Dating in Iraq

Known as the cradle of civilization, Iraq is where the ancient Sumerians established one of the earliest known civilizations, inventing writing and the wheel. It is also home to the historical city of Babylon and was the center of the Abbasid Caliphate, a major period in Islamic history. When it comes to dating in Iraq, the truth is that dating is not very common in the traditional western sense. Of course, some Iraqi do date in various forms but because the Middle East is historically conservative, most romantic encounters are specifically focused on marriage.

the Middle East is a region steeped in history, culture, and tradition, which is reflected in the varied and intriguing dating practices found throughout the area. The dating scene is a blend of conservative values, religious influences, and modern desires, which can differ significantly among Iraqi.

In much of the Middle East, traditional and religious beliefs play a crucial role in shaping the dating culture. For the Muslims in Iraq, Islamic teachings have a significant impact on dating and relationships. In many conservative Muslim communities, dating is discouraged, and arranged marriages are common. Other religions, like Christianity, have similar views.

In traditional social circles around Iraq, gender segregation is somewhat common, and many people adhere to strict gender roles. Men are generally expected to be providers and protectors, while women are expected to be nurturing and submissive. However, in urban areas and among the younger generation, these gender roles are becoming more flexible, allowing for more equal partnerships among the Iraqi youth.

The dating culture of Iraq is a fascinating blend of ancient customs, religious influence, and modern desires. As the Middle East undergoes rapid social change, the landscape of dating and relationships continues to evolve, providing a captivating glimpse into the intricacies of love and courtship in this unique part of the world.

Interesting facts about dating in Iraq

Most Romantic Day in Iraq

Iraq does not officially celebrate Valentine\’s Day, which is often considered the most romantic holiday in many parts of the world. However, Valentine\’s Day is recognized and celebrated by some, especially in larger cities and among affluent communities and younger Iraqi tech savvy generations.

Instead, the most romantic holiday for Muslims in Iraq could be considered as Eid al-Adha. While it is not exclusively a romantic holiday, it is a time of celebration, gift-giving, and showing love and appreciation to family and loved ones. During this time, married couples exchange gifts and spend quality time together, often making it a romantic period for them.

In some Iraqi Muslim communities, the 4th on November which is called Habib\’s Day or Day of the Beloved, is gaining popularity as a day of love. In some ways, this is can be seen as an alternative to Valentine\’s Day, reflecting more Muslim cultural values. It is still a relatively new concept, but it is growing in popularity, particularly among younger generations and from social media feeds.

Typical First Date in Iraq

As dating is not very popular in Iraq, there is no way to accurately define a first date in Iraq. Many factors such as socioeconomic, location or personal beliefs will impact what two people decide to do on a first date.

On your first date in Iraq, the focus should be on getting to know each other in an informal setting where you can chat openly. It does not matter if you are talking over a cup of coffee, walking out in nature or a park or another original idea, the goal should be to check the vibe, see if there is a connection or potential for continuing the relationship. Here are a few ideas for first dates in Iraq:

  1. Shopping: In Baghdad, Basra or Mosul and other cities, shopping malls or commercial centers can be great date spots. They are relatively safe, public and there is enough external stimulation to keep a good conversation going.
  2. Coffee or drinks: Many first dates in Iraq take place in a casual setting, such as a coffee shop or bar.
  3. Outdoor activities: In some parts of Iraq, there are many options for outdoor activities such as hiking/walking, picnic, biking or even a combination of activities while visiting a local park. Depending on the activity level of you and your date, these may be nice options for you.

