At the centre of Arbil sitting on a raised hill is the Citadel which is he oldest continually inhabited city in the world, it was very hot but I decided to walk up to have a look. I was the only person there and as I started to walk inside I thought wow, one day this will be a UNESCO site, 100 meters later there was a UNESCO sign saying, under renovation. Most of the site wasn’t accessible. As I walked towards the mosque there were a few local people about and the Imam came out to talk to me, when he found out I was English he asked me to follow him into a private room where he showed me a collection of paintings and pictures of the Citadel dating back centuries which were painted or taken mainly by English men. He was very proud of the Citadel and pleased to see me. He asked me to sign the visitors book and he proudly showed me other comments from English people over the years.
I have heard it said that Arbil is like Dubai was 20 years ago, if true I am privalliged to be visiting this amazing city now as I’m sure that when the situation in Iraq calms down and westerners realise how friendly everyone is they will be bussing people into Arbil by the thousand to see the Citadel.
Early evening I went to get some food and I met Haval, a local man. For the next 6 hours we walked, saw the city and discussed everything from religion to how his city is being transformed by the massive development and investments. I am getting a good feeling about Kurdistan and the people but I worry what will become of the place as they modernise towards a Dubai like city.