The story of the Malls in Erbil

My dear (most loyal) reader*, I have great news for all the Kurdish men out there! Are you ready?

Foreign businessmen were quick to realize the weakness of women in this country and for all your delight, the creation of malls has been (and continues to be) high on the agenda.

Here is the story in Erbil. We (the women, of course!) had Naza Mall and we thought we were really lucky. Then came Rhein Mall, and for us girls that was equivalent to paradise. Not too long later it was followed by Hawler Mall and, let’s be honest, our expectations with the quality of the goods were not met. Soon came Maxi Mall, and that compensated for the previous disappointment.

Above: Majidi Mall, known for the Big Clock and its large parking area (By the way, Mango is here too!)

Then there was the big bomb, Majidi Mall–that’s when we thought we had it all. But little did we know there were other surprises up the sleeves of businessmen. Sofy Mall was next–the daughter of Majidi–but still we liked the former just a little bit more. Businessmen realized that we became harder to please, then came Family Mall. With no sarcasm, it really did exceed all expectations and set the bar sky high.

Above: Picture of the new Family Mall, right next to Erbil’s largest theme park- Family Fun!

Above: This is a picture taken from high up one of the new builings, cross the road is Sofy Mall (See the red sign?) Dear me, all the places I go just for the sake of this blog 🙂

The story continues–Ankawa Mall, Tatlisias Mall and Banu Mall are all currently in the making—and I won’t be surprised if on this early Friday morning there are people sitting on round tables planning for the next big Mall in Erbil.

Above: If you don’t believe me, here it is Ankawa Mall – in the making!

Above: Banu Mall, under construction today, but be sure to drop by in your next visit to Erbil…it wil be open.

You see, every new mall is one step above the previous. If you followed the above story closely you will realize we have progressed far up the ladder in the shopping world. Today in Kurdistan’s capital shopping is not about just buying the necessities to live life, today it is about fashion, quality, enjoyment oh and how can I forget – designer brands!

Don’t be surprised if you hear these conversations:

Friend A: “Haven’t seen you in a while, I miss you”

Friend B: “Well let’s catch up!”

Friend A: “Why not, we’ll meet up for coffee,”

Friend B: “Great! Where?”

And here it is, the big ‘where?’ I remember four years back there really was nowhere, (other than the few places that were overcrowded and you just didn’t feel comfortable to go without a father, brother or a male cousin). Today, it’s a different world.

When I see these things taking place, it makes me happy. I know it is not a life that all classes of our society can indulge in, but it’s fulfilling to know that we have the facilities and services that other people in other corners of the world are enjoying.

Having said all this I still think we shouldn’t miss out on having sweet Kurdish tea at the Chaykhana (tea house) and don’t be too carried away with all the malls, because believe me there is no better shopping (cultural) experience than Erbil’s very own Qaysary Bazaar.

The negative side of this is that almost everything is made in Turkey, Syria, China, and every other place in the world, but nothing, absolutely NOTHING, is made in Kurdistan! This frustrates me!

* AKA: My shopping partner, Mum!

My “Memoirs” column in the Kurdish Globe this week looks into this issue of the new malls more in details, see:
All pictures were taken by me! EXCLUSIVELY and SPECIALLY for this blog. Loyal blogger to loyal readers!

15 thoughts on “The story of the Malls in Erbil

Add yours

  1. I remain the sceptical one. I don't think the construction of better, bigger and more glam Malls is going to give women the freedom they need to e.g. meet up in coffee shops without male harassing.

    I sent you an email, but you didn't reply, is it the right email that you have on your profile?

    Keep up the good work, mashaAllah! Very proud of you xoxox.


  2. Dear Ruwayda…
    I agree with you 100% (if you read previous blog entries you will realize this), in Kurdistan, at his sensitive phase we must work to build both infrastructure and also the general awareness, development, education and the social status of the people.

    Women's freedom is much greater than just having the chance to go to a mall, I understand this for sure. Women's freedom begins with the voice she has inside the walls of her own house. Having said this, the construction and infrastructure does have its own benefits and does assist the process… gradually. Step by Step. I remain to be the optimistic one.

