The Arab world is gaining eminence as one of the top tourist destinations for adventurous travelers all over the world. The diversity of the region makes for the perfect romantic getaway or adventure expedition. Instead of travelling far and wide, why not discover the beauty of the GCC and its neighbours this summer?
WTM brings you three tantalising Middle Eastern destinations to whet yourappetite for a spot of wanderlust.
From magnificent mountains, to colourful souqs and pristine sandy beaches, Oman is a land of wonders aplenty. Steeped in Arabian heritage, the country’s modern development has been unhurried in comparison to its wealthy neighbours. Home to the largest contiguous desert in the world, the Rub’ al Khali or Empty Quarter is 250,000 square miles of sand, known for its peace and tranquility. Bathe in the green waters of the beautiful Bimmah Sinkhole, or watch precious Green and Hawksbill turtles hatching between January and August at the beach of the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa.
Crumbling Portuguese forts and peaceful fishing villages line the coast’s secluded shorelines making for postcard-perfect surroundings.
Jordan is home to magnificent, contrasting landscapes ranging from modern architecture to historic cities, coupled with gracious hospitality.
Besides the famous ancient red stone city of Petra, the Roman and Ottoman site of Umm Qais in the far north offers impressive views over the Sea of Galilee with just a few tourists. Escape the sweltering summer by diving and snorkelling in the clear waters of the Red Sea, where coral reefs and sea life await just beneath the surface. Enjoy the red dunes of the Wadi Rum desert whilst listening to a hypnotising Bedouin ballad in one of the many luxury tents. When you tire of exploring the country’s rich past, head to Amman’s buzzing downtown, rife with funky stores, cafes, and galleries.
The hills in the north are rich with olive trees and overlook the Jordan Valley, which in turn runs down to the Dead Sea. No trip to Jordan is complete without smothering oneself in the nutrient-rich soil of the Dead Sea.
Besides the glamorous environs and marvelous cuisine, Beirut is a vibrant city boasting remnants of pre-historic settlements, hip nightclubs and a shopper’s paradise. Despite being subject to negative attention in the media due to its political situation, the capital is considered safe and will keep you on your toes from early morning until the wee hours. Amble along the streets of Ashrafieh to discover quaint cafes, shops and galleries, or have a picnic in the dreamy René Moawad Garden in Sanayeh. Make sure to snack on some Kaak, which is a traditional stuffed bread sprinkled with sesame.
History buffs can explore the glorious Roman temple at Baalbek, also known as the city of the sun, dotted with imperial Roman columns soaring over the skyline of the Bekaa Valley.
Various festivals bring the streets to life in the summer, and partygoers can dance into the early hours at any of the notoriously alluring night spots.