How Zeina travels the world with her Iraqi Passport

As of January 2018, Germany was ranked as having the most powerful passport in the world. I have seen first hand what having a powerful passport can do and unfortunately, I have also seen how people with “unfavorable” passports are treated. It’s disappointing to realize that a little booklet can enhance or limit the opportunities you have in life. Countries with weak passports can only visit a handful of places. To have an Iraqi passport means that you can only travel to “35 countries (in theory) without a visa on entry. Now compare that with the world’s most powerful passport, Germany which gives visa-free access to 177 countries. That’s a big difference! The citizens of countries like Iraq rely on the fate of their visa application results to know if they could be allowed in another country or not.  Having an unfavorable passport can seem daunting for any citizen, however, motivational individuals like Zeina who has an Iraqi passport, provide a ray of hope.

‘”One person can make a difference” I always believed in that saying but never imagined myself to be that one person.’- Zeina, Iraqi citizen and Muslim traveler

Zeina shares her story

The woman with the Iraqi Passport

I am Zeina, an Iraqi travel blogger, I travel, write and share a diary of a normal Arab woman who wants to show the world that we are here and we are amazing. I was born in Baghdad, Iraq to both Iraqi parents. Before the war happened, we moved to Jordan so my parents could complete their studies. They have been living there ever since.

In college,  I studied chemical engineering and finished my MBA masters in Turkey. This was a turning point in my life.  I never, ever dreamt of being a traveler. It was impossible, “An Arab girl traveling alone, No way!.” Yet here I am today. I am an Arab Muslim female traveler! At first, my parents didn’t understand my need to move away or the need to find myself outside the social boundaries. As an Arab girl, you are expected to settle and never ask for more. Alhamdulillah (Thank God), my parents understood my passion and allowed me to find myself in traveling.


Challenges of an Iraqi passport

An Iraqi Passport

My Iraqi passport allows me to visit 5 countries in general, so applying for a visa is always a struggle. However, in order to travel and to achieve my dream, I started researching and looking for Iraqi travelers who have more experience in visa issues. In the beginning, I couldn’t find anyone, I almost gave up, but something kept me going. Later on, people started reaching out to me, it was insane! They told me about their travels and which countries we are allowed to visit, I could see a light at the end of the tunnel.


An Iraqi passport is the 2nd least powerful passport in the world just right after Afghanistan. 


I started traveling last year and so far I have visited Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, UAE, and Malaysia (can I count Iraq and Jordan? haha). I feel shy sometimes because of my short travel-list of countries, I mean, I cannot consider myself a traveler yet. I try to visit a lot of cities in every country, meeting the locals, knowing more about the country and getting a taste of the real culture.

2 years ago, I planned to visit the UK and Europe for studying purposes, my visa was rejected. Their reason: I was from Iraq. For them, I was just another figure but for me, it was a heartbreak. Both rejections made me feel depressed, I wanted to show the world that Zeina, an Iraqi woman is here to stay. I try (in my simple way) to show the positive side of Iraq and Arabs in general. Iraq, my home has been through a lot, every day is a challenge but we are survivors! We will not give up on life. Iraqis never lost their smile nor their heart. They are well known for their kindness, they will help you no matter what!


Fun Fact on Iraq: It is the home of the world’s first writing system, for the indigenous Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian and Sumerian empires. The country has the 5th largest oil reserves in the world. It also has diverse religious and cultural structures, with over 8 sects living together peacefully. Iraq gave the world amazing artists, scientists, and famous Iraqis like Zaha Hadid, Zainab Salbi, etc.


Zeina’s Dream

Zeina is dreaming with her Iraqi Passport

For my special country, I started to travel! I travel because I love exploring, I travel because I want to be that “Iraqi” girl who you meet somewhere that challenges the stereotypes of Arab women, Arab culture, and Muslims. My dream is to be the change, even if that change is small, it is still a change I want to make happen! My next project is actually to gather enough money to visit Tanzania and hopefully, climb Mount Kilimanjaro. I don’t need a visa for that!!


Tips on how to travel the world with a less powerful passport

I hope you learned a thing or two from Zeina’s story. Feel free to contact Zeina if you wanna find out how she travels abroad with her passport .


Check out the last inspirational post, here.


travel the world with an Iraqi Passport

Zeina is an Iraqi travel blogger trying to make a difference through her blog! She wants to empower women and Iraqis in specific.
However, Zeina faces a lot of obstacles because of her Passport, she doesn’t have the luxury to move around but she will continue to believe. Follow Zeina’s journey on Facebook or Instagram.



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2020-03-06T19:33:15-06:00February 19th, 2018|HGT Explorers|24 Comments


  1. The Wild Wayfarer February 21, 2018 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    This is such an inspiring story. Being from Ireland I really take for granted my ability to travel pretty much wherever I want!

  2. SecretMoona February 21, 2018 at 9:44 pm - Reply

    Wow Zeina, you’ve only started travelling a year ago and have visited all these countries? Which one was your favourite and why?

  3. Jewels February 22, 2018 at 3:47 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing your story! It’s so important to shed light on passport privilege. Kudos to Zeina to exploring the world despite the obstacles in her way.

  4. Chirasree Banerjee February 22, 2018 at 4:16 am - Reply

    Hi Zeina, it is wonderful to e-meet such a passionate traveler. From now on, you got a new follower. I loved reading your post full of insights and passion.

