Although Arabs are understanding and unlikely to take offence at social blunders, provided they arise from ignorance rather than malice, you will be made far more welcome if you acquaint yourself with local ways of doing things.
It’s important to remember that you’re a foreigner and you must therefore adapt to the customs and social behaviour of the region – not the other way round.
Outside the home, most Arab women dress according to religious custom, which means that they must cover most of the body, from head to foot.
Arab men wear the thobe, a loose, ankle-length robe made from fine white cotton (or heavier woollen material in winter).
Some Arab women are totally covered, including their face and hands, especially Saudis and those with strictly religious husbands.
This is meant to protect women protection from unwanted attention, and in Saudi Arabia even foreign women must wear an abaya outside the home; the relgious police will stop any woman who has her head uncovered and direct her to cover her hair immediately.
Arabs frown on clothes which reveal the shoulders, arms and legs, and any woman dressing provocatively will be regarded as being of ‘easy virtue’ or perhaps even as a prostitute.
In the home, however, when not entertaining close friends or relatives, Arab women often adopt western dress, particularly younger women, and there are no restrictions on the way foreign women may dress in private.