Couples planning to wed in Kurdistan, especially in Kurdistani capital of Erbil, choose to set the ceremonies on the mountain heights of Bekhal and Shaqlawa, and also in public gardens especially the modern, well-designed gardens of Sami Abdul Rahman
near the Kurdistan Parliament.
Mina Abdul Hameed, a bride, told Gulf News: "What distinguishes my wedding ceremony from others is simplicity and attachment to nature.
"I decided to set my wedding on the slopes of Bekhal mountains and it is a wonderful area ... we have a comfortable atmosphere and have great pleasure. For me this is the [best place to wed]."
Open air parties
In weddings in Erbil, women and men dance and sing Kurdish, Iraqi and other traditional Arabic songs, and distribute drinks, sweets and cakes.
The groom sits encircled by male guests while the bride sits on the ground in her white wedding dress surrounded by women guests.
The groom later joins the bride in a single circle of friends and the couple eventually leaves for their house or a hotel for honeymoon.
Mohammad Shaker, a groom, told Gulf News: "Choosing to wed in the foothills and slopes of the mountains or in public gardens like Sami Abdul Rahman's gardens has nothing to do with the economical aspects.
"Wedding ceremonies are set in public areas especially in summer and spring, unlike winter when wedding ceremonies take place indoors. This is how things go in Kurdistan."
He added: "I am a Kurd from Baghdad. I decided to flee to Erbil to live and work. I was engaged [when I fled] and set my wedding ceremony amid this magnificent landscape and scenes, which are very much similar to European landscapes."
Mina Abdul Hameed.
There are plans to attract Arab and foreign investors to establish tourism facilities in Dukan, Sarsank, Shaqlawa, Sulaf, Bekhal and Ali Gali Bek.
Some sources in Erbil estimate that Kurdistan needs $3 to 4 billion (about Dh11 to 14 billion) in the next five years to develop its tourism industry.
Since 1991, the Kurds of Iraq achieved self-rule in part of the country. Today's teenagers are the first generation to grow up under Kurdish rule. In the new Iraqi Constitution, it is referred to as Kurdistan region. Kurdistan region has all the trappings of an independent state -- its own constitution, its own parliament, its own flag, its own army, its own border, its own border patrol, its own national anthem, its own education system, its own International airports, even its own stamp inked into the passports of visitors.