From the epic monuments and beguiling legacy of Egypt’s pharaohs and Biblical sites throughout Israel to the soaring glass, concrete and steel towers of the Gulf States, this region is a fascinating contrast of old and new.
Add in top-notch hotels catering to everyone from couples to families on the coasts of the Red Sea, Mediterranean, Arabian Sea and the Gulf, along with exhilarating adventure and sports opportunities, and you have the recipe for a truly memorable holiday.
Forget whatever preconceived notions you might have of the Middle East. Prepare to be dazzled and amazed by the beauty, diversity, hospitality and excitement it offers.
Egypt and Israel
Egypt and Israel both have Mediterranean and Red Sea coastlines. Wonder at the stunning temples and tombs of Luxor, site of the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes, and the awe-inspiring Pyramids of Giza close to bustling, modern-day capital Cairo then relax on a Nile cruise or by the gin-clear Red Sea, where some of the world’s best diving beckons.
Established Red Sea resorts Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada have excellent hotels plus lively nightlife and plenty of activities and excursion options, while newer resorts such as El Gouna, Makadi Bay, Sahl Hasheesh and Soma Bay, offer a quieter experience.
Explore age-old sites of Jerusalem, float on the salty Dead Sea and visit places evocatively linked to the Bible before kicking back in one of Israel’s own beachfront hotels.
From Jordan’s Red Sea beach resort, Aqaba, you can visit the nearby magnificent UNESCO-listed sites of Petra, with its buildings hewn from red sandstone rocks in a narrow gorge, and desert adventure hub Wadi Rum.
The Dead Sea lies partly in Jordan, too. North of capital Amman are the ruins of Graeco-Roman settlement Jerash, preserved since it was destroyed in an earthquake more than 1,250 years ago.
Recent decades have seen high-tech Gulf cities rise up from desert shores.
In United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi, stay in opulent hotels, shop in sprawling malls, wander world-class museums and go dune-bashing or visit a camel market in the desert. Neighbouring Dubai has become popular for short breaks, thanks to its own lavish hotels and shopping, as well as golf. Survey the city from the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. UAE emirates Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah are also emerging as Gulf holiday spots.
The eyes of the world will be on Qatar in late 2022 for the World Cup. Visit before then and see how this Gulf nation has blossomed into a magical destination where you can experience souks and the city, exciting desert adventures, nature and a wealth of culture.
In Oman, shop for hand-made silver jewellery, spices and local crafts in the souks of capital Muscat and markets of towns such as one-time capital Nizwa, enjoy a traditional lunch with Bedouins on a desert safari in the sprawling Wahiba Sands and bathe in rock pools below cascading forest waterfalls near southern city Salalah.