Living in Iraq
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A practical guide to the way of life in Iraq
Iraq has long been in the news for the wrong reasons, but this intriguing country is on a comeback, and with rebuilding well under way, many expats are heading to the country to experience its charms. This section of our guide presents Iraq's healthcare, transportation and safety conditions.
Life in Iraq
Healthcare in Iraq
While the recent war left many hospitals unable to function, the majority of urban medical buildings have now been reconstructed. Amongst the most promising of these is Baghdad Medical City, with multiple teaching hospitals training Iraq’s future medics. The medical city also houses the Surgical Specialities Hospital. Expats planning on living in Iraq should ensure that they have comprehensive health insurance before arriving in the country, as Iraq’s public health system remains far from adequate.
Transportation in Iraq
As with all recovering countries, transportation is high on the agenda, and this is no different in Iraq. June 2011 saw the encouraging announcement of a new high-speed rail line linking Baghdad and Basra, successfully completed in 2014. This is just one of many projects in the pipeline, with Iraq also improving its rail links with neighboring countries. At present, Turkey is accessible by train from Iraq, with this route going via Syria. Elsewhere, a direct train service from Khorramshahr, Iran, to Basra, Iraq, is not far from completion.
Road safety is a big issue in Iraq, although the Iraq Transport Corridors Project is set to improve safety and considerably reduce accidents. In terms of getting around Baghdad, taxis are readily available, while expatriates wishing to drive themselves must have an international driving permit. It is also worth noting that Iraqis drive on the right side of the road.
Baghdad has a comprehensive bus service, although you should be aware that the destinations are in Arabic. Expats are advised to memorize their bus and learn the route.
Amongst Iraq’s most notable airports are Baghdad International Airport, Basra International Airport, and Erbil International Airport. Expats should note that flights to Iraq are often delayed at the last minute, so continuously checking your flight’s status is advised.
Safety and Security in Iraq
The security situation in Iraq is still far from perfect, and expats planning their life in Iraq should be aware of this. However, workers in the more unstable parts of the country are given a great deal of protection. Not only is secure accommodation provided, but so too are private security teams whose job it is to accompany expatriates as they go about their duties.
The Kurdistan region is now fairly stable and safe, although extra precautions should be taken by those venturing elsewhere. There is also the likelihood that certain border crossings (such as those with Syria) may be closed at short notice as a few are thought to have been overtaken by ISIL. Be sure to check this before traveling. If the need should arise, emergency services can be contacted using the number 130.