Dating etiquette and social cues

Like social cues and other aspects of dating, dating etiquette or expectations of behavior when on a date can vary somewhat from individual to individual. That being said, if you are on a date in Iraq, below are some general tips to keep in mind:

  1. Chaperoned Meetings: In more traditional Iraqi settings, meetings between the potential couple might be chaperoned, especially in the early stages of courtship. For Muslim people, this practice aligns with Islamic principles of avoiding seclusion (khalwa) with a non-related member of the opposite sex.
  2. Punctuality: Being on time for a date is generally seen as a sign of respect in most cultures. However, attitudes towards punctuality can vary, with some cultures placing a high importance on it, while others might have a more relaxed attitude.
  3. Dress and appearance: Dressing appropriately for the occasion and taking care of personal hygiene are often seen as signs of respect towards the other Iraqi. In Iraq, men are expected to dress in a neat and stylish manner, while women might be expected to wear more fashionable or elegant outfits. Of course, this will vary based off of socioeconomic factors.
  4. Physical contact and public displays of affection: Physical contact and especially PDA is especially not common nor accepted by mainstream Iraqi. Most physical contact is reserved for serious relationships and even marriage in most cases.
  5. Paying the bill: In many cultures, the person who initiated the date is expected to pay the bill, although this is not a universal rule. Offering to split the bill can be a polite gesture, although in some cultures it might be expected for the man to pay. As more young Iraqi conform to global egalitarian values, we expect sharing the cost to be more common.
  6. End of the date: How the date ends can also convey a lot. Walking the other person to their car or home, or arranging for their safe return, is often seen as a sign of care and respect. If both parties enjoyed the date, it is common to express interest in meeting again.

The Importance of language

Language is important to everyone. It is how we communicate. In addition to Arabic, used for everyday communication by Iraqi, Kurdish, Turkmen and Assyrian are spoken by locals.

As the modern need for multilingualism is strong, most Iraqi are multilingual in some capacity. As Iraq borders Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey, students will often study and/or have familiarity with English since all of its neighbors speak Arabic for practical reasons. This is especially true when Iraqi live on bordering towns and cities since the need to use the language in everyday life is tangible.

If you are a foreigner or tourist, we do always recommend learning language and studying local culture. Language is incredibly important form of human connection and knowing some of the local language will greatly enhance your experience. It may not be possible to learn all languages, especially if backpacking through, but relying on your English is limiting and alienating. If you can learn to speak basic or intermediate level Arabic, a few phrases will go a long way. Nothing shows your date more respect than genuinely learning about his or her culture.

While some Iraqi will also speak English or other languages, being able to communicate in any other local language can help to build stronger relationships with, facilitate communication in a variety of contexts and gain respect or trust with Iraqi. It is a win-win situation for you and Iraqi culture.

Is Iraq gay friendly?

Unfortunately, as a whole, the Middle East has a very poor record for LGBTQ+ rights and protections. In fact, it also has some of the harshest laws and penalties. Unlike Europe, when it comes to gay friendliness and LGBTQ+ tolerance, the Middle East has some of the harshest laws and penalties1. The culture of Iraq tends to be extremely conservative and therefore the average Iraqi likely has a very closed-minded view of homosexuality2. The personal beliefs among individual Iraqi may vary of course but across the region there are many cultural pressures which reinforce this belief system.

Per the ILGA, homosexuality is illegal in Iraq. For LGBTQ+ daters, you should know that Iraq has no major protections and homosexual acts even between consensual adults is criminalized. Therefore, protections for the Iraqi LGBTQ community are typically quite weak and dangerous3. It is always a good idea to check the latest regulations and reports from ILGA or other reputable organizations which focus on this area of human rights.

If you plan on using one of the gay dating apps in {countryMiddleEastNickname}, please be EXTREMELY careful. Check the latest regulations from a reputable international organization like the ILGA and consider using apps like Grindr and Tinder, which help you to remain safe.

Gender roles

Much like the rest of the world, traditional gender roles in Iraq are not substantially different from other conservative societies. Though it is difficult to generalize such a diverse region, the Middle East, as a whole, tends to be somewhat conservative. Because of this, traditional gender roles tend to dominate dating practices in Iraq. Iraqi men are often expected to take the initiative in asking women out, planning the date, and paying for the expenses. Iraqi women, on the other hand, are often expected to be more reserved and nurturing. To a degree, religion will often play a part of this as well.

As globalization and urbanization march forward, norms around dating and gender roles are changing, especially among younger generations and in urban areas. More egalitarian dating practices are becoming more common, with some Iraqi women also taking the initiative and couples splitting the bill.

