Bryar Faris and Rukan Ahmad are a couple that fell in love over their love for the outdoors and climbing. Together, they recognized a desperate need that the outdoor climbing community faced and made the decision to open the first climbing store in the Sulaymaniyah region of Iraqi Kurdistan – the Kazh Store. Their first store was tucked into a back corner of a large market that one could easily get lost in.
In spite of many challenges, most that people in other countries would not even consider, their business supported the entire climbing community and became very popular. For example, due to international sanctions, most foreign companies were forbidden to do business with people in Kurdistan. As a result, importing products was challenging and most equipment was sourced through unreliable, layered channels that demanded a much higher price. However, much more importantly, providing technically tested products that met a safety standard was nearly impossible. Nearly.
Over many years, Rukan and Bryar created relationships that resulted in reliable equipment at an affordable price. They collected equipment that was scattered across uncountable markets full of completely unrelated products. The problem was that people in Kurdistan did not know what climbing gear was, so they just threw it in the “I don’t know what this is” bin. Imagine being a shoe salesman and seeing a climbing shoe for the first time – where do you put it… how do you wear it (it’s not so comfortable for walking!). Yet, they collected it all in one place where people who wanted to learn about climbing could come and ask questions. Rukan and Bryar became a valuable source of information, but beyond that, they provided the gear that was necessary for those interested in climbing. They made it possible to go climb for so many, and they deserve this accomplishment so much.
Welcome to the Kazh Store, version 2. The support of their community made it possible to create the first store, and now that support brought climbing from an obscure hobby, to the front as the fastest growing sport in Iraq. Today, we all celebrate in seeing the storefront from the street, with large beautifully illuminated windows and a layout that truly matches the highest international standards. The store is full of all the equipment necessary to access the outdoors including tents, rope, packs, clothing, stoves, shoes, and more.
It is truly unbelievable to see the progress that is changing the outdoor culture for an entire country. Thank you Rukan and Bryar for this incredible work, and we wish you the greatest success in the future.