I’ve traveled to some Arab countries alone as a woman, although many of my friends were sceptical or even opposed to it. I travelled alone in Syria and Jordan and with a girlfriend and her husband in Yemen. I visited Tunisia and Oman with some students. Arab countries are often described as “male societies”. There are rules in every society that should not be ignored and, as a woman  traveling alone, you must follow some basic rules. This article is not a complete list of rules, but if you take them seriously, you should get along well alone.

Here are some basic rules

Appropriate clothing

Although you can sometimes see young Western people, especially in the big cities, wearing shorts or short dresses, you must always remember to be well dressed. Women should always cover their shoulders, stomach, décolletage and knees. If you are traveling alone, a head covering or a long pony tail is very helpful.


A single woman should avoid looking directly into the eyes of an Arab / Muslim man as that is often interpreted as an invitation. If you are traveling alone as a woman, you should also refrain from laughing out loud or touching men. These things are also considered an invitation or a ‘come on’. Beware, many men think that they can sow their wild oats with European women. The best way is always to say you’re married or make up with a story why you are travelling without a husband.

Swear words

Should you, as a woman be harassed, the following strong phrases can be helpful, They should, however, be handled with care. The following  words and phrases are very harsh. It is best always to seek help or look for a police officer.

Your education be cursed.

يلعن هل التربية

Have you got no honour?

ما عندك شرف

Haven’t you got any sisters you should care about?

ما عندك خوات تخاف عليهن

You are dishonourable.

عديم ألشرف

Get lost.

روح من هون


As a woman avoid being alone at night, or don’t go out in the streets when it is dark. You should not go to a disco alone. A woman who goes to a disco or bar alone is not considered a respectable woman. Avoid being alone with a man.


Do not laugh out loud as a woman and do not smoke in public. If you really need a cigarette,  then smoke in a quiet place where no one notices. The same applies to drinking alcohol in public. It is best not to drink any alcohol during the entire trip, unless you are staying in a hotel.


If you are traveling alone as a woman, you should pay attention to where you stay. You should always look for a safe and clean accommodation or a respectable hotel.

Using Public transport

Pay attention in a taxi, and always sit on the back seat., otherwise it could  be misunderstood by the driver. If a man in public transport offers you a seat,  always accept it. Make sure always to sit next to a woman. Some places, the Dubai Metro, for example, have ‘women only’ carriages.


Discussions about politics and religion should always be avoided. It is not polite to interfere or give your opinion as a stranger. While it is quite possible that your Arabic counterparts will mention politics and religion, don’t forget they are locals who are reluctant to hear criticism from outside. Most people are proud of their homeland and will defend it against criticism.

These are basic things to bear in mind when traveling alone as a woman. As I stated earlier, this list is not complete. In fact, there is much more that needs to be considered. But we should not forget that Arab countries are all different societies whose rules can be understood and absorbed quite quickly. The general rule is that  women should be  ‘chaste’ and ‘reserved’. This doesn’t mean that you should forget who you are and what you want as a woman. It is always an enriching experience to travel alone through Arab countries with many positive events, if you follow certain rules.

Find out more about the Arabic language and culture. with our online course.  Arabic Online is an award winning interactive course of Modern Standard Arabic. The online Arabic courses have been developed for anyone with a genuine interest in Arabic, whether for private, educational or professional reasons and are specially designed for self-study. Click here to find out more.

Thank you for visiting ArabicOnline.Eu. Our award winning interactive courses of Modern Standard Arabic have been developed for anyone with a genuine interest in Arabic, whether for private, educational or professional reasons and are specially designed for self-study. Our website and our language courses are free from advertisements and we don't share any personal details of our visitors or registered members with third parties. Nor do we sell data for targeted advertising. We believe passionately that learning should be free from commercial distractions. For this reason we rely on subscriptions to fund the development of our products. Click here to find out more about our Beginner to Intermediate Arabic courses.