Packing for the Middle-East isn’t that complicated, as long as you know where you’re going.
In the Gulf countries, summer is extremely hot and winter is normally hot (25°C). In the winter, it can be windy during the day and chilly at night.
In the Levant countries (Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine), summer is hot, winter is cold. What does cold mean? Amman, being in the mountains, can be snowy; Beirut, being by the sea, is warmer but tends to be really rainy; the deserts are hot during the day but freezing at night. Do check the weather for every place you go!
But we all know that the weather is not the trickiest part. The tricky part is dressing “decently” in a Muslim country. The rule is: cover knees and shoulders. If you don’t, you may feel uncomfortable, and most importantly have troubles with the locals and the police! But there are a few exceptions to the rule. In Oman, and most part of Lebanon, people are more tolerant. Still, it doesn’t mean you should start wearing mini skirts and crazy décolletés! In Beirut, Tel Aviv, Dubai, people love to dress up! You can feel free to where almost anything you want, as long as it’s fancy!
>>Read our guide to packing for conservative countries.
Here’s what I packed for 3 months in the Gulf and the Levant countries, during the fall and winter season.
Packing List for the Middle East
- My Birckentsocks: in between construction works, sand and rain, you need good shoes to walk. (Or try Tevas or Chacos.)
- My hiking shoes for the mountains and desert
- A nice pair of sandals for the evening and the cities (Birckenstocks are not an option in a fancy restaurant in Dubai)
- 2 pairs of light pants
- 1 pair of jeans. Some say it’s heavy and takes time to dry. Yes, but I feel way comfortable with them when it’s cold and/or I’m in a city.
- 3 long sleeve blouses (I took a denim shirt. It can be used as a light cardigan, and is ideal to cover shoulders and arms.)
- 2 short sleeves for more tolerant countries and westerner hotels.
- 1 below the knee skirt or dress to feel pretty and comfortable during the day or in the evening.
- 1 nice sweater for the cold desert nights, the Levant countries after November, and mountain trips at any season.
- 1 blazer: with it I instantly look dressed up in a city and I can proudly enter that fancy and hip restaurant.
- 2 bathing suits (or bathing suit alternatives)
- 1 crappy pair of pants or shorts, and a crappy tshirt, to swim in on a public beach or a wadi (canyon) in Jordan and the Gulf countries.
- 3 necklaces and 2 pairs of earrings. I instantly feel fancy and they’re not uncomfortable when it’s hot (contrary to bracelets)
- 2 scarfs to protect myself from the wind, the cold, and the guys looking at me, but mostly to cover myself.
Specific Items for the Levant Countries
During the winter (November-March):
- 1 rain coat for Lebanon or 1 warm coat for Jordan
- A pair of good-looking sneakers for the Levant countries (you need protection from the snow/rain/cold, while at the same time looking as fancy as the other girls) (Check out this review of the Reebok Skyscrape Runaround shoes.)
- A pair of flats for the Levant countries (same reason, need to be fancy at night)
During the summer:
- 1 nice top and 1 tight mini skirt to party in Lebanon (easy to pack, no need to iron).
Other than that, nothing too particular. The Middle East is a safe region with no particular health issues. In some countries, the only item you might not find is the next-day pill. Take one with you if you think that might be useful 🙂
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About the Author: Aline Mayard is doing a tour of the Middle-East and is sharing her experiences in this mysterious region on YallaBye.eu. She talks about travel and tourism, but also society, design, startups, culture, traditions, parties etc. She loves to travel, understand new cultures, and seeing how startups can change our lives. Follow her adventures on @Yallah_Bye and @aline_myd, and on Facebook.