Travel Guide to the Middle East | Tips to Traveling with Muslim Culture Awareness | Dubai & Kuwait


“Most of my important lessons about life come from recognizing how others from a different culture view things.”
-Edgar H. Schein

Dear Americans new to traveling abroad to places totally different from the United States and the Caribbean; please research the laws and customs of the country you are visiting. Especially when traveling to places in the middle eastern regions, their laws and customs are not westernized although certain places like Dubai cater to western tourist. There are areas in the Middle East that are not as accommodating to westernized ideals and lifestyle that should be acknowledged and respected when visiting their countries. 

The Burj Al Arab (Arabic: برج العرب‎, Tower of the Arabs) is a luxury hotel located in the city of Dubai, United Arab Emirates

For example, it is illegal to have weed in Dubai. While it is legal in some states in American, your American medical marijuana card an freedom to smoke and have weed doesn’t mean anything to other countries when you leave America. 

Lifestyle movements like “hot girl” summer antics and sexy wardrobes that are common in America is likely not going to be received with open arms in the Middle East. Yes, in Dubai it is more westernized and short shorts and skimpy attire can be seen in the malls and touristy areas. But no, its not aligned with the overall modesty principals of the culture. And nah it doesn’t have anything to do with race, or “feminism power” they just really don’t want to see all your goodies frfr; it’s offensive to their culture. 


Hookah Shopping at the Sooq market

Traditional Shoe Shopping

👁Also something to consider is difference of cultural perspective. Having a mindset of thinking because the Muslim women are wearing burka, niqab or hijab, and practice modesty that they feel oppressed, can be very inaccurate and closed minded. Or that believing the westernized way of thinking is “liberating” to them, can be very off base. Some muslim women feel the way Americans dress and behave is overly sexualized, and American men have conditioned their women this way; which can also be seen as oppressive. So it’s all in perspective, and respect of differences in cultural beliefs. Its best to keep an open mind regarding someone else’s belief system. And cultivate a mental space of respect of differences in opinion. 

🍹Also be aware some countries in the Middle East are dry countries. Meaning some places don’t allow alcohol at all. And the areas were alcohol is permitted like Dubai, it does have its limits and restrictions to tourist areas, hotels, and restaurants. Even in Dubai its not common to walk around intoxicated getting lit like it’s the Vegas strip. Dubai is not Vegas, its just modeled after some of the extravagance you can see on the Vegas strip.

Be aware at some hotels in the more traditional middle eastern regions, like Abu Dhabi, Doha, and Kuwait in order for different genders to stay in the same hotel room, you need to be married. At check-in some hotels will ask for proof of marriage. If you do not have proof be ready to pay for a separate room. 

🏨 It’s best to check with your hotel ahead regarding their rules. Again not all hotels are like this, but SOME are. Know before you book the room. 


Burj Khalifa

The Address, Downtown Dubai at night

Burj Khalifa statue of Arab man and Woman Couple
Kuwait City

Kuwait City, Kuwait is a dry Middle Eastern Country. Meaning Alcohol is not permitted.

🙏🏾 It is a great idea to look up the Ramadan dates if you would like to avoid visiting during the spiritual holiday. This is typically a 30 day holy holiday that includes fasting from sunrise to sunset. A lot of restaurants are closed during this fasting time. So for most none Muslim Americans it’s not a good time to visit predominantly Muslim countries. I actually visited Kuwait during Ramadan, I’m not Muslim but I study and respect all religions of the world. My hotel had limited room service available, but I chose to fast with everyone else. All of the restaurants in the city were closed from sunrise to sunset.


🧿Most importantly, keep in mind when you leave America…you are leaving America. No one outside of America really cares about what Americans have the right to do in the states. American rules and laws do not travel with you to other countries. 

Americans are not exempt from the laws of the country you are visiting just because you are American and don’t agree with the laws. If you legit break laws of another country, you face the punishment of that country. Trying to think of ways to outsmart their rules, is just not a good idea. The American embassy is not going to somehow save you from international prisons. 

✈️🧿Travel safe and be well!


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