Difference between revisions of "Baghdad"
Revision as of 09:59, 6 February 2013
Baghdad (Arabic: بـغداد Baġdād) is the capital of Iraq.
Once one of the greatest centres of learning and culture in the Islamic world, Baghdad has a long and illustrious history. Once a favored 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. (Although it is becoming safer now.)
Travel to Baghdad is emphatically not recommended at the present time (2012), owing to wartime instability and security concerns. Westerners are particular targets of kidnapping and assassination by militant and extremist groups.
There are flights from Istanbul to Baghdad Al Muthana International Airport  every day at 03.15. From Munich there are four flights every week, you may also fly from Vienna. Cities in the Middle East such as Abu Dhabi, Amman, Beirut, Damascus and Tehran all have good flight connections with Baghdad. Gryphon Air has flights from Kuwait; however, there are strict regulations on who may use the service since they arrive and depart from the military wing of the airport. Of course, for military personnel and others traveling on official business sanctioned by the United States, the US Air Force offers flights from neighboring countries. All flights are subject to suspension for reasons ranging from insurgent attacks on the airport to sandstorms.
A nightly train service is available from Basra departing at 7PM, arrival time is 6:40AM the next morning. Delays are however very common. Prices range between 10,000 IQD for a couchette to 25,000 IQD for first class. There is also an irregular service from Fallujah. As of now (Summer 2011) there are no trains running between Baghdad and Mosul, for some time now they have been said to start running "soon".
Overland travel is possible from all neighboring countries but strongly discouraged due to violence.
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.
There are several ways to work in Iraq as a foreigner. For U.S citizens the most obvious is the United States Military  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 fluent in Arabic are especially sought after. Lastly, there are civilian government agencies in Iraq. USAID  and the United States Department of State  send their own personnel as well as contractors to Iraq.
The agencies above are all relevant for U.S citizens; citizens of other countries with a presence in Iraq can apply for work through the respective agencies in their home country.
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 from street vendors - are bootlegs of varying quality.
Restaurants and cafés are notorious target 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: Here, you may feast at Burger King, McDonald's, and Subway.
Yes, there is drinking during down times. The International Zone is truly international. Many organizations have their own bars, some open to all.
Most organizations arrange their own accommodation inside the Green Zone. Sleeping in hotels in the proper city is always a risky due to bombings.
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, a.k.a. 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 ex-pats and business travelers 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.