A centre of global influence, the Middle East is an ancient region packed with history and exotic biblical destinations, magically juxtaposed with fast growing, high-tech modern cities of futuristic flair, making it an exciting destination atop the bucket list of many intrepid travellers seeking wonder, intrigue and adventure.
Centred on the sprawling Arabian Peninsula, this stunningly beautiful, and socio-religiously complicated land which is sometimes described as the cradle of civilization, offers much to the tourist. Countries such as Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, the enchanting souks of the Gulf or the stone city of Petra, and of course Jerusalem, all so steeped in biblical history. Today Jews pray at the Western Wall, Muslims pay homage to Muhammad at the Dome of the Rock, and Christians congregate at the Church of the Holy Spectre. All are hugely rewarding destinations and truly the tip of the traveller’s iceberg here in the Middle East.
Other great ports of call for the tourist include Tehran; a bustling metropolis of 14 million people with great museums, parks, and warm friendly people. And the Iranian cuisine is spectacular! There’s Beirut; a cosmopolitan city and the commercial hub of Lebanon. Damascus; credited as being the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Istanbul; uniquely spanning two continents this city has evolved into a fascinating melting pot of East and West. And of course there’s Dubai, the most modern and progressive emirate in the UAE and the fastest developing city in the world today.
A land of mighty rivers such as the Nile and Euphrates, and even mightier deserts, the Sahara and Wadi Rum, are in stark contrast to surreal vivid green oasis landscapes that exist almost unexpectedly. And at the other end of the scale, there are the snow-capped summits of Turkey, Iran and Lebanon to round out the topographical variety of the region. A visit here truly is one of the most varied and soulful travel experiences on earth.
Ethnically, the region is extremely mixed with Arabs, Jews, Persians and Turks being the largest in number, but there are several substantial minorities such as the Kurds, Armenians and others. Almost every country in the Middle East has a Muslim majority with the notable exception being the Jewish of Israel. Iran, Iraq and Bahrain are mainly Shia nations with others mainly Sunni (both with minorities of the other) and the legal systems employed in most of these countries are variably influenced by Islamic Law.
The largest hub for flights in the region is Dubai from where you can reach virtually any point in the Middle East. Doha and Abu Dhabi also have good intercontinental connections and there are direct flights from large European hubs to most major cities in the region.
Arabic is the main language in all Middle Eastern countries except for Iran where Persian is the dominant tongue. In Turkey and Israel they speak Hebrew but Arabic is the common second language throughout.
Here are a few other great destinations for tourists to the Middle East:
- Visit the tallest building in the world in Dubai
- The stone city of Petra just south of Amman
- The caves, ruins and beaches of Lebanon
- The pyramids, museums and beaches of Egypt
- The fort, zoo and Islamic Art museum in Doha
- The museums, forts and Grand Prix circuit in Manama
- The famous Camel races, the museums and tower of Kuwait
- The Holy sites, archaeology and amazing cultures of Israel
- The Byzantine and Ottoman Relics in Istanbul, Turkey
There’s no end to the list of things to see and do in the Middle East. The management and staff of Swiss Belhotel look forward to assisting you with all your accommodation needs in the region with 2 large properties in Abu-Dhabi and hotels in Doha, Kuwait and Bahrain.
ma'a as-salaama (Goodbye) for now! We hope to welcome you to the Middle East soon.