What to Wear to the Middle East – Part I


Tyler and I are taking a trip to visit our old college buddy, Laura.  As you know, Laura and her family moved to Doha, Qatar a year and a half ago for her husband’s job.  We are so excited to go on this adventure, but, of course, I have no idea what to wear!

My primary concern is to show respect to the Arab culture by dressing appropriately.  So, I wrote to Laura for her help, and have included her tips here:

Laura: “Qatar is more progressive than, say, Saudi or Yemen, but cultural norms dictate that women dress  somewhat conservatively (knees, shoulders and cleavage covered).”

Yikes, does that mean we can’t wear short sleeves or shorts in the desert?

Laura: “Short sleeves: YES – fine for both you and Tyler – (non gulf Arab) men and women wear short sleeves all over.  Just don’t pack any of your numerous tube tops or Tyler’s mesh tank tops, though!!!  Seriously, wide trap tank tops would probably be ok (for women – NEVER for men).  I’m sure we will see some women in bare shoulders and other inappropriate items, but it’s not worth the risk. We hear about the culture police cracking down every now and then and throwing people out of the malls or clubs for dressing in a manner that could be deemed offensive.”

Ok, I have no interest in drawing any kind of attention from the cultural police, so I will pack long-sleeved, lightweight shirts, with a few elbow length tops.

Laura: “Shorts: YES – somewhat. I still wear them, but not as often, and only Bermuda shorts if I’m running out to pick up my daughter, but not if I’m running around town.”

Could Tyler wear shorts?

Laura: “My husband goes anywhere in his long shorts that cover his knees BUT they are NOT manpris – I must make that distinction!!!!!”

I rarely wear jeans when I travel, I tend to dress up a bit more, but we are going to go hiking in Jordan, so I was thinking about bringing a pair or two on this trip.

Laura: “Jeans: ABSOLUTELY YES. I wear them all the time.”
The weather will be in the upper 70s during the day and 60s at night, so I’ll pack a few cashmere sweaters too.  I always get cold when I travel.
I’ll thrown several large scarves in my suitcase too.  Even travelling in Europe, I find it’s helpful to carry a lightweight scarf around with you to put over your shoulders when you go in and out of the drafty churches.  I believe I will have to cover up quite a bit more when we visit the mosques.  And, I learned on our trip to India to carry a pair of socks around with you too, since you often have to remove your shoes before you enter a mosque.
My next report will be from the front lines, letting you, and everyone know, if I packed the right clothes!
My thanks to Laura for serving as a guest blogger today and for all her great advice.
Images:  Shafallahforum, Telegraph, Wikipedia, BigSkyline.com, BeautifulMosques.com, Doha Adventures, Doha Museum of Islamic Art


Filed under What to Wear

2 responses to “What to Wear to the Middle East – Part I

  1. Reblogged this on Danielle Lauren Bufton and commented:
    Found this really useful, considering i’m going to Abu Dhabi in June, and really just needed some simple yes and no pointers! Haha, great post. Thankyou! xx

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