The teahouse that holds the history of Iraq's Erbil

The Machko Chai Khana, a family-run business for 75 years, faces falling figures due to ongoing violence.

by
    The teahouse that holds the history of Iraq's Erbil
    Mohsin's father Muhammed opened the teahouse in 1940 and its doors have never been closed since [Osama Bin Javaid/Al Jazeera]

    Erbil, Iraq - For 75 years, Mohsin Majeed Machko's family has been running Erbil's most famous teahouse, the Machko Chai Khana.

    Built into the southern wall of the Citadel - a UNESCO World Heritage site - the teahouse was opened by Mohsin's father Muhammed 1940. Its doors have never closed since.

    Frequented by tourists and a favourite spot for locals of all ages, Machko Chai Khana's smoke-filled quarters hold the history of the capital of Iraq's Kurdish region.

    It's a well-known meeting place for Kurdish intellectuals and activists; the pictures on the walls are a testament to who has been here.

    There's a photo of Walid Jumblatt - the famous Lebanese politician (one of Mohsin's favourites) - among dozens of local and foreign politicians.

    Despite the teahouse's popularity among loyal clientele, Mohsin told Al Jazeera that a significant decline of tourists in the region has hurt business.

    While the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group does not have a foothold in Erbil, it has claimed at least one suicide bombing in the city this year. In addition, ongoing violence across Iraq has kept tourists away.

    "Business isn't what it used to be," said Mohsin, before adding that people should not be afraid.

    To defeat ISIL, the Kurds don't just need military support, he said, but the support of the same people who used to come to the region to spend their holidays. He wants them to come back.

    He says he wants to be able to save some money for repairs so he can continue to run the shop just like his father - serving the best tea in all of Erbil.

    The teahouse's walls have photos of dozens of local and foreign politicians [Osama Bin Javaid/Al Jazeera]
    Erbil teahouse has been run by Mohsin Majeed Machko's family for 75 years [Osama Bin Javaid/Al Jazeera]

    The Machko Chai Khana is built into the southern wall of the Citadel - a UNESCO World Heritage site [Osama Bin Javaid/Al Jazeera]

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR



    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    From Zimbabwe to England: A story of war, home and identity

    The country I saw as home, my parents saw as oppressors

    What happens when you reject the identity your parents fought for and embrace that of those they fought against?

    Becoming Ocean: When you and the world are drowning

    Becoming Ocean: When you and the world are drowning

    One woman shares the story of her life with polycystic kidney disease and sees parallels with the plight of the planet.

    The evening death came for me: My journey with PTSD

    The evening death came for me: My journey with PTSD

    On a gorgeous Florida evening, a truck crashed into me. As I lay in intensive care, I learned who had been driving it.