YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Hellooooo Loyal Follower,
I often receive emails of people abroad asking questions about their permanent returns to Kurdistan. Now, let me just say one thing, from all the exclamation and question marks in their email I can tell they're stressed, and they probably haven't slept all night -- all week. Here I am answering a few questions of three different people who have emailed in the last few weeks:
Where is the best place to rent a house?
This seems to be everyone's major concern. Two of three emails asked the exact same question. Look, it all depends on your budget. Unlike many others places (UK in particular) generally the houses here are quiet large (ranging from 100-450 square meters) in the newer suburbs they usually have 3 story houses. So, to ease this down for you I will divide this into two sections-- $$ (a lot of money) and $ (not-so-much money), so, here we go:
|English Village in Hawler (Erbil)|
These areas are usually a little more (correction, a bit too...) expensive. They include areas near the airport like Dream City, Royal/ Empire, Naz City, English Village, Italian Village, Vital houses as well as the American village (which is about 20 minutes drive out of Erbil, but that is more like $$$. I won't explain the $$$ options because if you can afford it then you will be the type who will have someone doing everything for you and won't be reading this humble blog) Anyway...
|Empire, Royal Apartments, Hawler|
|American Village, Erbil|
If you thought this list is going to give you prices that is $200 or $400 then I am sorry to disappoint you. The price for the suburbs I am going to list range from $600 to $1, 000 a month - RENT. These include Bakhtiary (one of my favorite areas) and Waziran (just opposite Bakhtiary) there are also places like Shorsh, 94, Dolarawa, Zanko etc.
|Houses in Erbil's new suburbs|
What are some good/special schools for my children?
Wait. Let me google the name first, I can never get the spelling right, OK, here it is, the International School of Choueifat (SABIS) is probably the most elite, expensive, good quality (education wise) school in Erbil. Basically, it is for the sons of daughters of leaders, top businessmen and those who can afford it. It costs around $4, 000 a year in addition to food, books, transportation etc. The curriculum is all in English and I must admit myself it looks very prestigious and elegant. Although expect your child to be picked up by the school bus as early as 7 am and return as late as 5 pm and HAVE HOMEWORK on top of all this! I know, poor kid. That's the expensive option.
|Choueifat, School in Erbil|
There is also a school called Fakhir Merga Soor, which is located closer to the airport and based inside the city, there is the French School (teaches entirely in French and has one English and a Kurdish lesson) there is also a high school for gifted children with most, if not all, the curriculum being taught in English. Although good (no, not 'good' but high) grades and an entry exams are prerequisites here!
Choueifat, Gifted School and Fakhir Mergasoor are mixed, most other schools in the city are unisex. Other schools are all public, the quality in general is poor and all the classes are Kurdish (there are two Arabic schools).
I can't live without internet, how can I sort that out?
|Nawand Telecom office in Erbil|
NAWAND TELECOM, internet in Erbil: 07503065013 or 0662575310
Which is the best telecommunication company for my sim-card?
Well well well... who should I do an advert for? The main companies are ASIA CELL, KOREK and ZAIN at the moment. In Erbil most people have a KOREK number, while most in Slemani have ASIA CELL. Both have their own offers, so it all depends on your calls. Korek provides a BlackBerry service (I think Asia might as well) and they both do internet service for your phone. For Korek you can pay as little as 10, 000 ID for an entire month of [slow] internet connection.
|Korek re-charge card|
ASIA CELL: http://www.asiacell.com/
Can I still do sport in Erbil?
Ummm. DAAAAH!! Sorry, but it does frustrate me sometimes when the media doesn't portray Kurdistan as it is. Yes there are gyms and there are women, men and young people who go. So there are various options... where do we start from? hmmm..
|J&K in Erbil, women's sport/ fitness|
LBC (Lebanese Beauty Center)- This is one of the top salons in Erbil, the second floor is a gym. I must admit it is very neat and tidy. Small in size, but I went there for three weeks (lost too much weight and I quit. Note: The purpose of my visit was to gain a few kilos and make some muscles! Yeah I know what you're thinking). This is located on Shorsh street (close to Royal Mall).
|Lebanese Beauty Center in Erbil - salon and gym|
I have a great job offer, but is there going to be a chance for my wife to find something to do?
Congratulations on your job! Let me guess, an oil company? ;) If she has a degree there are various vacancies around, I know the university of Kurdistan Hewler has job vacancies, so do various local NGOs, she can also do volunteering here and there. Email me and I will find her something to do.
Meanwhile, keep an eye on Jobs In Kurdistan Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/job.kurd?fref=ts a good friend of mine runs it, might be of help!
Easy. Three options: Hello Taxi, Pink Taxi, Street Taxi.
|Pink Taxi in Erbil|
|A normal Taxi Kurdistan - no need for booking|
Sadly, public transportation is not always recommended or reliable, though we are all waiting for the metro to start toootttttiiiiiiing near the citadel (I can't wait!).
|Train in Erbil (future) "Next stop Qalat!"|
Oh My God. Where oh where do I start? In two years time every road in this city is going to have a shopping mall. But for now here are the main ones.
This is located after the Rizgari Hospital. Here, there is the City Center, where you can do you major shopping including fruits, veggies, and everything else you may need. It is the place where you can actually find the ingredients to a recipe you find online! Then there is Vakko, fancy watch and glasses shops as well as clothing, shoes, Levis, and good bunch of other stores. Price rates here are at the higher range. There is also a perfume shop and two sports shops. How can I forget the diamond/ jewelry shop.
|Majidi Mall, Erbil|
Located on the 100 meter road, Family Mall is when you go on a Thursday or a Friday afternoon and you CAN NOT FIND A PLACE TO PARK basically there is a wide range of shops. Everything from your iPhone, to your DKNY handbag can be purchased here. This is also linked to Family Fun, where there many rides and children's entertainment. So, a MAJOR attraction for nearly everyone. If you're going to spend a day of your weekend there, be ready to bump into many of your friends. Family Mall also includes Carrefour, where you can get your food shopping done (although I prefer City Center in Majidi... if I ever do food shopping).
|Family Mall, Erbil|
|Royal Mall, Erbil|
|Royal Mall, Erbil|
|Tablo Mall, Erbil|
Rhein Mall is mostly clothing, shoes, games for kids and lots and lots of bridal shops. It is located in Iskan. Prices here are more expensive than the bazaar but much cheaper than Majidi and Family Mall.
|Rhein Mall, Erbil|
|Shopping in the heart of Erbil|
|Langa Bazaar in Erbil (Mostly secondhand)|
Are there places where I can just hang around?
Well well well... if you asked six or seven years ago I would have had a hard time telling you where to go, but these days there is actually a lot of choices. It all depends on what you prefer: With hookah? Without hookah? Outdoors? Indoors? Girls? Guys? etc... but here are a few options suitable for most people.
|Robert's Cafe in Family Mall|
|Costa Rica on Gulan street|
|MADO in Family Mall, Erbil|
|Second Cup, Erbil, Royal Mall|
I will close off this entry here, but if you look at previous entries you will see places to visit, where to go and things to try! So look around the blog and please feel at home (baxer hati, sar chaw!) and if you have any questions drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictures taken from everywhere and everyone. Sorry I haven't mentioned the source. Too many to name, but only few are my own, others were stolen from the internet, for a very innocent purpose! :) By the way I don't think I need to mention which pictures were taken by me. They speak for themselves. ;)