Traveling Without Fear: A Western Woman In A Muslim Country

Traveling Without Fear: A Western Woman In A Muslim Country

There are a lot of places that give people pause when suggested as a vacation destination, and for some of them there’s a good reason! But for most of the somewhat maligned Muslim countries, there’s nothing to be afraid of that wouldn’t be an issue in the vast majority of cases. And there are many good reasons to actually go! Travel without fear.

We already covered visiting Zanzibar, but there’s a lot more to discover in Muslim or partially Muslim nations, and in most cases, there’s really nothing to be worried about! Don’t just believe us – check with the State Department before you make plans of course. Places like Zanzibar, Morocco, Jordan, Dubai and much of India are fairly safe if you go with knowledgeable guides and keep your wits about you.

There are a ton of reasons to travel to these countries! Here are just a few.

Amazing History

Not only is the Middle East the cradle of civilization in many ways – from Egypt to all the countries in what was Mesopotamia to parts of India, there’s plenty to discover. While some areas are not a great idea for Westerners at the moment, many more of them are. For instance, Jordan is home to Petra (which you may know as the setting for the final scenes in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade), Morocco has Roman ruins and stunning medinas or old cities, and obviously Egypt has the pyramids and all the ancient Egyptian relics.

Uniquely Awe-Inspiring And Undiscovered Landscapes

From desert vistas and emerald green mountains to crystal blue beaches and lush jungles, there’s plenty for nature lovers, hikers, rock climbers, scuba divers, and beach bums. What’s more, there’s often not nearly as many tourists as there are in other countries. Obviously, we tend to think of deserts when we think of most Muslim countries (and trekking out into the desert is something that should be on the bucket list!), but Morocco has lush Rif mountains, Egypt has stunning coastlines and great scuba diving, and Zanzibar is a jungle island.

Cultural Hospitality

The Muslim sense of hospitality means that guests will feel more welcome than you’d expect, especially if you are used to traveling in western cities. There’s a distinct lack of annoyance at tourists in many of these regions, even the most well-traveled ones. Sure, they are probably happy to get your money, but there’s also a certain pride showing off in their homeland and introducing visitors to new things that you don’t always see in more popular (with Westerners) destinations. Challenge yourself to talk to the locals and you’ll be surprised at how much they have to share with you, and how much you have to discover from talking with them, possibly sharing a meal, or exploring the city or village you’re in.

Your Currency Goes Far

If you’re from the US, Canada, or Europe, you’ll probably feel like you’re ahead of the game, shopping-wise. Plus there’s some amazingly unique souvenirs to be had in each country – rugs are the obvious choice from many of them. Additionally the jewelry is to die for.

Let’s re-iterate that – the jewelry is to die for, and often the prices on gold and gemstones will be much better than at home. In many cases, the currency conversion will be in your favor. Furthermore, the designer goods in places like Dubai are pretty fabulous as well – not only are there unique items that might not be available in your market, you can often get labels like Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton and more for less thanks to the currency conversions.

Note The Local Customs

As you probably already know, keep the wardrobe modest – no major cleavage or short shorts. But really, were you going to wear those things anyway outside of a resort? Probably not. And it’s a good idea to bring a scarf in case you want to visit a mosque or other religious sites. In addition, the sun in most of these areas is extremely strong, so you may just want to protect your scalp!

And The Infrastructure

Going to Morocco, or Zanzibar, or another tourist hotspot? It’s about as risky as visiting Paris or London. Granted, you might not be able to drink the water and in some of the bigger cities the tourist touts are pretty over-the-top, but the payoff is worth it.

At the end of the day, there’s a whole wide world to explore! So get out there and do it!

–Jacqueline Zenn

You may like to read more of Jacqueline’s travel posts: Travel To Zanzibar – In Style! and Get There Now: Tulum, Mexico.

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Photos: Dubai, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco: Flickr; all others Fountain Of 30

Image Layout: Fountain Of 30

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