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What to Wear on a Trip to a Muslim Country

Misconception: Muslim women must fully cover up in Islam

You have been called by business to go to a state where Islam is the predominant religion. Don't worry, not all Muslims are terrorists, just as not all Christians are corrupt.

Through the Western perspective, rules in Islamic regions are not so harsh for men as they are for women. Males can go about in their business suits, crisp shirts and clean trousers, as long as any top buttons remain closed. Sleeveless tops are to be avoided, unless you want to get extremely sun-burned arms.

The protocol in most of these areas however, is to wear light-colored garments for visiting men and women, since the countries of Allah tend to be located in arid regions save for a few such as those in Asia.

When it comes to dress however, it is common knowledge that the restrictions for women's clothing are tighter than those for men. The religious view is that the woman's body is a temptation left only for the husband's eyes to bear. Even a view of a slim ankle or a fair shoulder can be as titillating as watching a sexually explicit movie. Thus it is important for women to cover themselves up at all times, for traditional modesty's sake.

If you're a woman on a company trip, the more progressive regions typically won't mind your corporate suit, as long as these aren't paired with outrageously high, colored stilettos. Sensible black heels would do, matched preferably with a long sleeved blouse, knee-length dark-colored formal skirt, and black stockings.

During weekends, you can roam around in long pants and light-colored linen cover over a blouse. You can also try the native dress, such as a tunic with sleeves reaching the wrists and a scarf, with the lower part of the body garbed in baggy trousers. Remember to bring a trusted friend with you, as it is not normal for women walking around unaccompanied in Muslim countries.

Material made of cotton is preferred as it is breathable and cooler to wear. Any color that is not too loud is tolerable, but whites, grays and pastel hues are recommended if you want to blend in somewhat. You don't have to cover your face; that would be over-the-top.

Remember that in any place, the customs should be respected, despite any indignation on your part as to what the people there should do. It's safer for everyone involved to just follow the dress code.

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