Iraqi Culture

Greetings

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  • It is important to greet an Iraqi formally and respectfully when meeting them for the first time.
  • Men stand to greet a woman when she enters the room, and everyone stands when an elderly person both arrives and departs.
  • In accordance with Islamic practice, there is a separation of the genders in general Iraqi society. This sees many Muslim men and women prefer not to make physical contact with members of the opposite gender. Therefore, when greeting an Iraqi of the opposite gender, it is best practice to simply greet them verbally with a nod of the head and wait to see if their feel comfortable to extend their hand as well. 
  • It may also appropriate to greet someone of the same gender verbally with a respectful nod and smile if you perceive they are unaccustomed to being touched. 
  • The common verbal greeting is “Peace be with you” in Arabic (“Asalaamu alaikum”). The appropriate response returns the well-wishing: “Wa alaikum salaam” meaning “and peace be unto you”.
  • Greetings between men usually involve a handshake with the right hand. Iraqi men tend to shake hands gently but hold them for a long time. This may feel uncomfortable to hold hands, but avoid retracting your hand before an Iraqi is finished greeting you.
  • Greetings between women tend to be warmer, sometimes involving a hug and two or three kisses on each cheek. However, they may be far less tactile if they are greeting in the company or public view of men.
  • One may indicate sincerity by placing their right hand over their heart after greeting another person. For example, an Iraqi may do this whilst saying they are deeply happy to see you to express the honesty in their words.
  • Iraqis may kiss one’s forehead or right hand in a greeting to demonstrate deep respect. This would usually be done to someone of a high status (e.g. an elder) rather than someone of the same status (e.g. a neighbour).
  • Use a person’s last name and title when greeting them unless they permit you to move onto a first-name basis. If someone is a Doctor, you would say “Dr. (last name)”.
Iraq
  • Population
    38,146,025
    [July 2016 est.]
  • Languages
    Arabic (official)
    Kurdish (official)
    Turkmen (official)
    Assyrian (official)
  • Religions
    Islam (97%)
    - Shi'a (55-60%)
    - Sunni (40%)
    Other, including Christians, Yazidis and Mandeans (3%)
    [Religious Freedoms Report, 2017]
  • Ethnicities
    Arab (75-80%)
    Kurdish (15-20%)
    Turkoman, Assyrian or Other (5%)
  • Cultural Dimensions
    Power Distance 95
    Individualism 30
    Masculinity 70
    Uncertainty Avoidance 85
    Long Term Orientation 25
    Indulgence 17
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  • Australians with Iraqi Ancestry
    42,881 [2016 census]
Iraqis in Australia
  • Population
    67,352
    [2016 census]
    This figure refers to the number of Australian residents that were born in Iraq.
  • Average Age
    37
  • Gender
    Male (51.6%)
    Female (48.4%)
  • Religion
    Catholic Christianity (35.7%)
    Islam (32%)
    Assyrian Apostolic Christianity (11.9%)
    Other (20.4%)
    No Religion (1.6%)
  • Ancestry
    Iraqi (36.8%)
    Assyrian (20.7%)
    Chaldean (12.4%)
    Other (19.5%)
  • Language Spoken at Home
    Arabic (52.5%)
    Assyrian Neo-Aramaic (23%)
    Chaldean Neo-Aramaic (13.5%)
    Kurdish (3.3%)
    Other (7.7%)
    Of those who speak a language other than English at home, 68.1% speak English fluently.
  • Diaspora
    New South Wales (60.9%)
    Victoria (26.6%)
    Western Australia (5.4%)
    Queensland (3.2%)
  • Arrival to Australia
    Prior to 2001 (43.6%)
    2001-2006 (25.5%)
    2007-2011 (26.9%)
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