Baghdad

WARNING: Baghdad remains one of the most dangerous cities on Earth and is emphatically NOT a tourist destination. Those who are travelling here on business are strongly advised to consult their own government first and have an armed guard. Otherwise do not even think about travelling here!
A historic mosque

Baghdad (Arabic: بـغداد Baġdād) is the capital of Iraq.

Understand

Once one of the greatest centres of learning and culture in the Islamic world, Baghdad has a long and illustrious history. Once a favoured destination on the 'hippie trail' and packed full of sights, since the coalition invasion of 2003, Baghdad has since become one of the most dangerous cities on earth.

Get in

Travel to Baghdad is emphatically not recommended at the present time (2015), owing to wartime instability and security concerns. Westerners are particular targets of kidnapping and assassination by militant and extremist groups.

By plane

All flights land at the Baghdad International Airport (previously Saddam international airport) , situated about 12 kilometres to the west of the city centre. Baghdad is well connected to cities in the Middle East such as Abu Dhabi, Amman, Beirut, Istanbul and Tehran. The national carrier Iraqi Airways offers regular flights from most major European capitals as well as a few Asian cities. There are currently no direct flights from North America.

By train

A nightly train service is available from Basra, arriving early morning. Delays are however very common. Prices range between IQD10,000 for a couchette to IQD25,000 for first-class. Irregular services from Karbala, mostly on weekends, are available too. Due to the ongoing conflict cancellations are common.

Completed in 1953,   'Baghdad Central Station' (محطة بغداد المركزية) is an architecturally impressive terminus, all trains call here. Located on Qahira Street, a kilometre north of city centre, at Damascus Square.

By car

Overland travel is possible from all neighbouring countries, but is strongly discouraged due to violence.

By bus

The Jordanian state bus company, JETT has bus services from Amman on Wednesdays Saturdays leaving at 07:00. A one-way journey costs JOD42.50 (Jordanian dinar).

Get around

The preferred method of transportation is helicopter. If helicopter transport is not available, use of a fully armoured car or Rhino (armoured bus) is recommended. Within the International Zone (formerly known as the Green Zone) there is a free shuttle bus service by KBR. You can also walk to many destinations in the International Zone or use a bicycle.

A commuter service connects the city with the southern suburb of Doura.

See

National Museum of Iraq.

Work

WARNING: Employment arrangements are always made in your home country. Do not come to Iraq on your own to look for work. People have been killed attempting this!

There are several ways to work in Iraq as a foreigner. For US citizens the most obvious is the US Army which still maintains personnel here. Next are the government contractors, such as the construction company KBR . Many contractors hire personnel with prior military experience to return to Iraq. Persons with military experience or who are fluent in Arabic are especially sought after. Lastly, there are civilian government agencies in Iraq. USAID and the US Department of State send their own personnel as well as contractors to Iraq.

The agencies above are all relevant for US citizens. Citizens of other countries with a presence in Iraq can apply for work through the respective agencies in their home country.

Buy

Rugs and DVDs are available to buy. Inspect the quality of rugs carefully: Some are cheap Chinese-made rugs, and many are extremely overpriced. Also, many DVDs, especially those from street vendors, are bootlegs of varying quality.

Eat

Restaurants and cafés are notorious targets for suicide bombers, making eating out a quite dangerous activity. However, safety is much better among the restaurants inside the Green Zone. The zone is also the place for finding American fast-food in the Middle East including Burger King, McDonald's, and Subway.

Budget

Mid-range

Drink

Many international organisations have their own bars, and some are open to all.

Sleep

Most organizations arrange their own accommodation inside the Green Zone. Sleeping in hotels in the proper city is always a risky due to bombings.

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

See also War zone safety

The easiest way to stay safe in Baghdad is not to go there in the first place, except for official reasons. Movement within Baghdad is difficult and entry into the International Zone, aka Green Zone, requires a pass or that you be accompanied by authorized officials. Iraq is a war zone and even if you're from a country which is part of the coalition, you will not be granted entry into the IZ without authorization. Most expats and business travellers to Iraq hire a security detail which constantly monitors the security situation within Iraq and around Baghdad. Travel outside the IZ is extremely dangerous. Roadside and car bombs are detonated every day in Baghdad. Many Iraqis are armed. Markets and popular gathering places are frequent targets of bombers. As a foreigner you are more likely to be targeted for kidnapping. Kidnappings are often financially motivated. These threats are not restricted to Americans or women. You are also likely to be refused access to accommodation as Iraqis will fear being targeted for supporting the occupying forces.

Cope

Embassies

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, March 29, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.