Top 10 places you need to visit in the Middle East

By Marion Fernandez
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Top 10 places you need to visit in the Middle East

Marion Fernandez
 
 
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Following the Arab Spring, and even some time before that event due to years of turmoil in some Middle Eastern countries, traveling to the Middle East has seemed a little dangerous for a lot of travelers. Especially given the rise of the extremist group ISIS and the Syrian Civil War, it would make most people leery of venturing into such a politically turbulent area.

But the Middle East is full of so much beauty and historical significance that visiting it will give you a view of history that you cannot get otherwise. For many of us, the various cultures of the Middle East are unknown. Exposing ourselves to new views of humanity is enlightening to say the least. So, where can you travel to in the Middle East? We have some ideas listed below for you, but do remember, above all else, use your common sense when traveling to a foreign destination.

1. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai is an international city that screams wealth – but there is a lot to take in if you are visiting.
Dubai is an international city that screams wealth – but there is a lot to take in if you are visiting.

Let’s start the list off with one of the safest places in the Middle East that you can visit. Keep in mind that Dubai is also one of the most expensive cities in the world. With man-made islands, skyscrapers to set records, and even an indoor full-size amusement park, there is a lot to take in here. Outside of the conspicuous demonstrations of wealth, the culture itself is pretty westernized, though you may catch glimpses of more traditional culture in less populated areas of the city.

2. The Nile, Egypt

The Pyramids are Wonders of the World, and it would be a shame not to cross them off your bucket list.
The Pyramids are Wonders of the World, and it would be a shame not to cross them off your bucket list.

Thankfully, despite all of the turmoil that Egypt went through a few years back, visiting the pyramids in Egypt is still completely available. Since tourism is such a huge part of the country’s income, they have made great strides to ensure that tourists are still safe when visiting, so don’t take the Pyramid of Giza off your bucket list just yet.

3. Kadisha Valley, Lebanon

Hike through picturesque landscapes to get a glimpse into some of the oldest monasteries in the world
Hike through picturesque landscapes to get a glimpse into some of the oldest monasteries in the world

Beirut may be the most well-known area of Lebanon, but that does not mean it is the only place you can visit. Beirut itself is considered to be one of the most culturally diverse and liberal cities in all of the Middle East. If you want to escape the city, however, you should pay a relaxing visit to Kadisha Valley. Complete with some of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world, the valley has a lot of world history contained within. You will understand why there are monasteries around there with just a hike through the amazing natural caves and experience the solitude and peace.

4. Petra, Jordan

Another World Wonder, this is an absolute must-see for any avid traveler. An ancient city, you are safe here within a war torn zone
Another World Wonder, this is an absolute must-see for any avid traveler. An ancient city, you are safe here within a war torn zone

Despite all of the war that has been happening around Jordan, Jordan remains one of the safest places to visit in the Middle East. The country takes security extremely seriously and they have no tolerance for violent crimes of any type. Petra is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The city was founded around 600 BC and remarkably, the architecture still remains. The Nabateans carved the rock, which remains in place now. If you can get to Petra you absolutely should.

5. Erbil, Iraq

View of the castle in the middle of Hawler, Kurdistan – Author: Jan Kurdistani – CC BY-SA 2.0
View of the castle in the middle of Hawler, Kurdistan – Author: Jan Kurdistani – CC BY-SA 2.0

The Iraq War unfortunately left an impression of the entire country as being a place of war. While there is still turmoil going on in some places, the entire country is not currently at war. The city of Erbil has been there since 2500 BC. Of course, that means that many of the world’s oldest civilizations have had a presence in the area. The city is pro-western and even with its close proximity to ISIS, the city feels completely removed as if you have stepped into another world.

6. The Dead Sea

You’ll never sink in the Dead Sea, which will keep you afloat due to the high salt content
You’ll never sink in the Dead Sea, which will keep you afloat due to the high salt content

The Dead Sea touches three different countries: Jordan, Israel, and Palestine. You will have to visit one of the countries in order to have access to it. The sea has the highest salt density in the entire world while amazingly also being the lowest point on the Earth. You can swim in the sea, but due to the high density of salt, you will not be able to sink.

7. Northern Israel

The beauties of Israel
The beauties of Israel

Israel is unarguably still an area full of a lot of danger. But that is why we have only included the northern part of Israel rather than the southern. Away from the issues of the south, northern Israel is safe and full of a lot of things for visitors to do. With wine tasting, national parks, and historic sites. Nazareth is located in Northern Israel as well and has plenty of good tales and legends told about it.

8. Nicosia, Cyprus

The Mediterranean landscape will beckon you with open arms
The Mediterranean landscape will beckon you with open arms

Cyprus might be an unusual addition to the list, but it is still technically part of the Middle East, even if it is an island in the Mediterranean. Cyprus, like many older countries, has a rocky history that has left it divided. Still, even with the turmoil between the Turks and the Greeks, it is a relatively safe place that you can visit. The island has some of the oldest wells in the world and human life has been traced there back to 10,000 BC. Due to its central location, Cyprus has been in the middle of a lot of wars in the Middle East throughout the centuries, leaving the island with a rich history.

9. Doha, Qatar

Head there for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, or simply go there to try your hand at camel racing – the choice is yours!
Head there for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, or simply go there to try your hand at camel racing – the choice is yours!

Previously not considered a tourist hotspot, Qatar has now put itself on the map. The country is scheduled to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which is a huge deal. It is a safe country to visit and is also rich with great beaches to enjoy. If you would like to get a taste of the more traditional Qatar culture, you should watch camel racing, known as the sport of the sheikhs.

10. Muscat, Oman

Visit historic villages and listen to traditional tales told by storytellers
Visit historic villages and listen to traditional tales told by storytellers

Oman used to be an unknown country as far as tourists are concerned, a place that just wasn’t interested in attracting visitors. Since that attitude changed, progress has been marked. There are amazingly gorgeous beaches, sea turtles, and even dolphins to see, all of which is a little unexpected when one thinks of visiting Oman. They also have a historic village called Nizwa that you can see, where you will find storytelling and forts.

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