I'm from central Europe and more on the pale side; I don't tan easily.
When hiking locally (Alps, etc) I usually get away just fine with short trousers/T-shirts and a panama hat (i.e., straw), but then that's only for a day apiece or so (and mostly in autumn/winter/spring anyway, so heat is not the issue). I am aware that these kind of clothes are not applicable for a desert; I am certain that I would get sunburned, quickly.
What's the best solution for very hot climates (e.g. Egypt), and 1-2 weeks, mostly being out and about? What material cools, wicks sweat away, and keeps the sun away from my skin best?
I appreciate that the locals have great solutions for that, but I would prefer something which is "culture-neutral", i.e., I don't wish to commit a faux-pas by inadvertently wearing something that may have a political meaning locally (i.e., some garb having strong connotations in some area, which I might not be aware about). And also something that does not stand out in Europe, and will be good for hiking here as well.
Is there something significantly better than just any old white/beige, well-ventilated cotton trousers? Are the more technical "outdoor" garbs much better? I don't need lots of pockets, etc.