• Bangladesh!

    Bangladesh: Traditional houses. Go Now!

    This low-lying country has historic ties to India and Pakistan, but today maintains a wholly unique culture. Explore Bangladesh!

  • Indonesia!

    Indonesia: Lombok. Go Now!

    This archipelago nation is culturally diverse from big cities to isolated islands. Begin Your Journey!

  • Jordan!

    Jordan: Petra. Go Now!

    Tucked away in this Middle Eastern country, the famed city of Petra (pictured) links the past to the present culture. Explore Jordan!

  • Mongolia!

    Mongolia: Desert. Go Now!

    This vast country has a culture that spans past and present... a nomadic life shifting to a modern & sedentary society. Begin Your Journey!

  • Kyrgyzstan!

    Kyrgyzstan: Tian Shan Mountains. Go Now!

    The mountains, including the Tian Shan Mountains (pictured), give Kyrgyzstan a unique culture, partially formed from this isolation from the mountains. Go Now!

Social Life in Iraq

WARNING: Iraq is currently unstable, please read this travel warning before going!


Islam dictates a number of issues in regard to how a person should behave and this behavioral expectation is transferred from the locals to any foreigner visiting the country, but today there is greater freedom on how to act and behave. Sometimes single women travelers are looked at oddly by conservative Muslims and for these same people it is also considered improper for a man to touch a woman, even holding your spouse's hand or offering to shake the hand of a person who is of the opposite sex can be considered inappropriate to a conservative Muslim. However, in Iraq today you'll rarely encounter these issues. While almost no one will take offense at hand holding, don't offer your hand to a local woman unless she does so first.

Islamic law has a number of dietary restrictions, which should also be followed by any visitor to the country. Islam forbids pork products and alcohol; however there is little worry about adhering to these rules since neither is available anywhere in Iraq. You should note that attempting to take either into the country is also strictly forbidden so don't try to smuggle any pork or alcohol into the country as punishments can be severe.


The dress in Iraq is somewhat varied as many people today wear western-styled clothing, however, a larger number of people continue to wear more traditional clothing. For men this traditional dress is called a dishdasha, which is a loose-fitting garment that completely covers a person from the neck down. In Iraq this piece of clothing can come in nearly any color, but tends to be in black or browns. Women often wear a dishdasha or an abaya; however the decoration and detail of a woman's dress tends to be much more significant than a man's and the women in Iraq tend to have very colorful clothing, often highlighted in golds. Both men and women in traditional dress cover their hair; women wear a cloth called a hijab, which is wrapped around their neck so only their faces can be seen, while men may wear a keffiyeh, another head covering, or leave their heads uncovered.

Today, some Iraqis have turned to western-styled clothing with the traditional headwear or a simple scarf. These clothes are similar to what can be seen in much of the world, but both men and women tend to cover up with long-sleeved shirts and pants.

Foreigners in Iraq should dress conservatively with both arms and legs covered. Some women many feel more comfortable covering their hair in public, but even amongst the locals this is a slowing dying practice. More importantly, due to the violence, it is recommended that you wear nothing that makes you stand out as a foreigner. Most visitors to Iraq today go with a larger organization, whether that is a military, a non-governmental organization, or another group, which is best suited to assist in what and how to dress.

This page was last updated: December, 2013