Authorities adapt festivities to sacred month

Kurdistan prepares for Newroz amid Ramadan overlap

AKRE – The Kurdistan Regional Government has announced plans to hold this year’s Newroz celebrations in Akre, with events set to begin following the evening call to prayer, given its concurrence with the month of Ramadan.

Bilind Reza Zubair, Mayor of Akre, disclosed to 964media the ongoing preparations, which include expanding the Seri Akre plateau to accommodate the influx of visitors.

“In addition to these arrangements, Akre will also host a Ramadan night market, providing both local and national businesses the opportunity to thrive amidst the celebratory mood,” he further noted.

Akre is celebrated for its traditional Newroz fire ceremony, which provides a distinctive spectacle each year.

Ehsan Akreiyi, a spokesperson for the Akre qaymaqamyat, told 964media that strategic locations such as the Keli Akre heights will be utilized for the fire games, with the regional government managing the event’s organization.

A special committee is preparing to announce the schedule for the Newroz celebrations in Akre shortly, as Sulaymaniyah also ramps up its preparations for the Kurdish New Year.

As the anticipation for the Newroz festival builds in Sulaymaniyah, the General Directorate of Culture highlights the festival’s significance for the Kurdish community. Muhsin Adib, General Director of Culture in Sulaymaniyah, informed 964media about the city’s plans to commemorate Newroz with an array of cultural activities, including a music concert featuring diverse artists.

Adib stressed, “Newroz, a cornerstone Kurdish festival, will be observed with vibrancy, music, happiness, and celebration.”

“Although Ramadan may introduce certain constraints, Newroz represents a critical Kurdish celebration that we cannot allow to go unnoticed,” Adib remarked.

The overlap of Newroz with Ramadan, a month observed by Muslims with fasting from dawn until sunset, may curtail daytime activities and gatherings, potentially impacting the scale and timing of Newroz festivities and picnics, as participants may prefer to partake in celebrations after iftar, the evening meal with which they break their fast.

This year’s concurrence of Newroz with Ramadan has led to a noticeable decrease in visitors to the Dukan district’s tourist attractions, a stark contrast to previous years when accommodations would typically be booked well in advance. The first day of Ramadan is anticipated to be on March 11, positioning the traditional outdoor Newroz festivities within the Ramadan period.

Morad Tayeb, a local resort owner in Dukan, expressed to 964media that pre-bookings have markedly declined this year due to Ramadan, impacting the usual vibrant tourist activity associated with Newroz.

He also observed that rental prices for cabins, which previously ranged from 50,000 to 100,000 Iraqi Dinars ($33-$66) on the first day of Nowruz, have decreased to 30,000 Iraqi Dinars this year, with a notable reduction in demand.

Dukan boasts more than 100 licensed venues and over three thousand cabins, situated along an eight-kilometer stretch of the Little Zab river catering to tourists.

Rezhin Raouf, Director of Tourism in Dukan, mentioned to 964media, “Hotel associations are in charge of determining prices. We are waiting for their decision on the rates. Once the prices are established, a committee will oversee pricing at tourist sites.”

Raouf also highlighted that although tourist destinations have been advised to prepare for visitors, the overlap of Newroz with Ramadan this year has led to tempered expectations for a significant turnout of tourists to the area.

Despite the anticipated lower tourist footfall due to Ramadan, efforts are ongoing to ensure a warm welcome for those choosing to celebrate Newroz in the region.

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