Luxury cars, villas among gifts

Lavish Valentine’s Day spending among Iraq’s super rich

BAGHDAD – In a striking display of affection and wealth, Iraqis have reportedly outspent their counterparts in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this Valentine’s Day, despite the latter’s affluent reputation. According to experts and traders, while Iraq grapples with economic challenges and the volatility of the dollar, its citizens have not shied away from splurging on love.

Nabil Al-Marsumi, an esteemed academic and economic expert affiliated with the 964 network, highlighted the lack of precise data on such spending. “Iraq lacks accurate statistics regarding the import of commercial goods on occasions,” Al-Marsumi explained. “Official entities do not possess figures on the spending of the Iraqi individual on occasions like Valentine’s Day.” He estimated that, considering the UAE’s spending of about 35 million dollars on this day, Iraq, with its larger population, likely spent double that amount.

This year’s Valentine’s Day saw an elite few indulging in high-end purchases such as Lexus cars and iPhone 15s, marking a trend among Iraq’s wealthiest. “There is a great obsession among Iraqis to spend their money on restaurants and buying gifts like flowers and other gifts,” Al-Marsumi noted, adding that with about 36,000 billionaires in Iraq, the potential for million-dollar gifts on such occasions is vast.

Mustafa Hantoush, another economic expert for the 964 network, pointed out the broader economic context. “Iraqi markets in the past few years have experienced paralysis due to the volatility of the U.S. dollar exchange rate,” he said. Hantoush observed that occasions like Valentine’s Day serve as an essential stimulus for the markets, reviving sectors such as flowers, gifts, gold, and silver sales.

Echoing these sentiments, traders from Baghdad, Erbil, and Basra reported significant spending on luxury items and unique gifts. “Iraqis spent a lot of money on flower bouquets, and a limited few paid hefty sums on buying gold, diamonds, G-Classes, and Lexuses,” one trader remarked. The shift in luxury preferences was also noted, with Lexus cars becoming more sought-after than the traditionally popular Mercedes G-Class.

Among the standout gifts were extravagances such as a truckload of roses with a diamond ring hidden within, lavish trips to Paris, and even a 1000 square meter villa in Turkey. Erbil, in particular, emerged as a hotspot for Valentine’s Day commerce, bustling with activity driven by an influx of orders from across the country.