Friday, January 18, 2013

The Fashion of Packing for Six - Third Stop: The United Arab Emirates

When I look ahead to packing for this trip, my biggest concerns are researching how best to pack and dress for the United Arab Emirates. We may only be in this spot 3 or 4 days and we aren't sure yet if we'll be visiting Dubai or Abu Dhabi but either way there are lots of factors to consider on this stop!

Firstly the weather! 

There's no getting around it here... The UAE is HOT. June and July AVERAGES 32 and 34 so you know there's gonna be a day hitting up around 40. 40 is hot. Desert is hot. I've been told by those who have lived in this area that it's so hot everyone stays inside all day and around 5:00pm the masses come out and hit the beach and the markets and stroll around.

Every bit of literature I've found says the air conditioning inside the hotels and malls is COLD so sweaters and wraps are necessary for those little forays.

Going out during the day to stroll the souks and markets will require loose and light clothing both for modesty and to reduce the risk of sunburns. Hats or head coverings will be a must for the same reasons. They recommend medium to dark clothing for desert trips because everything gets filthy. They also allow flip flops and sandals on these trips because sand gets everywhere.

All types of bathing suits are totally acceptable on the beaches, though unlike Iceland where topless bathing is the norm, that is not acceptable here (not that that would be me!!) Leaving the beach will require a cover up.

Secondly the culture!

It would be unnecessary to say that though this country is culturally diverse and highly touristy, it is first and foremost a Muslim country. I am truly excited about this experience both for myself and the kids.  In most malls and markets it is required (on top of the obvious no cleavage or midriffs) to have shoulders and knees covered.

Head coverings are recommended in many places so we will bring scarves. If you visit a mosque you are required to be completely covered but if you don't have something along they have robes and head scarves to borrow at the door.

Thirdly... the skiing?

That's right. If you're in Dubai why would you NOT go skiing indoors in the dessert??? Luckily for us, we won't have to pack our ski clothes and gear. Lift tickets include the price of all of it!

Even within their strict cultural and religious clothing restrictions, there are no holds barred when it comes to their fashion sense. Colours, layers, textures and embellishments are common place in their clothing, jewelry and makeup. For whatever reason (Pinterest!) and even well before this trip was planned I had a growing fascination of the Hijab fashion. One quick google will show you this is NO small industry! It is stunningly beautiful and so different from the skimpy and skanky things I see in our lives right now. 

Not that I go around in skimpy clothing, but it will be an interesting exercise to consider both the heat and the requirement to cover up. Though there is no law against a tourist 'dressing down', it will attract less attention and issue to respect the local traditions. I take no issue in following these expectations, this is why we travel is it not?

Travelling through Kenya will be similar in the need to cover for temperatures, bugs and sometimes religious reasons. In this, we do not need to pack separately for Dubai but should just keep a few things in consideration before going. I'm sure we will pick up a few things while we're there as well!

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