Going to take the Jordan and Egypt Tours? The Middle East is one of the most incredible places in the world, but being a totally different culture from ours, there are some rules that are good to know before organizing a trip here. Here are the answers to the 5 most common traveler questions!
1. At the market: how do you bargain in the souks?
The souks, typical Arab markets, are a true symphony of sounds and smells as well as a wonder for the eyes! The first rule when visiting a souk is: never to buy the first thing you see, even if the price is very tempting. Take a look around the stalls and compare the prices of other sellers. If you find the same product at a lower price than the first one you saw, go back and start your negotiation with the seller! The secret is to start from half the sales price and start negotiating from there to reach a compromise! Remember to use this strategy only in the souks and not in the shops!
2. Clothing: when and where you need to cover yourself
Not everywhere and less often than you think! In Jumeirah Beach in Dubai or Hurghada in Egypt, you will see more or less the same bikinis worn by girls on Miami Beach. The Gulf countries in particular are super touristy and organized with dozens of beaches, water parks, and swimming pools with attached bars, ideal for sunbathers. Even the city of Beirut in Lebanon almost seems like a copy of Saint-Tropez. But beaches aside, in other public places you will have to cover up and know that shorts, t-shirts and summer dresses are the minimum. If you plan a visit to a Mosque, forget about clothes and opt for trousers and long-sleeved shirts/shirts, making sure you always have your shoulders and wrists covered.
3. Is it possible to drink alcohol on planes or in public places?
Alcohol is served on planes, but it is good practice not to drink more than one or two glasses, just like on all flights! Crews at airlines such as Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways will be happy to serve beer and wine during the flight, but be aware that getting drunk on a flight to Dubai is not permitted as it is illegal as well as being in as bad taste as it would be on a flight for Greece or Spain. Getting caught drunk on the streets in the Middle East is absolutely illegal and you risk going to prison, whether you are in Dubai, Amman, or Ajman. And then, why should you? In these countries there are the most beautiful “rooftop bars” and typical venues in the world, so make yourself comfortable and have a good drink in one of these places if you really want to treat yourself!
4. Is it a safe destination for gay couples?
Unfortunately in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, gay couples are not recognized by law. Jordan is the only country where they are more tolerated, while in Egypt acceptance is less. Whatever the destination of a trip to the Middle East, it is advisable to avoid kissing, hugging, and showing any type of effusion in public places, especially in Egypt, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates, because the law here does not allow it. Even though public outpourings are more tolerated in Jordan, there have been incidents of gay couples being mistreated and beaten, so it’s best to be very careful!
5. Is it a safe destination for women traveling alone?
Yes. The Middle East is one of the safest and most hospitable destinations in the world and some aspects are even safer here for women traveling alone, for example, the women-only metro or female-driven taxis in Dubai. The important thing is always to demonstrate respect for the other culture, so dressing inconspicuously to remain as anonymous as possible is a good rule. Indeed, many women who travel to these countries are happy to wear the typical scarf on their heads of their own free will. Statistically, most tourist destinations are safe, but if you are afraid of feeling uncomfortable, it is better to opt for more tolerant destinations such as Abu Dhabi.
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