Taq Taq, one of the richest Kurdish towns

Taq Taq bridge on the Lesser Zab River. (Photo: Taq Taq Facebook Page)
Taq Taq bridge on the Lesser Zab River. (Photo: Taq Taq Facebook Page)

Too much water, too much oil. That is Taq Taq town. But what about its amazing landscapes, lush gardens, and the natural surroundings adjacent to the Lesser Zab River?

This small town is 5 kilometers (3 miles) downstream from the Taq Taq Dam, built by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in 2007. The dam is now a rich source for irrigation and flood control. It’s also a hydropower station that produces 620 megawatts of power.

Taq Taq oilfield is the largest one in the Kurdistan Region. Saddam Hussein's regime capped its wells to prevent Kurds from profiting off it. After the 1991 uprising, the KRG controlled the area and restored those wells. After 2003, when the United States deposed Saddam's regime, the area was developed extensively by Genel Energy, an Anglo-Turkish Company. The oilfield now produces at least 100,000 barrels per day.

The KRG has paid a lot of attention to the town in recent years. The government has preserved its natural beauty and has been developing the area for locals and tourists.

There are picnic benches alongside the river where tourists stay overnight during spring and summer. The area attracts thousands of tourists per year.

Picnicking in Taq Taq. (Photo: Taq Taq Facebook Page)
Picnicking in Taq Taq. (Photo: Taq Taq Facebook Page)

"Every spring, Taq Taq is my place for pleasure, for swimming, fishing, walking and living free from everyday stress and being closer to nature," said Sawsan Hakim, a local tourist. "Today, I am here to have lunch with my family and buy some fresh fish and go back to Sulaimani."

Taq Taq is 500 meters (1640 ft.) above sea level. The town's main focal point is the modern bridge used for commercial and private traffic.

"The bridge was built in 1954 by a German company," said Rabar Awni, a local historian. "It has been the spinal cord of the town, without which the town is dead."

Taq Taq bridge on the Lesser Zab River. (Photo: Taq Taq Facebook Page)
Taq Taq bridge on the Lesser Zab River. (Photo: Taq Taq Facebook Page)

According to Awni, 800 workers were working 24/7 for three years to build the bridge. Three of them even died as a result of the tiresome work.

Taq Taq's local population of 30,000 is proud of this bridge. Local people consider it as a valuable asset for their town. Aside from connecting the town to Erbil, Sulaimani, and Kirkuk, it also connects the 22 villages that surround the town.

"Because of its strategic significance, the Saddam regime and neighboring countries such as Iran tried to destroy it several times, but we have been lucky," said Omar Hassan, a local teacher.

Awni, the local historian, said that in 1918, a British officer made Taq Taq a district. In 1960, the Iraqi regime forced out the Kurds and named it "the village of Azzizya." However, in 1991, the KRG officially gave it back its original name and made it an official district.

Another amazing fact about this rich, small town is related to the women who live there.

"All women here know how to swim," said Awni. "Because back in the day, women had to cross the river to wash their clothes, so they learned swimming since childhood."