Life in Sulaimani | The American University of Iraq Sulaimani

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Life in Sulaimani

Nestled in the Zagros Mountains, Sulaimani is known as the Cultural Capital of the Kurdistan region and recognized as a UNESCO City of Literature. It is home to verdant public parks, theaters, galleries, cafes, modern shopping malls, and one of the country’s largest amusement parks. AUIS and Sulaimani are easily accessible by road and air travel with Sulaimani International Airport (ISU) located just over one kilometer from the University. A bustling traditional bazar - or marketplace - in the center of town also offers a unique shopping and entertainment experience.
Located in the mountains, Sulaimani offers beautiful, mild weather and many opportunities to hike and picnic with friends and family.
"The mountains surrounding the city 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.
The city also 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, Darbandikhan Lake, Ahmed Awa, Tawela, and Pir-e-Magrun mountain all just 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 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."
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. The central bazar, local art galleries and museums offer a glimpse into the history of Sulaimani.
"I love to spend Saturdays there, not just for shopping, but to experience the city. For me, the bazar is the heart of Sulaimani."
"Sulaimani 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."
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. Those looking to explore further can easily visit the region's capital city, Erbil, which offers five-star hotels, cinemas, and shopping malls. Erbil is also home to the one of the world’s oldest citadels.


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 has historically functioned as a hub for trading between Iraq and Iran. It has often influenced political and military movements of the two countries as a result of its strategic location.

The city has produced many famous Kurdish poets such as Nali, Mawlawi, Piramerd, Bekas, and most recently Sherko Bekas. The importance of that legacy is reflected in its main streets and avenues, which are named for these writers.

The scenery and beauty of the city have inspired many artists and poets throughout history.  It is surrounded by beautiful, long ranges of mountains that add unique natural scenery to the region, especially during the winter when the mountains are covered in snow. It is a tourism destination for visitors 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. ,