Best way to meet singles in Iraq

The best place to meet singles in Iraq depends a lot on where you might be. If you are in a rural area, then your options may be limited. However, if you find yourself in a large urban center like Baghdad, Basra or Mosul, then you may have more options. Do some research on popular activities or events happening in your area and see what you find.

We believe that you can increase your chances of meeting Iraqi singles by trying out some of these methods:

  1. Social events: Attending social events like festivals or cultural events even parties are great ways to meet new people and potentially find a romantic partner. Though many of these are not specifically focused on dating, they may present opportunities to strike up a conversation with someone new.
  2. Through friends: If you live in a place and have a friend network, it may be easy to meet potential partners through friends or mutual acquaintances. Ask your friends to introduce you to someone they think you may hit it off with, or attend social events with them to meet new people. It is important to use this sparingly though in case a new relationship does not work out.
  3. Religious centers: Mosques are a central part of community life for Iraqi Muslims. They serve not just as places of worship but also as gathering points where people can meet and socialize.
  4. Joining groups or clubs: Joining a new club or group centered around a common interest such as a profession, skill, sport or even language exchange, can all be great ways to meet new people. By joining an organization based on mutual interests, conversations will be easy and it is easier to relax.
  5. Go shopping at the market: In cities like Baghdad, Basra or Mosul, shopping centers, malls and markets are great places to meet new Iraqi singles. Markets and malls are often central to daily life and people visit them frequently either out of necessity or to pass time.
  6. Volunteering: There should be plenty of volunteer opportunities in Iraq. Volunteering for a local organization or charity is not only a great way to give back to the greater human society, but it can also be a great way to meet new people who share similar values, passions and worldviews.
  7. Online dating: If all else fails, there is always online dating. As you will read in the section below, the online dating scene is evolving in Iraq. Though the amount of Iraqi singles on these platforms is still relatively small, the apps and sites can still be ways of meeting someone new who shares values and interests with you.

Is it safe to date people in Iraq?

Regionally, the Middle East has a mixed track record with safety. Although, there are some safe places, personal security is inconsistent, especially for women. It does not matter if you are Iraqi, African or a foreign tourist, if you plan to date in Iraq, it can be an interesting experience for you. However, you should take certain safety precautions to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable time meeting new people.

Here are 10 things to keep in mind when dating in Iraq:

  1. Be Aware of Local Laws and Customs: Learning about the local culture, like you are doing now, can help you navigate dating in Iraq and avoid cultural misunderstandings or faux pas. Further, if Iraq is a new place for you, take some time to review local laws and customs, particularly related to dating and public behavior. This is especially crucial as laws and protections are quite weak and dangerous for LGBTQ+ individuals in Iraq. Though some dating apps, such as Grindr or Tinder, have implemented security features into their apps it cannot defend you from the law of the land.
  2. Choose a Reputable Dating Platform: Online dating app may be weak in Iraq but at least use a website that requires identity verification. This can help weed out fake profiles and scammers.
  3. Use the messaging service on the dating app: It is safer to use the messaging service provided by the dating app until you are comfortable sharing your contact details.
  4. Keep Personal Information Private: Do not share sensitive information like your home address, financial details, or other private information with someone you have just met online. This is generally always a bad idea.
  5. Research Your Date: Do a quick online search of the profile information of your date to verify their identity. Be cautious of profiles with limited friends, photos, and interactions as these could be signs of a fake profile.
  6. Tell Someone About Your Plans: Always tell a friend or family member where you are going, who you are meeting, and when you expect to return.
  7. Meet in Public: On your first few dates, meet in a public place like a café or a park where there are plenty of people around. In a places like Baghdad, Basra or Mosul, it should be somewhat easy to find a public space.
  8. Stay Sober: Though alcohol is not that common in Iraq, if alcohol is served on your first date, consider limiting your intake to ensure that you are fully aware of your surroundings. Alcohol can impair your judgment. It is safer to drink less when you first get to know someone.
  9. Trust Your Gut: If something feels off or too good to be true, it probably is. You have instincts for a reason. Trust them and do not feel obliged to stay in a situation that makes you uncomfortable. Remove yourself from a bad situation when it feels right to do so.
  10. Safe Sex: Though casual sex is taboo and unlikely in Iraq, if you decide and a date decide to become intimate, remember to practice safe sex. This includes using protection and getting regular check-ups for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Remember, safety first. It is important to take precautions and use common sense when dating in Iraq, whether online or offline.

