Sulaimani, the Cultural Capital of Iraqi Kurdistan

The welcoming city of Sulaimani is known as the cultural center of the picturesque Kurdish region of Northern Iraqi, offering a variety of historical sites, literary and outdoor activities, cafes, restaurants and recreational parks.

 

(Photo: Ranj Sarraj, staff member) 

LIVING IN SULAIMANI 

Located in the mountains, Sulaimani offers beautiful, mild weather and many opportunities to hike and picnic with friends and family.

(Photo: Sarah Mathieu-Comtois, staff member)
 
"My two favorite things about Suliamani is the bazaar and the mountains.  I love to spend Saturdays there, not just for shopping, but to experience the city.  For me, the bazaar is the heat of Suliamani. The mountains surrounding Sulimani are incredible.  My husband and I love to drive up in the mountains for picnics, hiking, and long drives.  In the Spring, when everything is in bloom and green, there is no better place on Earth."
Rachel Gresk (Director of Academic Administration and Accreditation, AUIS)
 
Expats and students living in Sulaimani can find an active social life at the city’s modern cafes, restaurants, amusement parks, new shopping malls and cinemas.

(Photo: Ranj Abdullah) 

The central bazaar, local art galleries and museums offer a glimpse into the history of Sulaimani. A few hours’ drive from Sulaimani, the capital city Erbil offers five-star hotels, cinemas, and shopping malls. Erbil is home to the one of the world’s oldest citadels.

"Slemani has been a very pleasant surprise! I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here, the hospitality of the Kurdish people, and the peaceful lifestyle. I hope to spend much more time here in the future."
 Casey Poe (Instructor, Academic Preparatory Program, AUIS)

AUIS staff and students regularly arrange and attend literary and cultural events like poetry reading outside the University, in the numerous popular cafes and chaixanas (traditional tea shops) in the city. 

Sulaimani has an international airport, within a few munites drive from the University, that has regular flights to international airports in the region. 

The city boasts numerous parks, and is home to Hawari Shar - one of the largest urban parks in the Middle East. There are beautiful tourist landmarks and resorts, such as the picturesque Dukan Lake, Rawanduz, Darbandi Khan, Ahmed Awa, Tawela, Korek mountain resort, Pir-e-Magrun mountain only a few hours' drive from Sulaimani. 

"I love autumn in Sulaimani, it’s so nice to see the crunchy orange leaves on the floor, especially in the pathway of Baxi Gshty which is lined with statues of Kurdish poets. It is generally a very peaceful place, and because it is a small city, you always run into people you know."
 Lana Jabbar (English Literature '16; Communications Assistant, AUIS)

The University has large, modern dorm facilities located in the heart of campus. All students are welcome to register to live in the dorms. Residence facilities equipped with latest amenities are available for expatriate faculty members. 

Sulaymaniyah: Saving the dream city of a Kurdish prince: Al-Jazeera

Suly Today: A Sulaimani tour guide website created by students

Unbelievable Kurdistan: Official Kurdistan tourism website 

THE CITY'S HISTORY

The city of Sulaimani, or Al-Sulaymaniyah as known in Arabic and some formal correspondence, was founded by prince Ibrahim from the Baban tribe, known locally as Ibrahim Pasha Baban, in 1784. The story goes that Ibrahim Pasha was out hunting in the area when he ended up in the Sharazour plain, where the city is located now. He immediately fell in love with the spot and decided to build a city there, and named the city after his father, Sulaiman Pasha Baban. Unlike other cities in the region that grew from villages, Sulaimani was founded and established as a city from day one.

Sulaimani is located northeast of Iraq and southeast of Kurdistan. It is west of the Iranian border, which is the closest neighboring country to the city, and south from the Turkish border. Historically, it has functioned as a hub for trading between the two neighboring counties of Iraq and Iran. It has also influenced political and military movements of the two countries, especially in that region.

Sulaimani has not only influenced trading and politics of the region, but also has given birth to many famous Kurdish poets such as Nali, Mawlawi, Piramerd, Bekas, and most recently Sherko Bekas to name a few. It is known for naming its main streets after some of these poets. Because of its active and continuous contribution to the society’s art culture it is known and was named the Cultural Capital of Kurdistan by the Kurdish people and the Kurdistan Regional Government.

The scenery and beauty of the city have inspired many artists and poets throughout history.  It is surrounded by beautiful and long ranges of mountains that add unique natural scenery to it, especially during the winter when the mountains are covered in snow. It is a tourism destination for tourists from inside and outside the country. In addition to the destinations that the city offers, it is close to many other famous tourist destinations in the area such as Dukan, Ahmawa, and Zewe. Additionally, the famous Halgurd mountain peak at 3607 m height is in the vicinity of the city.

The city houses a population of 800,000 people as of 2016, two public universities, and five private universities including the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS).

View of the City taken from Azmer Mountain during sunset. (Photo: Korak Agha, AUIS staff member)

A view of the Azmer Mountain from Chavy Land - an amusement park in Sulaimani
(Photo: Korak Agha, AUIS staff member)

Sulaimani in winters (Photo: Korak Agha, AUIS staff member)

An autumn sunset in Sulaimani. (Photo: Korak Agha, AUIS staff member)