36 Best places to visit in the Middle East in 2024

By Joan Torres 90 Comments Last updated on May 6, 2024

safe places to visit in the middle east

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The Middle East…

That enormous piece of territory often overlooked as a whole and, usually, only seen as the land of the greatest and most beautiful deserts, endless bazaars of spices and the warm welcome of the Bedouins.

Moreover, most of the time, the international media only likes to share images of disasters and bad things happening in the Middle East.

This distortion of reality changes people’s perception to the extent that the whole region of the Middle East becomes a dangerous place to travel to as if it was one single country.

But, you know what? The Middle East is composed of 14 different countries that differ massively from each other, have boundaries and share borders.

Which countries are part of the Middle East?

In my opinion, these are the countries that comprise the Middle East:

Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen

Officially, the Middle East also includes Turkey and Cyprus, but this is my blog, and I decided not to include them and, instead, I decided to include Libya in this list.

After many years of living and traveling around the region, based on my own experience and opinion, I have compiled a list of the 36 best places to travel in the Middle East.

These choices are based on their level of security, historical importance, and natural beauty. 

My objective is to show you not only that the Middle East is a safe place to travel to, but I also want you to see the huge natural and cultural contrast between countries and the relevant role they have in our history.

places to visit in the Middle East

36 Best places to travel in the Middle East

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Please note that this list is just a personal opinion and might not match yours.

Further suggestions are more than welcome!

1 – Amadiya – Home to the Three Wise Men

Country –  Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan)

Located in the north of Iraqi Kurdistan, only 10km away from the Turkish border, Amadiya is a lovely, very photogenic village located on the flat top of a mountain, which has no less than 5,000 years of history.

From the Assyrians to the Persians, as well as several Jewish and Christian communities, dozens of different civilizations and religions have left their footprint in this historical place.

Furthermore,  Amadiya is believed to be the home of the Three Wise Man, who made a pilgrimage to Bethlehem to see Jesus Christ after his birth.

Today, Amadiya is a Muslim Kurdish village, surrounded by the most striking mountain scenery, characteristic from northern Iraq and one the most beautiful places to travel in the Middle East.

You may like: How to visit Mosul

top places to visit in the Middle East

2 – Shibam, the Manhattan of the desert

Country – Yemen

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1982, Shibam is a 7000-inhabitant town, located in the middle of nowhere, composed of 9-story mud-brick buildings, which is why it’s often referred to as the ‘Manhattan of the desert’, even though I don’t really like these comparisons.

Unlike other sites of great interest in Yemen, Shibam is located in a region named Hadramut, a relatively safe in Yemen with direct flights from Cairo in Egypt.

Read my Yemen travel guide for more information.

Yemen, Middle East

3 – Esfahan – Jaw-dropping Islamic architecture

Country – Iran

Esfahan is Iran’s most amazing city and its mosques, composed of giant domes and mind-blowing ceilings with extravagant geometrical forms, are the most impressive buildings in the Middle East, without any doubt.

Being one of the most historical cities in the region, Esfahan has always been home to a large community of scholars and prestigious intellectuals and its importance and influence in this part of the world was often compared to Athens and Rome.

Today, as per Iranian standards, Esfahan is a surprisingly modern, clean and vibrant city where some of the most educated and brilliant people in the country live.

Read more: A 1-to 4-week itinerary in Iran

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4 – The Old City of Damascus

Country – Syria

Everything here is very old.

This is the first thing the hotel receptionist told me on the day I arrived in the city.

Damascus is indeed one of the most ancient cities in the world – probably the oldest country capital – established in the second millennium BC, and capital of the Umayyad Caliphate from 661 to 750, one of the most important caliphates ever, extending from Spain to Iran .

My favorite place in Damascus was Umayyad mosque , an outstanding mosque which passed from being a Jupiter Temple during the Roman era to a Christian basilica dedicated to John the Baptist and then one of the largest mosques in the world.

Today, Damascus is a safe city and, fortunately, the Old City has remained like that during most of the war.

I visited it at the beginning of 2019 and had a real blast.

For more information, read my Syria travel guide

Wanna travel to Syria with Against the Compass?

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Join a group of like-minded travelers to visit the wonders of Damascus, Aleppo, Palmyra and more.

August 11th to 17th, 2024

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5 – Baalbek – Giant Roman ruins, all by yourself

Country – Lebanon

Extending from Western Europe to North Africa and the Middle East, the Roman Empire was the greatest empire that has ever existed.

Today, most of its ruins, some of them in relatively good condition, are major tourist attractions that receive hundreds of visitors every day.

Outside of Rome, the ruins of Baalbek are among the most impressive, not only due to their dimensions and good preservation, but also because you are likely to have the ruins to yourself as, here, we are talking about Lebanon, one of the most off the beaten track destinations in the region, where you can experience the greatest Roman ruins like nowhere else, hence one of the best places to travel in the Middle East.

Read more: How to spend 2 weeks in Lebanon

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6 – Ghadames, an ancient caravan city

Country – Libya

600km from the capital of Libya (Tripoli) and nestled right at the triple border between Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, Ghadames is an ancient caravan city, one of the most important caravan cities in all of Africa. The Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a massive, entangled maze of streets built in a refreshing oasis in the middle of the desert.

It does take one full day to reach Ghadames by car from the capital Tripoli, but the journey is worth the trip.

Read my Libya travel guide .

Caravan city of Gadhames

7 – The twisting Minaret of Malwiya

Country – Iraq

Malwiya is an outstanding 52-meter-tall minaret with a peculiar spiral shape, absolutely jaw-dropping, and the most iconic building in all Iraq.

The minaret belongs to Al-Jami, a 9th century mosque, once one of the largest in the world, but destroyed in the 13th century.

The emblematic minaret, however, still stands and today, you can climb it to the very top through a steep spiral ramp with no handrail.

The minaret can be visited in the city of Samarra, once the capital of the Abbasid caliphate, the third caliphate to succeed the Prophet Muhammad.

Today, Samarra is a UNESCO World Heritage city, which can be easily visited on a day trip from Baghdad, a must-visit in the Middle East.

Read: Federal Iraq , 10-day itinerary for independent travelers .

Wanna travel to Iraq with Against the Compass?

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Join a group of like-minded travelers and visit the wonders of Baghdad, Babylon, Karbala, Mosul, and more.

May 19th to 26th, 2024

Middle East travel guide

8 – The coastline of Dhofar province

Country – Oman

Stretching from south Oman all the way to the Yemeni border, Dhofar’s coastline may differ significantly from what you expect from an Omani beach.

Vertiginous cliffs, turquoise-blue waters, and empty, epic beaches characterize the beaches of southern Oman, barely discovered by the average traveler, who tends to stick to the northern part of the country.

If you are into wild, random camping and road trips, in the Middle East, it doesn’t really get better than this.

Read my travel guide to Oman

things to do in the Middle East

9 – Al Balad, the colorful Old City of Jeddah

Country – Saudi Arabia

Unfortunately, very little is known about Saudi Arabia but, given that this is the home of Mecca, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Saudi is filled with ancient and historical places, and one of the best examples is Al Balad, the old part of Jeddah, established 1,300 years ago as the gateway for Muslims on their way to Mecca, mostly arriving by sea from Africa.

Today a UNESCO World Heritage site, Al Balad is a lively area filled with colorful facades and, by far, the most beautiful Old City from all the Gulf Monarchies.

Traveling to Saudi Arabia is getting easier than ever and here you read my tips for Saudi .

beautiful places to visit in the Middle East

10 – Jerusalem – The holiest place for the three main monotheist religions

Country – Israel, and Palestine

Today, Jerusalem is part of Israel but, if Palestine ever becomes an independent state, East Jerusalem, which is mostly inhabited by Arabs, will be the capital of the country.

Being one of the most important places for Christians, Muslims, and Jews, Jerusalem is a city that has perfectly combined tradition and history with a 21st-century city, meaning that you can stroll around the old city and its historical sites for days and, at the same time, enjoy the endless nightlife, food scene, and modernity of the new part of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is one of those cities that are worth spending several days in.

Read more: A travel guide to Palestine

best places to go in the Middle East

11 – Golestan – Central Asia in the Middle East

What if I tell you that, in a very remote part of Iran, bordering the Turkmenistan border, there is a region with an unexpectedly mystical landscape, home to a large Turkmen community who have more similarities to people from Kyrgyzstan than other Iranians.

This region is called Golestan province, one of the least visited provinces in Iran, whose main peculiarity is that most of its inhabitants are ethnically Turkmen, a Central Asian ethnicity originally from Turkmenistan.

From Central Asian food, such as plov and kurut , to the way they dress, the Mongolian features in people’s faces and a very Central Asian nomadic life, visible in their love for horses and the yurts they live in, Golestan is a different world from the rest of the Middle East.

Read more: A guide to Golestan province in Iran

cool places to go in the Middle East

12 – Mosul, the open-air museum of Iraq

Mosul is exceptional, one of my favorite cities in all of the Middle East, and the reasons are as follow:

First of all, it is a very diverse city.

Prior to the war against the Islamic State, Mosul was inhabited by different types of Christians, Muslims and also Yazidis. It was ethnically mixed too, home to Armenians, Kurds, Arabs and Assyrians.

When ISIS took it over, however, most of them fled the city but today, many are coming back and the streets are becoming more lively than ever.

On the other hand, the Old City of Mosul is an open-air museum, packed with historical mosques and churches, all of them being in the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list .

While it’s true that most of the buildings are today largely destroyed due to the recent war, there’s a big UNESCO team working on rebuilding all its wonders , allowing you to witness an exciting moment of living history.

Read: Mosul travel guide

Traveling in the Middle East

13 – Erbil – A cosmopolitan Iraqi city

Not many cities in the world have as much history as Erbil has.

With almost 30,000 years of history, according to historians, and, today a UNESCO World Heritage site, Erbil is the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, a city with plenty of tradition, filled with plenty of ancient bazaars, epic cafés, and historical sites.

Nevertheless, the awesomeness of Erbil doesn’t end up here and, in fact, what may surprise you is that, as well as a classic Middle Eastern Muslim city, this is also a real pro-Western metropolis and a regional business hub where a large expat community lives and, as a consequence, has some of the most awesome nightlife in the Middle East.

Read more: Things to do in Erbil

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14 – Petra – One of the 7 wonders of the world

Country – Jordan

Even though this is likely the most touristic site in the region, it would be a sin not to consider one of the 7 wonders among one of the best places to visit in the Middle East.

Petra was founded in the VI century B.C. by the Edomites but, it didn’t prosper until the Nabateans (a group of nomadic Arabs) took over the place and built the city by carving it from the rock, making it become an important trading hub.

The architecture of Petra leaves you breathless and, besides admiring the Treasury and the Monastery, I recommend getting off the path, going hiking and taking the trails less traveled.

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15 – Wadi Doa’n

Wadi Doa’n is a canyon-shaped valley located in the region of Hadramut and dotted with fairy-tale-like villages whose architecture is a real blessing to the eyes.

The canyon offers plenty of trekking opportunities with spectacular, vertiginous views, and there’s even a pretty cool resort on the top of a cliff where you can stay and which remains open despite the conflict.

Many of the people from these villages, especially young kids, have never seen foreigners, so the local life there is pretty raw. To make it even more exciting, there’s one village named Qarht Bahumaish, which is Usama Bin Laden’s hometown. He was born in Saudi but his family comes from there.

How to travel to the Middle East

16 – Beirut – The most culturally diverse and liberal city in the Middle East

Beirut is the capital of Lebanon , a city that suffered one of the longest contemporary Civil Wars (25 years, ending in 1991). Today, among all the destroyed buildings, Beirut brags about being one of the safest cities in the region. With unbelievable economic growth and the rapid rise of the middle class, Beirut is the most liberal and westernized city in the Middle East (outside of Israel). 

I love Beirut because of its deep, rich and contrasting history. It’s composed of dozens of districts that differ massively from each other: The hipster district of Gemmayzeh, Hezbollah areas like Bourj al-Barajneh, the student neighborhood of Hamra, old Palestinian refugee camps, the Armenian district of Bourj Hammoud, several Christian areas and much, much more! Beirut is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world.

From the deepest underground parties to the most glamorous clubs, from local eateries to the best fine dining restaurants in the region, Beirut is a city adaptable to any kind of traveler and budget. 

Read more about it here: Beirut travel guide

places to travel in the Middle East

17 – The green, rolling hills of Jizan

Saudi Arabia is a massive country and, as such, it has quite a few geographical areas, the most dramatically different being Jizan, a province bordering the country of Yemen .

Asian-like terraced fields, greenery, and monkeys comprise the mountain villages of Jizan, miles away from Saudi Arabia stereotypes, plus the people there are culturally Yemeni, from the food they eat to the way they traditionally dress.

Jizan can’t be more off the beaten track.

For more information, read my 2-week itinerary for Saudi Arabia .

best places to travel in the Middle East

18 – Maaloula, a Christian town in Syria

Maaloula is a Christian town located north of Damascus (Syria) with an intriguing history, both ancient and contemporary.

On the one hand, this is one of the very few places in the world where they speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus, making it such a unique place.

Now that tourists are a rare thing to see, if you visit The Convent of Saint Serge and Bacchus, you are likely to meet the priest, who will certainly be more than happy to recite some words in Aramaic.

The recent history of Maaloula, however, isn’t so fortunate, since it was taken by Al Nusra (similar to ISIS) during the war, the legacy of which is still very visible in the many destroyed buildings. In fact, the nuns running the Monastery of Saint Tekla are the ones who were kidnapped by the Muslim extremists, a sad event in which even the Pope intervened.

what do visit in the Middle East

19 – The Dead Sea – The lowest point on Earth

Country – Jordan , Israel and Palestine

Occupying territory in both Israel & Palestine and Jordan , the Dead Sea is the lake with the highest salt density in the world and also, the lowest point on Earth, 430 meters below sea level.

Such is the high concentration of salt that animals and plants can’t live in it, hence the name.

Swimming in the Dead Sea is totally fine and, due to the high density of the water, sinking is almost impossible. I’ve only been to the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea and, along the coast, there are several hotels and resorts where you can chill on their beaches and have a mud bath.

Middle East travel

20 – Liwa Oasis – The purest and wildest image of the Gulf

Country – United Arab Emirates

Around 500 years ago, a group of Bedouins tapped underground, freshwater recourses to cultivate dates and, as a result, several villages and settlements appeared in the area, which we currently call Liwa, the birthplace of the Nahyan family, the current ruling family of Abu Dhabi and the UAE.

Since then, and over the years, the cultivation of dates in Liwa has been a key factor in the region’s economic development.

Read: Best desert safaris in Dubai

Liwa is located in the south of UAE, next to Saudi Arabian border and on the edge of the Empty Quarter, a huge desert spread across UAE, Yemen, Oman , and Saudi Arabia and considered the largest (continuous) sea of dunes on Earth, whose end can’t even be seen from the furthest horizon.

In addition, in Liwa you can also find the only real Bedouins in the UAE and the Moreeb dune, one of the highest dunes in the world (300m).

Read more:  A guide to Liwa Oasis

great places to go in the Middle East

21 – The Citadel of Aleppo

Along with Damascus, I also visited Aleppo at the beginning of 2019.

Before the war, Aleppo used to be the largest and most touristic city in the country.

Being a few thousands years older than Damascus, the Citadel and Old City of Aleppo have been mostly destroyed by the Civil War but after the liberation of the city in 2017, the reconstruction has already begun, Syrians are moving back and shops are, very slowly, reopening.

I am pretty sure that, in a matter of years, the beautiful city of Aleppo will return to its maximum splendor.

For more information, read my 8-day itinerary for Syria

best things to do in the Middle East

22 – Madain Saleh, like Petra but more epic

Similar to Tabouk, have you ever been to Petra, in Jordan?

Imagine the wonders of Petra but in the desert of Saudi Arabia.

That’s Madain Saleh (or Hegra).

Hegra was an ancient city founded by local tribes in 3000 BC, but it was not until the 2nd century BC that the Nabateans made it a great city, in a fear of the Romans conquering Petra, so it could serve as the new capital. 

Still, the Romans conquered both cities, Hegra and Petra, but the more than 100 tombs carved from the giant desert rocks remained, today found in the middle of nowhere.

Unlike Petra, however, the tombs of Madain Saleh are spread out across a vast desert but as part of the visit, you can tour around with a pretty cool Vintage Jeep.

Read: Saudi Arabia itinerary

top things to do in the middle east

23 – Dahab – The most backpacking-friendly place in the Middle East

Country – Egypt

Dahab is a lovely touristic beach town inhabited by Bedouins in the Sinai peninsula, which is considered the most backpacking-friendly place (and probably the only one) in the Middle East.

For decades, Dahab has attracted travelers from all over the world for having some of the best diving in the country. In Dahab, one comes for two things: either scuba diving or doing literally nothing, as it has this laid-back atmosphere that consists of going to the beach, smoking weed and eating at the several seafood restaurants.

Besides, due to the massive drop of the Egyptian Pound, in Dahab, you could easily rent a full apartment (2 beds with Wi-Fi) for less than 9USD a day.

Read more: A guide for traveling Egypt (3-week itinerary + tips)

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24 – Jerash – Massive and highly accessible Roman ruins

If making a trip to Lebanon to visit the ruins of Baalbek sounds too hardcore for you but you still want to travel to the Middle East, perhaps you should consider visiting Jerash, another of the greatest Roman ruins outside of Italy, constructed in some of the most fertile valleys in the region, today comprising green, rolling hills filled with olive and fig trees.

The location, therefore, is not a coincidence because, when it was built around 2,000 years ago, the Romans wanted to make it a great city due to the richness of the land.

is it safe to travel to Middle East

25 – Musandam – The Norway of the Middle East

A rocky desert land composed of stunning fiords, cliffs and one of the largest varieties of wildlife in the Middle East, Musandam (often called the Norway of the Middle East) is a piece of territory within the UAE that belongs to Oman.

It’s located north of UAE, projecting into the Strait of Hormuz.

Musandam is a pretty common destination among expats living in Dubai but still, the area remains pretty untouched. Along the coast, you find several beaches only occupied by the local Omanis, who like to gather with their families for barbecues during the weekends. Expect several families to invite you to join them.

