Rebuilding Tajeel: Strategies to Reverse the Deterioration of Cultural Heritage and Loss of Identity of the Historic Quarters of Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq

  • Anna SoaveEmail author
  • Bozhan Hawizy
Part of the The Urban Book Series book series (UBS)


The inclusion of the Erbil Citadel in the Tentative List of World Heritage Sites in 2010 prompted the issuance of urban design guidelines aimed to ensure that buildings located within the Citadel’s Buffer Zone respect the visual integrity of the citadel and its relationship with its setting. Concerned that it would have not been possible to effectively control the destruction of historic houses for more profitable commercial buildings, in 2013 local authorities expropriated all residential properties within the historic quarters. Alas, without a solid implementation plan and funding strategy in place, what might have been partially lost to real estate speculation is now inexorably collapsing under the rain. In the past decade, Erbil has seen the implementation of several ambitious urban renewal efforts. Community heritage has been pulled apart to create a new ‘brand’ for Erbil. The current economic downturn has laid bare the ambition to create a revamped image of Erbil that would attract domestic and foreign investments. Kurdish decision-makers are now struggling to rehabilitate urban heritage with very little public funding, convince citizens and developers to invest in these now empty and decaying quarters. The chapter explores how successful urban projects do not have to rely solely on government funding or large-scale developers. The proposed integrated area management plan takes into consideration the area’s socio-economic potential and its legal, financial and environmental constraints. It suggests a set of pragmatic funding and implementation strategies for the rehabilitation of key historic buildings and infrastructure upgrading through cross-subsidisation and leveraging land value. It also advocates for a set of integrated measures to stimulate the economy by promoting small-scale commerce, enterprises and hospitality activities, generate municipal revenue, enhance the quality of life and finally nurture cultural and creative industries.


Expropriation Historic quarters Rebuilding Urban renewal historic cities Iraq Kurdistan Erbil Tajeel 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UN-Habitat Iraq ProgrammeEbrilIraq

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