Mass protests, anti-terror struggle and bumpy reconstruction. Seventeen years after the Iraq war, everyday life is very different depending on the place and milieu. Supply bottlenecks for electricity and water are the order of the day for most regions. In the affluent neighborhoods of the big cities, one looks calmly towards such situations. Generators and water storage tanks are compulsory there.
Currency: Iraqi Dinar (IQD)
Exchange rate: 1,424 IQD = 1 euro (11/2020)
Time zone: UTC + 3
Country code (phone): 00 964
Climate (for capital): Dry, subtropical
Money and money transfer
For short-term travelers to Iraq, it is advisable to bring enough cash in euros or dollars with you. Iraqi cash is not available from banks in Germany. Travelers checks from internationally known companies are only paid out, if at all, by state banks in Iraq. Conventional credit cards from internationally known issuers such as Master, Visa or American Express are mostly only accepted by hotels in the top categories (i.e. four or five stars).
Dollars for cash can be exchanged anywhere in major Iraqi cities. Especially in Kurdistan, euros are not a problem either. Outside of Kurdistan, it can be more difficult to change euros, especially if the sums involved are larger. With the large hotels in the “International Zone” of Baghdad, this is not a problem either.
It is advisable to allow exchanges to take place in the officially authorized exchange offices, in the state facilities of international airports or at international exchange offices. Upmarket hotels also offer currency exchange. However, on less favorable terms.
Sending money from Iraq to Germany is not easy, but also not impossible. You can, for example, hire an international transfer office to do this. However, there are only a handful of them in all of Iraq and they collect quite high fees of up to 15% of the transfer amount. Alternatively, you can set up an individual account with an Iraqi bank, which is currently only possible with a few banks and is only suitable for long-term professionals. In most cases, foreigners are only offered a private account if they stay in the country for at least 1 year and can present dozens of documents and guarantors. However, there are simpler conditions for international development cooperation organizations and those accredited in Iraq. It is also important to note that there are only ATMs in the metropolises of the country, but they are not set up nationwide. At the moment, only amounts in euros can be transferred from a German private customer account to an Iraqi account, not in dollars!
The entire banking sector in Iraq is currently undergoing a fundamental restructuring. In addition, the banking industry in the Kurdish autonomous part is legally not completely synchronized with the banking system of the federal state. There is no private deposit guarantee mechanism in any part of Iraq.
With children in Iraq
According to zipcodesexplorer, Iraq is not a country where foreign children can live carefree. Special care and leisure activities for children are only marginally available. In addition, as a foreign child, it is not so easy to get to the appropriate places – and certainly not unaccompanied. In Baghdad outside the “International Zone”, foreign children should not move. There are criminal organizations in town that specialize entirely in child abduction. Even in the “International Zone”, where there are kindergartens and schools for families living there, children have to be escorted by security forces. A relaxed and carefree life certainly looks different.
But there are also glimmers of hope, as with this Iraqi girls’ basketball team, whose spirit of optimism was captured by Teen Vogue: “Iraqi Women Form Their School’s First Women Basketball Team: Salaam Dunk” (English; subtitled in Arabic; 22:53 min)
In larger cities there are offers in the field of education, such as kindergartens or preschools. There are also sports clubs, because male Iraqis in particular are crazy about football in a positive sense. Outside of the Kurdish autonomous zone, however, they are almost only intended for boys. Some sports institutes at Iraqi universities also offer ball sports for girls and young women. With a little negotiating skills, you can let your female offspring play there without being matriculated.
Families in the Kurdistan region enjoy more security and mobility. The German School Erbil has been offering classes since September 2010. There is also a Goethe Institute in the city. Foreigners with children, regardless of their age, should take into account that a separate and special security concept is required for their children in Iraq. This can be very time-consuming and tiring for both children and parents.
Due to the recent attacks in Erbil, you should first get a knowledgeable professional judgment before you put your children in school.