1. The books café
Nothing fancy. Just warm and cosy. The Cultural Capital, Sulaimaniya, has plenty of these in every little street corner. Come to the business capital and there is nothing. Not a single place where you can go and read a book or write a few words without choking on the smell of Hookah (alternative names argeela, nargeela). There is no warm and cozy here. I know there is Pages Café in Ankawa but here is what I am thinking of…
2. Handmade Souvenirs/ gift House
This idea is inspired by when I was visiting the prison in Erbil for my research. The women there were making handmade jewellery, very pretty ones too. We have women in shelters, at home, girls in orphanages or those in villages who make beautiful things. Why don’t we have a souvenirs/ gift shop with everything Made in Kurdistan, let it be Kurdish souvenirs. Everything you buy has a tag on it. The little tag includes information when it was made, by who and how long it took. In the end half of the money of every product sold goes back to the person who made it.
You can also purchase a wrapping paper and a little card as well to wrap your gift with – all a Kurdistan theme.
In the main shop you can also have a woman making Jli Kurdi (traditional clothes), making Kulicha, nani tiri etc. then you can have stands in the airport, malls, hotels too.
I no longer will have to take Kurdish souvenirs to my friends abroad with ‘made in china’ written at the bottom.
3. Mother & child edutainment
This idea is inspired by my neighbour’s kids and their stay-at-home mother. She doesn’t have a schedule for them, and their enjoyment is watching TV or they fight over their mum’s iPhone for games. Why don’t we have activities for the kids in malls where mother and child can go together. Story telling, puppet shows, drawing or even a mini farm for mummy and her little child to see/ feed little animals? Something for average mums, not the wealthy who can afford prestigious day cares. This will be like a shop located in the middle of a mall, but let’s say free of charge? The core of this idea is edutainment – education and entertainment.
4. Book shop
Can you believe the capital of Kurdistan doesn’t have a decent public library with new books, nor does it have a proper book shop? You know, the Waterstones type. Yup. I am mad. As a matter of fact it’s shameful that we have a good dozen malls and not a single book shop like this in any of them.
5. Recreational Kurdish Gallery
what about a café with a Kurdish theme? Something like the teahouses in the bazar but somewhere more appropriate for girls to visit (and smoke free). Somewhere to take your laptop and finish off work while you are served with chai in an Istikan. Or even better, you can sit on the floor in a kurdawari décor with a samawar in the corner? This, my friend, is the dream café my three friends and I are dreaming to open — but if you have the money to do so now, then please go ahead and we will be your best customers. This place will also have space for artists, poets and song writers to go and spend time in while practicing their hobbies. The focus, don’t forget, is a Kurdish culture theme.
Jamal Penjweny has created something similar to this idea in Sulaimaniya’s Café 11.
I couldn’t find exactly what we have in mind no matter how much I asked Mr. Google, but similar to these pictures except add the Kurdish theme.
6- Boutique and courses
I promised five, but there are a trillion other ideas including a bridal boutique (not a single nice bridal dress in all of Kurdistan. Unless you search till your back, eyes, and legs hurt so much that you’re no longer fit to be a bride. Even if you find something you kind-of like it will need a million alterations). And finally my favourite idea: A training courses company that provides training for cheap prices in little simple things like photography, cooking, makeup, personal styling, dieting, healthy lifestyles, confidence building, public speaking etc. Something like The Agenda Beirut, but in Erbil.
Let me know what other ideas you have in the comments below.
Lots of love from
My Nest in Kurdistan,