The Middle East has become a popular tourist attraction in recent years. People from all over the world want to visit countries like Egypt, Jordan, UAE, Turkey, and so many more. Whether it is to visit the monumental mosques and museums in Istanbul, or to see the skyscrapers of Dubai, or to visit the ancient cities of Petra or Giza, Middle East seems to be the place to go.
However, the culture in many of the countries in the Middle East is entirely different from most cultures around the world. Therefore it is essential to educate yourself before travelling to these locations entirely.
Most of the countries in this region take their culture very seriously. Even though some leeway is granted to tourists, it is always better to respect the culture of the people that have welcomed you within their nation. So, it is imperative to plan ahead – before you depart on your trip – and know the things you need to pack. Additionally, since you are travelling to a new place, regardless of their differences or similarities, it is always better to preplan packing a few essentials before you set off. Here are a few tips on how to pack for your trip to the Middle East:
• Appropriate Dressing
No, you do not have to pack your burkas or abayas when visiting the Middle East. However, it is important to cover yourself up according to the expectations of the culture there.
Women should wear loose fitting, full sleeved tops with long trousers or skirts. Headscarves are not compulsory, but you should carry one, just in case. Carrying a shawl is also beneficial; even though it is hot during the day, most places get cold during the night, and the cloak can function both as an extra layer, and a way to cover your head if required. If you are planning on visiting mosques and other religious places, then you should definitely carry something to wrap your head, as you will not be allowed inside without it.
Men also need to dress appropriately. Avoid wearing shorts if you can, but in case you do need to wear shorts, make sure they are at least knee length, and not any shorter. Shirts should always have sleeves. T-shirts are ok, but the button-downs are better.
Loose fitting clothes should be preferred by both genders. The primary reason behind this is the heat. Be prepared for a lot of sun and sweating during the day time. However, for most places, you will need to carry an extra jacket for the nighttime, as it tends to get cold after dark.
• Protection from the Heat
As mentioned earlier, the Middle East enjoys a lot of heat and sun. This can become a problem very fast if you don’t take the right precautions. Pack a lot of sunscreens; you are going to need it. Additionally, you should also cover your head with a hat or a cap when out in the sun. You can always buy the turban-like headdress that Middle Eastern people wear, which will also help you blend in better with the culture, but you should also pack a hat with you, just in case. Do not forget your sunglasses, either. Also pack deodorant, preferably one that will not melt in the heat and ruin everything inside your bag.
• Swimming Gear
The Middle East has some beautiful beaches, and visiting them is a must. Do not forget to pack your swimsuits and flip flops. However, do remember to read up on the beaches that you are planning to visit before leaving your home, and get a sense of the appropriate beach attire allowed there.
• Arabic Dictionary
Arabic is a rich language, and significantly different from English. It would be highly inconvenient if you were stuck in an awkward situation where you cannot understand the locals, and have no way to convey your message to them either. However, if you carry a small Arabic dictionary with you, you may be able to save yourself from a lot of difficult situations.
Carrying medicines is a must for any trip, especially if you are going abroad and have to eat food you are not used to. Always take a medicine box with you. You may also carry an entire first aid kit if you wish to be safe, but you will probably find good medical facilities wherever you go so complete equipment may not be necessary. However, do carry the medicine you are used to and are more likely to feel the need to use on your trip. If you cannot decide what to pack and what not to pack, visit Click Pharmacy and discuss with experts what kind of medication they recommend carrying.
• Hand Sanitizer
This is also something that you must carry, regardless of where you are travelling. You may not always find easily accessible bathrooms or places to wash your hands, and eating with dirty hands, especially while travelling, is a fool-proof way to fall sick and ruin your trip. Therefore, always pack a hand sanitizer, wherever you go.
• Theft-proof Bag
When roaming the streets, it is still safe to carry a bag you can trust. When you are a tourist, you will probably be taking some crucial things wherever you go, and it would be highly inconvenient if they got stolen. Try to carry your stuff in a bag which has a long, sturdy strap that you can sling around yourself. The material of the bag should also be sturdy and slash-proof. Be as safe as you can be.
Of course, the above list is not exhaustive. It is recommended that before travelling, do thorough research about the exact places you are visiting, and plan accordingly. The things mentioned above, however, are general guidelines that are applicable almost everywhere in the Middle East. Do follow these to be safe, and to make sure your trip goes as smoothly as possible.