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…
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
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.
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
- Tip 1
- Tip 2: 101 secret to a successful visa application
- Tip 3: Traveling with a third world passport
- Tip 4: Traveling with a Nigerian 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.
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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