It was a good catch up with Crystal Claire – she is one of the few women who chose a career where she can enjoy her passion for travelling. Crystal has been a flight attendant for almost 10 years and is enjoying every single bit about it. The Travelling Foxes decided to interview her because she is one of the few examples as to why we all deserve to be doing a career that is connected to our passion. One of the highlights of her life as a flight attendant was getting the chance to travel to the different Middle Eastern countries. Read about her adventures here:
“Find a job that you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
I always knew I wanted to see the world. The best choice or option for me was to be a flight attendant, and I became one. Almost a decade of flying and I still get excited every layover in a different country, and I also have the option to travel for free during my vacation leave.
What about the Middle East is intriguing to you?
Definitely the culture and the food. I am surprised at how diverse the countries in the Middle East could be, but generally, they are still very conservative. I always had the perception that all parts of the Middle East were the same. When I first travelled for work, it surprised me at how some cities were more “open” and more accepting of the different cultures.
Out of all the Middle Eastern countries, Dubai for me is the easiest when it comes to going around because it is open to expatriates and there are a lot of Western restaurants and international fast food franchises. For example, if you like to eat certain meats such as pork, it’s not necessarily served openly in public places around Dubai, but there are some shops which allow you to purchase pork if you have the right permit.
What are the major cultural differences, and what can you advice future travellers?
Coming from the Philippines which is a tropical country, I’m so used to being able to wear what I want and do whatever I want with my friends, even if they are guys or girls. I grew up believing that we all have equal rights. In the Middle East, it is very different.
Travel Tips to the Middle East:
- Clothing: Firstly, as a woman, we are not allowed to wear what we are used to wearing even if it is blazing hot outside. Even at 47 degrees Celcius, we are required to wear an Abaya in Saudi Arabia. In Dubai, Doha, and Kuwait, you are not required to wear an Abaya, but out of respect, you need to wear clothes that cover your arms. You can also use a scarf or pashmina to cover up but still feel refreshed even if it’s hot outside. Skirts or shorts need to be at least covering up to your knees.
- Walking in Public: In most parts, men and women cannot be seen in public together unless they are married, or with a family member.
- Food Courts: In Riyadh, the food court is divided based on gender. Just pay attention when entering a food court and see if it has the presence of both genders before going in. In other places like Dubai, it’s similar to the Western ways.
- Airport Lines: At the airport for Saudi Arabia and Riyadh, men are a priority and should always be in front of the line.
- Alcohol / Liquor: Bringing in alcohol and liquors is not allowed in the Middle East.
- Ramadan: During Ramadan, we are not to be seen eating or drinking in public from sunrise until sunset. It is also rude to eat during the times they are fasting.
If you know how to respect their culture, I find them very nice and helpful.
Which part of the Middle East is your favorite country and why?
Out of the four countries I have been to in the Middle East, my favorite is Doha. Doha is one of the countries that is open to cultural diversity, so being a Filipina, it is not very hard for me to adjust. They are not very strict when it comes to the women’s dress code. I also don’t have to be constantly vigilant with my actions compared to the other countries in the Middle East.
Getting around Doha is quite easy. Unlike other cities, Doha does not require a lot of time to adjust and get around. If you get the opportunity to have a connecting flight through Doha, I suggest you leave the airport and explore the city. My suggestions on places to visit include: Souk Waqif, the Islamic Art Museam, the Pearl, and Aspire Park. These places will definitely be worth your time.
To follow Crystal Claire’s adventures and see her amazing travel photos, check out her Instagram page: @themisscrystal.
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