The Middle East has long been associated with terrorism, political tension, and danger in the minds of many. However, there is a shift on the horizon. The past decade has seen more and more tourists opting to visit the Middle East and some of its gems. One of the greatest joys of traveling is experiencing different cultures. The way to do that is by traveling to parts of the world that are different and exotic when compared to our own. So let’s take a trip to six astonishing cities in the Middle East that will have you booking a flight by the time you’re done reading this article. It’s time to step outside of your comfort zone, figuratively speaking of course.
The historical city of Byblos offers much to its visitors. This is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It is an ancient Phoenician city that has been inhabited for over 7,000 years. Byblos is known for its architectural beauty and it is the place to soak in centuries of history that have shaped Lebanon and the region it’s located in. While there, you should definitely visit the Crusader Castle, Memoire Du Temps, and the old port. Byblos’ beauty and significance were acknowledged by the UNESCO back in 1984. The city is also located close to the capital of Lebanon, Beirut. Visiting Beirut, known as the party capital for almost thirty years, will be the perfect field trip for all those craving the atmosphere of a big city.
Tehran is the capital of Iran, one the world’s oldest civilizations, formerly known as Persia. Iran’s recent history has seen the country go through many difficulties and changes, and the modern Iran is seen nowhere more than in its capital. As Iran’s most liberal city, Tehran is where you will get to know the new Iran, but also the history of this great country. Golestan Palace is a complex of buildings and gardens that showcases Iran’s best. Ancient architecture, beautiful greenery and collections of art will steal your heart. A historical place, Golestan Palace is also a modern symbol of changing times. This modern side can also be felt in the rest of the city. Whether you’re enjoying the sights or some Persian cuisine, you can feel that this is the new Iran.
The capital of Qatar, one of the richest countries of the world, is best known for its cultural riches. Doha is the home to countless art events, drawing in visitors from all over the world. With the Museum of Islamic Art, an iconic building, Doha is the right place to immerse oneself in the beauty of Islamic art. The museum has a collection of Islamic art, but also art that is non-religious. However, this cultural and architectural gem of Doha is soon getting a competitor for the throne ‒ the new National Museum of Qatar, currently under construction. A work of art in its own right was designed by an award-winning architect Jean Nouvel. Envisioned as a testimony of Qatar’s history and the progress of its society, it will host historic and contemporary exhibitions. With a wide range of museums and art galleries, Doha will be the perfect place for art lovers.
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
To experience the real Saudi Arabia, go to Riyadh! This city deeply rooted in tradition, one of the wealthiest cities in the world is also the city in which you will experience true modesty and generosity. Values are held highly in the Muslim religion. The best time to visit Riyadh is during Ramadan. Ramadan, the Holy Month, is observed by Muslims as a commemoration of the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad. During this month of fasting, Muslims are more engaged in prayer. This makes Ramadan perfect for getting to know Muslim religious practices for everyone visiting. It is important to remember that when you’re visiting Riyadh, you should dress accordingly as a sign of respect. So, if you were wondering what to wear during Ramadan, women are required to wear an abaya and a niqab and men should dress modestly.
Ayia Napa, Cyprus
Travelers looking to have a relaxing holiday must visit Ayia Napa. This little old fishing village has become one of the best-known seaside places in Cyprus. With its beautiful beaches and exciting nightlife, it offers something for everybody. Families will enjoy the peace and tranquility since the Water World, a big water park, will keep the kids happy and the parents will be able to have fun visiting the medieval monastery. Younger people will easily find a party and might enjoy exploring the many small beaches and coves of the rugged Ayia Napa’s coastline. Whatever the reason to go there, you’ll return from Ayia Napa recharged and ready for your next destination.
This archeological city, also known as the Rose City, is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Petra’s famous rose-red rock-cut architecture is sure to leave you breathless, as it did the poet John William Burgon, who wrote an award-winning poem about its beauty. This deserted city was once a vibrant trade and cultural center. The beauty of the grandiose buildings is a testimony of the rich history of Petra. Visiting it will bring you closer to a time long forgotten and help you understand the power and influence this corner of the world once held.