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Barkas Street, a little Arabia in Hyderabad

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    Hyderabad, March 30 (ANI): Located in Hyderabad city, 'Barkas Street', a colony of former employees of the Nizams, the sovereigns of the erstwhile princely state of Hyderaad, is a hub of Arab culture, music and cuisine.

    The Nizams, surrounded by hostile rulers in the Deccan, trusted the tall and strongly built Arabs, who were mostly recruited in their personal army. As their numbers grew, the Arabs were settled in barracks on the outskirts of the walled, gated city.

    "There is a colony called 'Wadiya Barkas' in Saudi Arabia, near a grave yard. Our colony gets its name from that colony. A regiment from Barkas in Arabia was called here. That time, there were 1,600 to 1,800 residents, but now there are more than 1.5 lakh (150,000) residents," said Sheikh Hussain Bin Abdul Masjid Bawazeen, a resident.

    Most of the residents of this colony are the original inhabitants of Yemen and Arabia. A male member from each family is currently working in the Gulf countries.

    In this mini Arabia, guests are welcomed with dates and qahwah (Arabian coffee). The roofs of the houses are decorated with the beautifully calligraphed Quranic Ayaats (verses).

    One can savour Iranian dishes like Haleem (meat cooked with crushed wheat and spices) and Biryani (rice cooked with chicken) in many places in Hyderabad, but it is at Barkas that Harees, a sweet version of Haleem, is available.

    At dawn, people from far-flung corners of the city and beyond flock to Barkas to enjoy the piping hot delicacies at select restaurants.

    Egyptian singer Amar Deyab and Lebanese lyricist Nancy Agram are quite popular among the residents.

    Even in death, the exclusivity continues. Muslims not residing in Barkas are not allowed to find a resting place here.

    "With God's grace, since the colony came into existence and till it exists, we will follow Arab culture," said Ali Bin Abdul Rehman, a resident.

    Barkas' link with the Arab world is not merely with the latter's language and culture but through sports as well, for as in Arab countries, the youth of Barkas are obsessed with soccer. By yothi (ANI)

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