Iraqi Culture

Do's and Don'ts

Do’s
  • Show an Iraqi respect by dressing modestly and remaining sensitive and polite. However, it is okay to be informal and relaxed. Doing so is likely to make an Iraqi feel well-received and more comfortable around you.
  • You can expect an Iraqi to take your words literally, so try and be genuine and sincere when you speak.
  • Offer sympathy to their situation/the state of Iraq if the conversation arises. Acknowledgement of the difficulties endured are likely to be deeply appreciated.
  • Try and be open and willing to talk about yourself as Iraqis generally appreciate when others are transparent and personable.
  • Praise their strengths and virtues when possible. Iraqis generally give compliments generously.
  • Be aware that some people belonging to minority groups may prefer to identify by their rather than their country of birth. In the 2011 census, only 36.8% of the Iraq-born population nominated ‘Iraqi’ as their ancestry, choosing to specify their heritage instead (e.g. Assyrian). 

Don’ts
  • Do not say anything that could be taken as insulting or derogatory. Take an approach towards corrective remarks to minimise tarnishing one’s honour, being sure to include praise of any of their good points.
  • Do not patronise or talk down to an Iraqi for having poor English.
  • Avoid talking about politics in Iraq unless they initiate the conversation. It is more than likely that the Iraqi you are talking to has experienced the suffering of Saddam Hussein's regime, the Iraq War and/or terrorism. Mentioning these topics may bring up bad memories for them.
  • Avoid telling crass or dirty jokes. Such humour is not appreciated in Iraq.
  • Do not take photos or videos of an Iraqi without permission — especially if they are a woman.
  • Do not speak critically of Islam or Islamic taboos (alcohol, pork, use of left hand, separation of the genders). Doing so can make you seem intolerant of the faith.

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