- Women should wear long pants or skirts and long sleeve shirts covering the chest area and nape of the neck. One would think that this would feel very hot in places like the Middle East, but the loose, light clothing is actually very comfortable and often feels better than wearing shorts. This is very important if you want to follow the etiquette in the Middle East.
- A headscarf is optional for foreign visitors, but I often wear a scarf to blend in and respect the culture around me, and to avoid unwanted attention.
- Men should dress in long trousers and a shirt that covers your shoulders. A T-shirt will do, but a button down shirt is even better. Men can wear shorts, but make sure they are knee length.
- When visiting mosques or other religious sites, women must wear a head scarf. And at some sites, men are often required to wear some sort of head covering as well. Shoes must be removed and you must remain quiet and respectful of worshippers.
- When greeting someone it is customary to say hello using the phrase “Asalamu alaykum.” Men will shake each other's hands and often hold that shake for a very long time. Men do not shake a woman's hand unless she extends her hand first. If she does not, a simple nod and Asalamu alaykum will do. As you get to know people, you may find that they will offer a kiss on the cheek and a hug. But this is only once you are very familiar with them and only if they offer first. Follow their lead, and you will do just fine.
Hospitality Etiquette in Maldives
Islam dictates much of Maldivian etiquette and visitors are wise to take note of local religiously-influenced customs and traditions. Clothing in particular is an issue; while bikinis and swimwear are fine for the beach they have no place in the towns, wearing modest clothing is expected of both men and women. Thongs or topless bathing are both considered unacceptabl
Shoes: Also, be sure to remove your shoes before entering a house (sometimes slippers will be provided) and never show the bottom of your feet when sitting.
Use Right Hand: When eating, always use your right hand for taking food and eating food. And always wash your hands before your meal.
Praise: Be careful when complimenting decor. Many people will feel obliged to give you the item that you have just praised.
Call to Prayer
- During your travels to the Middle East you will hear a male voice singing from loudspeakers throughout the city. This is the call to prayer. It is performed 5 times per day where the people are called to prayer. During this time, some shops may close and you may not be served, but it doesn't last long and soon the day will continue with business as usual.
Public affection is frowned upon in the Middle East and should be saved for your private moments. Even holding hands can cause a few looks as it is not common for men and women to hold hands in public. If you look around, you will actually notice that most people of the same sex will be holding hands. Men often walk hand in hand or arm in arm and women very often go down the street connected. If you are with a group of friends, why not give it a try. We always love immersing in culture and experiencing their customs, it makes the travel experience that much more enjoyable.
Travel to the Middle East sometimes requires a little more research and you must follow a few more rules than other destinations, but when you embrace their customs and traditions, it can be one of the most rewarding travel experiences, you'll ever have.
What are some unique experiences not to miss in Maldives?
• For a small country they are pretty well educated and there is a good populace that have extraordinary skills in a given element. Painters, artists, poets, musicians… there’s some good talent here. I remember going to the tribute show of a very well respected musician and it was one of the best trances I have been. Some believe that to be the true sound of the Maldives. What defines them. Here’s a link to one of his amazing work. Hint: Let it autoplay you into bliss
• And I saved the best for last. When you do come here, all of those aerial pictures that you have seen from the airplane windows with the little droplets of islands lining up in a perfectly blue ocean, well you begin to see how all of them never did justice to the beauty that is the Maldives. It’s an amazing view to see. Trust me.
• Bonus Point : You land in an airport made in a separate island that makes up for the airport. Almost seems like you are crash landing into the ocean because you see blue on either side of you, but you aren’t. In any element, how you think it would be, it is always, always better than you think it would be in the Maldives.
Truth is, however culture rich and relaxing Maldives is going to be, it’s always going to overplay your hand. Every time. It’s always going to be better than you thought it might have been. Meditative for the soul and great for the mind.