Paragliding through the mountains of the Kurdistan Region’s Duhok
On top of picturesque Zawa Mountain, several groups of paragliders from all over Iraq and the autonomous Kurdistan Region stood patiently, waiting for just the right gust of wind that could make them airborne.
Some of them had been waiting from early morning until evening, yet weren’t lucky to catch the perfect breeze, showing that, in a way that closely resembles surfing, this sport is very weather dependent.
As a safety measure, the pilots flew one at a time, in order to get to the designated landing point without issue.
The aim of this event, held in the Kurdistan Region’s Duhok province, is to select five finalists to make up the Iraqi national team to participate in an upcoming paragliding, motor gliding, and skydiving championship, also scheduled to take place in Duhok.
Zhiwar Rebwar, a young man originally from Halabja but now a member of the Hawler (Erbil) Paragliding Club, was busy rechecking his harness, reserve pack, helmet, and other specialized equipment.
He told Kurdistan 24 that he was very excited to be in Duhok and to have this opportunity to practice, hoping that his two years of practice would help him would do well in order to be selected to be part of the team.
“This sport is adventurous, yet very exciting and addictive,” he said. “The Kurdistan Region’s topography and weather are very suitable for this type of sport.”
He explained that he has previously taken to the air in several other locations in the Kurdistan Region that include Azmar Mountain in Sulaimani, Korek Mountain in Erbil, and Haibat Sultan in Koya.
Some other paragliding enthusiasts were also standing at the ready and staring at windsocks, which clearly show the direction the wind is blowing, to catch the right current and bound through the sky.
Beneath the mountain and at the landing point, another sportsman from Sulaimani named Harem Qadir was removing his helmet after touching down with a safe landing,
He praised the skills of his fellow adventurers in the Kurdistan Region and said he was hopeful they would all can perform admirably.
The local region itself has 25 like-minded individuals who came together in 2020 in what they call the Duhok Aero Club. Also, one of the only three people in Iraq who perform tandem paragliding is also from Duhok.
Mohammed Doski, leader of the group, has been awarded for being the most committed to following rules of paragliding, said the group needs more support to be better able to show their skills and represent their city and country in both regional and international championships.
According to the driven sportsman, lovers of paragliding from southern and central Iraq always ask for opportunities to perform in the Kurdistan Region because of its landscapes that naturally lend themselves to paragliding, which could have many other local benefits including boosting tourism.
Ali Atrushi, head of Kurdistan Region Aero Federation, said, “There are 15 clubs from all over Iraq, each with five members, and 45 of them have participated. Only 5 will be selected for the championship.”
Atrushi said that he has gone through many challenges and difficulties in Baghdad until he was able to found his own group in Kurdistan, but expressed much faith in the skills and ambitions of Kurdish paragliding clubs.
At the end of the day, Kurdistan 24 learned that Baghdad club came first, Halabja placed second, and Erbil took third place.
After the results were announced, the Halabja club were openly celebrating, since three of their members have now made it to the first and second Iraqi national team.
Despite hard landings from two competitors, the event can clearly be characterized as a success, both for the paragliders who participated that day, but also for an emerging sport that seems tailor-made for the mountains of the Kurdistan Region.