Dating scams in Iraq

Dating scams can and do unfortunately happen across the world, even in Iraq. the Middle East is no stranger to scams or deceptive practices. Particularly in the digital world, wherever there are lonely or naive people, a nefarious person can take advantage of their kindness or emotions.

While we do not know of any dating scams unique to Iraq, we do believe you should keep in mind these online dating scams which are common in other countries and the rest of the world. While we do not believe paranoia helps, it is always a good idea to be careful and approach online dating in Iraq with caution. Until you build trust with someone, you should not provide too many personal details. Whether you are Iraqi or a foreigner looking to date in Iraq, please keep these common dating scams in mind when using apps and sites to meet new people:

  1. Identity theft: Scammers may use dating apps or websites to steal personal information from their targets, such as credit card numbers or other personal details.
  2. Romance Scams: In this scam, criminals create fake profiles on dating websites or apps. They build an online relationship with their victims and then ask for money for various reasons – a sick relative, a plane ticket to visit, or some other fabricated story. Once they receive the money, they disappear.2
  3. Advanced Fee Fraud: This is one of the most common types of fraud in West Africa, in countries like Nigeria and Ghana, but could also happen in Iraq. The scammer forms a relationship with the victim and then asks for money to help them access a large amount of money or gold they have supposedly inherited but cannot access due to bureaucratic red tape.
  4. Catfishing: This involves a scammer creating a fake profile with stolen photos and false information. The scammer entices the victim into a relationship with the goal of obtaining personal information or exploiting them emotionally.
  5. Military Scams: In these scams, fraudsters pose as military personnel who are serving overseas or outside of Iraq. They form a relationship with the victim and then ask for money, often claiming that it is for a leave application, medical expenses, or other fabricated reasons.
  6. Gift Scams: Scammers, after forming a relationship, might ask for expensive gifts or money to buy such gifts. Once the gifts or money are received, they break off contact.
  7. Kidnapping Scams: These are extreme and less common, but there have been reports of scammers luring victims to a location under the pretense of a date and then kidnapping them for ransom.
  8. Other money scams: Scammers may create fake profiles on dating apps or websites and then ask their targets for money for any number of other reasons than previously mentioned. If money is involved, it is likely a dating scam. Use good judgement.

Online dating in Iraq

In more conservative regions of the world such as Iraq, the state of the online dating industry can be described as a delicate blend of traditional values and modern technology. There is an increased interest in online platforms as avenues for finding partners, largely driven by the younger, more tech-savvy generation. However, the concept of dating itself, particularly online dating, often faces resistance from more traditional segments of society.

Within this context, online dating services often aim to navigate the cultural sensitivities by providing a platform that upholds the values and norms prevalent in Iraq. Some of these platforms promote matches based on shared cultural, religious, and familial values, rather than just personal interests or physical attributes.

Even in spite of this culturalization effort, the online dating in Iraq has been slow to take off. This is likely due to a few aspects:

A primary and obvious reason is mainly culture. Conservative societies and indigenous groups like the Arab, Kurd, Turkmen and Assyrian, are quite foreign to the concept of a dating app or website. This is due to the reliance on social circles and emphasis on maintaining culture through relationships within the their respective community. Additionally, for religious Iraqi there would definitely be stigmas or perceived risk associated with online dating.

The second reason is socioeconomic. Historically, Iraq has had a low internet penetration and limited access to smartphones. However, over the last decade with the widespread adoption of mobile technology, increased internet accessibility, and reduction in costs, Iraqi people are increasingly digitized. Even with access to technology though, dating is still seen as a luxury, even for Iraqi singles open to dating. Though there are wealthy Iraqi, many singles in Iraq continue to struggle economically. With each passing generation, the economic situation seems to be improving, but many Iraqi have a long way to go before having a western style social life.