Read: Best excursions and activities to do in Oman

In Musandam, you could also rent an abra (a local traditional boat) to sail around the fiords and observe the wildlife. Meeting dolphins is almost guaranteed and, if you are into snorkeling, you can see that the deep and dark waters of Musandam are also home to coral, turtles and manta rays, among other things.

Read more: A guide to visiting Musandam in Oman

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26 – Hebron – The most troubled city in Palestine

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Country – Palestine

Hebron is the city where the Tomb of the Patriarchs stands, the place where Abraham, Jacob and Isaac are buried.

The Tomb of the Patriarchs is one of the holiest places for both Muslims and Jews.

This means that both religions are sharing an important holy place but, on top of that, Hebron also happens to be the only city in Palestine where Jewish settlements are within the city itself.

The situation is quite sensitive, as there have been endless confrontations between the local Palestinians and the settlers .

In the old part of the city, the local Palestinians have built a fence that serves as a roof to prevent the settlers who live in the upper floors throwing garbage to them.

To add more tension to the conflict, during the holy month of Ramadan in 1994, a Jew entered the Tomb of Patriarchs (in the mosque inside), opened fire and killed 29 Muslims during prayer time.

Since then, the area is strictly controlled and, both Jewish and Muslim prayer areas are strictly separated. Abraham is buried in the middle of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, right between the synagogue and the mosque, so the members of both religions can see his tomb from their prayer room.

Read more: A guide to visiting Hebron in Palestine

Hebron checkpoint

27 – Qadisha Valley – Lovely Christian mountain villages

If you either want just to relax, eat good food, visit beautiful Christian monasteries or to go hiking, the Kadisha Valley in Lebanon will always be the perfect place for you.

Kadisha means ”holy” and owes this name to the fact that this valley is home to some of the most ancient communities of monastic Christians in the Middle East.

In case you don’t know it, monasticism is a way of life for which the person (in this case the Christian monks) renounces to everything to devote himself completely to spiritual work. The valley is full of natural caves, difficult to access, that once served as places of isolation for the monks living lives devoted to Christ.

Kadisha is a really unique place to visit in the Middle East.

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28. Leptis Magna, first league Roman ruins by the Mediterranean

Leptis Magna was a prominent city in Roman Libya, originally a Phoenician town (7th century BCE) that quickly expanded under the Roman Empire. The ruins are in excellent condition, and the whole complex is huge.

Its particular attraction is that the ruins are built right next to the shore, including the fantastic amphitheater.

Leptis Magna can easily be reached from Tripoli in around two hours, making it the perfect day trip from the capital and a default in all the group expeditions we organize.

Best Roman ruins in the Middle East

29 – The Mesopotamian Marshes

Another great place to visit in the Middle East are the Arab Marshes, a wetland ecosystem located in south Iraq, sort of an aquatic landscape located in the Iraqi desert.

It occupies an area of 10,000km 2 , inhabited by water buffaloes and all sort of animals and plants.

The Marshes are also home to a distinct cultural group: the Marsh Arabs, who populate the different islands, living in their sarifas , a peculiar house entirely made of reed.

The Marshes can be visited from the southern city of Nasiriyah and the best way to experience it is on a boat tour.

Read: A guide to travel in Federal Iraq

how to travel in the Middle East

30 – Manama – Drugs and rock & roll

Country – Bahrain

In case you’ve never heard of it, Bahrain is a tiny country (one of tiniest in the world actually) located in the Persian Gulf, between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and Manama is its capital.

To make it short, Bahrain is the only Arab Gulf Monarchy that has run out of petrol, or at least, can’t rely on the petrol income anymore.

In desperation, looking at alternative ways of gaining income, Bahrain became the party place in the Middle East, where concerning prostitution, alcohol, and parties, in general, are more permissive than in any other Gulf country.

Connected to Saudi Arabia by a bridge, every week, thousands of Saudis cross the border to have fun and enjoy a relative level of freedom.

Besides, this is the only place in the Middle East where I’ve seen two homosexuals making out in the middle of the street.

Manama is also home to many Western expats, who hang out in a popular area called Adliya, which has plenty of bars and wall paintings and makes one forget that he or she is in the Middle East.

Bahrain is, unequivocally, one of the most surreal places to travel and visit in the Middle East.

Bahrain party

31 – Luxor – The greatest open-air museum

Established on the shore of the great Nile river and surrounded by both mango plantations and desert, Luxor is the world’s greatest open-air museum.

This is the place where the most well-known pharaohs come from, like Tutankhamun for example, and most of the temples are either in excellent conditions or perfectly restored.

From large and epic tombs to temples constructed on a giant scale, all of them dating from between 3,200 B.C. and 1,500 B.C, Luxor is an unmissable place to travel in the Middle East.

Read more: How to visit Luxor independently, in 2 days

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32 – Palmyra, today the most off the beaten track ruins

Not so long ago, the Roman ruins of Palmyra used to receive hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.

Dating back to the second millennium BC, it has been inhabited for more than 4,000 years before becoming part of the Roman Empire during the first century AD.

It used to be an important trade caravan route and its wealth allowed them to build monuments such as the Temple of Bel and the Great Colonnade.

Nowadays, the city of Palmyra is a ghost town, a direct consequence of the battle against ISIS but the archaeological area has re-opened for tourists, always escorted by a member of the Syrian Army.

The Temple of Bell is practically all ruins but Palmyra is a big complex and many of its marvels are still standing.

Top things to do in the Middle East

33 – Salalah – Coconuts, pineapples, and tropical rain

What if I tell you that there’s a place in the Persian Gulf where it rains, which it’s full of green meadows and the locals sell coconuts and pineapples?

This place is called Salalah, a city found in the most southern part of Oman, very close to the Yemeni border.

Salalah, and the region of Dhofar, is an area that experiences a monsoon season.

This season is called Khareef and occurs from July till September. During this season, Salalah becomes a beautiful and lush green, which attracts visitors from all over the country, as well as Saudi Arabia and UAE, who want to run away from their disgustingly hot and humid weather.

Read more: Salalah travel guide

Salalah Khareef

34 – Bethlehem – Take a look at the Wall of Separation between Israel and Palestine

Bethlehem is the birthplace of Jesus.

However, unless you are an ardent Christian, the most interesting part of Bethlehem is to get a close feeling of the consequences of the Israeli occupation as, after the Second Intifada, in 2001, Israel built an 8-meter wall that would finally isolate the West Bank from Israel.

The wall, however, was built within Palestinian territory, hence the Israelis stole some of their land.

Literally, it passes by the center of the city and it is decorated with plenty of Pro-Palestinian paintings, including a real work from the famous Banksy, the white pigeon.

For more information, read my travel guide to Palestine

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35 – Qeshm Island – The most authentic Persian Gulf culture

Located in the Persian Gulf, right in the Strait of Hormuz, between Oman and Iran, Qeshm is an island with amazing geological formations, as well as very rich wildlife.

This is what most travelers come here for but, in my opinion, the most interesting part of the island is to get immersed in the local culture, as this is the only place that has been able to preserve the fast-disappearing Persian Gulf culture, today only visible here and in a few other places in Oman.

Unlike the rest of Iran, people here are Sunnis, from the conservative branch actually, Wahabis, but, since they have a great Iranian influence, they are quite laid back.

Qeshm is a different world from the rest of Iran and it can be seen not only in the religion, the architecture and their food, which is mainly based on seafood but also in the way their women dress, in such colorful abayas and niqabs , like nowhere else you have ever seen.

Read more: A guide to Qeshm Island

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36 – Wadi Bajda, authentic Saudi Bedouin life

Have you ever visited the Wadi Rum in Jordan?

The Wadi Rum is a beautiful, red-sand-dune desert that stretches across Jordan and north of Saudi Arabia too, in the region of Tabouk.

However, while in Jordan, Wadi Rum has become an extremely touristic place, on the Saudi side, the Saudi Bedouins living there are still genuine and authentic, allowing you to live witness what traditional life is like in Saudi.

Amazing rock formations and camel farms, all without a single tourist around.

Read: How to travel to Saudi

interesting places to visit in the Middle East

That was my list of the best places to travel in the Middle East for next year. Have you been to any? If you have more recommendations or suggestions, feel free to post them in the comments section!

best places to visit in the Middle East


It is amazing to see the diversity and variety of landscapes in the Middle East, which most people think of as just a desert. I have long been fascinated by Oman, for the reasons you pointed out. The coastline looks beautiful, and though I never heard the comparison before, it does look like the Norway of the Middle East. Great photos and thanks for showcasing some truly different destinations to us travelers!

Hi Drew. Yes, the big natural and cultural contrast is huge in the Middle East and yeah, perhaps is one of those comparisons that only the locals say it! But, it truly has some similarities with Norway. Glad you liked the photos, thanks for your comment 😉

I’ve not been to many of these places. I think it’s great you’re writing about them so we can see that there are so many great areas that are safe and good to travel to. It demystifies it a little and makes travelers more comfortable with taking that leap.

Hey Laura, that is my objective, to make people realize of the huge potential that this region can offer, while being safe at all time! I would never recommend a dangerous place to travel to 🙂 !

There is so much interesting information in your article that I do not know what to comment about! I didn’t know many of these places, while others (like Petra and Beirut) are definitely in my bucket list for the future. The most striking fact was the one about Bahrain and the loose morals while my favorite image was the one from Musandam!

Hi Efthimis, yes I understand your frustration. All these sites are so different from each other that is difficult to make an overall judgment 😉 I’m glad you like it and yeah, if you’ve never been to any of these places, Beirut and Petra would be a good start as they are probably the most traveler-friendly spots. Bahrain is a crazy place full hypocrisy!

Such fascinating insights, and I’d love to visit Oman – my parents have been and raved about how friendly everyone was. As for Lebanon, the nightlife sounds great

Thank you! All sort of travelers enjoy going to Oman!

I’ve been to Lebanon a couple of times and really enjoyed it. I’d love to go and visit Jordan.

In my opinion, Lebanon is the #1 destination!

What an amazing post about the middle east. After reading this I am even more confused as to which place I should visit first. Amadiya and Kadisha are so strikingly beautiful. Would love to visit Beirut someday.

My recommendation, start with Beirut!

Oh man! I used to live in Dubai for about 4 years, and 1 year in Saudi prior to that, and I thought I’ve travelled quite extensively in the Middle East but looking at the list above, there are still many places that I have yet to visit, 8 to be exact, haha! I certainly would recommend Musandam, Petra, Beirut, Dead Sea (even if it’s just for the sea). Bahrain is not bad either actually, quite enjoyed visiting the historic places there. Of the places that I haven’t been, I’d love to go to Hebron one day!

Hi Raw, I also lived in Dubai for about 3 years. Just left the city at the end of 2016. Middle East is huge and still, there are many places that remained on my bucket list. I haven’t been to KSA for example 🙂 Bahrain is a party place so, unless you really want to do that, there’s not much to see besides a few historical sites, but to be honest, they are not very exciting. And yes, Hebron is the most intriguing one. I’m going to the TBEX Jerusalem this March and I will visit it again for sure! Cheers mate,

Its so interesting reading about your middle east highlights – some places are truly beautiful, others, more intriguing. I had no idea that Bahrain had run out of oil money and had become a hot mess of drugs, alcohol and prostitutes! I’d love to visit Oman and Jordan – and have added a few more places to my Middle Eat wishlist thanks to your post.

Hi Vicky, thanks for your comment. Yeah, I had no idea about Bahrain also, until a friend told me so we decided yo go with a bunch of friends. We partied hard until 6-7am, something unthinkable in places like Dubai for examle. But besides that, Bahrain is a very ugly country! It’s worth if you go there as a weekend trip from Dubai

I am from Oman if you want any help i can help you . [email protected]

This list is amazing, Joantow!I’ve been to Jordan and lived in Israel (will be back there again for a much longer stay), but I’ve yet to see the other places. I’m sure it will be just as exciting or more! Can’t wait to go to Lebanon and Oman next!

Hi Trisha, I believe that living in Israel must have been an amazing experience. If you like Israel, you’ll like Lebanon. Both countries have been in a war for years but they have more similarities than even think!

I love this article! It’s been a long time that I want to visit the Middle East, although everybody tells me not to go, I have many friend who went there and friends who live there who always encourage me to go. Sadly the East part of the globe is still too mysterious for those in the West and what we know about the East is that of what we heard on the news. But definetely it does not represent Middle East a whole. Great part of it is beautiful and safe and its people are warm and kind. Unfortunately the media forgets this part, after all, bad news bring more audience than the good ones.

Hello Isadora, glad you liked it 🙂 Where do your friends live? You really should go! Yes, you are absolutely right. When things go right, there’s nothing to talk about so, they just talk about it when bad things are happening and, unfortunately, they always treat the region as a whole. Treating the Middle East as a single country is like someone from the Philippines saying that Europe is a country and, since there was war in Crimea, Portugal or Spain are dangerous 🙂

I am not saying that Iraqi Kurdistan is not a beautiful area (I’ve been there . .) but nowadays it is dangerous. And why people should go to Bahrain if there is only prostitutes, alcohol and drugs? That makes it one of the best places to go this year?

Hi Elisa, it’s good that you’ve been to Kurdistan but you are very wrong. You just need to look at the statistics. In the past years, there have been more killed people due to terrorism in the city of Paris than in the whole region of Kurdistan. Besides, Kurdistan is a region where the crime rate is non-existent, whereas in Paris, like many other European cities, it’s pretty high. You are the first person I’ve ever met who is been to Kurdistan and claims it’s a dangerous place. As per Bahrain, if you read carefully my post, I don’t say that one needs to go there to get high on drugs and hook up with prostitutes. I am saying that Bahrain is a surrealistic and unique place that, for a moment, makes you forget that you are actually in one of most conservatives regions in the world. Moreover, I’m also talking about a cool westernized area, full of bars where the Western expats use to hang out

What a great list! Even though I am from the Middle East (Iran), I haven’t been to many places you mentioned. Of Course I hiked in Gilan and visited Masuleh, but not other places. You called Oman, Norway of the Middle East, but I always say that is a Switzerland of Middle east :)))

Hey Mansoureh, thanks for your comment man! The Gilan province is an amazing place to hike! There are a lot of other places in Iran I would include on the list, but unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot of time when I visited Iran! It’s funny that you call Oman the Switzerland of the Middle East! Well, I guess that both Norway and Switzerland have some similarities. Cheers mate,

Mansoureh is a girls name! And there is no such thing as Arabian Gulf. There is a water passage that separates iran from Southern Arab states and it’s called Persian Gulf for millennia

Everywhere on this list sounds amazing! I love seeing people traveling to the Middle East even with everything the media has to say about it. I think people need to do a little more research about these places. I love the pictures, too! Awesome list!

Hi Megan, thanks for your comment! Yes, is what I always say. The problem with the Middle East, as well as with many other countries, is that there’s a huge lack of information and since, unfortunately, people don’t know how to look beyond, all these areas become, unequivocally, dangerous places where to travel to!

A great round-up of places to visit, well done! I’ve been to most. Love Musandam. It’s funny, as I just published a post on Muslim countries!

I was born in Bahrain and I’ve lived here for the past 24 years, and honestly I was a bit taken aback by your description of Bahrain. There is nothing to deny in what you said, yes Bahrain is pretty big on nightlife and comparatively more lenient than other countries in the middle east, however that’s not all there is to this little island! In my 24 years of living here I’ve actually never even been exposed to the part of Bahrain that you are referring to. Bahrain is actually very rich in it’s history (we’re talking 700 B.C) and you can find out all about it in the Bahrain National Museum – which has so much information, you’ll have to cover it over the course of a few days. Besides it’s history and a couple of sights (Grand Mosque, Beit Al Quran, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain Fort, Riffa Fort, Bab Al Bahrain, Military Museum, A’ali Pottery workshop – to name a few), Bahrain doesn’t have much to offer but I’d urge you not to defame this wonderful and tiny island and discredit it for everything else it has to offer- even if you aren’t a history kind of person! Cheers 🙂

I agree! I want to see the archaeological site of Dilmun palace!!!!

True, Hana………and I don’t know from why this guy is making Bahrain down for other viewers… Where did he see two homosexuals making out in Manama, Bahrain? He published such a rubbish and fake news and make Bahrain go downward among the viewers. Bahrain is is rich in culture and it’s financial structure. Bahrain follows Sharia Law and such activities are strictly prohibited here and specially as he mentioned about drugs that too is illegal. As per alcohol no one can drink it in the streets. I dont know why is he faking such news about BAHRAIN. Please have a good research and then only put it

I’d absolutely love to go to Beirut!

What a list! Thanks a lot 🙂 Two questions: How safe would you rate each of your listed places for a 19yo (very mature) female solo traveller? And are there countries you would recommend to visit only during a specific time of the year?

Hello Isi, It’s very hard to say for a 19-year old woman but, perhaps, you could start for the most touristic places, such as Jordan, United Arab Emirates or Egypt, as the local there are extremely used to foreign woman. It’s easier to travel there and you’ll get a great experience of the Muslim culture, which will help jumping to more challenging places such as Oman or Iran. As per timings, Don’t go to the Gulf countries in the summer months or Egypt. The rest is fine.

As a woman who has traveled alone in the GCC, I personally found Oman safer than UAE, when and if it comes to any disputes involving police witg creepy locals. Uae is easier for visas and airport in general, but Oman was very safe and more nature, cultural and historical sites. The only disadvantage of Oman is if you go without a car rental.

Hello, That should be Iran for sure.

Well done–this is a great list! I lived in Oman for 8 years and traveled widely throughout the region, although I missed a couple of places on your list. The Middle East is a great destination both for sightseeing and to educate oneself to the realities of the region, a good counter-balance to the crap cranked out by the international press.

Agree! and Oman is beautiful by the way! I visited it three times but always in a rush, unfortunately… It’s kind of a spiritual country… 🙂

about Number 13: Javaher Dasht In Gilan Province is heaven of middle east!! ,full of green & different super beautiful dreamy jungles & cold cool places on the top of mountain (recommended go for summers & spring) .. in villas you enjoy the view & breakfast of local materials : milk,butter,cheese,… & lots of fun! actually Iran is the Most safe country in the Middle east …do not pay attention to media. don’t forgot take beautiful pictures in “javaher dasht” wich means valley of Diamonds!….mountaineering & drink & eat foods of local people, so delicious. super clean weather with “”very friendly local people”” , they love foreigners but 99% doesn’t know english ,better to bring some tour guide with your self &

thanks for your suggestion!

