I thought it might interest the people in this community that my uncle-in-law recently was hired as a contractor in Iraq. He left last month, and I just recieved an e-mail from him about his time over there. Apparently, the Iraqi contracting methods are similar to the US's methods from over 35 years ago. The men wear flip flops to work instead of safety shoes, and they never use balances or lines to make sure the building is level. They also must slaughter a sheep over the foundation site once the footings have been set and then they eat that sheep that night for dinner...this is thier way to ensure the building will have good luck. The point of his company being there is to teach the Iraqi engineers safer ways of building...without being offensive of course, they're very carefull not to call the work "inferior" (though it is) but instead they say "different"...so that one day they can take over the rebuilding of their country. His team is building things like police stations and the like. He says that though he is the cheif engineer, he very rarley acctually goes to the job site, as the terrorist attacks make that too unsafe. So he must communicate to his team via e-mail and phone. There are Iraqi engineers on site that report recieving death threats and attempted blackmail (to pay for crew saftey from the terrorists) on a reuglar basis from the terrorists.
He works with 20 male engineers, but there is one female Iraqi engineer. He says when the first met, he tried to shake her hand (like you would here when introducing yourself to a coworker) but she politley refused and explained that while men are allowed to shake hands, women are not. Below is a pic of Unc (in fatigues) and the Iraqi engineers.
There are also a variety of strange shops arround the base apparently. Try to see how many oddly assorted items you can find....it's fun.
He says it's a very hard place to be, and that it's taken him some time to adjust to the life style over there.