LIBYAN CULTURE

DRESSING TO IMPRESS

By Emma Parker

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The majority of Libyans today have an unshakeable faith in Islam.  This faith shapes the society as a whole and has a strong bearing on how the average Libyan conducts his or her life. Even those Muslims who have ceased to believe fully in Islam retain Islamic habits and attitudes.


The Muslim Holy Book, the Qur'an, meaning recitation, represents the word of God as revealed to the Prophet Mohammed in Mecca and Medina.  The written records of the prophet's life, the Hadith, provide further instructions on how to live a Godly life.


There are two branches of Islam created as a result of a leadership struggle in the early history of the religion.  These are ‘Sunni’ and ‘Shia’.  Most Libyans adhere to the Sunni branch of Islam.


Greater emphasis is placed on the need to dress and behave modestly however the dress code will vary depending on which part of Libya you are travelling to.  In the city of Tripoli there is great freedom in what westerners are able to wear. For men, t-shirts and below the knee shorts are acceptable. It is appropriate for women to wear full length or 3/4 length trousers, skirts below the knee and short or long sleeved t-shirts. Sleeveless tops are frowned upon, as are revealing clothes.  Appropriate clothing is readily available in Tripoli.  There is no need for western women to cover their heads.  Western style bathing costumes can even be worn at expatriate beaches or at secluded beaches found around the coast.


Outside of the city, in neighbouring regions, where expats are smaller in number, the dress code is certainly more modest. Long sleeved t-shirts for women would be advised, as would full length or 3/4 length skirts or trousers.


It  is important to remember to dress in a way that is respectful to the Muslim faith. It is recommended for women that you carry a pashmina or light shawl to allow you to cover up if the situation so requires.  When meeting in the homes of other expats, or at expatriate events there is  less of a need to be covered.





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