What Life is like in the Middle East?

The Middle East is also known as the Gulf States. It consists of different countries with amazing geographical signs and breath-taking views. Most people in the Middle East are Islam but the general population is vast considering that many people from all across the globe travel to the Middle East both for leisure and employment purpose.

If you are going to visit the Middle East for work or pleasure, there are things you need to keep in mind. These are the following:

  • Dress code – Countries in the Middle East are conservative when it comes to their clothing. Although, there are countries like Qatar where you can wear anything you like as long as it is not too revealing. However, for countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, they have a strict dress code.
    • Men – White trouser (serwal), head covering (ghutra), black ring to hold the head cover (uggal), under pant (serwal), and cloth worn on top of the shirt (dishdasha).
    • Women – they should wear abaya (a black loose dress with decorative patterns around the neckline) when going out. Women should also wear a veil to cover the face.
  • Food – Middle East countries are known for their diverse foods. Some of their classic staples are biryani, mashboos, and shawarma. Pork is a big NO! Although, there are some countries like Qatar where non-Islam can enjoy eating pork. In Saudi and Kuwait, eating pork is not allowed.
  • Greetings – The popular greeting is “Salam alaykum” which means “good day.” The proper response for such a greeting is “Alaykum salam.” Other popular phrases you should use are “shukran” which means “thank you” and “InshaAllah” or “God’s will.”
  • Day of prayer – In a non-Islam community, Sunday is Sabbath day or the day of rest. For Muslims, their day of rest and day of prayer is Friday. When people hear the call to prayer, Muslims will leave their home and job and go to the mosque and pray. The prayer lasts for about 10 minutes.

Which country in the Middle East you should visit?

  • Abu Dhabi – It is the largest emirates consists of about 3 million people.
  • Bahrain – It has the best quality of life. In all countries in the Middle East, Bahrain has the best social life and working culture. Expats state that they were able to feel at home straight away.
  • Saudi Arabia – This country has the strictest Islamic regimes in the Gulf. Strict dress code applies, especially when going outside.
  • Qatar – it is one of the richest countries not only in the gulf but in the world. It lies between the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. It is mainly desert with huge oil reserves.
  • Oman/Sultanate of Oman – it is the oldest state in the Arabian peninsula. Almost 45% of its total population is immigrants. If you don’t like a crowded community, then Oman is the best place to be.

When planning a trip to the Middle East, make sure you do thorough research about the dress code, law, and people. Plan your trip ahead of time and always manage your expectation.