Oman has becomes to be known as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Middle East thanks to the country’s strategic location and its unspoilt natural beauty with its scenic landscape. Oman is attraction for the tourist from UAE and visitors across the world.

Yes! I love Oman! And don’t forget about the hospitable people!

Hey Nice list I’m Lebanese and I can say that there is much more places in Lebanon to visit. Every summer we discover new places in our country and I’m surprised that Lebanon has such beautiful places! I definitely recommend it and would love to visit the other countries

Thanks Sara! Yes, Lebanon has many places to offer! Cheers!

everybody and their mother knows that it’s Persian gulf.

Peace and love, my friend 😉 !! I also call it Persian Gulf now but when I wrote this post 2 years ago, I was living in the Gulf monarquies, so got used to say Arab Gulf. After spending some months in Iran, I started to call it Persian Gulf again. I may change it when I update the post in a few weeks

Thank you for this post (first result up in my search for how a Canadian can travel to Iran). I have been studying (just a personal interest) ancient Persian and Elamite influence in Oman, and I decided I have to go to Iran. Persians were established in Oman before the Arabs came up from Yemen (so before the Arab migrations to the Gulf) . *I see this influence in pagan archaeological sites *in design on hair combs from Oman and Tel Abraq in the UAE. *in Ad Dhakliyia Omani dress, agricultural heritage, and place names in GCC:)

Yeah, first peace and second it’s Persian gulf my bro.🙂 Arab gulf isn’t correct.🙂

IT’s Persian Gulf not Arabian Gulf. By spending money you can’t change history.

Its called officially and internationally known as PERSIAN gulf, its been that way for thousandths of years!

Beirut is the most liberal and culturally diverse city in the middle east? Looks like you forgot Tel Aviv (and Israel generally…)

Thank You so much for the insightful article. I recently decided it was time for me to visit the Middle East and This is one of the first articles I read. I’m curious as to how hard it is to travel and appreciate the culture if you only speak English (I speak Spanish too, but I really doubt that will help. lol) I’ve traveled in other regions of the world where English isn’t spoken and while I’ve managed, it was still an obstacle. Just curious on what your thoughts are. Also, Are there issues traveling to certain countries in the region if you already have a stamp from Isreal on your passport. I feel like I read that somewhere. Obviously I’ll research that further before I show up at the border but I’m wondering if you have some insight. I have a US passport, btw.

Hi there! In the Middle East, most well-educated people speak English, so the language is not always a problem, except for when you go to rural areas. It is much easier to move around than in other regions, especially if you travel to mass tourism destinations such as Egypt or Jordan, where a lot of people speak it.

As per the Israeli stamp, I have written a comprehensive post about it: https://againstthecompass.com/en/avoid-israeli-passport-stamp/

Hi Joan ! I totally agree with Qeshm island ! I spent a week there and it was sooooooo good. It was my ultimate stop before going back to Paris after 6 months cycling from France to Iran. This island was magical for me because a friend hosted us in a small village along the sea. Anyway, thank you for the list.

Thanks Mike, it must have been a great adventure your cycling trip

Actually Tel Aviv is the most Liberal city in the entire Middle East. How can you say the Beirut is the most liberal city in the area when being gay isn’t legal in Lebanon. It is one of the most amazing cities I’ve ever been to, it has such an amazing vibe to it, when I was there I never felt safer. And overall I highly recommend staying in Israel as a “base” (even though israel it’s probably the most expensive state in the Middle East) and to cross the border to Jordan and Egypt, is very simple.

Continue reading the whole Beirut section and you’ll see that I clearly state that Beirut is the most liberal city outside of Israel. If you only read the headlines, your conclusions will always be so poor, and wrong.

Joan, great article. You are the brave guy that not afraid to visit this world boiling cauldron. Funny to see in your article how you promote your political views about names and historical mistakes. Be impartial, try to see wider )))

I appreciate your feedback and I am always open to criticism, but you can’t just say my article has mistakes without pointing out what’s wrong and giving any reasoning.

Although I live in Abu Dhabi as a resident for the past almost 6 years now, but I have not been able to see most of the places which are famous in UAE itself. The only reason is that I work in offshore in the oilfield. You have actually opened up my options of travel into the Middle East as I don’t have any issues with the traveling in these places. Jerusalem of course will be a no go for me since I hold a Pakistan citizenship. I’m really looking forward to visit Palestine for the reason I can go to Bethlehem. Also Salalah and Manama will be my next destinations to visit. Thank you for your detailed review.

I also enjoyed myself while I was visited this kind of places.

Hey You, Where did you see two homosexuals making out in Manama, Bahrain? Don’t publish such rubbish and fake news and make Bahrain go downward among the viewers. Bahrain is is rich in culture and it’s financial structure. Bahrain follows Sharia Law and such activities are strictly prohibited here and specially as you mentioned about drugs that too is illegal. As per alcohol no one can drink it in the streets. I dont know why are you faking such news about BAHRAIN. Please have a good research and then only put it.

I saw it with my own eyes, it’s not fake news. I never said you can drink in the street and I never said you can have drugs, but the title has a figurative meaning.

Hey, I’m DL (gay not out) and I know PLENTY of Arab guys in Bahrain who drink (yes, openly in restaurants) and are homosexual/DL. Just because YOU don’t see/know it, doesn’t mean it’s impossible to exist. The article doesn’t mention that you can be openly gay in Bahrain, but it only mentions what he witnessed once (the author was very clear on that.)

Whaaat? you really saw two homosexuals in Bahrain making out in the public street and no actions were taken against them?????????

It was obviously not during the day in downtown, but it was at night, in the Western area, they were probably drunk, and weren’t doing it intensively. I don’t know what their nationality was.

so, please make it clear in your above mentioned statements that every time its not possible. and make it clear too that bahrain is strict for such activities

I totally aggry with all of this and very interesting.

Even though I love your suggestions, I think that your being a bit harsh on the Jews and Israel generally. Fine Ill admit Israel has made mistakes and done bad things in the past years, but a lot of that is due to Hamas sending missiles at cities. Other than that I love your article and encourage you to do more.

Ah! 2020 seems a bit hard for the wonderful travel to these amazing places. Some of them were already added to my list, but I have just noticed a new place called Musandam, where I can visit for sure. Nice blog, and very well written.

My g, this is one of the best articles I’ve ever read. Not too long, yet very informative and interesting. It was also nice to see someone differentiating between the Israeli Settlers and Palestinian locals and shedding some light on the Palestinian struggles. Great choice of destinations as well. 😀

You say “Country: Palestine”. But there’s no such a country (You even admit and says “…if palestine would become a country…”) If is it a country, please tell me its how do you get straight to it? where are its airports? its anthem? its currency? Oh… there are none of them. You clearly don’t know anything about the situation so please be focused on other stuff. Also, not including Tel Aviv in best places to visit in the middle east is another mistake in this “article”. Good luck!

They did have an airport, in Gaza city precisely, but it was destroyed by the Israelis. They did have their own currency, but Israel took over and now they use the Israeli shilling. According to the UN, Palestine is a state, a non-member permanent observer state, along with Vatican City.

This article is an ”opinon” article, which includes the best places in my personal experience, that’s why I didn’t include Tel Aviv. If you want to include it, create your own list.

Good luck to you too,

“Palestine” never had a currency of their own. Also never had an active airport. Its electricity and water are provided 100% by Israel (And not by Egypt, which is another Gaza’s bordering country). FYI, Israel has left all of control in Gaza in 2005, the Hamas operates theere fully wide. The UN has been anti semitic and it is might be the only organization (together with hostile nations such as Iran, North Korea, China, Russia) who support “Palestine”. Please stay where you are and don’t stick your nose in our business in Israel. What a naive foreigner. Go live in Gaza if you like it, you will escape for your soul after short time. Sorry for being harsh on you, but you were being harsh on Israel at first. Know who you support and what are their goals and history.

You are such an extremist, man!

Taking action against Israeli occupation of speaking in favour with the Palestinian is not automatically hate towards Jews or antisemitism. Supporting Palestinian rights is anti semitic because Israel wants it to be. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2022/02/israels-apartheid-against-palestinians-a-cruel-system-of-domination-and-a-crime-against-humanity/

I am not sure if you have visited the whole Iran or not. But if you’ve only visited those three places, I’d say it’s not a wise action. The beautiful cities of Shiraz, Tabriz, Qazvin, Chabahar, Mashhad, Tehran, Ramsar, Rasht, Hamedan, Kermanshah, Kerman, Yazd, Kish Island and a LOT of other cities to visit and a lot of tasty food to try! You should definitely spend quite more time in Iran! And also, it was very interesting to read this!

Hi Liam, yes, I have been twice and spent more than 2 months in the country 🙂

Visited plenty of places, like the ones here: https://againstthecompass.com/en/iran-itinerary/

Ahhhhh, thank you for this list! I just found your blog while in East Africa and decided to check out other places you wrote about. I’m so excited to see a good ME list…and I currently live in Dahab so I’m loving that it made the list as well – if you are ever there again, go more north and check out Nuweiba (Dahab is getting a bit busy..sigh). Anywho, thanks for sharing your travels!

Cheers Jill, Dahab must be such a chilled place to live for a while!

perhaps you should consider visiting Egypt again. the beaches in the north coast are spectatcular ,huge stretch of white, soft sandy beaches. Dahab is definitely the most backpacker friendly, but marsa alam in my opinion is the best town on the red sea. Giftun island is amazing as well it’s near hurghada also i’m kind of surprised that cairo that’s filled with sites and museums didn’t make the list but everyone has different opinions i guess and i think most people don’t know how big cairo really is

I am heading to Kuwait and will be based there for several weeks, any recommendations of what to see in and near?

Never been to Kuwait!¡, unfortunately

Hlo, am from Uganda and i have never visited Middle East but i hope this year i may visit Egypt to what i have seen.

We were recently on a long trip through 5 countries in the Middle East, and wanted to give some input to your posts on Lebanon which we found quite valuable. We are independent explorers travelling to places less travelled, hence doing all our own research online and finding speaking to locals invaluable. On the odd occasion that we did look at a blog post for Lebanon – yours stood out giving depth to the experiences. So thank you.

Barring the current crisis situation in this region of southern Lebanon – we can confirm that it is safe and easy to travel to both Tyre & Sidon from Beirut by public transport (1 taxi from Cola Station takes you to both towns) or your own vehicle. There are UN checkpoints, but nothing serious – in fact an added measure of safety.

One cannot visit Lebanon without seeing the majestic city of Baalbek. All news reports tell you not to visit, with travel advisories in place because it’s close to the Syrian border with some reported tourist muggings and a kidnapping in recent years (not 100% unique to Baalbek in the global picture). We spoke to locals, hotel managers, coffee shop owners etc – all advising otherwise and so we went. From Beirut hotel, we took an Uber to Cola Bus Station and a then mini van directly to Baalbek (about 2hr 30min). The incredible scale of the ruins are magnificent to see – and cannot be missed

Dear Janine, thanks a lot for this valuable feedback!

The Old City of Damascus is a destination that holds a wealth of history, culture, and architecture. It is a place that demands a visit for anyone seeking to learn about ancient civilizations and their way of life. The city is home to some of the world’s oldest and most well-preserved buildings, including the iconic Umayyad Mosque. The mosque was built in the 8th century and still stands tall as a testament to the architectural prowess of the time.

The Old City of Damascus is a labyrinth of narrow streets, alleys, and bustling markets. Walking through these streets is like taking a journey back in time. The buildings, shops, and markets are a testament to the city’s long and rich history. Visitors can explore the maze of alleys and bazaars, haggle with the merchants, and experience the sights, sounds, and smells of this ancient city.

The city’s cultural heritage is also a major draw for visitors. The Old City of Damascus has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, and for good reason. The city’s rich cultural heritage is evident in its architecture, food, music, and art. Visitors can explore the city’s many museums and galleries, attend concerts and festivals, and indulge in local cuisine.

Overall, the Old City of Damascus is a sensory experience that will leave a lasting impression on anyone who visits. From the scent of exotic spices to the sound of the call to prayer, the city is a feast for the senses. It’s a place that is steeped in history, culture, and tradition, and a destination that should be on everyone’s travel bucket list.

Is it safe to visit Shibam for a solo lady as my sister’s friend will be visiting it in the months of august? and What are the do’s and don’ts that must be kept in mind?

Hello, you can’t visit Yemen solo, but you must always go with a local guide.

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  • The Most Visited Countries In The Middle East

A tourist in Dubai.

Tourism in the Middle East offers some of the best experiences for travelers owing to the unique attractions in the desert-like countries. There is a mix of human-made and natural sites in the top visited countries in the Middle East. Human-made features include lakes, resorts, museums, iconic hotels, and complexes among others. Natural sites include religious sites of biblical and Islamic origin, cultural centers, archeological sites, and desert features. Below is an overview of tourism in five most visited countries from the Middle East.

Qatar has several tourist attractions that range from economic, historical to human-made sites. Visitors can visit ancient ruins in the Zubarah, the desert safari on the rolling dunes of Khor Al Udeid, the Souq Waqif (cultural market), Katara cultural village among others. There are also human-made resorts, Islamic Museums, the Mathaf Art Museum, Aspire Zone Sports City, the Pearl-Qatar, Aqua Park Aquatic Funfair, and the Banana Island Resort (a resort with over-water villas).Recently, Qatar started showing interests in Sports and Economic tourism. There are plenty tour guide companies, and visitors from the West can obtain a visa on arrival while members of the GCC states do not require a visa for entry. Qataris speak Arabic and English and mainly receive tourists from the Middle East though there is an increase in the number of Western tourists. In 2013 the country received 2.6 million people from around the world.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The UAE is one of the most open countries in the Middle East for tourists, with Dubai being the most preferred destination. 9.9 million people visit the country yearly. The oil-rich country compensates what it lacks in natural attraction with magnificent artificial features such as the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. Tourists can sample the cultural experience by visiting the Old City of preserved buildings, Museums, Sheikh Said Al Maktoum House, the Heritage Village among others. As it is the shopping capital of the Middle East, there are high end and economy shopping malls and Souk (market) districts. UAE’s city of Dubai is home to the Dubai Sevens, Dubai World Cup (horse racing), Desert Challenge, and Desert Safari among other great sport tourism opportunities. Traditionally, the UAE hosts majority of the visitors from the GCC states but many Europeans, Asians and Africans feel at home in Dubai. Visitors should expect affordable and registered tour guiding companies as well as many high-end cars.

Egypt relies on tourism for economic support and receives an average of 9.1 million international tourists annually as of 2013. Egypt offers magnificent religious and a historical tourist experience. The Nile Monuments such as the Pyramids, Pharaoh’s Monuments, Tombs, Temples, Historical Museums, Mosques, and the many archeological sites are a favorite of many. Most of these sites date back to 20th Century BC. There are also the Saqqara Complex, Valley of Kings, Sinai Peninsula Resorts and Nile Cruises. Egypt has an open policy on tourists who come from Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Africa.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is among the top 20 most visited countries in the world, and it mainly offers religious tourism to Muslims. Saudi Arabia has many historical, cultural and military museums as well as heritage sites such as Mada’in Saleh and Diriya. Unfortunately, non-religious tourism is only open to citizens of the GCC countries. General tourism is not allowed, and visitors require a local sponsor. Female visitors need consent from their husbands or fathers while entering or leaving the country. There are 12 million tourists visiting Saudi Arabia yearly as of 2013, most of whom are Muslims on the religious Hajj to Mecca. Saudi Arabia has made it hard for people to get tourist visas and the lucky few who get it will be turned away at the airport if their passport indicates that they have ever visited Israel.

Jordan welcomes approximately 3.9 million international tourists annually, but the number may vary depending on regional stability. Jordan offers historical and religious sites such as the Petra, River Jordan, and ancient worship sites, ancient Roman Architecture, the Mukwir (Herod’s stronghold) and Mount Nebo from where Moses viewed the Promised Land and died. Recently Jordan has ventured into shopping and medical tourism sectors. There are many shopping places, water sports facilities, and the Dead Sea (lowest point on earth at 1,319 feet below sea level). Most tourists are from the GCC states with pockets of religious tourists from the rest of the world.

Significance Of Tourism In The Middle East

Tourism has significantly contributed to the economy of these countries by pumping billions of dollars into the local markets. Oil producing countries like UAE and Qatar must find an economical alternative like tourism once oil reserves run dry. Religious tourism has sustained many of these Middle Eastern countries and will continue to boost their GDP. The sector has also created millions of jobs ranging from tour firms to hotels, transport among others. There is a huge potential for further growth if these nations open their borders and reduce restrictions.

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Where to Visit in the Middle East: Top 10 Best Arab Countries 

Dreaming of an adventure in the Middle East? Get ready to explore the top destinations tailored just for you! We’ve handpicked 10 incredible countries to ignite your wanderlust. 

Brace yourself for an unforgettable journey through the wonders of the Middle East. Let’s dive in and start planning your epic adventure today.

Top 10 Best Arab Countries to Visit

Egypt is home to iconic ancient landmarks like the Great Pyramids of Giza, which are the remains of wonders from antiquity. The Sphinx, Luxor, and Karnak temples echo its rich history, spanning over 5,000 years. The Nile River, Egypt’s lifeline, offers scenic journeys through time. 

Its Red Sea coast boasts crystal-clear waters and vibrant reefs, drawing beachgoers to Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh. Delight in Egypt’s diverse cuisine, a fusion of flavors reflecting its cultural heritage.

tourist arab countries

2. United Arab Emirates 

The UAE, once reliant on fishing, now transcends its desert origins with modernity. Immerse yourself in Emirati culture amidst its bustling tourist spots. From traditional souks to palm-shaped islands and grand architecture, it blends tradition with modernity. 

Indulge in its vast malls, luxurious hotels, and thrilling theme parks, offering relaxation and adventure in one extraordinary package

Turkey, nestled between Europe and Asia, offers a captivating blend of history and landscapes. Istanbul straddles continents and boasts architectural marvels like the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Explore ancient ruins in Ephesus and the surreal landscapes of Cappadocia, with their rock formations. 

From bustling cities to natural wonders, Turkey paints a diverse picture of experiences, bridging cultures seamlessly. It is one of the best countries to visit in the Middle East .

image showing hagia sophia

In the heart of the Middle East, Jordan showcases renowned attractions like Petra, a UNESCO gem and one of the Seven Wonders, and the awe-inspiring Wadi Rum with its striking cliffs and sands. 

Explore desert castles amidst Jordan’s warm hospitality and rich history, ensuring a secure and unforgettable journey for history and nature enthusiasts alike. Delight in local cuisine like mansaf and falafel while experiencing Jordan’s stunning landscapes.

In just forty years, Qatar has transformed from one of the poorest Gulf countries to the world’s wealthiest. Fueled by oil and natural gas revenue, it’s rapidly developing with universities, shopping malls, and 5-star hotels.

Qatar’s growth is evident amid the desert landscape, showcasing its remarkable economic progress and ambition on a global scale.

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6. Oman 

Nestled on the Arabian Peninsula, Oman offers diverse landscapes and tranquil scenes. Check out emerald beaches and ancient forts like Nizwa, or embark on a desert safari to witness the beauty of the Wahiba Sands. 

Discover vibrant markets in Muscat and local bazaars with handicrafts and renowned frankincense. Oman’s allure, coupled with its kind-hearted people, makes it a must-visit Gulf Coast destination.

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Bahrain, a small island nation in the Persian Gulf between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is renowned for its petroleum reserves, offshore banking, and vibrant tourism. Unlike its neighbors, it maintains a relaxed atmosphere without imposing strict Islamic laws, attracting numerous tourists. 

The annual Bahrain Grand Prix F1 race in April is a major highlight, showcasing the country’s dynamic energy and international appeal.

Kuwait, situated at the head of the Persian Gulf, is renowned for its oil wealth. Bordering Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq, it features modern architecture juxtaposed with ancient mosques in Kuwait City, its capital. 

The blend of modernity and ancient charm makes Kuwait a captivating destination at the crossroads of history and progress.

Lebanon is a sovereign nation often referred to as the Lebanese Republic. Bordering Syria, Israel, and Cyprus, it’s Asia’s smallest country. With a captivating coastline and trendy city, Beirut, Lebanon, offers both traditional charm and modern allure. 

Its renowned cuisine, sampled worldwide, adds to its appeal. Experience this unique destination’s quiet charm and occasional solitude.

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Israel, a land considered holy by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, borders Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria. Jerusalem, sacred to these faiths, lies within its borders.

Its vibrant history and culture, intertwined with diverse religions, fascinate travelers. Highly modernized, Israel comprises cities divided into towns. 

Despite the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict, efforts for a two-state solution persist after peace negotiations stalled in 2014. Explore this intriguing nation, where ancient traditions meet contemporary life.

Middle East Travel Restrictions to Watch Out For

But before you pack your bags, brush up on travel restrictions that might impact your journey. Here’s a quick heads-up:

Visa requirements: Many countries require pre-arranged visas , so research and apply well in advance. Some may have restrictions on nationality or purpose of visit.

Dress codes: Respect local customs! Conservative dress is often expected in public areas. Research appropriate attire for your destination, especially religious sites.

Restricted areas: Some regions may have areas off-limits to tourists for security reasons. Stick to designated tourist areas and heed local advisories.

Alcohol: Alcohol consumption and purchase may be restricted or even illegal in some countries. Be mindful of local laws and cultural sensitivities.

Religious holidays: During major holidays, some businesses may have altered hours or closures. Plan accordingly to avoid disruptions.

Stay informed: Embassies, official tourism websites, and travel advisories offer valuable updates on current restrictions and safety concerns. Check them regularly before and during your trip.

Remember, these are just some general tips . Always research the specific regulations of your chosen destination for a smooth and enjoyable Middle Eastern adventure!

This is the Best Time to Visit the Middle East

The Middle East is typically best visited in April, May, October, and November, with moderate temperatures and fewer crowds. However, the ideal time can vary based on your destination and activities. In Oman and Egypt, December to March offer great weather. 

For those comfortable with extreme heat, June to September is an option, with fewer tourists but scorching temperatures. Be mindful of Ramadan, as it affects travel and activities.

Learn more…

What is tourism in the middle east like .

Tourism in the Middle East offers a range of experiences, from ancient historical sites and vibrant cultural attractions to luxurious resorts and modern amenities. Travelers can explore ancient ruins, relax on pristine beaches, indulge in world-class dining, and immerse themselves in rich cultural traditions.

What is the safest Arab country to visit? 

The safety of Arab countries can vary depending on current political and social situations. Generally, countries like the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Oman are considered safe for travelers, with low crime rates and stable governments.

What is the best Arabic-speaking country to visit? 

Each Arabic-speaking country in the Middle East offers its own unique charms and attractions. Popular destinations include Egypt for its ancient wonders, Jordan for its historic sites, and Lebanon for its vibrant culture and cuisine.

What are the most beautiful Arab countries? 

The Middle East is home to many beautiful Arab countries, each with its own stunning landscapes and cultural heritage. Some of these include Oman for its rugged mountains and pristine coastline, Jordan for its ancient ruins and desert landscapes, and Turkey for its diverse landscapes and rich history.

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Enoch Omololu is a traveller, culinary tourist, and money expert. He is the co-founder of Only Earthlings and established the popular Savvy New Canadians platform. Enoch has been featured in Business Insider, Forbes, Best Life Online, GOBankingRates, Penny Hoarder, Globe and Mail, Yahoo, and CBC News.

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World Travel Guide

Best Arab Countries To Visit

Best Arab Countries To Visit.  The Arab world encompasses a varied and abundant array of cultures, landscapes, and historical marvels. From vibrant Gulf cities to the expansive deserts of the Arabian Peninsula, there is a wealth of experiences awaiting every traveler in this captivating region. Whether you seek adventure, thrill, or a refreshing change of scenery, numerous Arab countries are worth exploring. This article delves into the top Arab countries to visit, highlighting their distinctive characteristics and offering valuable tips for travelers seeking to immerse themselves in the best these nations have to offer.

The top Arab nations to go to each have their own distinct cultures, histories, and tourist attractions.

1-United Arab Emirates

Distinctive features of the uae.

Rich Cultural Heritage: Beyond its modern facade, the UAE holds a wealth of cultural heritage waiting to be explored. From the traditional souks of Dubai to the cultural centers of Abu Dhabi, there are ample opportunities to delve into the country’s history and traditions.

Morocco’s allure lies in its breathtaking beauty, captivating culture, and exhilarating experiences. This North African country has something to offer everyone, whether it’s the vibrant cities or the stunning natural landscapes.

Distinctive Features of Morocco

Exquisite Architecture: Morocco is renowned for its remarkable architecture, characterized by intricate tilework adorning traditional buildings and magnificent palaces found throughout its cities.

Vibrant Cultural Heritage: Immerse yourself in Morocco’s rich cultural heritage through its bustling markets, traditional crafts, and lively street scenes, which showcase the country’s vibrant traditions and customs.

Natural Wonders: Morocco is home to awe-inspiring natural landscapes, ranging from the rolling dunes of the Sahara Desert to the snow-capped peaks of the Atlas Mountains, offering a diverse range of scenic beauty.

Delectable Cuisine: Moroccan cuisine is a delightful fusion of flavors and influences, certain to tantalize your taste buds. From the aromatic spices used in traditional tagines to the tempting sweet treats found in local markets, there is a culinary delight for every palate.

Distinctive Features of Egypt

With breathtaking beaches, untamed mountains, and a fascinating history, Oman is a hidden jewel in the Arabian Peninsula. See the capital city of Muscat and the quaint inner villages.

The magnificent mountains, beaches, and woods of Lebanon are only a few examples of the country’s breathtaking natural splendor. The nation’s food, artwork, and architecture are all examples of its rich history and culture.

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International tourism, number of arrivals - Arab World

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Tourism in the Arab world

From wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Tourism in the Arab World encompasses a wide array of activities and tourist attractions in an area spanning more than 13 million square kilometers. The Arab World mainly consists of the Arabic-speaking countries and populations in North Africa and Western Asia . The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 countries and territories of the Arab League : 10 countries in Africa , and 12 countries in Asia . Geographically, it stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the east, and from the Mediterranean Sea in the north to the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean in the southeast. It has a combined population of around 422 million people.

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The Arab World is divided into five main geographic regions: the Maghreb in Northwest Africa, the Nile Valley and the Horn of Africa in Northeast Africa , the Levant in the eastern Mediterranean , and the Arabian Peninsula in southwestern Asia. Egypt is the only transcontinental country by virtue of the Sinai Peninsula , which lies in Asia.

The vast area covered by the Arab World encompasses wide and diverse geographical features ranging from deserts and shrublands to Mediterranean forests and snow-capped mountain ranges. Deserts reign in most of northern Africa where the Sahara exists, the world's hottest desert where some of the sand dunes can reach 180 metres (590   ft) in height. The Arabian Peninsula is mainly covered by a range of deserts: the Nefud in the north, which is a stony desert; the Rub' Al-Khali or "Great Arabian Desert" in the south, and between them, the Dahna desert. In contrast, the Arab World boasts some of the highest mountain ranges in both Africa and Asia. The Atlas Mountains rise from the northern Sahara to peak of 4,167   m before cascading east towards the Mediterranean and west towards the Atlantic Ocean . The Hijaz mountains rise parallel to the Red Sea on the western edge of the Arabian Peninsula, separating the coastline from the inland deserts. Mountains like the Mount Lebanon and the Taurus Mountains mark the edges of the Levant, providing heavy rainfall and snowfall, thus nurturing the areas' forest landscapes.

The areas within the Arab World witnessed the first forms of civilization, specifically in Ancient Egypt , the Levant and Mesopotamia . Throughout history, numerous civilizations, both local and foreign, settled in and ruled the Arab World each of them leaving its trace of monuments and landmarks. This made the regions within the Arab World a mosaic of remnants from most of the civilizations of the Old World . In some countries, you can find Ancient Roman temples next to an Umayyad palace, or a Crusader castle in a Mamluk old town , or even an Eastern Orthodox Church next to an Ottoman mosque.


25 Most Beautiful Places in the Middle East: The Ultimate List

An incomplete list of the most beautiful places in the Middle East – from Bahrain to Yemen, the Dead Sea to the Empty Quarter, modern metropolises to mud villages, and everything in between.

Natural wonders, Holy sites, ancient beauty and modern Islamic architecture, bustling souks, Norwegian-style fjords, brilliant oases, endless deserts, and enough UNESCO World Heritage Sites to please even the most discerning history buff. Yes, the Middle East really does have it all.

Discover 25 of the most beautiful places to visit in the Middle East region (Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, UAE and Yemen), as recommended by me and other travel writers.

  • Looking for Turkey inspiration? See my list of the most beautiful places in Turkey .

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you). Learn more.

25 beautiful places in the Middle East

Bald sayt | oman.

Bald Sayt, a secluded village in Oman's Al Hajar mountains.

Nested in the foothills of the Al Hajar mountains, Bald Sayt (Bilad Sayt) is a true Middle Eastern oasis and a must-visit destination in the beautiful country of Oman .

Remote and secluded, the tiny village is accessed on foot by walking through Wadi Al Sahtan and Wadi Bani Awf. As you emerge from the final canyon, the first thing that greets you are the terraced fields – tinted ruddy brown or brilliant green depending on the season – and thick groves of date palms heavy with fruit.

The knot of tan and ivory houses that is Bald Sayt is wrapped in mountains on all sides, adding to the feeling that it emerged out of the pebbly hills by magic. Follow the snaking hiking path for different perspectives of the village with the terraces and palm groves in focus.

Oman is made for road trips – and Bald Sayt is a case in point. It can only be reached with a combination of 4×4 and hiking. When planning your Oman driving itinerary , make sure you hire an off-road vehicle (provided you’re comfortable with driving narrow, precipitous paths) or alternatively, budget a few days to travel to the village with a driver and guide from Nizwa .

There are no guesthouses in Bald Sayt – the closest accommodations can be found in Al Hamra. Misfah Old House , a guesthouse set in a traditional mud brick house, is highly recommended.

Wadi Rum | Jordan

Sands and hills in Wadi Rum, Jordan, one of the prettiest places in the Middle East.

At the southern edge of Jordan lies one of the most magnificent deserts on earth, Wadi Rum . Here, rock-ribbed mountains grow from an ocean of unending red sand while the blistering sun vaporises every last drop of water.

It’s a surreal scene that resembles something from outer space. And, for this reason, Wadi Rum is nicknamed ‘The Valley of the Moon’.

But this is not the only attraction: Relics from the Nabataean peoples can be found throughout the desert. From petroglyphs and inscriptions to ancient ruins, there’s a wealth of history.

There are several ways to explore this natural wonder. From jeep tours and camel treks to hikes and overnight stays, there is something for everyone. With an area of 720 square-kilometres, you could easily spend a week here, but an overnight stay is the best compromise. There’s nothing like indulging in a delicious meal prepared by a local family and sipping fresh mint tea under the stars.

Be sure to bring a warm jacket and a scarf. Temperatures plummet in the evenings and the dry desert winds can be unforgiving. No matter which adventure you choose, it’s sure to be an experience of a lifetime!

By Jen from Dabbling in Jet Lag

Sharqiya Sands | Oman

Rippled dunes in Oman's Sharquiya Sands, a beautiful desert destination.

As you’re about to discover, there is so much more to the Middle East beyond desert landscapes. Yet the scale and solitude of the Empty Quarter somehow captures the endless beauty of the region so well.

The Rub Al Khali is shared between Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Oman’s portion, the Sharqiya Sands (formerly known as the Wahiba Sands), is one of the most accessible areas for travellers, with desert safaris departing from the capital, Muscat.

Dune bashing, camel rides and sand surfing are all on offer – but in truth, it’s just as fun to walk the rippled dunes and dip your fingers into the melting red sands.

Luxury hotels in the form of desert camps dot the landscape. The Desert Nights Camp is one of the finest and takes cues from the area’s Bedouin heritage. A night here – with sunset from the dunes and dinner under the stars – is hands-down one of the best experiences you can possibly have in the Middle East.

Valley of the Kings | Egypt

Dramatic cliffs form a backdrop to an archaeological site in Egypt's Valley of the Kings.

Not only is Egypt’s legendary Valley of the Kings a beautiful place to visit, it’s also one of the Middle East’s most significant historical sites. This archaeologically rich area was the burial ground for royal Ancient Egyptians between the 11th and 16th centuries BC. New discoveries are still being made to this day. Located on the western river bank from the city of Luxor, it’s easy to get to with a Nile cruise, train or coach from Cairo.

It’s possible to visit many of the ancient tombs and see their beautiful paintings up close. Depending on the time of your visit, the authorities that look after the Valley of the Kings open certain tombs at different times.

At the time of writing there were 62 documented tombs, all discovered before 1922. The best ones are always visitable on a daily basis. Some special tombs include Ramesses IV KV2, Ramesses KV9 and Tutankhamun KV62. It’s highly recommended to buy a ticket for Seti 1 KV17 as well.

As a top practical tip, visit with a local, knowledgeable tour guide. This will be most beneficial for truly understanding the history and significance of each tomb. Else to watch a documentary or read a specific book beforehand to learn more.

By Zoe from Together in Transit

Petra | Jordan

The iconic Treasury Monument in Petra, a must visit place in the Middle East.

The beautiful city of Petra is located about 240 kilometres south of Jordan’s capital city, Amman, and is significant to archaeologists because of its rock-like structures. It dates back to the 4th century BC, is a Wonder of the World – and should be included on your bucket list.

Visitors enter the park at Wadi Musa and follow a trail into the Siq, a gorge formed by tectonic plates that broke the mountain into two pieces. Snaking down a path with rock walls that tower above your head is quite an entrance. You might know this path as it featured in the 1989 adventure film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade , with Harrison Ford.

As the mysterious path finally opens up, you will come to your first awe-inspiring view of the Treasury Monument, built as a tomb for the Nabataean King Aretas III. The Treasury is the highlight of Petra, but this is only really the start of your visit. There is so much more to see.

Once you pass the Treasury, you could easily spend a day exploring the rest of the ‘Red Rose City’, so-called because of the pink-hued stone it’s carved from. Other highlights of Petra include the tombs and houses on the Street of Facades, and hiking unmarked roads to find spectacular views. Eventually, you will make it to the Royal Tombs and the magnificent Monastery.

By Chris from Aquarius Traveller

Abyaneh | Iran

Pink houses in Iran's Abyaneh, a beautiful village in the Middle East.

One of the most uniquely beautiful villages in the Middle East is the red mountain village of Abyaneh . Sitting beautifully in the Karkas mountains, this is one of the oldest villages in Iran, dating back at least 2,500 years.

What makes Abyaneh so unique is that villagers still live according to pre-Islamic ancient customs. They still speak their original language and dress in traditional clothing. The costume of the women is especially distinct, with white flowery shawls.

Abyaneh’s crimson colour comes from the red clay used to cover the houses, which makes the village blend in with the surrounding nature. Aside from exploring the streets and admiring the architecture, there are old castle ruins and underground cave houses that visitors can walk to. This is where you will get the best view of the village, so it’s worth the short hike.

With no public transport available, the easiest way to visit Abyaneh is by car. You can hire a driver from either Kashan, Natanz, or Esfahan. To enter the village, visitors must pay a maintenance fee of 10,000 rials.

When visiting Abyaneh, it’s important to be respectful towards the locals. Keep this in mind when snapping your Instagram photos.

By Linn from Brainy Backpackers

Jerash Ruins | Jordan

A stone path leads through a row of tall columns at the Jerash Ruins in Jordan.

It’s likely that whenever someone mentions ruins in Jordan you’ll instantly think of Petra. However, there are many other archaeological sites worthy of adding to your Jordan itinerary , including the stunning Jerash Ruins.

The city of Jerash is located about 50 kilometres north of Jordan’s capital of Amman and can be accessed within about an hour by taxi or collective bus. It’s certainly worth taking the trip out of the city for.

Jerash has been dubbed ‘Pompeii of the East’, and if you’ve ever visited the original Pompeii ruins in Italy , you’ll be able to see parallels between the two sites. Although the Jerash Roman Ruins weren’t obliterated by a volcano, the layout and structures have a lot in common with Pompeii. This is also one of the biggest Roman ruin sites outside of Europe.

The site of Jerash is reasonably extensive, and like many ruins, has little in the way of shade and shelter from the sun. Remember to pack a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen, especially if you’re visiting during the middle of the day. Ideally you should try to get there early to dodge both the heat and the tour groups.

Unmissable sites include the Oval Forum and the ancient Colonnaded Street along with the Temple of Artemis and the Arch of Hadrian.

By Becki from Meet Me in Departures

Qeshm Island | Iran

White rock formations on Qeshm Island in Iran.

The charming Iranian island of Qeshm is the largest island in the Persian Gulf. Its important geographical location in the Strait of Hormuz means it’s always been a vital trading and navigational centre, precipitating invasions by the Dutch, French and Portuguese in centuries past.

Qeshm is a free zone allowing nationals of most countries to acquire a visa on arrival. The ease of travel, rich artisan traditions and wealth of rare geological landscapes are all amazing reasons to explore Qeshm island .

Designated as Qeshm Island UNESCO Global Geopark in 2017, the island is home to a diverse range of natural phenomena. Take a trip around the Hara Mangrove Forest, a real treat for birdwatchers with 220 species nesting amongst the winding trees and calm waters. The dhow boats in the port are a testament to the traditional Bandari way of life on the island.

The Fallen Star Valley is best seen at sunset as the glow falls on the weather-eroded ravines and towers. Explore Chahkuh Valley in the northwestern part of Qeshm, where tectonic movement and washed away rock create a labyrinth of crazy cavities and shapes along the walls of the gorge.

Another highlight is discovering the salt cave at Namakdan, which is believed to be the largest in the world at 6,850 metres long. Qeshm is an incredible destination full of culture, tradition and mind-blowing terrain.

By Vanessa from Wanders Miles

Tower of David | Israel

The Tower of David, an important historical and religious monument in Jerusalem.

One of the most prominent silhouettes in Jerusalem’s skyline along with the Temple Mount, the Tower of David is a must-see historical site in the Middle East.

Even though it is named after the biblical king of the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah, David, the citadel actually dates back to medieval times. That said, the complex does include some remains of walls and towers from much earlier eras, including the First Temple (1006-586 BC), the Hasmonean Period (141-63 BC), and the Herodian Period (37 BC-70 AD).

The beautiful fortress sits at a strategic high point between eastern and western Jerusalem close to Jaffa Gate, which is one of the biggest reasons it has such great historical importance. As cliche as it may sound, visiting it can make you feel like you’ve been transported to the past, and that’s an experience you cannot skip out on.

Today, the citadel complex houses the Museum of the History of Jerusalem, where you can learn about more than 3,000 years of the city’s past. Throughout the year, it also hosts the most incredible night experiences that allow you to immerse yourself in the stories of Jerusalem and King David through sounds, videos, and images screened on the citadel walls.

By Or from My Path in the World

Masada National Park | Israel

Dusk over the hills in Israel's Masada National Park, one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the Middle East.

Located in the centre of Israel, Masada National Park is named after the legendary Masada Fortress that stands atop a plateau overlooking the Dead Sea and Judean desert. It was once home to an entire civilisation, which you can imagine whilst exploring the nooks and crannies of the walls that still stand there today.

On top of its historical beauty, one of the most popular things to do here is arrive very early in the morning and hike to the top of the plateau for sunrise. The trek takes around 60-90 minutes, stretches 2.7 kilometres and rises to an elevation of 350 metres. Despite starting the trail in the dark hours of the morning, it still feels very safe.

Although the climb can be done at your own pace, most people have the goal of reaching the top before the sun comes up. Be sure to bring plenty of water, and you will be rewarded with undeniably beautiful sunrise views of the desert and Dead Sea from the top of the mountain.

If it’s history and Israeli culture you’re after, it’s possible to visit the park during the day and take the cable car up and down the mountain instead. Most tours to this location from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv also include visiting Ein-Gedi Natural Reserve and taking a dip in the Dead Sea.

By Barbora from Often Out of Office

The Dead Sea | Israel & Jordan

The Dead Sea, an emerald green body of water with a scalloped shoreline of white sand.

When you float in the Dead Sea, it feels like you’re floating in outer space. The lowest body of water on Earth sits in a beautiful desert environment and has a salt content almost 10 times higher than regular seawater. This makes it so dense that our bodies become buoyant and easily float.

The Dead Sea is so salty that there is no life present outside of algae and microorganisms. However, that doesn’t mean the natural phenomenon doesn’t have any health benefits. Due to its elevation, the Dead Sea is about eight percent richer in oxygen than at sea level. The water and natural mud also reduces skin impurities and detoxifies the body due to its high mineral content.

It’s easy to add this otherworldly spa destination to your Israel or Jordan itinerary since it lies on the border between the two countries. When looking for a beach to visit, make sure it’s one with access to natural mud on the seafloor. At some beaches you won’t find any natural mud in the water and will have to purchase it by the pack from vendors instead.

Kalia Beach is one of the top beaches to visit and can be done as a day trip from Jerusalem. At this beach, you can easily scoop up black mud from the seafloor and make yourself a cleansing body mask. There is an entrance fee of 60 NIS per person, but it includes nice facilities and access to the ‘lowest bar in the world’.

By Cecily from Groovy Mashed Potatoes

Hormuz Island | Iran

Colourful rock formations on Hormuz Island, Iran.

Hormuz Island in Iran , also known as the ‘Bloody Island’ and the ‘Rainbow Island of Iran’, is one of the most colourful, unique and beautiful islands not only in the Middle East, but in the world.

This epic gem is situated in the province of Hormozgan at the southernmost end of Iran. Travelling on this tiny little island feels like exploring another planet as a character of a magical sci-fi fantasy. Hormuz doesn’t even have cars – you can only move around the island on foot, by bike, motorcycle or tuk-tuk (rickshaw).

The island boasts brilliant and colourful beaches, mountains, valleys and caves. The two most stunning places are the Red Beach and the Rainbow Mountains.

The Red Beach, so-called because the sand on the beach is literally red, is the most iconic landmark of Hormuz Island. The sand colours the sea water a kind of pinkish-reddish. The second most famous sight on the island is the Rainbow Mountain. An endless flood of shades and hues of terrain makes this mountain exceptional.

If the landscape on Hormuz doesn’t blow your mind, the local gastronomy will. Fish stew – as red as the Red Beach itself because it’s flavoured with soil – is the most popular meal. Would you try it?

By Diana from The Globetrotting Detective

Siwa Oasis | Egypt

Rattan chairs sit on the edge of a blue pool at the gorgeous Siwa Oasis in Egypt.

Siwa Oasis in Egypt’s Western Desert is one of the most unforgettable places to visit in the Middle East, especially if you’re looking for an authentic, off-the-beaten-path experience .

Located just 50 kilometres from the border with Libya, the only way to reach Siwa is to drive or to take a 10-hour coach trip from Cairo. It’s a long, hot slog along a bumpy desert road full of potholes, but it’s worth it to explore this stunning historic oasis town with its unique Amazigh culture.

Once known as ‘Palm Land’, Siwa has 10 times more palm trees than people (33,000 trees in total), warm oasis pools to bathe in, and a huge salt lake that’s simply the best place to watch the sunset.

There’s a surprising number of things to do in Siwa. You will probably be tempted to climb the Mountain of the Dead, which dates back to the time of the Romans who settled in Siwa after Cleopatra died, and you’ll want to see the Temple of Si-Amun while you’re there. A trip to the medieval Shali (or ‘City of Mud’) is unmissable.

One of the highlights of a visit to Siwa is a trip into the desert to try a sand bath or sandboarding and take a dip in a desert pool. Stay overnight on a desert safari and huddle around a campfire, swapping stories and watching the brightest stars you’ve ever seen.

Siwa is a treat and it’s sure to work its magic on you. Stay in an eco-lodge or tiny boutique hotel to make the most of your trip.

By Coralie from Grey Globetrotters

Byblos | Lebanon

Boats docked in the harbour at Byblos, Lebanon, one of the most beautiful historic towns in the Middle East.

Located only 30 kilometres from the capital of Lebanon, Beirut, Byblos is a true gem and one of the most interesting places in the region. According to historical sources, this is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with the first settlers arriving here between 8000 and 5000 BC. 

These days Byblos might seem like a small, sleepy town, but don’t let that fool you – there are plenty of attractions to see. The major landmark is the 12th century Crusaders Castle. Even if it’s mostly in ruins today, visiting feels a bit like travelling back in time. Ancient ruins such as the King’s Well, Royal Tombs and Roman Theatre help you imagine the grandness of the place at its peak of prosperity.

From the castle, you can also admire a beautiful vista of Byblos and the Mediterranean coast of Lebanon. The nearby souk area is a vibrant treat for the senses, with winding cobbled lanes, souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants, and picturesque corners. From there, it’s a short walk to the harbour, the formerly busy ancient port that today hosts numerous fisherman’s boats mixed with fancy yachts. 

Visiting Byblos is very easy as frequent minibuses connect the town with Beirut. The journey takes around one hour.

By Kami from Kami and the Rest of the World

Sheik Zayed Mosque | UAE

The Sheik Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, one of the most beautiful mosques in the Middle East.

Located in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque is the biggest and most-visited mosque in the entire country – and one of the largest mosques in the world.

The Grand Mosque was built between 1996 and 2007 and represents the fusion of different Muslim cultures inspired by Turkey, Morocco , Egypt and Pakistan . It was designed by British, Italian and Emirati architects to reflect how Islam interacts with the rest of the world.

The result is mesmerising: The Sheik Zayed Mosque is probably the most impressive mosque built in the 20th century and also one of the most welcoming to outsiders.

At the centre of the mosque stands a courtyard with one of the world’s largest marble mosaic floors. Inside, the mosque features over one thousand columns, 82 marble domes, gold-plated Swarovski chandeliers, and hand-woven carpets.

It’s possible to visit the Grand Mosque on a day trip from Dubai. There are a lot of travel tour agents that will organise the logistics for you. Women are required to wear a full-body covering, including a headscarf. If you book through a tour company, they usually provide suitable dress.

By Mal from Raw Mal Roams

Doha | Qatar

Traditional architecture at the souk in Doha, Qatar.

Sitting somewhere between Muscat and Dubai on the Middle Eastern cities sliding scale, Qatar’s capital city, Doha, is a marriage of the traditional and the contemporary. If you only have a short airport layover, one day in Doha is still enough time to take in the contrasts and contradictions.

The Museum of Islamic Art, one of the most amazing pieces of architecture in the region, is a must-visit. Head out the back for a brilliant view of downtown Doha’s skyscrapers framed by stone arches. The museum is walking distance from the fragrant Souq Waqif, which charms with its piles of colourful rugs and miniature dunes made of spices. In the evening, don’t miss visiting the nearby Falcon Souq and Falcon Hospital, one of Qatar’s most unique attractions.

After a self-guided city tour, travel beyond Doha to Khor Al Adaid, the famous Inland Sea. One of the few places on earth where the sea meets the desert, it’s under consideration to become the country’s second UNESCO World Heritage Site. Day tours from Doha to Khor Al Adaid are a convenient option if you don’t have off-roading experience.

Dynamic, budget-friendly and one of the safest cities in the Middle East (and in the entire world for that matter), Doha is the perfect destination for solo female travellers or first-time visitors to the region. See these Qatar travel tips for more advice .

Dubai | UAE

The skyline of Dubai silhouetted against a dusty sky.

One of the most vibrant cities in the region, Dubai is an ultimate travel destination in the Middle East that has it all. It has come a long way from a tiny fishing village to a sprawling metropolitan city.

From glittering skyscrapers to sandy beaches and adventurous desert safaris, this is a city full of possibilities. One of the first things to see in Dubai is of course the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Marvel at unparalleled views of the city from the Sky Lounge and Observation Deck on the building’s 148th floor.

Fair to say that Dubai is a shopper’s paradise. Adjacent to the Burj Khalifa is the world’s largest mall, The Dubai Mall. Here you will find all kinds of retail outlets, cafes and restaurants along with an indoor ice rink, a huge aquarium, and the dazzling Dubai Fountain.

Don’t leave the city without making a visit to the Dubai Creek and the Al Fahidi Neighbourhood where you can see the cultural centres, the Dubai Museum, souks and traditional buildings. To end your trip, sail through the seas at the Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Marina on a yacht or a cruise to admire the incredible views of the skyline.

By Anjali from Cheerful Trails

Al Fateh Mosque | Bahrain

The dome and minaret of the Al Fateh Mosque, a beautiful place in Bahrain.

Bahrain is a surprisingly interesting place to visit in the Middle East for a short, 3-4 day trip. One of the must-see-places in Bahrain is the Al Fateh Mosque in the capital, Manama.

Built in the 1980s, it can accommodate up to 7,000 people for prayer, making it the biggest place of worship in Bahrain. The building is made from light coloured marble from Italy and the dome that covers the main prayer hall is the biggest fibreglass dome in the world.

Apart from the architectural beauty, the main reason why you should visit the Al Fateh Mosque is the tour they offer for visitors. Al Fateh claims to be the first mosque to offer visitor’s tours and it really is worth your time. As a woman, you will be given a cloak and scarf to cover up so you can walk around the courtyards and the main prayer hall.

Here you can see the Mihrab, the prayer niche, surrounded by calligraphy in a very old Bahraini style and the huge, Austrian-made chandelier. You will sit for a while and learn a lot about Islam and mosques.

The mosque is open from 9am-5pm every day except during prayer times. Tours are available in many languages.

By Eva from Not Scared of the Jetlag

Musandam Fjords | Oman

A dirt road winds through rock formations towards a blue bay in Oman's Musandam Peninsula.

Another unexpected landscape in the region, Oman’s Musandam Fjords have earned the nickname ‘the Norway of the Middle East’. The thousands of serrated khors (ravines) with spectacular drop-offs into the Strait of Hormuz does indeed resemble the majestic side arms of Scandinavia’s coast – yet the colours and ecology makes Musandam beyond comparison.

Coves and cliffs define the entire length of the shoreline that wraps around the northern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. The longest fjord, Khor Ash Sham, stretches for some 16 kilometres. The only way to immerse yourself in this larger-than-life landscape is by taking a wooden dhow boat cruise. You’ll likely see pods of frolicking dolphins along the way.

A popular tourist destination among travellers from the UAE (Musandam is an enclave easily reached by Dubai or Abu Dhabi), the beautiful beaches, warm waters and coral reefs attract snorkellers and scuba divers as well. Don’t miss a stop at Telegraph Island (Jazirat Maqlab), once a British communications outpost.

Rawanduz Valley | Iraqi Kurdistan

A deep canyon with lush foliage in Rawanduz, Iraqi Kurdistan.

The mountains of the Kurdistan region are one of the most epic parts of Iraq, with beautiful green forests, gushy waterfalls, steep cliffs and winding canyons including the Canyon of Rawanduz. Being the most impressive pearl of mountainous Kurdistan, the canyon and valley is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Iraq .

Situated in the rural part of Erbil Governorate, surrounded by the Zagros Mountain Range, Rawanduz features a snake-like river moving between dramatic rock formations. You can enjoy the canyon both from inside its valley and from above. The hiking path inside the Valley of Rawanduz is perfect for adventure lovers.

If you want to see the canyon from above, there are several viewpoints in the village of Rawanduz. The best way to track down the viewpoints and to witness the beauty of this place is through a drive along the canyon rim. Chances are that you’ve never seen anything like this before.

Close to Rawanduz Valley, there are other beautiful natural marvels you cannot miss, such as the mountains of Soran, the Bekhal Waterfall, and the Geli Ali Beg Waterfall.

Socotra | Yemen

Distinctive trees dot the landscape on Socotra Island, Yemen, one of the most unique landscapes in the Middle East.

Nowhere captures the unworldly natural beauty of the Middle East quite like Socotra. The largest of four islands in an archipelago of the same name, Socotra is lauded for its ‘alien-like beauty’ and biodiversity, which earned it UNESCO World Heritage status in 2008.

Socotra is associated with dragon trees (Dracaena cinnabari), an endemic species with curious branch formations. Beyond its famous flora, the island is incredibly diverse, with a rugged coastline and interior mountains.

Located in the Arabian Sea, the island was only accessible by cargo ship up until a few decades ago when an airport was built. There is limited tourist infrastructure and just a handful of guesthouses. Because of ongoing conflicts in the region, travelling to Socotra island is, unfortunately, not as easy as it once was. Be sure to do your research before you start planning a trip.

Shiraz | Iran

A beautiful garden in Shiraz, one of the most beautiful places in Iran.

A Silk Road city and one of the oldest settlements associated with ancient Persia, Shiraz is known as the city of poets, literature, fruit trees and manicured gardens. This should give you a clue as to why Shiraz is considered by many to be the most beautiful city in Iran.

Shiraz’s heritage goes back to at least 2000 BC. For most of its history, it has been a hub for regional trade, and it remains a popular destination today as the largest city in south-west Fars Province.

The city wears its rich history proudly on its sleeve: Beautiful gardens including the Eram Garden and opulent ancient mosques, most notably the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque with its iconic tinted glass, make Shiraz a darling of Iran tourism.

Another layer to Shiraz’s character: This is a city of heritage crafts, where masters have perfected inlaid mosaics, silverware and pile carpets over the course of centuries. Save your shopping for Shiraz, because this is the best place in the country to find an authentic souvenir .

Baalbek | Lebanon

Roman columns at the ruins of Baalbek in Lebanon.

If you’re spending time in Lebanon, be sure to visit the Roman ruins of Baalbek, known as Heliopolis to the Romans. The legendary birthplace of Baal, the Canaanite god of the sun, Baalbek existed long before the Romans conquered the city in 47 BC.

Baalbek is a vast site known for its ancient temple complex. The Temple of Jupiter, now almost completely destroyed, was once the largest temple in ancient Rome. A smaller temple dedicated to Bacchus, however, is beautifully preserved and is still larger than the Parthenon in Athens . There are other remarkable ruins to wander through at Baalbek and as a plus, the site is usually quiet, with relatively few visitors.

Baalbek is under two hours’ drive from Beirut. You can do an organised day trip from the city or visit yourself by taking the public bus – just keep in mind that the trip takes approximately three hours each way and you’ll need to walk from the final stop to the ancient city.

You can buy tickets at the gate, which is open from 8.30am until sunset. If you’re travelling independently, it could be worth hiring a local guide. Keep in mind that the ruins can get very hot in summer, so you may prefer to visit during the cooler months.

By Roxanne from Faraway Worlds

Temple of Edfu | Egypt

The Temple of Edfu in Egypt, viewed at sunset from behind engraved rocks.

Starting from Luxor, a Nile River Cruise is a great way to explore the many heritage sites in Upper Egypt including the temples at Kom Ombo, the Temple of Esna, and the Aswan High Dam.

Edfu is located around 100 kilometres south of Luxor and is usually the first stop on the journey. The temple was constructed between 237 and 57 BC under the Ptolemaic Kingdom. It’s an important archaeological site of ancient Egypt because it’s one of the best-preserved, with an almost complete pylon and numerous wall engravings.

This temple is the largest in Egypt dedicated to Horus, God of kingship and the sky, and Hathor of Dendera. It is believed that Horus gave power and recognition to the ruling Pharaoh, Ptolemy VIII, who conquered upper Egypt. Ptolemy XII Auletes, the father of Cleopatra, can be seen engraved on the left of the temple’s Pylon, holding a stick to defeat his enemies with.

Because it’s situated on higher ground, the Temple of Edfu escaped the flood damage that ruined many other buildings in the area. In fact, the ruin was buried under sand for centuries until Napoleon’s French expedition unearthed it in 1798, revealing it to the world in 1860.

By Kenny from Knycx Journeying

Salmiya | Kuwait

Aerial view of Salmiya city in Kuwait.

Salmiya, Kuwait is an amazing city 15 kilometres from the capital, Kuwait City. It has many interesting attractions where you can see and learn more about Kuwait’s history and culture. Visit the Tareq Rajab Museum of Islamic Calligraphy that has more than 30,000 items relating to Islamic manuscripts, calligraphy, carvings, jewellery and more.

The Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Centre has over 1,100 different exhibits and 22 galleries. With six different components, it’s the largest museum complex in the world.

Salmiya is also home to the Salem Al-Mubarak Street shopping district, one of the largest and oldest shopping districts in the country. While you’ll find that parts of the district are modernised, there are also traditional stalls in the side streets that take you back to old Kuwait.

Even though the country has a low crime rate, visitors should exercise the same precautions as they would when travelling in any other city. Visit Salmiya for its combination of Arab and Indo- Pakistani cultures while being surrounded by modern architecture.

By Rasika from Bae Area & Beyond

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11 Places in the Arabian Peninsula You Have to See at Least Once in Your Lifetime

The Empty Quarter Desert

The Arabian Peninsula is becoming more and more of a hotspot for travelers and even backpackers. With its diverse landscape, warm locals, vibrant cultures and delicious food, the Arabian Peninsula should be on everyone’s top places to visit. Here are some of the best destinations on this dynamic stretch of land that are the must-visits.

Dubai, the united arab emirates.

Truly one of a kind and one of the most futuristic cities while still maintaining its traditions, Dubai is the place to go for gold and riches, traditional culture, desert barbeques, and one of the most international vibes in the Middle East. Boasting some of the most sparkling skyscrapers in the world, Dubai will redefine the very concept of a cosmopolitan city!

Dubai at Night

Ras Al Khaimah, The United Arab Emirates

Located far north of its more popular neighbor Dubai, Rah Al Khaimah is one of the UAE’s best kept secrets. Sitting at the tip of the country facing Iran across the Arabian Gulf, Ras Al Khaimah boasts pristine beaches, centuries old forts, and immersive archeological exhibitions. Visiting this historic city will thrill anyone wanting to see the raw beauty of the Arabian Peninsula.

The Scenic Drive to Ras Al Khaimah

The Empty Quarter or Rub’al Khali Desert, The United Arab Emirates/Oman/Saudi Arabia/Yemen

This enormous bright red desert stretching across four countries in the Arabian Peninsula is the world’s largest uninterrupted sand desert in the world. Serving as a film location for blockbusters such as Star Wars and The Matrix , this desert will blow anyone’s mind with just how enormous and powerful it feels. Experience the earth’s raw beauty in the heart of Arabia, and get lost (but not too lost) in the rolling dunes of the desert.

The Empty Quarter Desert

Musandam, Oman

Oman itself may be one of the most beautiful places in the Arabian Peninsula, and Musandam is arguably the most exquisite of all in Oman. Located in the very north along the Strait of Hormuz, Musandam is home to emerald beaches, rolling hills with whitewashed rocks and sand, and dancing dolphins that swim around the clear waters of the coastline. No trip to the Arabian Peninsula is complete without stopping by Musandam to experience an almost dream-like serenity, in one of the most isolated and pristine places in this corner of the globe.

Dolphins in Musandam

Salalah, Oman

Salalah is another place in Oman that people flock to during the rainy season to experience the rain, cold, and greenery. Situated in the southern part of the country, this area is a literal oasis in the middle of the desert, with lush green banana plantations and vibrant waterfalls during the monsoon season.

Salalah during the rainy season

Muscat, Oman

The capital of Oman, Muscat, is one of those capitals that isn’t too loud or aggressive and yet still leaves a deep and powerful impression after visiting. Boasting a breezy corniche, cobblestone alleyways ringing with children’s laughter, and a long and historical relationship with sea trading and the Indian Ocean, Muscat will never fail to enchant.

The corniche in Muscat

Wadi Ash Shab, Oman

Meaning “the gorge between the cliffs” in Arabic, this is one of the most popular wadis in the Arabian Peninsula. Located in-between the barren rocky mountains of coastal Oman, this wadi hides some of the most sparkling and clear pools of water in the country. People visit to swim in the fresh water emerald pools, have a barbeque, or explore the many waterfalls and pathways among the surrounding rocky hills.

Wadi Shab in Oman

Sana’a, Yemen

Although plagued by recent conflict and humanitarian disasters, Sana’a is still one of the most beautiful capitals of the Arabian Peninsula. The old quarter of the city is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, and visiting the city will leave you without a doubt as to why this city is so sacred to historians, archeologists, and travelers alike. Inhabited for more than 2,500 years, Sana’a holds the secrets to many of Arabia’s most vibrant and colorful stories and folklore. We hope that peace will be restored for the people of Yemen and so that many more visitors will again be able to enjoy this remarkable city.

The Old Quarter of Sana’a

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

While Saudi Arabia may have the most formidable image out of the Arabian Peninsula countries, the city of Jeddah along the western coast of the country facing Eastern Africa has a completely unique and colorful vibe to the city. Visit Jeddah for its beautiful corniche along the Red Sea, its vibrant old souq, and delicious foods that are the talk of the country.

Traditional Saudi souq

Manama, Bahrain

Often overlooked because of its small size and even smaller population, the capital of the island of Bahrain is also one of those places that are a must-visit if exploring the Arabian Peninsula. Manama is home to a surprisingly diverse population, an old-town and quiet vibe, and traditional marketplaces and houses that have kept the spirit of old Bahrain alive.

Persian influenced mosque in Manama

Doha, Qatar

Qatar , recently making headlines for being involved on the receiving end of a political blockade that shocked the world, is home to the capital of Doha that is second only to Dubai for its futuristic skyscrapers and cosmopolitan feel. Don’t be put off by this global vibe from the city however; Doha remains beautifully traditional and Qatari even in the midst of all its commercialism with traditional souqs, colorful cultural events, and a strong attachment to the Arabic language.

Doha skyline

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips , led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.?>

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

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Countries To Visit In Middle East

Best Time: March - May (Spring) Read More

Budget: Moderate

Here are the top 11 countries in Middle East

tourist arab countries

1 out of 11 Countries To Visit in Middle East

Bahrain is a small Island nation tucked away in the Persian gulf sharing its borders between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It is known for its petroleum reserves,offshore banking and tourism. Despite being a Muslim nation,it doesn't impose strict Islamic laws like its neighbours thus , paving way for a relaxed atmosphere which draws a large number of tourists. Bahrain's biggest yearly event - Bahrain Grand PrixÊF1 race is held in the month of April each year.

2 out of 11 Countries To Visit in Middle East

Jordan, situated in the Middle East, is renowned for Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Beyond the famed Petra, Jordan boasts impressive desert castles and the awe-inspiring Wadi Rum, characterized by its striking landscapes—towering cliffs and crimson sands create a mesmerizing panorama.

3 out of 11 Countries To Visit in Middle East

Located at the top of the Persian Gulf, Kuwait is a country that has often been well-known for being rich in oil. Its neighbouring countries include Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq. Kuwait City is the capital of the country and is famous for its modern architecture. Kuwait includes modern day skyscrapers as well as ancient, beautifully built mosques, so it truly is a mix of modernity and the ancient times.

4 out of 11 Countries To Visit in Middle East

Oman is an Arab country located on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Though there is no diversity in religion here, you will find a variety of tranquil landscapes and sceneries. The beauty of the emerald beaches, the rich Arab history in the ancient forts, the lush green mountains, unique wildlife and endless deserts will give you an Arabian adventure unlike any other country in the Gulf Coast. You will find local bazaars or souks filled with handicrafts and the most famous item of Oman, Frankincense. Kind-hearted, helpful and law-abiding people add up to make this country a must-visit place.

5 out of 11 Countries To Visit in Middle East

In just forty years, this Gulf state has grown from one of the poorest countries in the Gulf to the richest in the world. Mainly functioning on oil and natural gas revenue, Qatar is developing at breakneck speed, and everything from universities to shopping malls, 5-star hotels to football stadiums (in preparation for the 2022 World Cup) are springing up along the desert floor.

6. Saudi Arabia

6 out of 11 Countries To Visit in Middle East

Saudi Arabia, officially known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an Arab country located in Western Asia and constituting most of the Arab Peninsula. Most of the citizens are Muslims, and freedom of religion is restricted by the laws of the country. Only Muslims are respected in the country but, people are very helpful and friendly towards tourists. The rich history, vast stretches of deserts, forts, mosques and temples spread throughout the country will overwhelm you. The out-of-the-box festivals and Islamic cultures, etiquettes and tradition will leave you fascinated.

7. United Arab Emirates

7 out of 11 Countries To Visit in Middle East

Once known for its fishing-based economy, today, UAE is much more than vast deserts and ancient forts. Immersed in its rich Emirati culture, the UAE is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world offering touches of modernity with its ever-expanding infrastructure. From its traditional souks to palm-shaped islands, glittering huge malls, luxurious hotels, grand architecture and theme parks, the country offers you a complete package to relax, rejuvenate and be adventurous, all at the same time.

8 out of 11 Countries To Visit in Middle East

Nestled at the crossroads of Africa and Asia, Egypt beckons travelers with its unparalleled blend of ancient wonders and modern marvels. Home to some of the world's most iconic ancient landmarks, including the Great Pyramids of Giza, Egypt holds the legacy of the ancient world. The Great Pyramid , the sole survivor of the Seven Wonders, alongside the enigmatic Sphinx and the majestic temples of Luxor and Karnak , offers a captivating glimpse into the grandeur of ancient Egyptian civilization.

9 out of 11 Countries To Visit in Middle East

Israel is a considered as a Holy nation bordered by Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria. It is also home to Jerusalem ( the birth place of Lord Jesus). It has a vibrant history and culture . It has ties to diversified religions, and this makes it a interesting place to visit for travellers . It is also a highly modernised country, and the regions are divided into cities which are further sub-divided into towns. Israel-Palestine conflict is an ongoing issue, and after the peace negotiations fell apart in 2014, the countries are working on a two-state solution.

10. Lebanon

10 out of 11 Countries To Visit in Middle East

Lebanon lies in the Middle East and is a sovereign. It is often called the Lebanese Republic. It shares its borders with countries like Syria, Israel and Cyprus. Lebanon is actually supposed to be the smallest country in the entire continent of Asia. It has a wonderful coastline that you can never get tired of and even boasts of a popular city - fashionable Beirut. Lebanon is home to a cuisine that we have all sampled at some point, in several different versions - Lebanese cuisine. Both traditional and modern, the country is full of quiet charm and at times, solitude.

11 out of 11 Countries To Visit in Middle East

Nestled at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Turkey stands as a mesmerizing fusion of history, culture, and stunning landscapes. Istanbul, straddling two continents, is the vibrant heart of this country, boasting architectural wonders like the Hagia Sophia and the iconic Blue Mosque. Beyond its bustling cities, Turkey's ancient ruins, from Ephesus to the surreal landscapes of Cappadocia with its whimsical rock formations, paint a canvas of diverse experiences.

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Tourism in the Arab World can mean more than Sun, Sand and Beaches


Tourism is potentially a ‘win-win’ sector to promote recovery and employment in the Middle East & North Africa.


  • Tourism is a key source of economic growth in the Arab world.
  • The tourism industry has not yet reached its potential for job creation, especially among youth, women and in local communities.

This page is about outcomes of the MENA Tourism Workshop help in Tunis and DC.

With its world-class combination of cultural and natural attractions, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has long held a powerful allure for tourists. It has made tourism an important source of revenue and growth. In 2011, the industry contributed an estimated US$107.3 billion, representing 4.5 percent of the region’s Gross Domestic Product, and accounted for 4.5 million jobs, almost seven percent of total employment.

Even with this prominent position in the region’s economy, tourism could be doing much more. It could provide more employment, especially for excluded segments of society such as women and young people. Tourism could also be a greater source of revenue for local communities.

Like many other sectors, tourism has also suffered as a result of the recent political turmoil in the region, and the ongoing economic instability in Europe. Tourist arrivals declined by 9% to 72 million in 2011, a decrease of 6.6 million.

These two factors pose significant questions for the role of tourism, as the region attempts to recover while responding to the demands of the ‘Arab Spring’ for more economic opportunities and social inclusion.

How can MENA leverage its unique historical, geographic, and cultural assets to promote growth through tourism? How can tourism strategies in the region promote public-private partnerships, creating jobs and economic linkages, particularly for the large numbers of unemployed youth in the region?

These questions were explored at a workshop held in Tunis, Tunisia on December 3rd and 4th, organized by the World Bank MENA Financial and Private Sector Development Unit of the World Bank jointly with Environment and Urban Departments, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Investment Climate Department, the Investment Climate for Industry and Competitive Industries practices, and the Government of Tunisia. Key government counterparts from across the region were in attendance, as were academics and colleagues from partner international organizations, such as the African Development Bank). Sessions throughout the workshop presented tools and approaches needed to develop MENA’s tourism sector at both the strategic (policy-planning) and operational level.

Tourism Strategies to maximize direct and indirect benefits of the sector to the country

Participants agreed on the need to develop tourism strategies that invest in the full spectrum of ecological, historical, and religious assets the region has to offer. This implies moving away from the “sun, sand, and sea” approach many countries in the region have adopted towards offering experiences that weave beaches with historical sites, culinary and artistic offerings, and natural wonders. Interestingly, a few attendees highlighted the need for MENA to move from “externally driven” to “internally driven” cultural tourism that focuses on strengthening local standards and image building in skills development. Providing value-added services that accurately meet demand will help attract higher value tourists and foster repeat visitors. These offerings must be backed by strategic investments in infrastructure (roads, facilities, and accommodation), and a regulatory environment that promotes innovation and helps ensure revenues generated go to benefit local communities.

Tools to Promote Informed Decision Making in the MENA Countries

Throughout the workshop a variety of tools were presented to help regional policymakers move from strategy to program development. Khadija Bchi from the Ministry of Tourism in Morocco presented a national compatibility model that uses empirical data on labor, tourist volumes, and macro-level growth to simulate impacts of tourism policy changes on the economy. The model, developed over a two-year time period with assistance from the World Bank, is a good example of how econometric analysis can be used to assess policy implications in the sector.

World Bank and IFC colleagues discussed working with client countries on scoping and feasibility analyses, tourism investment preparation, and regulatory reform and licensing. These tools have been put into practice in a project to restore the Medina (old quarter) in Fez, Morocco . The project combined investments in tourist infrastructure (restoration of historic buildings, traffic management) with enhancing access to sanitation and emergency public services. It has significantly increased tourist traffic to the area- the Medina is now the 2nd most visited sight in Morocco. Residents of the Medina report significant increases to basic urban services and tourism-related employment opportunities.

Tourism Skills and Capacity Building to Increase Participation of Youth and Women

Promoting employment of youth and women in MENA’s tourism sector remains an important policy goal. Given the variety of jobs tourism creates across skills levels - from facilities maintenance to curators, architects, and city managers - and the sector’s ability to promote economic development in rural communities at the local level, the sector is well placed to employ youth and women in the MENA region. However, there remain challenges as in much of the region there is a preference for women to stay at home, and in some communities a culture of wariness around working in tourism. Governments will need to implement policies that provide women and youth the skills and training required to take advantage of employment opportunities in the sector, particularly in rural areas, where literacy and formal education may be low. Investments in tourism school and foreign language programs for women and youth are two priorities moving ahead. The World Bank Education for Employment (E4E) Initiative for Arab Youth aims to do just that, providing youth with skills that are relevant to the marketplace. E4E has identified tourism as a priority sector in the MENA region.

Development of tourism segments and public-private linkages to integrate tourism into local, national and regional economy

In many countries in the region the public sector dominates tourism strategy and operations. Panelists discussed the need for governments to liberalize the sector, allowing smaller entrants to come into the market and offer products to a broader and more diverse set of clients. For example, working with smaller entities to ensure accommodation options extended beyond that of large hotels in central areas. A unique model in Jordan was highlighted whereby the government has accredited the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature – a non-profit organization – to manage the country’s ecological sights to much success and strong linkages to local communities.

Conclusion – Unique Opportunities

While challenges facing the tourism sector are many, reform offers a unique set of winning propositions, including job creation, community empowerment, and stability and regional integration during challenging economic and political times.

Overall, the event allowed a comprehensive outlining of critical competitiveness and strategic issues facing the tourism sector in MENA. Leaders affirmed a fresh commitment to assist MENA countries reap the full economic and cultural benefits of enhancing sustainable tourism. Participants committed to forming a regional working group that will share best practices and further align strategies and tools to enhance the sector.

  • Tourism: a ‘win-win’ sector to promote recovery & employment
  • Tourism: a strategy to promote recovery, economic diversification and job creation
  • Fes Medina Rehabilitation Project
  • Presentations


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Saudi Arabia leads Arab countries for most tourists in 2022

Kingdom is targeting 100 million visitors annually by the end of this decade..

Photo of Sakina Fatima

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has recorded more than 18 million international arrivals in the first nine months of 2022, higher than any other Arab country.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization said, in a statement, that Saudi Arabia attracted more than 18 million visitors in the first three quarters of 2022, followed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with 14.8 million tourists, and Morocco with 11 million tourists.

The statement said that, given these unprecedented numbers, “The thriving tourism sector in the Kingdom will be a major focus during the activities of the Arabian Travel Market 2023, which will be held at the Dubai World Trade Center from May 1 to 4, 2023.”

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As per media reports, the kingdom is targeting 100 million visitors annually by the end of this decade.

Tourism spending in Saudi Arabia also rose in 2022, reaching 7.2 billion dollars in the first half of 2022, according to figures issued by the country’s Ministry of Investment.

The ministry indicated that the rate of tourism spending in the Kingdom far exceeded pre-pandemic levels.

The Kingdom aims to attract investments worth 220 billion Saudi Riyals in the tourism sector by 2023, and 500 billion Saudi Riyals by 2030.

Here are the top 10 Arab countries for the most tourists in 2022

  • Saudi Arabia: 18 million tourists
  • UAE: 14.8 million tourists
  • Morocco: 11 million tourists
  • Syria: 8.5 million tourists
  • Tunisia: 5.7 million tourists
  • Egypt: 5.2 million tourists
  • Bahrain: 4.3 million tourists
  • Jordan: 3.5 million tourists
  • Qatar: 2.9 million tourists
  • Sultanate of Oman: 2.3 million tourists

Get the news updates on WhatsApp & Telegram by subscribing to our channels. For all the latest Middle East updates, download our app Android and iOS .

What Female Travelers Should Wear in Muslim Countries

Maremagnum/Getty Images

If less is more in most fashion circles, dressing in traditionally Muslim countries is just the reverse— cover up . This the word from travel experts around the world, who offer wise advice pointing out things that are frowned upon, if not downright forbidden.

Dressing Dos and Don'ts

Melissa Vinitsky, who traveled to and lived in Cairo and wrote  Women & Islam: Tales from the Road , says decorum is the word of the day:

"With Muslim women largely behind the scenes and out of reach, a foreign woman, even modestly dressed, stands out like a bikini-clad girl skiing down the slopes in midwinter. On top of that, many Arab men, influenced by American movies and TV, subscribe to the common belief that Western women are easy ."

Covering your arms and legs with loose clothing is always advised when you are in public. If you are staying in a large hotel with many westerners it will be acceptable to wear your ordinary clothes there.

Many female travelers recommend covering your hair in Islamic countries to avoid getting unwanted attention from men. In mosques , this is not a question of choice—for women, whether local or traveler, it's a must. Female travelers, regardless of their own religious persuasion, should always cover their hair entirely in mosques. This video tutorial on how to wear a hijab , or headscarf, makes it look simple. All you need is a large square scarf.

Wearing the traditional dress, of course, is not a requirement, so don't bother to pack a veil or burka. But many women sojourners are interested in learning more about typical Muslim clothing and may choose to dress accordingly during their travels. The most common women's garments include:

  • Chador or Burka:  A long, loose robe that covers the entire body and head. It is often combined with a veil worn across the face with a small slit for the wearer's eyes.
  • Kamiz: A pair of loose trousers and a tunic.
  • Hijab: A veil or scarf which usually covers the head and chest.

Dress Codes for Different Muslim Countries

While there are general rules about dressing in Muslim countries as a whole, you may find that customs vary depending on where you visit. You can find out the recommended dress for every country at  Journeywoman , a website dedicated to crowdsourcing helpful clothing tips for women when they travel. 

If you're traveling specifically to Iran, you will want to consult the dress code information from the website Iranian Visa . The Islamic dress code for women takes effect when your airplane crosses into Iranian airspace, according to the site.

Islamic codes of behavior and dress are strictly enforced. In a public place, women must cover their heads with a headscarf, wear a long skirt or loose trousers, and a long-sleeved tunic or coat that reaches to the knee.

In Dubai, westerners dress as they wish when at resorts but wear modest clothing when out in public. Dubai is a place where you'll see fashionably dressed women from many countries so fashion accessories such as a designer handbag is a nice addition to your modest wardrobe.

Tips From Experienced Female Travelers

While the consensus is that modesty is generally the best policy, consider how to best dress for the climate and culture. One experienced traveler notes that "not only is it important to be modest, but loose clothing is more comfortable in the heat." You may also want to consider how easily your clothing choices will help you adhere to common customs. For instance, in a country where is it custom to remove your shoes upon entering a home, you may want to wear sandals or slip-on shoes.

Of course, dressing to be respectful and for your own safety is a must. According to many female travelers, not only will you find that locals will be appreciative of your more modest choices, but they may save you from unwanted attention in the form of looks and lewd comments.

The Bottom Line

If you observe local customs and traditions when traveling to Muslim countries, you'll wind up feeling more comfortable physically and socially. If you only pack one extra item, make sure it's a scarf for covering your head or shoulders as the need arises. In Islamic cities, as anywhere else in the world, if you respect others, you're more likely to earn their respect in return.

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Best places to visit in the Middle East

15 Best places to visit in the Middle East

  • Post author By Riham Saeed
  • Post date October 31, 2022
  • Categories In Tourism , Travel

Best places to visit in the Middle East

There are many tourist and historical places to visit in the Middle East , as the middle east has witnessed many great civilizations, we will tell you the best places to visit in the Middle East. In addition, this civilization includes Sumerian, Roman, and also Egyptian Pharaonic civilizations.

Table of Contents

15 attractions in the Middle East

1- giza pyramids in egypt.

Pyramids of Giza in Cairo

Giza Pyramids is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It dates back to the period between 2500 and 2600 which makes it the oldest monument in the world. The ancient Egyptians believed in the resurrection after death. Therefore, it was their essential reason to build tombs; however, King Khufu was the first to build his huge Pyramid on the Giza plateau. Later his son Khafra’ built the second pyramid and finally, King Mankara’ built the third pyramid. So, you must visit these great pyramids and enjoy the ancient Egyptian civilization .

2- Burj Al-Khalifa in Dubai best place to visit in the Middle East


Burj Al-Khalifa tower is the tallest building in the world ; it is located in the center of Dubai city. Besides, it’s near many vital places such as Dubai Mall. In Addition, the height of the tower is 828 m (2,717 ft). Moreover, it was first opened on 4th Jan 2010 and now it attracts millions of people from all over the world, especially in the celebration of the New Year evening.

3- Dubai Mall in the UAE

Dubai Mall Best places to visit in the Middle East

Dubai Mall is the most famous mall in the Middle East, was first opened on 4th Nov 2008 and now it has about 600 stores. In addition, this store includes all the global brands and also the Arab brand’s stores. Besides, it was built on about 13 million square feet. Moreover, it has many entertainments such as the aquarium, cinema, and dancing fountain. So, Dubai is one of the Best Middle Eastern countries to live in. It is one of the main Things to do in the Middle East.

4- Luxor and Aswan in Egypt best places to visit in the Middle East

Ancient Pharaonic civilization Best places to visit in the Middle East

Luxor city has a third of the world’s monuments and Aswan has most of the most beautiful temples. There are many temples in Luxor and Aswan such as Luxor temple, Philae temple , Edfu temple, Kom Ombo temple, and Karnak temple. So, it is one of the most beautiful places in the Middle East.

Abu simbel temple Aswan hotels, resorts, and temples Best places to visit in the Middle East

5- Petra in Jordan

Petra Best places to visit in the Middle East

Petra city is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Besides, it is located in Jordan which has passed through many great civilizations such as Islam, the Nabataeans, Ottoman, and the Byzantines. In addition, it is one of the Safe places to visit in the Middle East.

6- Jeito Grotto in Lebanon best place to visit in the Middle East

Jeita Grotto in Lebanon Best places to visit in the Middle East

Jeita Grotto is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the Middle East which is located in Lebanon. However, it was discovered in 1836 AD by The American traveler William Thomson. Besides, its formation was a result of environmental changes and factors. This is one of the best places to visit in the Middle East.

7- Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi best place to visit in the Middle East

Ferrari World Abu Dhabi- Best places to visit in the Middle East

If you like adventures and fast modern cars, so your best destination will be Ferrari world in Abu Dhabi.  Besides, there are many fantastic and enjoyable races that you will get a new amazing experience. Don’t miss this chance as it is one of the best vacation spots in the Middle East.

8- Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Mosque is the largest mosque with an area of 412.22 square meters. In addition, it can accommodate more than 7000 worshippers. In addition, by using the external space, it can accommodate 40,000 worshipers. It is considered one of the most important tourist attractions in the Emirates.

9- Sharm el sheikh in Egypt

Things to do in Sharm el-Seikh

It is one of the most famous touristic cities in the Middle East. Besides, it is famous for its Mild weather, especially in winter. In addition, it attracts many tourists in the world with its various tourist destinations. Moreover, there are many things to do in Sharm Al-Sheikh such as Ras Mohammed National Park, Neama Bay, Bluehole, and the old market.

10-Hurghada city in Egypt best place to visit in the Middle East

It is the best country in the Middle East as it has the best weather besides amazing nature. In addition, thousands of tourists visit Hurghada most of the year and mainly in the winter season.

11- Souq Waqif in Qatar

Souq Waqif is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Doha. Besides, it is the oldest souq however, it has gone through a renewal process which made it attracts more tourists. In addition, the most famous street in it is the street of pets which is usually crowded.

12- Global Village in Dubai best place to visit in the Middle East:

It is the most fantastic tourist destination in the Middle East as it includes many heritages in one place. Besides, you will enjoy witnessing many civilizations in one place. In addition, there are many shops and delicious restaurants to visit.

13- Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Oman

It is one of the great buildings in the Middle East, besides its construction began in 1995. However, it took 6 years to be opened in 2001. In addition, it occupies an area of 416,000 square meters.

14- Hagia Sophia Museum (one of the best places to visit in the Middle East)

Hagia Sofia Mosque is one of the great constructions in the Middle East. Besides, it dates back to 325 A.C as it was first built as a church then it became a museum and later it became a mosque again in 2020.

15- The Blue Mosque

Turkey is one of the cheap Middle Eastern countries to visit as it has many tourist attractions such as the blue mosque. Besides, it is called the Mosque of king Ahmed first and it was built in front of Hagia Sofia Mosque between 1609 AD – 1616 AD.

Top 10 cities in the Middle East

These are the Best cities to visit in the Middle East which includes cities such as:

  • Dubai city in the United Arab of Emirates.
  • Istanbul city in Turkey.
  • Luxor city in Egypt.
  • Aswan city in Egypt.
  • Abu Dhabi in the United Arab of Emirates.
  • Sharm Al-Sheikh city in Egypt.
  • Doha city in Qatar.
  • Hurghada city in Egypt.
  • Baalbak city in Lebanon.

In conclusion, you must plan to visit these amazing places that we have mentioned. As you will enjoy the great old civilizations with the amazing constructions. Don’t miss this chance and the best places to visit in the Middle East.

The places visited in the Middle East are UAE and Turkey as both have many tourist features that attract tourists from all over the world.

There is more than one country that is characterized by its beauty such as Dubai, Azmir, and Hurghada.

Lebanon is famous for the natural and green areas that give it more beauty.

Related Posts

  • Tags Best cities to visit in Middle east , Middle east tourirst countris , Tourist places in the Middle East

Anja On Adventure

73+ Essential Arabic Travel Phrases for Tourists in Arab Countries & Free PDF

Visiting one of the countries in the Middle East? Check out this list of Arabic travel words and learn Arabic language basics for your trip to UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Oman or Saudi Arabia. From how to say thank you in Arabic, to phrases for ordering food and shopping when bargaining on souks and bazaars. FREE Arabic phrases pdf and coloring pages. Jordan travel | Dubai content| Morocco travel phrases | Basics Arabic words | Egypt travel | Visit Qatar #merhaba #shukran #howtosay

Disclosure: This essential Arabic travel phrases for tourists article may contain affiliate links. If you click it and buy something you like, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you! Read more in  Disclaimer .

Want to know what essential Arabic travel phrases for tourists are? Planning a journey to Dubai, UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Oman or other places in the Middle East and North Africa? You are at the right place! If you are traveling to Egypt to see the Great Pyramids, or venturing to the UNESCO World Heritage site Petra in Jordan, knowing some basic Arabic words and phrases will be key to successful communication. Just like easy Arabic phrases “Marhaba” (Hello) and “Shukran” (Thank you). Learning common phrases in Arabic will come in handy when bargaining at local markets in Morocco or exploring the vibrant streets of Dubai. Want to know, what are those useful Arabic words for travel ?

🗩 If you have been wondering “What is Anja’s favorite Arabic word?”, you will find the answer hidden in the blog.

anja on Adventure

Middle East and Northern Africa , home of the Arabic language, desert landscapes and vibrant souks and bazaars. From modern marvels like Burj Khalifa to ancient historic sites like Nabaatean’s Petra, or Egyptians Great Pyramids of Giza. Knowing basic Arabic phrases for tourists will be helpful in any Arabic-speaking country.  In this language guide on the best Arabic phrases to know, you’ll find a curated selection of essential Arabic words, greeting Arabic phrases and Arabic for tourists . Inside there is also FREE Arabic phrases pdf , that will serve as a handy resource for your Arabic adventure.   Let’s dive into your Arabic adventure, one essential Arabic for travelers phrase at a time!

for ESSENTIAL TRAVEL PHRASES: • 73+ Essential ENGLISH Travel Phrases and Words You Should Know • 73+ Essential ARABIC Travel Phrases for Tourists in Arab Countries & Free PDF • 73+ Essential GREEK Travel Phrases for Tourists on a Greek Holiday & Download • 73+ Essential JAPANESE Travel Phrases for Tourists Visiting Japan & Free cheat sheet • 73+ Essential SLOVENIAN Travel Phrases for your trip to Slovenia & Free Download • 73+ Essential SWAHILI Travel Phrases for Travelers to East Africa + Free Download for WORDS & PHRASES in 101 different languages: • How to say You have beautiful eyes in 101 different languages • How to say What is the WiFi password in 101 different languages • How to say Hello in 101 different languages spoken around the World • How to say Love in 101 different languages spoken around the World • How to say I love you in 101 different languages spoken around the World • How to say Thank you in 101 different languages spoken around the World • How to say Happy Birthday in 101 different languages spoken In the World • How to say Happy New Year in 101 different languages spoken around the World • How to say Friend in 101 different languages spoken around the World with Pronunciation


for Jordan TRAVEL TIPS: • How to bargain on your travels: 17 essential bargaining tips • Is Jordan Pass Worth It? Guide to Everything You Need to Know • Best One Day in Amman Itinerary: How To Spend 24h in Amman • 73+ Essential Arabic Travel Phrases for Tourists in Arab Countries & Free PDF for CAPTION IDEAS: • 111 Best JORDAN Captions for Instagram and PETRA Captions • 187 Best DESERT captions for Instagram

Table of Contents

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tourist arab countries

1. Where is ARABIC spoken?

Did you know that more than 400 million people speak Arabic as their first or second language? That is a lot of “shukrans” and “habibis”.  Arabic is spoken in several countries primarily in the Middle East and North Africa , as well as in some other regions. It is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world and below you can find Arab countries list.

Arabic is the official language in the following countries:

  • Middle East countries list: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Yemen.
  • List of Arab countries in North Africa: Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania.
  • Other regions: Palestinian territories, Israel (Arabic is one of the official languages, along with Hebrew), and parts of Western Sahara.

In addition to being the official language in these countries, Arabic holds cultural and religious significance as the language of the Quran, the holy book of Islam. It is widely used in Islamic religious ceremonies and prayers by Muslims around the world, regardless of their native language. Arabic also serves as a lingua franca for communication between speakers of different Arabic dialects and is used as a second language in many countries with significant Arab diaspora communities. The best way to learn Arabic phrases for travel is by using apps like Duolingo or Memrise. But since Arabic is hard language to learn, you will most probably learn most of your phrases when traveling. It will be beneficial to download Arabic for travelers pdf and bring it with you.

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List of essential Arabic travel phrases for tourists to learn for your trip to Middle East. May it be to Dubai, Qatar, Doha, Jordan and Petra or Egypt. Useful Arabic words for anyone interested in learning Arabic language. From how to say thank you in Arabic, to phrases for ordering food. Free Arabic phrases pdf with coloring book. Middle East travel | Visit UAE | Arabic travel phrases | Basics Arabic | Morocco #dubai #travelcontent #travelinfluencer #content #travelphrases

2. Arabic language basics

Before you start to learn everyday Arabic phrases , you should know that the Arabic language is one of the hardest languages to learn for English speakers. Not only because of their unique and beautiful alphabet but also because of their grammar and writing system. Words in Arabic and standard Arabic phrases are written and read from RIGHT to LEFT . This is also the case in Arabic travel phrases you will find below. Phrases in Arabic are written from right to left and Arabic translation phrases are written from left to right.

Letters in Arabic words and phrases change shape based on their position in the word . Some of the wolves also don’t get written, and Arabic speakers should ‘just know’ how to pronounce the word. Not unlike in Japanese or Swahili language , where once you know the sound of the letter, you can read everything. Arabic language also uses different grammar and has sounds that are foreign to the English language. Plus there are many dialects distinctive for Arabic-speaking countries. A collection of Arabic phrases for travel you will find below is using Modern Standard Arabic. This is like a common Arabic, that everywhere in the Arabic-speaking world should understand. All essential Arabic travel phrases also have a phonetic translation under their Arabic writing.

tourist arab countries

3. Essential Arabic travel phrases

3.1. basic arabic phrases for travel.

Basic Arabic phrases for conversation that showcase politeness and cultural respect, encouraging positive interactions with locals and are a base for every communication. Don’t forget that the Arabic words are read from RIGHT to LEFT.

ALSO READ: • How to spend 5 days in Dubai: Relaxed travel itinerary

3.2. Essential Arabic phrases for greetings and introductions

Basic Arabic greetings phrases will lay the foundation for any interaction, allowing you to initiate conversations and make a positive first impression. They are Easy arabic words you already know and Arabic basic words, to know when visiting Dubai. Don’t forget that the Arabic words are read from RIGHT to LEFT.

ALSO READ: • Best hotels with Burj Khalifa view

3.3. Essential Arabic travel phrases for directions and getting around

Arabic phrases to know when asking for directions will enable you to navigate unfamiliar streets and find your way around. Don’t forget that the Arabic words are read from RIGHT to LEFT.

ALSO READ: • Is Jordan Pass Worth It? Guide to Everything You Need to Know

3.4. Useful Arabic phrases for tourists when ordering food and drinks

Useful Arabic words and phrases for ordering meals, asking for recommendations, and specifying dietary preferences ensure enjoyable dining experiences and help you explore local cuisines. Don’t forget that the Arabic words are read from RIGHT to LEFT.

tourist arab countries

3.5. Basic Arabic words for travel and shopping

Arabic language words for inquiring about prices, negotiating, and asking for sizes or colors are handy when exploring markets and boutiques. Don’t forget that the Arabic words are read from RIGHT to LEFT.

ALSO READ: • Jordan captions and Petra captions for Instagram

🗩 “What is Anja’s favorite Arabic word?” It is Habibi. It can be translated as “my love”, “my dear”, “my darling”.

3.6. Basic Arabic hotel phrases

Arabic hotel phrases you will need when checking in a hotel, asking for towels, fixing air conditioning, enquiring what time is breakfast, and what is included in your room rate. Don’t forget that the Arabic words are read from RIGHT to LEFT.

ALSO READ: • Best One Day in Amman Itinerary: How To Spend 24h in Amman

3.7. Standard Arabic phrases and best Arabic phrases in case of emergencies

Here you will find simple Arabic words in case of emergencies, natural disasters, or if you will be needing assistance in difficult or dangerous situations. Don’t forget that the Arabic words are read from RIGHT to LEFT and that those can be useful phrases in Dubai.

ALSO READ: • Best Dubai captions for Instagram

3.8. Beyond essential Arabic travel phrases

If you’re like me and really love learning a few phrases in new languages, expand your study beyond the must know travel phrases and basic phrases in Arabic. I always learn how to say please and thank you, never visit a country without knowing the local word for “coffee” and never leave without knowing how to say;

tourist arab countries

4. Best language App for traveling abroad

Learning a language is a long process. If you think you won’t have time to learn basic Arabic greetings and responses , or if the situations come your way when above mentioned Arabic phrases for travel won’t be enough, use Google Translate. This is my favorite language app, that I use on (almost) every trip.

4.1. Google Translate

Google Translate is the most popular language travel app that can be used everywhere. I personally use it on all my travels, when going to Tanzania to learn what some Swahili words mean, when in Mexico to help with my not-the-best Spanish, when in Italy, in Japan and other places. I’m sure you are familiar with the language app already. The most obvious feature is it will help you translate the destination language into your own one. But the absolute best feature is that it can translate the text using ‘ camera translation ’. All you have to do is open the app, point your camera toward the text in a foreign language and Google Translate will do the rest. Perfect for menus! It also translates text from the photos on your camera roll. And it also works offline, when you download the language pair on your phone. Language: 133 languages Download: iOS | Android | Website Price: Free

ALSO READ: • How to Bargain on your travels: Travel bargaining guide

tourist arab countries

5. Final Thoughts on Essential Arabic Travel Phrases for Tourists

Whether it’s a warm greeting, ordering a meal, or expressing gratitude, useful Arabic words and phrases not only open doors to easier communication but also show respect. Learning common phrases in Arabic for tourists will help you in souks and bazaars and when ordering food. Before traveling to Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, or any other country in the Middle East or Northern Africa, learn Arabic for travel basics that will help you to navigate through this unique, and culturally filled world. How to say Hello in Arabic and how to say thank you in Arabic language. A collection of useful Arabic phrases for travelers, like what is the Wifi password , Arabic tourist phrases for directions, and checking in a hotel. Which of these common Arabic phrases have you managed to memorize so far? Safe travels = طَريق السَلامةِ! [ataryq alsalamti!], Anja

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• 17 Best Hotels in Dubai with Burj Khalifa view • How to spend 5 day in Dubai: relaxed travel itinerary • Is Jordan Pass Worth It? Guide to Everything You Need to Know • Best One Day in Amman Itinerary: How To Spend 24h in Amman • How to say Friend in 101 different languages

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List of essential Arabic travel phrases for tourists to learn for your trip to Middle East. May it be to Dubai, Qatar, Doha, Jordan and Petra or Egypt. Useful Arabic words for anyone interested in learning Arabic language. From how to say thank you in Arabic, to phrases for ordering food. Free Arabic phrases pdf with coloring book. Middle East travel | Visit UAE | Arabic travel phrases | Basics Arabic | Morocco #dubai #travelcontent #travelinfluencer #content #travelphrases

✈ Travel like a PRO

Are you ready to travel like a PRO? Save time and money with these travel tips and resources . I personally use these companies to save time and money. They do the work by providing a list of options, prices, and reviews from actual guests, for anywhere I am traveling worldwide. ✈️ FLIGHTS: I use Skyscanner in combination with Google Flights to find amazing flight fares (try the Explore feature). I book directly with an airline or pair it with Iwantthatflight for the best deals. 🏨 ACCOMMODATION: Booking.com is my favorite site for finding great hotel deals. They return the best rates and reviews are from actual guests! 🚘 RENTAL CARS: Discover Cars are my go-to, when planning an epic road trip. 🗽 TOURS & ACTIVITIES: I like to wander around on my own, but when I want to explore with a group, skip the line with an entrance ticket, I book it with GetYourGuide or Viator . ❤️‍🩹 TRAVEL INSURANCE: I never, under any circumstances travel without insurance. In most cases, I use yearly global travel medical insurance. But, if you don’t have that and some impromptu travel plans occur, use SafetyWing . With them, you can buy travel insurance even when you are already abroad. Better be safe, than sorry! 📲 ONLINE SAFETY: NordVPN keeps your devices’ browsing safe and malware-free. Stream shows from around the world, access social media in countries where they are blocked and buy cheap flights by changing your virtual location. 🛜 STAY CONNECTED WITH eSIM: Ditch the plastic SIM cards and waiting in lines at the airport! Airalo eSIMs allow you to connect as soon as you land at your destination. They have eSIMs for over 190+ countries worldwide.

Where is Arabic spoken?

Arabic is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. It is a native language in numerous countries across the Middle East and North Africa. Arabic is an official language in 22 countries. Some of them are, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others. It is widely used for religious purposes among Muslims worldwide.

How to say hello in Arabic word?

Hello in Arabic language is مرحبًا pronounced as “marhaba” This is also the answer to how to say hello in Dubai or how do you say hello in Jordan. Learn more useful common Arabic greetings and basic Arabic for travel words and phrases on Anja On Adventure blog. There you can also find a FREE Arabic phrases pdf cheat sheet, and coloring pages with Arabic words and phrases.

How to say Thank you in Arabic?

Thank you in Arabic is شكرًا لك , which is pronounced as “ shukran lak”. This is also the answer to how to say thank you in Dubai and how to say thank you in Jordan. Learn more Dubai language words and Moroccan phrases for tourists on Anja On Adventure blog. There you can also find a FREE Arabic words list pdf cheat sheet, and coloring pages with Arabic words and phrases.

How to say How are you in Arabic?

كيف حالك؟ pronounced as “Kayf halika?” Learn more useful Arabic words and phrases and popular Arabic phrases for travel on Anja On Adventure blog. There you can also find a FREE Arabic phrases pdf cheat sheet, and coloring pages with Arabic words and phrases.

How to say Nice to meet you in Arabic?

سعيد بلقائك , pronounced as “ saeid biliqayik …”. Learn more useful Arabic words and phrases and popular Arabic phrases for travel on Anja On Adventure blog. There you can also find a FREE basic Arabic sentences for beginners pdf cheat sheet, and coloring pages with Arabic words and phrases.

How to say Love in Arabic?

حب , pronounced as “ habun” Learn more basic words in Arabic, find out what are some basic arabic words and a list of simple Arabic phrases on Anja On Adventure blog. There you can also find a FREE basic Arabic words for beginners pdf, with Arabic words list with meaning, and coloring pages with Arabic words and phrases.

How to say safe travels in Arabic?

طَريق السَلامةِ! , pronounced as “ataryq alsalamti!”. Learn more than 100 Arabic phrases, Arabic common phrases and other Arabic words to know when traveling on Anja On Adventure blog. There you can also find a basic Arabic for tourists and common Arabic terms.

❥ About Anja On Adventure

anja on Adventure

Anja On Adventure is a travel blog, a collection of insider tips and information on destinations, that I visited as a solo female traveler, tour guide, teacher, yacht stewardess, and Survivor challenge tester. Anja, is a thirty-something adventure-seeking, sun chasing, beach hopping, gin-loving, tropics enthusiast with a creative mind and sarcastic spirit, who loves coconut and mango but doesn’t like chocolate and sweets. I am passionate about all things travel, maps, and puzzles. Click here to learn more About me .

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New Unified Visa For Gulf Countries — 1 Visa 6 Countries!

Explore the Gulf countries like never before with the new GCC Grand Tours visa, launching end of 2024, simplifying travel across six nations.


Priyanshi Agrawal

Published On May 15, 2024 | Updated On May 15, 2024


As 2024 draws to a close, travellers with an eye for exploration across the Gulf region have something big to look forward to—the launch of a new unified visa by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). This upcoming visa, akin to the Schengen visa in Europe, will facilitate travel across all six GCC countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

What is a unified visa? Why did Gulf countries come up with the concept of a unified visa? 


A significant initiative called the GCC Grand Tours visa, is set to simplify the travel process drastically. Previously, tourists and expatriates needed to obtain separate visas for each Gulf country, which could be a cumbersome process. With the introduction of this unified visa, travellers will have the ability to move freely between the GCC countries on a single visa, making the Gulf region more accessible than ever. This is expected to enhance tourism and economic interactions across these nations.

The unified visa is designed not only for short stays but also offers the flexibility to extend visits beyond 30 days, encouraging longer stays and deeper exploration of the region's diverse attractions. The GCC states are preparing for a substantial increase in tourist numbers, with forecasts suggesting a potential to attract over 128.7 million visitors by 2030. This is part of a broader effort by the GCC to boost economic growth, cultural exchange, and regional cooperation.

Moreover, the GCC's efforts extend beyond simplifying travel. Initiatives like electronically linking traffic offences across member states and strategies to combat illegal drugs are part of a comprehensive approach to enhance the overall well-being and safety within the region.

The rollout of this unified visa system, approved unanimously by the GCC member states, marks a pivotal step towards realising a more interconnected and collaborative Gulf region. It promises to revolutionise how tourists experience these nations, turning the GCC into a unified, accessible destination for global travellers​. 

Adding to the excitement surrounding the GCC's unified visa, this initiative is a well-thought-out strategy aimed at making the Gulf region a more seamless and inviting destination for international tourists. The decision to introduce a unified visa reflects a sophisticated understanding of the tourism dynamics and the need for easier access to multiple countries through a single gateway.


Benefits of new unified visa system for Gulf countries


  • One of the most significant benefits of this new visa system will be the reduction in administrative hurdles that currently deter some travellers from exploring more than one GCC country on the same trip. By allowing a single visa to cover multiple destinations, the GCC is not just simplifying logistics but also encouraging a richer, more diverse travel experience. Tourists can now plan a trip that could start in the ultra-modern city of Dubai, leading to the historic sites in Saudi Arabia, and end with relaxation on the beautiful beaches of Oman—all without the need for multiple visas.
  • The new visa is expected to be particularly advantageous for business travellers who frequently visit the Gulf for meetings and conferences. The ease of travel will likely lead to increased business interactions and investments between the GCC countries and the rest of the world. Moreover, this move could spur a variety of new business opportunities within the region, from tourism and hospitality to retail and entertainment, further driving economic growth.
  • Additionally, cultural exchange is a cornerstone of this initiative. By facilitating easier access to different GCC countries, the visa encourages a deeper understanding and appreciation of the region’s diverse cultures, traditions, and heritages. This could play a crucial role in promoting tolerance and mutual respect among visitors and residents alike.
  • Environmental sustainability is another aspect that could be positively impacted. With more tourists opting to travel across multiple countries in a single trip, there could be a reduction in the carbon footprint associated with obtaining multiple visas and undertaking separate trips.


As the GCC prepares for the rollout of this landmark visa system, the anticipation among global travellers continues to build. This unified approach could very well set a new standard for regional cooperation and become a model for other regions around the world, showcasing the benefits of collective action in the face of global challenges.

tourist arab countries

Importance of travel insurance in Asian countries

These Asian tourist destinations stay on the top of the list of many travel enthusiasts from all over the world, especially India, as they are cheaper to travel as compared to other countries. Besides, the visa acceptance rate for Asian countries is also better than European or American nations. In fact, some countries even offer visa-on-arrival for the Indian visitors .

But when it comes to applying for a visa for specific countries, travel insurance may come out as a mandatory requirement for the process to complete.

If you are also planning a trip to an Asian country and wondering if it is necessary to have travel insurance, this article has got you covered.

Here’s why it is important to own travel insurance while travelling to Asian countries

Is travel insurance mandatory required in Asian countries?

While a few other Asian countries do not mandate that visitors have a travel insurance plan, they highly recommend it for the safety and comfort it ensures.

The following table shows the list of countries and whether or not they require travel insurance:

Benefits of travel insurance for Asian countries

  • Covers the cost of a medical emergency
  • Compensates for flight delays and cancellations

This is not about flight cancellation, but it ruins the entire travel plan, including your pre-booked accommodations and trip itinerary. With the right travel insurance plan from a provider like Tata AIG, you can buy flight cancellation insurance. It means you can raise a claim in such a scenario and get compensated for your losses.

  • Covers baggage loss
  • Covers third-party liability

Dealing with such situations without a travel insurance policy can result in serious consequences, including legal action. But if you have the right insurance policy, you can handle such situations with ease, as your insurance provider will be there to back you up.

  • Ensures stress-free time abroad

Where to buy travel insurance online?

You can purchase your desired travel insurance policy online, depending on your requirements. All you need to do is visit Tata AIG and get your quote. Once you get a quote, either you buy it directly, or the insurance provider will get in touch with you to understand your requirements and provide a suitable travel policy.

If you are not sure which insurance plan to buy, it is recommended to compare travel insurance policies of different types and select the one that matches your budget and requirements.

Final words

From dealing with health-related expenses to covering your unwanted flight cancellation and baggage loss, there are many other reasons why it becomes necessary to invest in the right travel policy.

So, ensure all-round protection on your international trip by having a suitable travel policy .

Disclaimer: This article has been produced on behalf of Tata AIG by the Times Internet's Spotlight team.

Importance of travel insurance in Asian countries

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Zelenskyy: Some Arab countries 'turning a blind eye' to Russian invasion of Ukraine

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrives at Jeddah airport, Saudi Arabia, Friday, May 19, 2023.

The Ukrainian leader is making his first trip to Saudi Arabia, meeting leaders at the Arab League summit in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Friday that "some" Arab countries were "turning a blind eye" to Russia's invasion of his country.

He made the comments while attending the Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia.

"Unfortunately, some countries in the world and here among you are turning a blind eye to these illegal prisons and annexations," he said, calling on regional leaders to "take an honest look" at the war.

Zelenskyy thanked Saudi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his "support for the territorial integrity" of Ukraine, during the first bilateral visit to the country. Zelenskyy also invited bin Salman, whose country recently coordinated its oil policy with Moscow, to pay a return visit to Kyiv. 

In a message posted on Twitter before his arrival in Jeddah, President Zelenskyy said he would also be talking about a peace "formula" and energy cooperation. 

The Ukrainian leader said he would discuss the treatment of Muslim Tatars living under Russian occupation in the Crimean Peninsula. 

Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev accompanied Zelenskyy on the visit.

  • Ukraine war: African peace plan, Russian assets frozen, and Zelenskyy replenishes weapons and ammo
  • WATCH: Zelenskyy secures more weapons on whistlestop tour of Europe
  • Ukraine's President Zelenskyy to attend G7 in Japan, as Hiroshima summit begins

In recent months, Saudi Arabia has restored diplomatic ties with Iran, is ending the kingdom’s yearlong war against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen and has led the push for Syria’s return to the Arab League.

The Saudis have even offered to mediate between Ukraine and Russia, following a prisoner exchange deal they brokered last year.

Arab states have remained largely neutral over Russia's war on Ukraine, with many maintaining close ties to Moscow.

Saudi Arabia pledged €370 million in aid to Ukraine earlier this year and has voted in favour of UN resolutions calling on Russia to end its invasion and refrain from annexing Ukrainian territory.

Arab leaders were also joined by Syrian President Bashar Assad for the first time in more than a decade

Focus on Sudan

As leaders from the 22-member league meet in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, attention is expected to shift to Sudan.

The East African country's top generals - both of whom have been backed by Saudi Arabia and other Arab states - have been battling each other across the country for over a month, killing hundreds and sparking an exodus from the capital, Khartoum, and elsewhere.

Genral Abdel-Fattah Burhan, leader of the armed forces, and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, agreed to a pact in Jeddah last week that promised safe passage for civilians fleeing the fighting and protection for aid groups.

Saudi Arabia and the United States have meanwhile been leading international efforts to broker a lasting truce.

The fighting has killed over 600 people and caused tens of thousands to flee their homes.

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