Many travelers don’t consider visiting this region, but it’s a vast area with a very diverse group of countries that stretches all the way from the border of Pakistan, across the Arabian Peninsula, to the eastern countries of North Africa. And more than a few nations within this region are not only safe to visit, many offer unforgettable sights and attractions that can’t be experienced back home, including these.
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Jordan is generally considered the No. 1 safest place for tourists to visit in the Middle East, though you should avoid the area within two miles of the Iraq and Syria borders. Here you’ll be able to visit Petra, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. The most photographed site in the country, as soon as you step through the narrow Siq Valley, where the massive pillars gradually rise into view, you’ll know you’re in an extraordinary place. Other highlights include floating in the Dead Sea, diving the warm waters at Aqaba, relaxing in natural hot springs that sit underneath a waterfall and exploring the world’s lowest altitude nature reserve at Mujib Biosphere reserve.
Qatar is scheduled to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and as such, it’s become increasingly noticed as an outstanding tourist destination. A true “Arabian Nights” kind of setting where you can ride camels and explore caves, this country is safe and surrounded by the sea. Visitors can discover a wealth of cultural attractions and enjoy all sorts of water sports too, from kite surfing to jet skiing. The capital of Doha is fast becoming a world class city and offers plenty of cosmopolitan experiences, including great shopping and restaurants. It also hosts the Museum of Islamic Art which is filled with priceless treasures that tell the history of the Islamic world through a collection that spans 1,400 years of masterpieces.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dubai is a safe, wealthy modern city. It’s home to the tallest building on Earth at more than 2,716 feet high, and it arguably offers the best shopping in the entire world too. Take the metro, which stops at all the major malls. In the center of Dubai Mall, there’s an aquarium and underwater zoo where you can dive with sharks and stingray, while the dazzling Dubai Fountain puts on an impressive nightly dance show with the water erupting up to nearly 460 feet to choreographed lights and music. Learn more about the country by visiting the Dubai Museum, where modern technology meets history in an underground fort showcasing the transition from village life to modern empire. If you want to experience the beach life, the eastern coast is lined with a ribbon of fine white sands that are lapped by a warm azure sea, ideal for diving and a host of other water sports.
Oman was recently listed as one of the top 10 safest countries to travel to in the world by the World Economic Forum. This tiny nation that juts out into the Sea of Oman, the Arabian Gulf and the Arabian Sea, is friendly and welcoming to westerners, including solo female travelers. It may be the very best place to visit for those who are looking to experience diving in the Middle East- if you’re a beginner, it’s the perfect country to get your certification. You’ll also have the opportunity to explore the Empty Quarter, the largest sand desert in the world, go on a camel trek, take a four-wheel drive adventure or try “dune bashing,” racing through the desert on quad bikes.
There has been quite a bit of political unrest in Egypt, but its magic is still there, and the main bases for Nile Valley tourism, Luxor and Aswan, are peaceful and well-protected, with most of the heavily visited tourist areas a long way from troubles, including the Red Sea resort area around Sharm el-Sheikh. Finally see in person what you’ve seen for years only in images: the long, winding Nile that snakes through the green valley surrounded by desert, and the mysterious Pyramids. You’ll find far fewer visitors and cheaper prices, with many of the hotels across the country sitting virtually empty. You should avoid visiting North Sinai, but the rest of the country including Cairo, Luxor, Alexandria and Sharm el-Sheikh are currently considered to be safe to visit by most governments.
Cyprus is a European-Asian nation in the Middle East. While it hasn’t always been considered safe for tourists to visit, today it is welcomes more than two million every year. The people are renowned for their hospitality and friendly nature, and everywhere you go on the island you can look forward to a warm and relaxing atmosphere. Combined with its ever present sunshine, breathtaking coastlines and even magnificent mountain scenery, Cyprus has a ton to offer. Scenic hikes can be found everywhere from the Troodos Mountains, to paths along the coast and nature trails. You can ski in the winter, while taking in spectacular views of Mount Olympus, the highest peak in Cyprus. Along the north coast, you’ll find some of the most gorgeous golden beaches along with fascinating ruins of medieval castles. In between seeing the sights, you’ll be able to sample delicious Cyprus dishes that blend Greek, Turkish, Middle Eastern and African cuisine.
The smallest country by size in the Middle East has lots to offer. Popular with travelers for its opportunity to experience a true Arab world, but without the strict application of Islamic law upon its non-Muslim minority. While there may not be nearly as many beaches in this country as there are in other Gulf states, by visiting the Al Dar Islands you can enjoy a host of water sports, including swimming, fishing and sailing across the water on a Ski-Do. In the capital city of Manama, Bab al Bahrain souk is a fabulous area to explore, with its inviting cafes and shops that sell spices, sweets, local handicrafts, tea, jewelry and more. If you want to learn more about Bahrain’s history, follow the heritage trail to check out places like the Bahrain National Museum, Al Khamis Mosque and Bahrain Fort. If you’
The Al-Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve is a must for animal lovers, where all sorts of birds, desert plants and animals like the Arabian leopard, the oryx and the Arabian Gazelle can be seen in their own natural environment.