First Travel Guide about Kurdistan in English underway
A Dutch lady, Yvonne Van der Bijl, is collecting information on Kurdistan Region in order to make the first Travel Guide book about the region in English language. Van der Bijl is a photographer, writer, visual artist, and performer. She has previously produced travel guide books on several other countries including Guatemala, Bolivia, and Morocco.
The idea of producing the travel guide on Kurdistan came after Van der Bijl was informed by his friend Parwez Zabihi, a Kurdish man, about the importance of the region in 2011.
"I chose Guatemala, Bolivia, and Morocco because of the traditional culture their people have. I understand that Kurdistan has a traditional culture as well. To make a travel guide for me and many people in the world is very important. My idea is to attract the attention of travelers in Europe and all over the world to visit Kurdistan," said Van der Bijl
The concept of the travel guide is to get readers acquainted with background information on landscape, weather, history, music, situation of women, and several other things in Kurdistan. According to Van der Bijl what People in Holland hear about Kurdistan is all negative because of the newspapers. But the travel guide will make a different stand point about Kurdistan. It will make the readers to know positive things about the region.
The book contains also practical information about hotels, restaurants, archeological sites, tourist attrac- tions and all the interesting places. "I am sure if someone visits Kurdistan and has the book, he can go to all the interesting places without depending on others."
Van der Bijl and Zabihi have taken many pictures in Kurdistan and gathered necessary information about the region for the sake of producing a beneficial guide. The book will be edited by Max Scott, an editor and publisher in London and will be published by Gilgamesh-Publishing London, a publisher in London for producing books about Middle East. All the works of the guide is expected to be completed in mid April.
Van der Bijl started the project in April 2011 and made three big trips to Kurdistan. In her last trip, Van der Bijl concentrated on Christian, Jewish, and Yazidi cultures in the region. There is also a list of highlights about the recommended places people can go to.
When asked if the book will have a lot of buyers, Van der Bijl answered, "I am sure the book is very beneficial and have readers once it is published. My other books have good number of readers. I hope this will have a big number of readers as well. The travel guide has also information for business travelers and expats,"
Van der Bijl has some ideas about advertising for the book once published. She plans to make presentations in an Art Center in Amsterdam and in all the provinces of Erbil, Duhok, and Suleimaniya. She also participated in the first World Kurdish Congress where she talked about the archeological and tourist locations. She plans to take part in the second World Kurdish Congress where she can talk about the book.
"I am not saying that Kurdistan is paradise but I want to be realistic and show what is right. I am sure the book can change people's mind concerning the region. That way many investors can be attracted to invest in the region as well," Van der Bijl noted
Van der Bijl has also a historical and sociological woman project, which is a documentary book on two famous women, Hapsa Khan Naqeeb and Van der Bijl's grandmother, Harkje. She has made a comparison between them in the respect of their educational and political achievements.
"I collected information and pictures of Naqeeb in Suelimaniya University, and Flokwang museum and a library in London. The book shows that both women tried for the emancipation of women and raising educational level of women," Van der Bijl disclosed
The book tells the readers that both women created opportunities for women to educate themselves. Van der Bijl's aim is to make women raise their education level through reading the book in which she emphasized on the importance of woman position in the society.
In Van der Bijl's view, women can do nothing without education and she thinks many good things have been done for Kurdish women but more things yet need to be done. Van der Bijl paid her tribute to her oldest friend, Baban Kirkuki who is a Kurdish poet writing in Dutch, for doing translations for the book. "Baban Kirkuki opened Kurdistan for me. I met with him in 2002 when I knew nothing about Kurdistan,"
Van der Bijl has other projects underway, but right now she is only focusing on the guide and the women documentary book on Hapsa Khan Naqeeb and her grandmother.
"I tried to connect Dutch culture with the Kurdish culture. Through my works, I want with all my heart to put Kurdistan on the map." She concluded
Van der Bijl pose or a photo with Travel Guide project at the Barista Café, Erbil, February 12, 2013.