Erbil International Bike Marathon Brings Communities Together [EN/AR/KU]
Erbil - The first Ride On! Erbil International Bike Marathon, which took place this afternoon, involved hundreds of bike riders, including professional cyclists, local community members, displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugees, under the theme Unity in Diversity.
The 3.2km route started from the edge of the historic Ainkawa neighbourhood and ended at the world-renowned Citadel – a UNESCO world heritage site. The closing ceremony included traditional music, dance performances and speeches in Bakhi Shar park by the Citadel.
The event was organized by IOM’s in partnership with the Kurdistan Region Government (KRG), Kurdistan 24 TV and local community members, and is supported by the US Government.
More than 500 people participated in the bike ride, including over 200 women. Emphasizing Unity in Diversity, the event invited anyone who can ride a bike, and welcomed all community members for the music and dance performances.
Attendees to the closing ceremony included members of the Parliament, Kurdistan High Council of Women Affairs, and representatives of minority ethno-religious and religious groups.
IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite said, “The Bike Marathon was the first bike event of this scope in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The event is not a race – it is an opportunity for community members to come together for a unifying sports and social activity.”
The event is coordinated with the Kurdistan Regional Government’s traffic police, Erbil Police and Asayish, who blocked roads and monitored security. The KRG Health Directorate was present to provide health services.
The Governor of Erbil, Nawzad Hadi said, “This bike marathon is a positive development for community activities in Erbil, bringing diverse community members together. We are pleased to support and contribute to this event, along with IOM and partners."
This event, which is supportive of biking as an environmentally friendly form of transportation, is the idea of two young local women and entrepreneurs who participated in the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Programme.
“Peace-building through sport has been a tool for coexistence around the world. The Ride On! Bike Marathon will be another example; people from different backgrounds, ethnicities and religions will ride bicycles together; all with the same goal!”, said Sarah Jader, one of the founders of Ride On! “This bike ride aims to empower women by providing bicycles and by encouraging them to participate. The simple yet powerful image of women riding bikes will serve as an inspiration for women across Iraq.”
For more information please contact:
Sandra Black in IOM Iraq,
Tel: +964 751 234 2550,