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Female Packing List for the Middle East: Clothing + How to Dress

packing list for the middle east

The following is a guest packing list for the Middle East by Aline Mayard. See all packing list posts here.

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
  • 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 🙂

>> For help with packing tech gear and toiletries, we suggest reading through the following posts: Tech Gear Packing List and the Low Key Traveler’s Beauty Kit.

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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.

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Sarah says

    Any knowledge about the culture in Qatar? Going there soon and want to fit in and not bring too much attention but still feel comfortable!
    Also, I’ve heard good and bad things about being a blonde traveling in Asian and Middle Eastern countries. Any input on that?
    Thanks for all the info!

  2. Elisabeth says

    Nice packing list! Great research and well-done. I wonder though, why do you call it Palestine and not Israel? All democracies in the world refer to the area as Israel, not Palestine.

    • Shari says

      Thank you Elizabeth! My thoughts exactly. The land is referred to as Israel.
      This list did make an error…
      ISRAELIS are not fancy people..they wear jeans to weddings so easy casual wear for evenings is perfectly acceptable.

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