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All Women Travel Expeditions take off In Middle East

Posted : 11 January 2019 04:50:21 | By TWO Bureau | New Delhi

All Women Travel Expeditions take off In Middle East

To explore the world independently, meet locals in new and unfamiliar places, or simply to stretch the limits of one’s comfort zone—there are myriad reasons for a growing trend in tourism: namely, all-women expeditions. For a woman, hitting the road alone often seems daunting enough and perhaps more so when considering a trip to conservative countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Women are therefore increasingly taking advantage of all-female options—and dozens of tour companies are rushing to meet the demand. Among the most popular destinations for westerners are Morocco, Iran, Egypt and Jordan.

While less common, Middle Eastern Muslim women are also beginning to seek out these travel experiences; this, even though many Islamic leaders hold that it is impermissible for Muslim women to travel alone without a mahram, a legal male escort that accompanies her during overnight journeys. Yet entrepreneurs have started to buck religious and social norms by offering female travel enthusiasts the opportunity to experience the world in a new way.

Noura Al Ameri, a Qatari businesswoman who in 2014 founded the Doha-based Tartebkum Holidays, organizes excursions strictly for women and children. She has also called for the establishment of tourist facilities in Qatar that are expressly designed for females. “Each tour was designed to uncover the customs, food, challenges and lives of the local women in each country, all the while encouraging female empowerment and showcasing the traditions and routines unique to each culture,” Jenny Gray, Regional Product Manager for the Middle East at Intrepid Travel, told The Media Line.

One of the advantages of embarking on women-only tours, Gray notes, is the ability to visit local establishments generally inaccessible to mixed-gender groups. For instance, in the Moroccan city of Marrakech travelers frequent an artist’s cooperative that supports female rug-weavers as well as a traditional hammam, or bathhouse, that is open only to women. In Jordan, participants learn about henna art from Bedouin women, whereas in Iran—infamous for its strict gender-segregation rules—they tour a female-only park and meet with women entrepreneurs. “The itineraries, each guided by women, break the barriers of customary tourism in these locales, offering a deeper understanding of female culture in each Middle Eastern nation,” Gray affirmed. “The trips expose female travelers to a range of fascinating local women—young, old, religious, conservative, rural, modern and liberal—while respecting traditional cultural values.”

Intrepid’s latest offerings, many of which coincide with International Women’s Day in March, are increasingly being sought out and there currently are several itineraries already scheduled in 2019 and 2020. The trips to Iran, for example, retail anywhere from $2,310 for a 9-day jaunt (none of the pricing includes airfare) to $4,550 for a 16-day cycling adventure throughout the country. The majority of Intrepid’s clients are based in Australia, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The goal, Gray explains, is not only to provide female travelers with the opportunity to venture into previously unseen territory but also to empower local women.

Tags : WomenSoloTravel, MiddleEast, Jordan, Iran, Morocco, Tourism

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