When filming on location in Iraq, The Middle East



Iraq is one of the easternmost countries of the Arab world, located at about the same latitude as the southern United States. It is bordered to the north by Turkey, to the east by Iran, to the west by Syria and Jordan, and to the south by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Iraq’s climate is mainly continental and subtropical semi-arid, except for the north and north-eastern mountainous regions that have a Mediterranean climate. Roughly 90 percent of the annual rainfall occurs between November and April, most of it in the winter months from December through March. The remaining six months, particularly the hottest ones of June, July, and August, are dry. 

While Arabic is the official language, there are some minority groups including a large Kurdish- speaking population in the North. The official state religion of Iraq is Islam. 97% of the population is Muslim.

The Iraqi dinar is the currency of Iraq. It is issued by the Central Bank of Iraq and is subdivided into 1,000 fils, although inflation has rendered the fils obsolete since 1990. On 18 June 2021, the exchange rate was IQD 1,483.5000 = US$1

The cradle of civilisation, Iraq was the birthplace of empires such as the Babylonians and Assyrians. Located in the Middle East, the landscape is mostly desert with the fertile Euphrates and Tigris rivers running north to south, and a green mountainous area in the northeast. Film locations also include ancient cities, archaeological ruins, mosques, temples, monasteries, palaces, citadels, bazaars, and museums.

Agriculture is concentrated around the northeast as well as the valleys of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Agricultural film locations include wheat and barley fields. Iraq has extensive oil and gas facilities throughout the country.

Iraq is divided into the following governorates: Al Anbar, Babil, Baghdad, Basra, Dhi Qar, Al-Qādisiyyah, Diyala, Duhok, Erbil, Halabja, Karbala, Kirkuk, Maysan, Muthanna, Najaf, Nineveh, Saladin, Sulaymaniyah, and Wasit.

Film permits are arranged on the local level but permission from multiple authorities and community leaders may be required. Allow plenty of lead time and be prepared to be flexible and move quickly as arrangements are often last minute and subject to changes.

When filming on location in Iraq please note that the following :

  • 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).
  • The bottoms of the feet are the dirtiest part of the body and it is extremely rude and insulting to show or point them towards an Arab. Never sit with one ankle on your other leg’s knee, leaving the bottom of your foot to point at someone. 
  • Public displays of affection between the sexes are unacceptable.
  • Dress conservatively in public places

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