Preparing for the 4th Industrial Revolution

Visa Information

 

 

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Flights to the Kurdistan Region

The Kurdistan Region has two international airports: Erbil International Airport and Slemani International Airport. A new international airport is under construction in Duhok. Most flights operating from Europe and the Middle East fly directly to Kurdistan, without going via Baghdad. Several IATA scheduled carriers already fly to Erbil, and more IATA airlines are expected to start flights there. Several charter companies also operate flights to Erbil or Slemani. More information on the Erbil and Slemani airports can be found on their websites:

Overland route to the Kurdistan Region

Overland entry into the Kurdistan Region is possible through Turkey. The suggested route is to fly to Istanbul Ataturk Airport and then take a two-hour domestic flight to Diyarbakir. (Turkish visas can be obtained on arrival at Istanbul Airport. Baggage may have to be retrieved from the International Terminal and checked in at the Domestic Terminal.)

At Diyarbakir Airport taxis can be hired to drive to the Ibrahim Khalil/Habur border crossing point, Turkey’s border with the Kurdistan Region in Iraq. Many drivers do this journey frequently and are familiar with the route. It is advisable to settle the price beforehand, a guide price is USD 150, and to check that the driver has the necessary paper work to take passengers over the border. Because of the journey time it is advisable to start the overland journey in the early morning, staying overnight in Diyarbakir if necessary.

After crossing the border at Ibrahim Khalil, another taxi can take you to your destination in the Kurdistan Region. The approximate journey time from Diyarbakir to the border is 4 hours; then from the border to Dohuk is 1.5 hours; to Erbil 4 hours; and to Slemani 6 hours. There are alternative routes via Iran and Syria but these are less frequently travelled.

Currency

The local currency is the Iraqi Dinar. US Dollars are also widely used. Exchange rates as of 10 March 2014:

1 US Dollar = 1,162 Iraqi Dinars
1 Euro = 1,614 Iraqi Dinars
1 British Pound = 1,942 Iraqi Dinars

Please be aware that there are currently few ATM machines or credit card facilities. Cash is the only method of payment in the vast majority of shops, hotels and restaurants. Ensure you take enough with you in US dollars or Iraqi dinars for all your expenses including the hotel bill. Exchange facilities are available at the airport, international hotels and exchange shops in the bazaars.

Weather

Summer months (May-September) are very hot and dry, especially on the Erbil Plain, often reaching temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius. It is slightly cooler in the evenings and in the mountainous regions around Dohuk and Slemani. The winter months can be cool with rain and some snowfall.

Electrical appliances

Voltage is 220v. Both UK three-pronged and European two-pronged plugs are in use. Visitors are advised to take a universal adapter with them. Adapters can also be purchased in small electrical shops in the bazaars of towns and cities.

Mobile phones & internet connection

Asiacell, Korek, and Zain are the Kurdistan Region’s largest mobile phone service operators, and have roaming agreements with several foreign operators, including European and American companies. If you wish to use your mobile locally please check with your mobile phone service operator whether it has a roaming agreement with these networks.

Rather than using your home mobile SIM card, it is advised to buy a local SIM card which are inexpensive and can be purchased in many shops throughout the Region. Top-up payment cards for local SIMs are widely available.

Internet connection is now available in many hotels and most cafes and restaurants. Not all connections are broadband speed. It is also possible to buy an internet USB stick and top-up credit.

Postal and freight services

International letters and packages can be sent by normal post to and from the Kurdistan Region, but postage times are longer than normal. As postal or zip codes have only recently been introduced to the Kurdistan Region, it is important to put the mobile phone number of the recipient on the envelope or parcel. The post office in Erbil is near the Citadel, close to the old court building. Please ask for directions. The Arabic word for post, which is also used in Kurdish, is ‘bareed’.

Fedex, DHL and TNT offer air freight services to and from Kurdistan, please contact them for details.

National holidays

A list of national holidays and important dates is available here.

Food and drink

Kurdish cuisine is based on lamb, chicken, rice and bread, and the use of many fresh herbs and vegetables. Fish served in restaurants is often barbecued over an open fire to make a traditional Iraqi dish called mazgouf. Fresh fruit or baklava, a Middle Eastern flaky pastry and nut dessert, is usually served with sweet black tea, after the main course.

While many types of fruit and vegetables are available throughout the year, seasonal and local products, such as wild asparagus, native rhubarb, green almonds and buffalo yoghurt, are highly prized and enjoyed. Black tea with sugar is the most popular beverage both inside and outside the home. Drinking alcohol in moderation is acceptable in some restaurants and hotels. Drunken and loud behaviour is frowned upon.

Kurdish phrases

There are two dialects of Kurdish spoken in the Kurdistan Region in Iraq: Kurmanji, spoken mainly in Dohuk, and Sorani, spoken in Erbil and Slemani.

How are you?  - Choni?
I am good - bashm
Good morning - Bayani Bash
Good afternoon/evening - Ewara Bash
Good night - Shaw Bash
Good day - Roj Bash
Welcome - Bakher Bey
How much is this? - Ama ba chanda?
Yes - Bale
No - Naxer
Please - Bey-zahmet/Tkaya
Thank you - Supas / Mamnoon
You’re welcome - Shayani niya
Mr Ahmed - Kak Ahmed (honorific term for men)
Miss/Mrs Sayran - Sayran Khan (honorific term for women)
With pleasure - basarchaw
Excuse me – Bbura / Ba yarmateet
Do you speak English - Inglizi azani?
I don’t speak Kurdish - Kurdi nazanm
One - Yak
Two - Doo
Three - Se
3000 Dinar - Se Hazar Dinar
Tea - Cha

 
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