First-Timer’s Middle East Travevl Guide
The Middle East is a majestic destination with ancient cities and natural wonders filled to the brim with adventure. Western travellers are drawn to the Middle Eastern culture because it is so different from our own. It is important to familiarise yourself with the Middle Eastern customs and traditions before you set off travelling.
If you are a first-time traveler to the Middle East, here are few tips to make your journey a little smoother.
Plan Your Visit
With 15 countries in the Middle East to choose from, deciding on where to visit can be tricky.
If you’re looking for beautiful coastlines and cliffs, then the Dhofar province in Oman is sure to impress. Spanning from South Oman to the Yemeni boarder, this seemingly unexplored area is the perfect place to relax and bask in the beauty of its turquoise waters.
For the more adventurous types, Jordan will provide an esoteric experience. With one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, Petra. Jordan Petra Tours offer the chance to explore this lost city and it’s rich historical past.
The Middle Eastern Way
A large portion of the Middle East is Muslim, and their customs differ from the Western world. Respect and reputation are at the centre of the Muslim community, and you must acquaint yourself with these customs. Family is a big part of their community, and they like to celebrate religious holidays together. Make sure to research any religious festivals or holidays that may occur during your trip. Also note that Friday is their holy day.
In some Mid East countries, alcohol is prohibited, and pork is not served. It’s also worth bearing in mind that an offering of tea and coffee is considered a symbol of friendship. If you refuse, it may be interpreted as rude. Besides, who doesn’t love a peppermint tea or coffee?
Dress to Respect
Most of us will treat ourselves to a new wardrobe for our travels – when we look good, we feel good. But failing to comply with what is deemed as respectful to wear in a country may result in some funny looks and offend locals.
Modesty is key when choosing outfits for your trip, especially for women. Arabic women cover their heads as a sign of respect, even if they are dressed in Western clothes. For female tourists, opt for loose clothes that cover your arms, legs and cleavage. In tourist spots, however, the locals are familiar with Westernised clothing.
Keeping arms, chest, shoulders and legs covered is considered good practice and will reduce any conflict that may arise if travelling to more traditional areas of the Middle East. A pair of lightweight linen trousers or a maxi skirt with a cheesecloth shirt will keep you nice and cool whilst looking great. Sandals and other open toe footwear are acceptable, but make sure that you stay practical and comfy if you are exploring by foot!
Leave the short shorts at home and invest in some linen trousers and shirts. It’s also worth noting that men should wear trousers or knee-length shorts, and a shirt.
How Much Money to Take
Fortunately, eating out isn’t too expensive in the Middle East. You can try their rich spices, mutton and doughy foods without breaking the bank.
However, if you want to save money for tourist attractions, it’s better to stay in dorm rooms than private accommodation. If you opt for this travel method, you could spend eight days in Jordan for £350 and 6 days in Israel for just £260.
What To See
The Middle East is brimming with places to see and natural wonders to experience. This can be overwhelming without any guidance. Opting for a guided trip allows you to soak in the culture, without the pressure of planning everything. Look for tours which will take you through Aqaba, Petra, Wadi Rum and of course, the Dead Sea. This is a great option for first-time travellers who aren’t too familiar with the Middle East.
When to Go
Spring is the best time to go to the Middle East. It’s not too hot, and you will avoid the influx of crowds at tourist attractions.
If you are a woman, depending on where abouts you are planning to travel, it may be considered more respectful to travel in pairs or a small group as this is a common part of their culture.
Not only is travelling in groups considered safer, but it can also make for a more enjoyable time when booking activities or travelling for special occasions such as bringing in the new year. If you are searching for a night of fireworks in front of a spectacular backdrop, Atlantis in Dubai is the perfect location for a magical start to 2022.
It’s important to stay safe whilst travelling. Remember to keep any valuables in a secure zipped pocket or bag and keep enough cash on you for emergencies such as needing to get a cab to the airport. Only take as much as you need for the day and keep the rest safely locked away.