  5. Osman February 22, 2018 at 5:57 am - Reply

    I feel you , even if i have a moroccan passeport that allow me to visit more countries without a visa . Im upset to see all this people diying when they try to cross the 17km between tangier in north morocco and spain … while a european can just book his flight and come to africa without asking for a visa .
    I still consider myself lucky since i have worked with refugees from myanmar who are stateless … in our world today if you dont have documents or citizenship you are not considered as a human .
    The freedom of move have help humanity to survive since millions of years but nowadays earth look more like an open jail for lot of people .
    Im also upset with the behavior of immigration officers treating people differently deoending on the passeport they are holding and the color of their skin
    I had couple of bad experiences with malaysian immigration who worship the whites with the powerfull passeport and disrespect people who have the same faith than them because their origins or the value of their documents …

  6. Céline CLudik February 22, 2018 at 10:27 am - Reply

    Congratulations Zeina, you are a true-born adventurer and an enthusiastic storyteller ! Everyone (here in Europe) hopes that travelling to foreign nations would go smoothly ! But when I read your post, I realize how difficult it is for you… so many obstacles because of your passport, such a lot of problems which you have to face and come across. Keep going, you are doing a wonderful blog 🙂

  7. Katie Featherstone February 22, 2018 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing this. A strong passport is such a privilege; it is important to remind people!

  8. ARI February 22, 2018 at 2:37 pm - Reply

    I’m curious Zeina why you say you can travel only to 5 countries if they say 35 countries in the beginning of the article? Are most of the countries in the Middle East included in where you can go without a Visa? You are brave and you are True, for following your heart and your passion, and you are lucky that your family supports you in your choices. I’d love to hear and see more about your travels in the future. Tanzania sounds like a great future trip. If you ever want to chat about anything, I’d love to talk travel with you via email (

  9. madhu-on-the-go February 22, 2018 at 4:54 pm - Reply

    Hey Zeina , really inspiring story, your courage and desire to do really what you want to is great. Wish you all the best in travel around the world

  10. Eve February 22, 2018 at 10:35 pm - Reply

    Wow. Zeina, that’s an inspiring story. I can imagine how people react when they hear where you are from but I’m happy that you fight for your dream. Keep going!

  11. Chandrika February 23, 2018 at 8:53 am - Reply

    Loved this article! Hats off to Zeina for being so courageous and inspirational.

  12. Elizabeth Aldrich February 23, 2018 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    Wow, this is so inspiring. You are amazing Zeina, thank you for sharing! What determination and spirit – it’s clear you’re going to do great things in this world. 🙂

  13. 2 Backpackers February 24, 2018 at 9:55 am - Reply

    I so like Zeina’s spirits. I can understand what it is to have a weak passport. But then good-hearted travellers can make a difference in this world. Travel will unite people and countries.

  14. Victoria February 24, 2018 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    I enjoyed reading this post. As a Caribbean national from Trinidad and Tobago, I understand the hassle and expense of applying for visas esp to North America. Keep on being brave and never give up!

  15. Joanna Davis February 24, 2018 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    I can’t imagine how hard it must be to love to travel but your nationality won’t allow you to. As if we chose where we are born… it’s sad that because of the place we are born we are automatically put a label of “non-wanted people”. My passport requires a visa for the USA, which is very hard to get, but at least I am allowed to travel everywhere else in the world without any hassle.

  16. Yumi February 27, 2018 at 4:59 pm - Reply

    Hi Zeina, This is really inspiring story! I admire your courage and spirit . Keep it up! 😊

  17. Lisanne March 3, 2018 at 6:41 am - Reply

    This is such an inspiring post! It’s unfair how this world works sometimes, but amazing to see how some people are so determined and strong

  18. The Wanderlost Campaigner March 13, 2018 at 8:56 am - Reply

    You are so resilient, I hope more places open up to you soon. I’m from the UK and feel deeply saddened to hear how disrespectful my country were to you; we don’t all feel that way, I promise. <3

  19. Buppie March 31, 2018 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    This post made me check my passport privilege, which I appreciate. I really hope you’re able to pursue your interest in traveling to more countries, Zeina. <3

  20. Moawiah Elryalat May 6, 2018 at 11:04 am - Reply

    god bless Iraqi people and their country

  21. Alaa May 22, 2018 at 8:12 am - Reply

    Its OK … When its harder its better

  22. Farah June 1, 2018 at 11:43 am - Reply

    Dear Zeena, I know exactly what you are talking about. I have been through the same experience because of my Iraqi passport. The world would have been much better without all of these borders. By the way, I’m also planning to go to East Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya!!!!

  23. Biba October 11, 2018 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    I really wanted to read inspiring story , but I am sorry this is not and I was disappointed . first of all , permanent residents outside Iraq are almost the most luckiest persons who can get visas to EUR or US much easier than those who are still in Iraq . Also , the reason for being rejected is not cause we are Iraqis , it might be the conditions are not fulfilled and you were still not eligible for getting visa . and this is applicable for almost all citizens of middle east , Africa and some citizens of Asia , south america . you had never seen Afghani’s frustrating in airports even when they have legal entry permit , so I think we are lucky cause at least Iraqis are respected all over the world because of our culture and civilizations .
    wish you all the best , with more influencing story .

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