At the risk of being tedious, I’m going to do one more post on modern Erbil.
These pictures are from the Family Mall, Erbil, just two years old, located on Peshawa Qazi at about two o’clock on Erbil’s coordinates. The name is in English – the Arabic writing on the sign is simply the words “Family Mall” transliterated into Arabic (or more precisely, Kurdish) script.
The French hypermarket Carrefour is represented there, as is the regional housewares chain Istanbul Home, and there’s a KFC. The place is huge – these few pictures don’t do it justice. I am reliably informed that it gets up to 30,000 visitors on a weekend. You might forget that the place is located in Iraqi Kurdistan if it weren’t for the booths calling for donations to support Peshmerga families. (In fact it occurred to me that somebody might look at these pictures and say “Get out of here! That ain’t in no Kurdistan.” Which is why I included that picture.)
Rawand took me for a brisk tour of the mall, and we stopped for a glass of juice. (The Kurds are big juice drinkers.) He stopped at the bank to change some currency and we headed on out. As we were leaving, he called my attention to one of the cleaning workers pushing a broom.
“Almost all of those guys are foreign workers,” he said, young men from third-world countries. This is the challenge of Kurdistan’s new-found prosperity: young men are now unwilling to do what they consider to be menial jobs. It’s a problem Kurdish society will have to deal with.