In a city with its heart in brewing istikans of tea, home of the oldest continuously inhabited place in the world. On a land watered by blood of martyrs, and a culture rooted in mountains, a bus is parked by a park named after a martyr and symbol of Kurdistan, Sami Abul Rahman.
At a time where cafes in Erbil have cigarette buds on tables, the Bus Café has books and hookah is not on the menu. It gives youth an affordable coffee when unable to meet the price of a coffee needing a heavier pocket less than one kilometre away.
The Bus Café is beyond just a café, but an experience where hundreds of young people in Erbil are guests of every week.
The entrepreneurial initiative began with the entire accumulated savings of three youth, Kani Abbasi, 23, Zhedar Hashim, 25 and Shadi Osman, 25. With four months of paperwork for a legal presence and opening, the café served its first coffee to the public on January 15, 2019. A week short of its first birthday celebration the Bus Café was forcefully closed down by the Erbil municipality.
Kurdistan Region’s power is in supporting its youth and their initiatives instead of adding obstacles out of the blue. The governorate, municipality and all ministries have a duty to pave the way and easy bureaucracy on young people with private projects.
At a time where the majority of youth are unemployed or are awaiting government employment private initiatives lift the economy, remove burden off the government and make dreams come true to otherwise hopeless young people.
The Bus Café is an icon of Erbil. It has become part of the culture of youth. It is home to education and literature, in a simple atmosphere. It has given a heartbeat to Martyr Sami Abdul Rahman’s name as his soul rests.
To initially grant legal permission for its opening and give 24-hour notice for close down less than a year later is to ridicule the young owners, and all humble youth owned businesses.
Erbil is a beautiful city, with credit to the governorate and municipality. However, the city is even warmer with the little corner shops, humble caravan businesses, and other little projects born from a young person’s hard work, vision and commitment.
The Bus Café, is one example of a modest business where the founders have done the woodwork themselves, with all the little flaws; the young co-owner hurting her fingers as she hammered pieces together, and spent the nights sanding and painting to save on expenses and remain within their tight budget.
These are the projects the government of Kurdistan continuously promises to support. These are the dreams it must keep alive. These are the times where government presents opportunities and solutions for youth instead of closing doors and shutting down dreams.
I look forward to hearing positive news
*Note: The Erbil municipality has given notice to four cafes/ street caravan-restaurants around Park Sami Abdul Rahman, including the Bus Café, to close down due to their location. I am advocating for all the cafes to remain, not just special privilege to the Bus Cafe Erbil.