Get into a taxi in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah, and chances are the driver will not budge until you have fastened your seat belt. It is the new law. 'The new transport minister spent 20 years in Sweden,' shrugs a cab driver. 'Now he's trying to turn Kurdistan into a new version of it.' He is not the only newcomer with big ideas who is facing resistance to change from Kurds living in a traditional society. Hundreds of thousands of Kurds fled oppression under Saddam Hussein, most to Iran, but thousands of others to Sweden, Germany and Holland. Encouraged by the Kurdish authorities, they have been trickling back since 1991, when the north broke off from the rest of the country. The trickle is likely to become a flood after Jalal Talabani's election as president. 'When Kurdish friends back in Berlin ask how things are going, I tell them things are great,' said Bakhtiar Omar, who worked in a German factory for 15 years. Opened early last year, his delicatessen has been a hit. 'There's a market for good whisky and German biscuits,' he jokes. Diaspora Kurds like Mr Omar are in demand in Sulaimaniyah's civil service and industry. Most ministers have spent at least a couple of years in western exile. 'In Germany, I could earn more in three days than I earn here in a month', said Salar Bassireh, who returned six months ago to teach politics at Sulaimaniyah university. 'The difference is that Germany can survive very well without one more academic. My people cannot.' His patriotism is shared by Awaz Mohamed. 'For every one of the 20 years we spent in Sweden, spiritually we were here,' she said. But the reality of return, for Ms Mohamed at least, turned out to be more difficult than the ideal. A women's rights activist in Sweden, she joined one of the many women's organisations that have sprung up in Sulaimaniyah during the past decade. 'I knew Kurdish society was a man's world,' she said. 'What has shocked me the most is just how deeply ingrained such attitudes are among the women I work with.' At Gasha, the school where her children study, the clash of cultures is plain to see. 'I understand why my parents wanted to come back - here they are important people - but couldn't they have left me at home?' complains Shania Shoresh, a 16-year old who has spent the past nine years in London. If she and her new friends are horrified by Sulaimaniyah, its teachers are no less horrified by them. These are children who do not see why they should stand up when the teacher asks them a question. And they swear in class.