What NOT to Wear in Egypt

Jun 22, 2020

Even the most liberal of Arab countries is pretty socially conservative by the standards of every other region of the world. Whether it be the “West,” east Asia, the former Soviet republics, eastern Europe, or Latin America, nearly every other part of the planet would consider shorts, especially in hot weather, to be perfectly appropriate attire in public spaces.

In the Arab world, however, showing too much skin on the body is less appropriate or acceptable. This isn’t an oppression thing; it’s a modesty and respect thing. Even among men, it is relatively uncommon to see Arabs wearing shorts. Most men in the Arab world wear slacks, or jeans if they’re of the younger generations, but shorts are hard to find on the streets of Egypt.

So you can imagine the utter shock and offense that Egyptians have at the sight of seeing ass cheeks hanging out of this tourist’s uber-short shorts as she traipses around the venerated ancient temples, tombs, and monuments of Upper Egypt in the country’s conservative south. Even the Western female tourist who snapped this photo was horrified at this site.

Egyptians don’t expect Westerners to adopt all of their conservative standards. Egypt is one of the world’s greatest tourist destinations, and Egyptians are used to Western standards of dress and behavior. Women are not required or even expected to cover their hair as many moderate and conservative Egyptian women do by choice, and Egyptians tolerate bathing suits within the confines of most international hotels and resorts within the country.

But tourists should still show some basic respect and common decency when visiting a foreign country. This is NOT how to do that: