Erbil - More than 250 bikers including 150 women from different backgrounds crossed the finish line on 30 November in Erbil city in what became the first event of its kind.

Ride On! Erbil International Bike Marathon promoted diversity and social cohesion with the motto “unity in diversity”.

The bikers included a member of parliament, Kurdish celebrity Dashni Morad, professional bikers, local community members, displaced Iraqis, Syrian refugees, and members of minority groups. The event invited anyone who can ride a bike to participate and welcomed all community members as spectators.

The 3.2km route started from the edge of the historic Ainkawa neighborhood and ended at the world-renowned Citadel – a UNESCO world heritage site.
The closing ceremony included speeches in Bakhi Shar park by the Citadel. Sandra Black/IOM Iraq, 2018

“I learned to ride a bike when I was a kid, but only biked around my house. We never thought that we would be able to do something like this bike ride through the city of Erbil with so many people. We were smiling the entire time. I hope that it will be repeated,” said friends Sarah and Sarah.

“Bike riding is not such a big thing, especially for women to do here. Most of the people were friendly. We received some strange looks, but they will get used it, as seeing bikes becomes more normal.” Sandra Black/IOM Iraq, 2018
The event was organized by IOM in partnership with the Kurdistan Region Government (KRG), Kurdistan 24 TV, and local community members, and supported by the US Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. Sandra Black/IOM Iraq, 2018
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. Sandra Black/IOM Iraq, 2018
Jessica and Sarah. Sandra Black/IOM Iraq, 2018

“Peace-building through sport has been a tool for coexistence around the world. The Ride On! Bike Marathon is another example; people from different backgrounds, ethnicities and religions rode bicycles together; all with the same goal! It contributes to make our area a more peaceful place to live,” 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.” Sandra Black/IOM Iraq, 2018

“Participating in this event made me so happy. I am a woman. I am not different from men. I can ride my bike all around Erbil,” said Lanya ,who participated with her twin sister and cousin. “This was our first time in a bike event. We were nervous, but it’s normal. We are strong.”


Photos by Sandra Black/IOM Iraq, 2018

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.