The biggest and greenest of Erbil’s parks is undoubtedly Sami Abdu-Rahman.
A favorite spot among the residents of Erbil for family picnics and a welcome refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city, Sami Abdu-Rahman Park has all you would expect a park of this size to offer. Several well-equipped play areas for children, lakes, cafes, planted walks, boat rides, fountains and a garden restaurant offering a basic but well-prepared selection of local culinary delights.
Formerly a large military complex (complete with detention center) under the regime of Saddam Hussein, the park, which stretches over hundreds of acres has metamorphosed under the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) into a natural haven.
The park takes its name from a former Prime Minister who was killed in a 2004 suicide bomb attack that claimed around a hundred lives. A large monument in the park dedicated to the victims of the blast provides a solemn reminder of Iraq’s bloody history and Kurdistan’s struggle for autonomy. A poignant inscription on the monument reads simply: “Freedom is not free”.
Sami Abdu-Rahman Park today is divided into well-mapped sections catering for all sectors of Erbil society. Leafy walkways for young lovers out on an evening stroll, rolling lawns and flower gardens for picnics and family celebrations, a small amphitheater and a newly opened health club complete with open air swimming pools, a gym and a sauna.
During the summer months, the park stays open long after sunset and this is when it is at its busiest. If you’re curious to know what the citizens of Erbil get up to of an evening, a trip to Sami Abdu-Rahman Park is sure to offer you a privileged insight.