I arrived in Erbil in mid January 2016, coming straight from Guinea Africa, and it was quite a big change.
Erbil is in the Kurdish region or Iraq, in the north of the country towards the border of Turkey. Since arriving I have traveled between Erbil and further north to Duhok several times. The drive is a round about way to get to Duhok safely and it is quite amazing, through stunning snow covered mountains to one side and rolling green hills to the other, it really is quite impressive.
Both Erbil and Duhok are very safe cities and I am free to walk around despite the vicious war being at times being 60 ams away. There are plenty of shopping malls, supermarkets and even a movie cinema. Inside the shopping mall in Erbil, you would not realise that it is in Iraq, it could easily be in almost any western region.
The people are all very friendly and they are predominantly Kurdish speakers but there are also lots of Arabic speakers. Yet is is a place where many people are ohm the move, having been forced to flee their home towns or villages due to the war and the demographic is constantly changing as the wr enters new regions.
Both cities are very clean and the inner city roads and the highways are excellent quality!! Only thing that is taking some adjusting to is the cold since leaving western Africa!! One thing that does stand out is the amount of unfinished buildings.
With recent drop in oil prices there is a shift in the security situation and many construction sites that have been abandoned for the time being. From the room of my hotel when I arrived I could see 9 unfinished apartment buildings, all 7 or 8 stories.
it will be interesting to see how the shift in the economy impacts on the alliances and the numerous groupings in the region.