Standing on the edge of the desert around 100 miles south of Baghdad, Najaf is one of Iraq’s most holy cities. With an estimated population of around one million people, it’s a sprawling city that has religious significance to many Muslims and is also a centre of pilgrimage. Its historic importance is balanced by the fact that the city also embraces the 21st century with a thriving commercial centre that's attracting investors from all around the world.
From the Tomb of Alī ibn Abī Tālib to the city's busy commercial district, Najaf manages to embrace both its role as a historically and spiritually important destination for pilgrims, and a modern, dynamic destination that's opening up to leisure visitors as well as business travellers. Its people are warm and welcoming, and the mix of ancient and modern makes it a charming and interesting destination that's a little off the usual tourist trails.