How to behave as tourists in Arab countries

Traveling gives you the opportunity to broaden your horizons and get to know the cultures of different peoples. Each country has its own rules and customs, and it’s a completely different world. Behavior in your home country is different from the rules of another nation, and it is important to be aware of the local culture.

Features of the Arab countries

The world is diverse, but this does not mean that it is better or worse – just different. It is necessary to respect each culture with its customs and patterns of behavior, acting respectfully and not attracting undue attention.

Additional Information! First of all, it is important to distinguish between Muslim and Arab countries. Muslims are those who practice Islam, but not all countries that practice this religion are an Arab country, and not all Arabs are Muslims. Some practice other religions, albeit on a smaller scale.

The culture of Arab countries may surprise you. You should always be careful while abroad so as not to get into trouble. Otherwise, they can be fined, or, worse, deported or detained for what seems perfectly normal, but is not so in another country.

Arab countries are safe to visit. With good planning, you can enjoy visiting this fascinating and colorful part of the world!

Arabic etiquette

Many visitors to the Arab world are pleasantly surprised by their hospitality and always helping strangers.

What are the Arab countries?

The countries are located on the Arabian Peninsula and in parts of Africa. The Arab world has the same language and customs. Muslim countries that are located in Asia from a cultural point of view have little connection with each other. The religion practiced by the majority of the population, both in Arab and Muslim countries, is Islam.

What are the countries of the Middle East? The Middle East includes 18 countries. List of countries in the Middle East: Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, UAE and Yemen.

Arab world

All Arab countries have several things in common: ethnic groups, geographic features, religious beliefs, and political history. The population of the Arab countries is the Arabs, who are the largest ethnic group.

Note! The Middle East is a country that is becoming increasingly popular as a tourist destination. The United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Morocco are very popular with vacationers. In resorts such as Morocco or Egypt, unlike many other countries, travel is relatively affordable. The United Arab Emirates is a country for luxury travel.

Travel & Safety Tips

There are rules to follow to make it easier for you to travel in a country whose culture is very different from what you are used to at home. Travelers often don’t know exactly how to behave with locals or in public places.

  • If you are strolling through the historic old town or areas away from the tourist hustle, dress modestly.
  • In Arab countries, it is not customary to exchange tenderness in public. Married couples or not, avoid petting and kissing in public whenever possible.
  • It is customary for men to greet each other with a handshake. Hugs and kisses on the cheek are also common among members of the same sex.
  • If you are talking to locals or are invited to visit them, avoid talking about politics and religion.
  • Everyone who enters the house must take off their shoes.
  • Gentlemen should avoid prolonged eye contact with Arab women, it looks disrespectful to a lady.

It may seem intimidating, but the journey will change the perception and introduce you to a new, exciting and, above all, friendly part of the world.

Note! Unlike Christianity in many countries, the religion of Islam in everyday life. Travelers to these countries should familiarize themselves with the current rules in advance in order not to draw attention to themselves or, even worse, get into real trouble.

As a rule, in Arab countries, women do not travel alone. Do not go out alone after dark, avoid eye contact on the street, especially with men, as this can be perceived incorrectly,

In Islamic countries, hospitality is a core value. Children and family are valued in Islamic societies. Travelers are often surprised to see complete strangers invited into their homes and offered to eat.

In Islamic society, the spheres of life of women and men are strictly separated. Men talk to men, women talk to women. In Arab countries, there is a “women only” zone in public transport, so be sure to go there to avoid unnecessary male attention. Men and women also often swim separately on the beach – this is indicated, for example, by signs in Dubai or Oman.

One of the most important points that tourists often do not know about is the dress code. Arab clothing is modest and simple, of discreet colors and does not show the shape of the body. When visiting an Arab country, women do not have to wear the same clothes, with some exceptions, for example, in Saudi Arabia.

An important point is the dress code

Both men and women in the Middle East should dress modestly, with their shoulders and knees covered, and not wear anything too tight or revealing. Women, respecting the local culture, wear long, loose clothing: long skirts and palazzo trousers.

It’s best for men to wear collared trousers and shirts, but if you’re wearing shorts, they should come down to the knees. It is worth refraining from very short dresses, skirts, shorts, tight-fitting and off-the-shoulder tops. Swimwear is appropriate only in the bathing areas of hotels and resorts or on tourist beaches.

Public displays of affection are also considered unacceptable in the Middle East. Due to the strong influence of the religious structure of society, the exchange of any kind of endearment in public places is considered taboo. Especially when it comes to unmarried couples. Even something as innocent as holding hands in public can be illegal in the Arab world if you’re not married. Violation of public order can be punished even with imprisonment. European men should always be careful not to get too close to local women.

Do not, under any circumstances, photograph Muslim women, private property, government buildings, or military installations. Most people don’t like being photographed without permission. Resourceful locals have discovered this as a source of income, and ask for a fee if they are photographed.

Mosques are popular with tourists. Go there only if they are accessible to tourists.

Medieval Arabic architecture


When visiting them, all visitors must be dressed accordingly: men should wear long trousers, women should cover their arms and legs. In any case, shoes must be removed and women must wear a headscarf.

In Islamic culture, the consumption of alcohol is strictly prohibited. If you behave inappropriately in public while intoxicated, you can be fined. For this reason, alcoholic drinks cannot be found in supermarkets and many restaurants. However, some hotels have certain licensing rights for the sale of alcoholic beverages.

During Ramadan, it is strictly forbidden to eat, drink and smoke in public places during the day. Tobacco smoking is allowed in public areas, but is frowned upon and may even be prohibited in close proximity to major attractions.

Numerous bazaars typical of the Arab countries are a real attraction. Haggling when buying goods is a common practice and tradition in Arab countries. Merchants will always try to sell goods at too high a price. The art of haggling is considered good form there.

Bazaars typical of Arab countries



Is it safe to travel to the Middle East

While there are certain areas that are really not recommended to visit, many countries in the Middle East are perfectly safe to travel. For the most part, this is a peaceful, hospitable and unforgettable region. These countries warmly welcome tourists.

Arab countries that are safe to travel to:

  • United Arab Emirates;
  • Palestine;
  • Jordan;
  • Morocco;
  • Egypt.

The United Arab Emirates is a rich Arab country. Their laws are very tolerant of foreigners.

Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world, especially for tourists and women: visitors are very taken care of here. In return, visitors are only asked to respect their customs.

Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world

Palestine is a small state that neighbors Israel, Egypt and Jordan. There is plenty to see and do in this area. The oldest historical region attracts tourists, lovers of ancient history, pilgrims and brave travelers.

How to behave when traveling to Jordan? It is a tolerant country, compared to others, even with the misbehavior of foreigners. Showing respect for local customs while traveling makes the traveler more welcome. As in any Arab country, there are still certain cultural norms that you should be aware of.

Morocco is a conservative country and you should always dress modestly when traveling here. Men should wear a T-shirt or shirt with a collar that covers the shoulders and long pants or shorts that reach to the knees. Women should wear long, loose clothing that covers their shoulders, knees, chest, stomach and back. Foreigners do not have to cover their hair, but they will need to do so when visiting the mosque.

Egypt is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa and therefore one of the safest countries in the Middle East to visit.

Cultural differences between the Middle East and the West are significant. If you abide by local laws and customs, traveling around the Islamic world will be a safe, hospitable and enjoyable experience for you. Here the people are kind and generous, the sights are beautiful and untouched.

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