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Middle East

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Travel Guide Middle East

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Introduction

Kuwait Towers

Kuwait Towers

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The Middle East is not a continent, but rather a region spanning across south-western Asia, southeastern Europe and north-eastern Africa. This part of the world is often in the news, most notably due to the recent war in Iraq and other civil unrest in countries like Israel, Lebanon and Yemen.

Despite the bad publicity, the Middle East has a lot to offer to travellers – historically and culturally. The Pyramids of Giza, Palmyra in Syria, Petra in Jordan and Persepolis in Iran are reminders of the region's glorious past. The largest sandsea in the world, the Rub' al Khali, literally the Empty Quarter in English, can be found here in the Middle East. In fact, large parts are dry deserts but still many people manage to live here, mainly along major rivers like the Nile and Tigris.

Travelling in this region is pleasantly easy. However, the differences in travelling costs between the cheaper countries like Iran and Syria and the more developed places like Oman and Dubai can be huge. Spend some time in this part of the world and enjoy the sights and experiences it has to offer.

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Geography

Despite having no consequent borders, there are huge similarities between many of the countries. Like mentioned above, huge parts are arid. But grasslands, fertile river beds and moutainous areas are not absent at all. The southern part of the Arabian Peninsula mainly consists of sandseas and mountains. Especially the southwest of Saudi Arabia and parts of Oman and Yemen have high moutains with possible snowfall in winter. More to the north, the mountains are lower and sand makes places for rocks and gravel and lowlying deserts like the Syrian Desert and Iranian Desert can get extremely hot in summer and cold in winter. High mountains can be found in the west and north of Iran as well, with ski slopes just an hour away from Tehran. Many of the countries are bordered by waters. The Mediterrean Sea in the west, the Black Sea and Caspian Sea to the north and the Red Sea, Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean to the south all form borders of the Middle East. Rivers like the Euphrates and Tigris form the backbone of Iraq and most people live along these rivers.

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Sights and Activities

Major Cities

Landmarks

See also: Famous Landmarks

  • Burj al Arab, built to resemble a sail of a vessel, is a famous luxury "7-star deluxe hotel" (according to its official website) in Dubai.
  • Giza Pyramids and the Great Sphinx
  • Krak des Chevaliers, a fortress originally built in 1031 for the emir of Aleppo, was the headquarters of the Knights Hospitaller during the Crusades. It is one of the most important preserved medieval military castles in the world.
  • Luxor Temple - in Luxor, Egypt
  • Mecca and Medina – the holiest cities in Islam, in Saudi Arabia
  • The Kuwait Towers are a set of three towers – 187 metres, 123 metres, 145.8 metres – built in 1979 in Kuwait City.
  • Palmyra, a ancient city in Syria once known as the Bride of the Desert, fell into disuse after the 16th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Persepolis, an ancient citadel of the Persian Empire
  • Petra, an ancient city in Jordan
  • Old Walled City of Shibam, Yemen
  • The temples at Abu Simbel

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Getting There

The Middle East has good connections by plane from a wide range of countries, including direct flights from many Asian, African and European cities and several direct flights from the USA and Australia as well. Dubai probably is the main hub which has by far the most flights and for the best prices. You can enter the Middle East overland easily from mainland Africa (Egypt), Europe (through Turkey) and Asia (route from India and Pakistan). Ferries connect some countries, mainly across the Red Sea and Persian Gulf.

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This is version 35. Last edited at 13:13 on Apr 2, 14 by Utrecht. 126 articles link to this page.

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