Visiting the Middle East as Female for the First Time
Updated: Feb 5
After our recent visit to the Middle East, we thought it would be interesting to share our experience travelling to the Middle East as a female, for the first time. During this blog we will address the most common questions and concerns for someone looking to work internationally for the first time. As a result of the traditional Islamic beliefs, the Middle East is perceived to be challenging for woman. However, despite the local laws and cultural norms travelling to the Middle East should no longer be perceived as a difficult region to visit.
The appropriate dress code in the Middle East?
How to dress in the Middle East is one of the most common questions. It is vital to follow the traditional dress code when traveling to the Middle East, this doesn’t mean wearing what the locals would. This traditional dress code requires travellers to respect their culture and beliefs in public places. For example, if your planning on relocating to Saudi Arabia, the social norms regarding the Islamic laws means that female travellers are expected to respect the Islamic dress-code. This involves wearing modest clothing, by covering your shoulders and legs. However, cultural norms in Israel are much less traditional with little or no expectations for women to follow a conservative dress code, particularly in the workplace. So do your research on your specific destination, but it is essential to respect their culture by dressing modestly.
If you are thinking of relocating, its vital to read up on your destination’s laws and cultural norms. For example, women travelling to Saudi Arabia should be aware of the gender-based segregation in public locations, schools, work and restaurants. As a result, woman are often expected to sit in a designated section for woman only on public transport. Additionally, female teachers can only teach girls in gender segregated schools.
Dubai/UAE have a more relaxed approach – schools are a mix of male and females, where they can socialise openly. Unlike Saudi the cost of living is very expensive. In Dubai, 80% of the population are formed by ex pats. Therefore, it is important you research this information before deciding to relocate to the Middle East as cultural differences vary massively.
You should also do some prior research to help you understand if your trip coincides with any religious periods or holidays. For example, the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, for which the dates change every year, is widely respected across the Middle East. Hence, foreign visitors are expected to respect any religious periods – not to drink, eat or smoke in public places during Ramadan. Preparation is vital when visiting the Middle East and will educate female visitors of the culture, making them feel more comfortable.
Relocating to the Middle East has several benefits, which we will cover in our next blog post. If you are considering relocating to the Middle East make sure you follow our social media accounts for our most recent blog posts. In summary, our first visit to the middle east was amazing, the people were so friendly and we will be back soon.