As of 2021, many amazing locations are finally opening up to travelers. And while Europe for the majority is still a no-go, looking further to the East may solve all of your questions. Some African countries are easing up, and many in the Arab Peninsula have. In this post, we are going to discuss traveling to the wonderful countries of the east, where Islam is the dominating culture and the norm. These tips are going to be practical advice that you can apply to the journey and make it hassle-free.
Not every Muslim country is the same, but there are general guidelines that apply essentially to all of them. If you are going to a place where the norm is substantially different from what you are used to, it’s best to prepare yourself ahead, and be in the know of what exactly to expect. Some aspects are objectively unfamiliar in the more Western-like countries, so they may be a surprise to you. We hope that this article will equip you with all the much-needed info, and aid you in your travels.
Follow The Local Traditions And Rules
This is non-negotiable. In any country you are going to, you have to respect the current atmosphere and everything that it bring along. This applies to any place, not just the Muslim countries. Locals will greatly appreciate it, and you will save yourself a lot of trouble and headache. Sometimes, even if your child misbehaves, it may seem gravely inappropriate to people of different upbringing, and they might call the police on you. Know what to anticipate when you are heading to a new place and try to think “what would regular people here do”?
There are many examples of how Muslim-dominant societies operate differently from other cultures. In the West, it is now perfectly fine to walk in shorts in the middle of the city, and it is the absolute norm when you are close to the shore. In a country like Qatar, that would be outrageous. Not only it is absolutely forbidden for women to show certain parts of their body without clothes, but it is also considered indecent and bad manners even for a man to show anything above his knees.
You should keep this in mind when you picture the perfect beach holiday. While there is plenty of sunshine and sandy paradises in these countries, on many of them, women cannot sunbathe there legally. It may not even be allowed to go to a certain beach together, because it can be a man’s/ or woman’s only facility. This doesn’t apply only to the beach. In the cities, you should be considerate of the local mentality as well. Not all countries require women to wear a hijab, but there are a few things to keep in your head:
Skirts must be to the length of the person’s ankle, your arms should be completely covered right to your palms. For a man, it may be OK to wear a shirt, but you won’t see many locals do that, and even less of them will appreciate you doing so. Most people wear robes which cover most of the parts of their bodies, except the face and hands.
Act With Everyone’s Feelings In Mind
This applies to many things beyond simple clothing tips. In a Muslim-majority country, citizens act according to the rules in the sacred Quran. For example, each day Muslims must pray five times. At that time, you will probably hear music going off at the nearby mosques. During that time, you don’t have to take a part in it, but you must respect those who do and not interrupt their act. Don’t turn on any loud music, don’t even talk in a high-tone.
If you are that lucky person who is traveling during Ramadan, there are other special considerations. Most people do not eat during the day and will condone you for doing so in public. Of course, this doesn’t apply to the tourist areas such as a hotel, but if you are in the middle of the city center, don’t expect any cafeterias to serve and anyone wishing you bon appétit.
It is always advised to learn more about the culture you are going to be immersed in, from many perspectives. You are going to enjoy your trip way more if you read some material beforehand and be more prepared. If you are looking for more universal advice for your voyage, check out an article on the local website Arabic-traveler, it’s in Arabic, but it’s well worth translating with a few clicks in your browser.
While you are at researching the journey ahead, we always recommend you do the best job you can. Don’t forget the essentials such as purchasing traveling insurance, bringing a small emergency fund, and having the consulate’s contact numbers just in case. There is only so much you can look out for, so it’s better to be ready for anything. If you really want to commit to your trip, try out Duolingo for learning the local language. Even a few words and phrases may do the trick for you.