Haval and his young son, Abdullah, at Kh'ale-Akre Citadel, looking down on the beautiful city of Akre.

Haval and his young son, Abdullah, at Kh'ale-Akre Citadel, looking down on the beautiful city of Akre.

I Am Haval

Hello. My name is Haval. I'm in my mid-thirties and have two young boys named Abdullah and Muhammad. I'm the second child in my family.

I was born in Erbil City. My family originally came from the town of Rawanduz, which is located on Hamilton Road. We were refugees for three months in Iran during the Second Gulf War in 1991. I was eight years old.

During the Civil War in Iraqi Kurdistan, in 1994, my family moved from Erbil to Baghdad, where I learned to speak and read and write Arabic, and continued my studies. I lived in Baghdad for three years and learned a lot about Saddam Hussein and the Arabic language.

In 1997, my family had to leave Baghdad for Erbil after Saddam's regime arrested my father. This is a long story I will tell you when you visit.

In 2003, we fled to Rawanduz in case Saddam’s regime attacked Kurdistan. I was in my last year of high school, which is the most important year during students’ studies in Iraq. I remember I took all of my books with me, even with the 10 people in our Toyota Crowne. Somehow, I found space for my books.

In August 2003, I finished high school. In 2004, I started studies at university. During my studies, I worked every night as a taxi driver. I wanted to learn English but I didn’t have the money, yet.

I decided to be a taxi driver in Erbil, and I met a very kind lady in 2010. She was teaching at an international school in Erbil, and she introduced me to many international teachers, NGO workers, and other foreigners who worked in Erbil. I improved my English.

I must say, working as a taxi driver for teachers at the international school changed my life. I met so many kind people, they treated me as one of their family, and I learned a lot from them.

In 2012, I met a Lonely Planet writer (this is very funny story). After my name was published in the Lonely Planet guide book, I started working as a tour guide. This is how I have had so much experience, driving customers for eight years.

Please try my service. I guarantee that you will see the real Kurdistan!