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‘Little Baghdad’ expands in Amman

There may be as many as 700,000 Iraqis now living in Amman, Jordan. NBC's Brian Williams reports from what's being called “Little Baghdad.”

It is hard to know exactly, but there may be as many as 700,000 Iraqis now here in Amman, Jordan.

Among them, the Kuba family from Baghdad. They fled after their shop was damaged by a car bomb, their home was broken into, and they were robbed of their life's savings and held hostage for three hours by an armed gang. The memories of what happened are still fresh for both father and son.

"Our hand was cuffed to the back, and we were kept in one room with one guy with a machine gun on us," says Dhafer Kubba.

"After the robbery, we lost everything, and even here I can't find a job," says his son Saif.

Almost like the Chinatown section in so many American cities, these new immigrants have set up a life that feels like home. The street signs are of familiar places back home: Ramadi, Mosul, Basra and Baghdad Street. While Iraqi license plates on cars used to be a rare sight in Amman, they're plentiful now. The neighborhood we visited, by the way, is about 200 yards from where President Bush is to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Many of the Iraqis who have come here came with virtually nothing. They were on the run and needed a way out. But some have great wealth, and they are changing Amman in other ways.

There are already high-end retail stores run by Iraqis, and still others that cater to wealthy Iraqis. There's a construction boom under way to house the steady stream of people. And while it's hard for this city of 6 million to take on this many people, it may be even harder when they go home, as many of the Iraqis plan to do, if and when their country stabilizes.

For now, however, this is safe, and this is home.

"We are not seeing the same things we saw in Baghdad for the last three years," says Saif Kubba.