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Middle East

Photo © Utrecht

Travel Guide Middle East



Kuwait Towers

Kuwait Towers

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The Middle East is not a continent, but rather a region spanning across western Asia. Sometimes parts of northeastern Africa (like Egypt, Libya and Sudan) are included This part of the world is often in the news, most notably due to the war in Iraq and other civil unrest in countries like Israel, Lebanon, Yemen and more recently Syria.

Despite the bad publicity, the Middle East has a lot to offer to travellers – historically and culturally. 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 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.




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.





Sights and Activities

Major Cities


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.
  • 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.
  • 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



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.

Middle East Travel Helpers

  • t_maia

    4 years of learning Arabic (not very successfully I admit), taking Middle Eastern studies at university and 3 months living in Palestine have got to be good for something - I'll try to help you the best I can.

    Ask t_maia a question about Middle East
  • Overlandin

    I spent 5 years as a Overland Tour Leader in the Middle East and Africa running tours anywhere between Istanbul and Cape Town. Plus 2 years working as a Dive master in the Red Sea.

    Ask Overlandin a question about Middle East
  • Alina.Cristian

    I was there !

    Ask Alina.Cristian a question about Middle East
  • sico

    ask me anything about jordan israel or egypt

    Ask sico a question about Middle East
  • operaaida2

    like to help others plus i have the tolls and the knowlages
    my e mail [email protected]

    Ask operaaida2 a question about Middle East

This is version 43. Last edited at 20:12 on Jun 11, 15 by Utrecht. 128 articles link to this page.

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