Hidden Treasures and New Wonders: Why You Should Visit the Middle East
By Abbi Browning
Ever-growing in the media’s attention, the Middle East hasn’t been portrayed in the most positive light.
Regular disputes between Syria and Israel have deterred travellers from this region, causing many of these incredible sites to be the lowest in public interest they’ve ever been. However, because of the recent plunge in numbers, tourists are now able to freely enjoy a remote experience whilst seeing some of the most famous landmarks in the world.
Here are the best Middle Eastern locations making a soaring comeback.
Despite much of the conflict surrounding it, Jordan is actually the safest country within the Middle East, thanks to its first class security. Here, tourists are able to reef dive the Red Sea, walk the deserts of Wadi Rum, float in the Dead Sea, or visit its hotspot, Petra.
Dubbed part of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Petra is one of the few world heritage sites that struggles to reach 750,000 visitors annually. Within the city, you can stand in the infamous façade to The Treasury (or Al Khazneh), or hike through the mile-long gorge of natural red sandstone, all of which would leave you enthralled by the experience.
Egypt is probably the most well known among this list, leaving little need for an introduction.
In Cairo, guided cruises along the Nile offer a way to not only enjoy the river itself, but also to see more iconic structures such as the Pyramids of Giza and Great Sphinx. Outside of the capital, the Theban Necropolis is another favourite, where the Valley of the Kings and other monuments rest.
Egypt is also known for its cuisine, attracting those with culinary interests. Some examples of popular dishes are Ful Mudammas (Broad Beans in Sauce) and Koushari (Lentils, Macaroni, Rice, and Chickpeas).
The Burj Khalifa is definitely Dubai’s claim to fame, holding the world record as the tallest building. Seen as a luxury getaway to some, the grand hotels and vast skyscrapers among the metropolis make the city evermore alluring for those who prefer staying at busier stops.
Another breath-taking site is the Dubai Fountain’s displays. With water and lights spanning over a 30-acre area, Dubai now has the world's largest choreographed fountain system. Being compared to the Bellagio in Vegas, the Dubai Fountain is definitely a bucket list addition, along with the pyrotechnics on the Burj Khalifa.
Cappadocia is the perfect location for the traveller with interests in scenic views and luscious locations. It is also famous for its iconic hot air balloon tours and cave hotels.
The region itself is scattered with soaring boulders and caverns, which have been utilised for cave hotels and other stunning spots. Güllüdere Valley is a tourist dream for hiking trials, where you can visit ancient carvings and intricate rock-cut churches dotted across the desert.
Cyprus fulfills any needs for a typical scorching sun holiday, with people often visiting Pafos and other quaint towns for a seaside getaway. What tourists often don’t do, however, is partake in some of the beautiful mountain treks on the island.
The North Coast can provide for both types of holidaymakers, with historical castles filled with mystery as well as the picturesque beaches that are more commonly associated with Cyprus.
Qatar is regularly overlooked by thrill-seekers, but it is actually rapidly growing in terms of popularity, due to its extreme sports. The more adventurous tourist could try jet-skiing, kite-surfing, or even camel racing along the country’s dedicated tracks.
The Museum of Islamic Art can also provide a look into its cultural backgrounds, if you seek more intellectual opportunities on your travels.