Er­bil De­light

Re­tain­ing our her­itage

The Kurdish Globe - - LAST PAGE - Ruwayda Mustafah Rabar

We need to do more to make this city tourist friendly

Er­bil is un­der­go­ing ma­jor ren­o­va­tions to re­tain its her­itage, en­abling tourists to un­der­stand the his­tory of this an­cient city.

A coun­try is best known for its his­tory, and through that we can find out about its life­style, cul­ture and lo­cal cus­toms. So­ci­eties that pre­serve their cul­ture, and her­itage tend to have a greater sense of iden­tity than those that are mod­ern­ized to an ex­tent where they im­i­tate other so­ci­eties. What makes Kur­dis­tan dif­fer­ent is that we are Kur­dish, and we have some­thing to of­fer that other so­ci­eties do not have. The rea­son tourists are ex­cited to visit this city is be­cause we are ‘dif­fer­ent’ from where they come from cul­tur­ally, and if we de­stroy all that is cul­tural about this city, we are in ef­fect de­stroy­ing the huge eco­nomic boost from tourism that this re­gion could at­tract.

I of­ten walk by the Ci­tadel in Er­bil city. There are con­struc­tion work­ers all over the place. Changes are be­ing made to the mar­kets, and a great level of at­ten­tion is given to this his­tor­i­cal site, which is one of the world’s old­est. Look­ing at the Ci­tadel, an over­whelm­ing sense of pride over­comes me. This is our city, and one day we will right­fully call our­selves a coun­try, in our own right. We have the re­spon­si­bil­ity to make sure, when the day of in­de­pen­dence comes, we are fully pre­pared. This in­cludes treat­ing the tourism sec­tor prop­erly, and en­sur­ing that we lo­cals don’t for­get our cus­toms.

While in Lon­don, I loved the ‘Brit- ish­ness’ of ev­ery­thing. De­spite the ma­jor changes, there were ob­vi­ous as­pects of it that screamed ‘Bri­tish’. Sim­i­larly in Is­tan­bul, there were ‘Turk­ish’ prac­tices that were ob­vi­ous to tourists, and in Kur­dis­tan we need ‘Kur­dish’ things to be iden­ti­fied im­me­di­ately by tourists. This is how we can re­claim our her­itage, and en­sure that our so­ci­ety pros­pers for gen­er­a­tions to come, de­spite the ob­sta­cles that might come our way.

The old­est in­hib­ited place known by mankind is the Ci­tadel, which we have in Er­bil city. It is a na­tional trea­sure, a bea­con of pride and joy. It high­lights what is dif­fer­ent about us, and in those lit­tle houses within the Ci­tadel, there are many sto­ries to tell, but few have been told. Un­for­tu­nately, some as­pects of this mar­velous ci­tadel was ‘mod­ern­ized’ and ‘mod­i­fied’ while peo­ple were still liv­ing there. Con­se­quently, the ad­di­tions that were made de­stroyed its ‘an­cient’ look. How­ever, ren­o­va­tions are now be­ing made to re­store its old im­age, and to give tourists a sense of what this city has to of­fer.

No one can doubt that we are dif­fer­ent as Kurds, but we must not be­come blind by mod­ern build­ings, fancy cars and lux­u­ri­ous shop­ping malls. When peo­ple come to visit Kur­dis­tan, they should go back with a story to tell, sou­venirs to take, and a pos­i­tive im­age of us. If they go back with pic­tures of tall build­ings, and shop­ping malls, the dis­ap­point­ment for me is be­yond ex­pres­sion. We have a rich her­itage that needs to be ex­plored, high­lighted, and made pre­sentable to the world.

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