuwait will take part in the festival.
Babylon, whose ruins are in modern Iraq, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The ancient city, whose history dates back to about 4,000 years, is famous for the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World, as well as the Hammurabi Obelisk and the Lion of Babylon.
The Babylon International Festival, which was first held in 1985, was stopped after 2003 due to the US invasion of Iraq and the deterioration of the security situation in the ensuing years.