Culture

Zanzibari people are generally very warm, open and hospitable and appreciate it if you show your respect by adhering to a few simple rules.

The population of Zanzibar is predominantly¬†Muslim with a rich Swahili culture. Because of religious and cultural traditions, dress code is important, and men and women should dress appropriately: Try to wear loose-fitting, non-transparent clothes that cover your shoulders and your knees. You will see quite a few tourists who don’t seem to care, but Zanzibaris will notice and appreciate it if you do!

Beachwear on the beach is fine, although nude or topless bathing is not tolerated. When in villages or in Stone Town, wearing beach wear would (and does) cause offence. 

Please ask for permission before taking photographs or filming local people. Do not take photos or film at sensitive government sites including the State House, seaport, airport or military sites. If uncertain, it is always better to ask.

The consumption of alcohol is not permissible for Muslims, and many will feel uncomfortable in the company of people who drink. However, it is perfectly ok to drink alcohol in bars and in many (though not all) hotels and restaurants.

Public displays of affection such as kissing are not customary and considered offensive, unless behind closed doors.

Please do not enter private courtyards and houses unless you are invited in. Mosques are places of worship, and generally entry is not permitted for non-Muslims.

When offering or accepting things, try and remember to offer and receive with your right hand.