The third reason, would be distrust and fear of using online platforms for such personal reasons. Data privacy is a huge concern and it is likely that more single Iraqi are hesitant about their personal life living in the cloud. Companies will need to work extra hard to overturn this and build trust with locals, or be locals themselves, particularly where government involvement is a concern.

A fourth explanation for this slow growth is related to accessibility, particularly through product localization. When apps and websites do not offer your native language, it is difficult to find the product. Even for those who do find the product, product adoption can be low when you do not fully understand the user interface (UI) language of it.

Historically, most dating apps have not localized consistently localized for all languages from the region of the Middle East, let alone languages native to Iraqi. Though some primary languages such as Arabic are supported by large international companies or regionally specific ones, consistent support is still lagging. European and East Asian languages are much more common and make products accessible for those Iraqi singles who speak them.

Yet, despite the cultural constraints, there is still an undeniable demand for such services in Iraq. Younger generations, influenced by global trends and the normalization of digital social interaction, are gradually shifting the dating landscape.

One of the noticeable trends in Iraq is the emphasis on serious relationships and matrimony, as opposed to casual dating. Many online platforms cater to this trend by positioning themselves as matchmaking services for marriage, rather than dating websites or apps.

Another notable trend in the online dating scene in the Middle East, is the rise of niche platforms catering to specific groups. For example, culture-specific dating like dating apps for Muslims, Christians, or even specific ethnic or linguistic communities. Though it is highly unlikely any time soon, we may eventually see dating or marriage apps that cater specifically to Arab, Kurd, Turkmen and Assyrian singles in Iraq, where indigenous or linguistic communities are large in number.

Keeping this in mind, we believe that the online dating industry has an interesting future in Iraq. As a whole, has more than 40 million people; most interestingly, with a relatively young median age.1 Compared to regions like Europe, where the median age is over 40, it seems that in spite of major obstacles there is still a long term growth story for Iraq and the rest of the Middle East. As more and more people join the digital world, we expect Iraqi singles to increasingly turn to online dating as a means for connection. However, this adoption rate may be slow especially when considering the cultural hesitations and even occasional institutional blockers in place.

With continued tech adoption and changing societal attitudes, the future of online dating in the Middle East looks promising yet steady and slow, growth in Iraq will inevitably contribute to that change, even if in relatively small absolute numbers. As a youthful and digitally-connected population continues to grow, so too does the potential market for online dating services. Additionally, the ongoing shift towards homegrown and niche dating platforms suggests a future where the industry is increasingly tailored to the diverse needs and preferences of local Iraqi daters.

In conclusion, while the online dating industry in Iraq may not mirror the more liberal approach seen in Western cultures, it is finding its own unique path that blends regionally tradition and modernity. As societal attitudes continue to evolve, the online dating scene in Iraq is likely to grow and mature in its own distinct way.

Top dating apps in Iraq

Much like in the rest of the world, international recognized dating apps like Badoo or Tinder, are likely to have users in nearly every country in the Middle East. These apps are likely to be popular with young Iraqi singles who conform to more global norms. However, since Iraq is conservative, users count will likely be low or stigmatized.

If you plan to use a dating app in Iraq, review the below apps in addition to any other apps you may be familiar with. Online dating is a lot about trying different platforms and sites and finding ones that works best for you and your interests. This will give you the best chances of success in meeting someone special.

Keep in mind, the dating sites and apps available and popular by country may depend on how well the apps are localized into the languages of Iraq, particularly Arabic.

  1. Tagged: Tagged is a social networking site that has grown to be a popular platform for dating in many the Middle East countries with a presence in Iraq.
  2. Muslima: This niche dating site caters to the Muslim community. Though it has its largest and most significant user base in North Africa in countries such as Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, Muslims around Africa find value in the dating app.
  3. Muzz: a popular dating app for Muslim people


2 Romance dating scams in Africa are common:

3 Sub-Saharan views on homosexuality: