Today, we are in the unfortunate situation where the only thing we associate with the Middle East is political turmoil, strife, and extremism. However, this transcontinental region that spans so many different nations, languages, landscapes is steeped in history, culture, and even features a few of the world’s wonders.
It’s easy to forget all about the amazing traveling adventures and experiences that are to be found here. Let’s not forget that some of the world’s oldest civilizations originated in this region that services as a critical juncture between east and west, north and south.
In this article, we want to open your eyes once more to all the richness and diversity that the Middle East has to offer. Let’s look at some of the top travel destinations and experience that are just waiting for you.
Still, a hot topic of debate and a sensitive issue for many, the conflict surrounding Jerusalem itself is an unfortunate yet telling reminder of the history and deep meaning that this city has in the world at large. The constant presence of security personnel in the streets and near the religious sites is a daily reminder and might put some off traveling here.
However, Jerusalem itself is home to so many historical, religious, and cultural sites that it’s simply a must-see for anyone that sees themselves as a world-traveller.
The Old City is home to the Temple Mount Compound that is literally surrounded by religious sites such as the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Dome of the Rock. Some might seem rather stark and uninteresting at first but merely witnessing the importance these sites have to their respective devotees is a sight in itself.
Most of us are familiar with the striking and massive edifice that is without the doubt the “poster image” for this spectacular sight. It’s called “Al Khazneh” and is a temple that features an ornate Greek-style facade that’s almost 45m in height.
However, many are amazed once they really start to explore and see the pure scope of the inner chambers consisting of tombs and temples. Carved into the huge pinkish sandstone formation in the area, it is appropriately collectively known as the “Rose City”.
So popular is this destination that a whole town has sprung up to host visitors. Wadi Musa is just a walk away from the temple grounds but most hotels offer free shuttles. The town itself is easy to reach by bus or taxi from Aqaba airport to the south (1h 51m) or Amman to the North (2h 50m).
The Great Pyramids
We almost didn’t include this one because it is so well-known all around the world. These relatively simple structures are breathtaking in their pure scope that is only compounded by the fact they were constructed thousands of years ago. How exactly this was achieved still baffles scientists and archaeologists alike.
There is little denying the fact that they are still one of the most impressive projects ever undertaken and completed by humans. Even among the 7 Wonders of the World, the Great Pyramid of Giza is special as it is the oldest structure on the list.
The most famous and most striking of destinations is the three pyramid complex bordering El Giza in Egypt which is only a short distance from the capital, Cairo. As a bonus, you can also see the equally stunning Great Sphinx of Giza.
Not surprising given its incredibly strategic location, Istanbul is one incredible conflagration of culture, history, and east meets west. Today, it is the cultural, economic, and historical centre of Turkey. However, in its previous incarnations as Byzantium and Constantinople, it was once the capital of the Byzantium half of the Roman empire.
It straddles the Bosporus strait which literally places it right in between Europe and the Middle East. As you can imagine, this resulted in it collecting a wealth of cultural and historically prominent sites and locations over the centuries.
As this city has maintained its prominence in the world at large, it is now also a shining example of old meets new with the ancient and modern sides of the city constantly juxtaposed against each other. It’s home to both skyscrapers and ancient monuments, hip coffee shops and antique storefronts. Expect to see breathtakingly beautiful mosques, lavish and exquisite palaces, and bustling bazaars that still call back to the cities ancient roots.
Now, for something a little different. Dubai has only recently risen to prominence both on the political and economic world stage as well as a popular travel destination. It’s the capital of the Emirate of Dubai and the largest and most populous city in the United Arab Emirates. Because of its strategic location, it has emerged as a global trading hub.
The huge influx of cash has seen this city turn into a marvel of excess. It, without a doubt, has one of the most impressive skylines in the world featuring some of the most impressive structures in existence such as the Burj Khalifa which is also the tallest building in the world.
Because of global business interests and its central location, it’s also a mixing pot of cultures and nationalities. This resulted in it turning into a foodie heaven with eateries catering for almost any taste and culture. It has also become a centre point for the arts in the same way.
On top of it all, it even has some amazing opportunities to get that much-needed beach and sun time in.
Maybe the most impressive thing of all is the sheer scale and pace at which things are developing in this city. It’s at the forefront of human development and progression in that sense. Just being witness to this is something that will change your whole outlook on the world.
We hope that this list has opened your eyes once again to all the amazing experiences that are awaiting you. The best thing of all is that everything on this list is in relatively close proximity at just a few hours of flight separating them and is so centrally located in the world at large. If you haven’t start packing your bags and booking flights yet, what are you waiting for? And don’t forget to spoil your loved ones back home with some red roses while you’re away!