For those who live outside the region, the Middle East can seem like a confusing and chaotic destination. Some people travel for work reasons, others to visit family members and many others for religious reasons. There are also those who are simply curious and want to explore these wonderful lands.
However, political, social, and religious conflicts together with the hostile climatic conditions of the place cause many travelers to postpone their plans.
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Each Country is Unique
The Middle East region is made up of many countries, each with its own history and culture, and often with its own languages and religious practices. It is easy for a foreigner to think that this territory behaves like a great mass, but there is nothing further from reality than that. In the same way that the customs of Norway differ from those of France, each community in the Middle East has its own rules and customs. It is very important that you investigate the peculiarities of each place. Remember that each country is a world apart.
Follow the Dress Code
No matter what country you visit, always remember to dress conservatively. This does not mean that you need to get typical clothing as soon as you step into the airport, but rather it has to do with avoiding exhibitionism. Both men and women should avoid low-rise pants and sleeveless shirts, as they are considered offensive garments for both sexes.
Shorts are very frowned upon, as are short t-shirts, they go against the dress code. While Middle Eastern people are respectful enough to tolerate their dress, showing more than they should is a major disrespect for the local culture.
It is Not Always Necessary for Women to Cover Themselves Completely
You are probably thinking of the famous veil. You need to know that in Saudi Arabia and Iran it is necessary for women to wear a chador. Imitating local customs is a sign of respect for the culture.
However, in other Middle Eastern countries, the decision to wear this type of garment depends purely and exclusively on women. They are considered part of the feminine identity, in the same way that clothing in the West is a personal brand. The exceptions to the rule are Iran and northern Pakistan, along with the part of Afghanistan that is under the rule of the Taliban.
No Bacon or Alcohol
When you go to a restaurant in the Middle East, do not be surprised if you do not find any pork dishes on the menu. The pillars of Islam, the predominant religion in the region, consider it an impure animal. In fact, many international chains follow the same regulations. When you need to book last minute flight tickets to India, Tajawal is your go to place.
Meat must be halal otherwise it is considered contaminated. Another notable absence is alcohol. Followers of Islam should also limit their consumption of beverages. As much as some establishments serve drinks, do not expect families, friends, and associates to share a glass of wine at dinner. Instead, many locals may invite you to smoke hookah, also called shisha, a hookah containing flavored tobacco.