5 tips for travelling in African Muslim countries

2014-07-23 13:30

Be it Zanzibar, Senegal, or Morocco, there are some gorgeous African Muslim nations to tick off on your travel bucket list.

But if you are going to be a guest in someone else’s country, be sure to be a courteous one.

We give you five important customs and requirements you may need to abide by in your Muslim destination of choice.

Women, carry a headscarf

As a woman, you will be expected to wear a headscarf and dress modestly. Tights are not pants! Try to wear tunic-like tops and long dresses.

It is advisable to travel with a man. Men will be likely to address you only through your male partner and you’ll have to be okay with that.

Think carefully about whether you are willing to accept this. If not, pick another destination.

Avoid public displays of affection

It may be perfectly normal for couples to hold hands or kiss in South Africa, but it’s not cool in a Muslim country.

Be respectful and keep your physical displays of love for each other behind closed doors.

Mosques are not okay places to be inappropriate

Rihanna recently posed for an impromptu photo shoot at a mosque in Abu Dhabi. Obviously, people didn’t like it. Mosques are religious spaces – not places to take selfies and get material for your Instagram feed.

If that doesn’t sit right with you, then maybe you shouldn’t be going to them in the first place. Women are likely to have to completely cover up and, in some cases, will have a separate mosque or section of the mosque for their use.

Avoid the Islamaphobic myths

A lot of blogs are going to tell you that you shouldn’t eat with your left hand in public because that hand is reserved for wiping your bum. That’s a myth. Sure, it’s Arab custom not to eat with your left hand, but there is no rule to say that tourists should do so. If you want to be respectful in an Arab home, you are welcome not to use your left hand, but in most tourist spots this is not an issue.

Do not drink alcohol in public

Those who practise Islam do not consume alcohol. Drinking is illegal in most Muslim countries. Do not drink or walk around drunk in public – it could very well get you arrested.

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