How do men in the Middle East react to women cyclists?

The long road to AleppoGenerally men in the Middle East treat women with respect.

That said, we found that certain behaviours seen as totally normal in the west can be read in a more promiscuous way in this region – perhaps influenced by a lot of bad American movies and pop videos where women are dancing around in skimpy clothes and even free access to adult TV channels from Europe.

It’s wise to be aware that smiles and normal cheerfulness can be seen as flirting.

Despite being dressed modestly, Friedel occasionally found that in Syria and Turkey a smile would be returned by a desire to hold hands, plant a kiss on the cheek or things of a similar nature – something that these men would not do with a local woman.

Good practice includes:

  • If you are cycling with a man, let him do the talking until you get a feel for someone’s character.
  • If you’re on your own then try and find a woman to talk to or seek out a well-dressed businessman if you need help.
  • Be extremely cautious of truckers. We found they were prone to be the worst offenders (too much time alone on the road??).
  • If you feel at all uncomfortable, never hesitate to flag down passing traffic. These men know they are doing something not-quite-acceptable and will clear off very quickly if you attract attention.


  1. Anya A
    15th March 2011 at 7:19 pm #

    İ found men in the Middle East to be the worst perverts and I was molested five times while cycling in Syria – once a shepherd boy just slapped me on my ass but İ managed to take revenge and showed him how a Western woman treats idiots like him. Of course most of those offenders are young poorly educated men who watch too many western films where big breasts eclipse the plot but İ found old men equally disgusting and inappropriate. So if you are a woman traveling alone or with a male partner then my advice would be to carry a big stick on the back of your bicycle (or some rocks) so in case you do get molested at least you can give the offender a lesson he will remember for the rest of his life.

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