    I am proud of you, for being so loving to your Kurdish identity while living far from Kurdistan.


  3. Hey Sazan Gyan, thanks for replying to my email. I am proud of my Kurdish heritage, no doubt. I think as a Kurd living outside, it's much harder for me to accept the injustice many women face in Kurdistan. (more details of which I will email).

    I think you are 100% correct about a woman's voice in her own household. Her voice must be recognised, respected and appreciated. And she must assert her presence, I think it's going to take more than education. For decades our women have been educated, and continue to advance their studies, but the male dominance and privileges are not diminishing.

    P.s. InshaaAllah we'll have that coffee in hawler together, one day.


  4. I couldn't stop laughing, the way you wrote this entry was enjoyable, smart way to discuss all the malls. I hear of French mall or shop opening as well.. is this true? how are the people receiving this? they accepting all the change or not?

    your blog is good insight to Kurdistan for us, who don't know a lot about it. Thank you


  5. Thats why Kurdistan is so special – here everything can exist next to each other without problems – modern shopping malls next to traditional bazars. thats really great.
    But not only this. Kurdistan is dominated by Islam – but as i said before – how much different it is from other muslim countries. Few days ago my mum told me that in Iraq (not in Kurdistan, in Iraq) arabs dont want christian people to celebrate christmas, dont want to allow any Christmas decorations, goods etc. What they did to Assyrians few weks ago? Now look at Kurdistan – civilized country where people of differewnt religious background living together peacufully. where muslims injiy christmas time just as a december festival, another reason to have happy time – its great. I used to see Kurds saying (wtritting in internet) – “merry christams to our christian brothers”.
    I am proud of you, Kurdistan.


  6. Dear Kulka!! – The Kurdish sister!!

    I don't have much to say but we are proud to have you!!

    As for the Christians here, I can tell you that we are celebrating this festive time of the year together! The Christmas trees are in all the shops, and many streets (And even houses) are decorated. I am glad this type of atmosphere is apparent in Kurdistan. Hope that you can come and see all this for yourself soon.


  7. Sazan Xan Xushkakam 🙂

    Soon I will experience the spirit of Newroz – first time in a place where Newroz belongs to – not like before only watching on tv. less than 3 months left…
    But next year – who knows, maybe i will come to see kurdish Christmas time!

    See you my Great Sister and my best wishes to our friend Julie.


  8. Hawlery from Canada

    Hi Sazan Mandalawi.

    I enjoy reading your aticles and i have read most of them and they are so hilarious.
    i am so glad that i could hear that there are now lots of beautiful places have been built in my home town; people could spend good time in those beautiful places.
    keep writing,,, go girl go..
    happy new year


  9. Great job of advertising all the developments in Erbil. But especially for our own people it might also be good to highlight biger problems occuring when driving so fast the road to achievments. In Family Mall for example we do have a situation where a Turkish company (branch of John Lang Lasalle) has been contracted to manage the mall, with huge problems. They can not provide proper services, lured teh tenents with wrong promisses and have no communication skills with the tenents at all, leading to frustration and the fact that the tenents are now threatend by this Management to pay a redicioulus high service charge of USD 10;- or the electicity will be cut off. I believe this is a story that has to be written on. Dear Sazan, hope you will follow up on that.


  10. Hello there, Woman in Erbil really dont have anything other than these mall's. I am married to a Kurd have recently moved here from London to live and raise our family. Since moving here i have no social life no one to talk to it's really hard for a woman to go for a run, or hang out with all these MEN looking or tooting or jeering.
    Kurdish people are warm and friendly, i love the sunshine the mounatins the tea. But as a 31year old english woman in Erbil I feel caged and isolated.
    So yay! to all the malls with their shiney floors and dirty toilets. Keep them coming because it's the only space i get to walk around.


  11. @British Lady,

    i totally agree with you. Having been in Erbil now for little over one week, i wonder where all the women are? In the malls you see few of them, in the city hardly anyone…, just not bee too exited that live.
    I wonder how I can survive her the next years…


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