All of you would have heard of Iraq – a sovereign nation to the west of Asia that borders Iran, Jordan, Kuwait and Turkey. However, not many would have heard of a region called Iraqi Kurdistan, an autonomous region within Iraq, which has its own language, flag, borders and own government. Even though it is very much part of Iraq, the Iraqi government does not interfere with their policies of Kurdistan and vice-versa.
The Kurds had a tough time in maintaining autonomy especially after 1988 during the Saddam Hussein era followed by the growth of ISIS, which led to multiple wars and civil unrest.
Post the Saddam era, Iraq also recognized Iraqi Kurdistan as an autonomous region and drew up a new Iraqi constitution to accommodate the new state in 2005.
However, we are not going to divulge further into the history of the two states, instead, here’s a story of Baderkhan Amer Badran, a pharmacist from Iraqi Kurdistan, who has travelled to over 70 countries, despite the fact that his passport – that of Iraq – offers him the visa-free/visa on arrival facility in just 37 countries.
The high-spirited guy is on a mission to destroy stereotypes about the Iraqi passport, according to his Instagram bio. He sure has begun his work in that direction as he ticked off a total of 26 countries alone in 2016.
The Iraqi passport is the second weakest passport in the world, only behind Afghanistan, where its citizens get visa on arrival in only 35 nations. When you pit them against some of the powerful passport nations like UAE or USA, who can avail the visa on arrival facilities in more than 170 countries, it certainly does not paint a pretty picture. In the video by travel blogger Drew Binsky, who visited Iraqi Kurdistan, he came across Baderkhan who shares his inspiring story of travelling the world and the hardships he faces to get a visa.
If you hold a passport of any of the following countries, you can avail visa on arrival facility at Kurdistan: Austria, Andorra, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, United Kingdom, Croatia, Australia, Canada, Japan, Kuwait, Mexico, New Zealand, Qatar, South Korea, Turkey, USA, and UAE.
NOTE: The rules of visa on arrival can be different in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. So, make sure to do a thorough research before you fly out.