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Robes, high rise buildings, sandy deserts and an oil related booming economy are some of the ideas that pop up when one thinks of the Middle East. Assigned a list of stalwart countries and cities, that each are holders of ancient civilizations and history, the Middle East is often a misunderstood term when it comes to modern geopolitics. However, no matter what, the Middle East with its old world charm coupled with fantastic modern amenities and architecture is a prized tourist destination because of the warmth of its people, its melodious languages, its wonderful cuisines and its ability to retain the aura of fundamentals while trudging along the future.
The place from where Judaism, Christianity and Islam emerged and spread, the melting pot of different religious and spiritual differences as well as where a number of migrants have set up home and shop from across the globe the Middle East stands out on the global map as an unique conglomeration of diversity, underlain with a subtle cultural unity.
Middle East Countries
There is no clear cut definition of the countries that find themselves within the Middle East region.
However, some of the most popular destinations of Middle East are Dubai, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Amman, Beirut, Damascus, Mecca as well as the Red Sea, Persepolis, Petra and more.
Dubai the most visited city in the UAE is known for its towering modern constructions, luxury shopping malls, gold and spice markets and its massive influx of migrant working class population. The Burj Khalifa one of the tallest buildings of the world sets the mark for modern architecture in the city that is fraught with many such icons such as, the Artificial Islands, the Burj Al Arab, Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates and the Dubai Museum.
Istanbul the connector between the east and west of the world reflects the cultures and architecture of the Roman and Ottoman rules. The open air Hippodrome or the Byzantine Hagia Sophia are different from the Ottoman built Sultan Ahmed Mosque or the Topkapi Palace. The Spice Market, Galata Bridge, the Taksim Square are some other attractions of the city. Munch on the patso or kumpir or take stroll in the historical bazaars, Istanbul in Turkey lingers between space and time and never let’s go of a ‘déjà vu.’
Jerusalem one of the oldest cities of the world is considered the spiritual site of the world’s major three religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Both Palestine and Israel claim authority over the city and the politics of the region continue to mystify, however, Jerusalem remains the cultural and spiritual highlight of the Middle East, with many religious sites for all three religions sometimes distinctly identified, but more often seamlessly integrating with one into the other.
Amman the capital of Jordon with its ancient ruins is very much a modern city. The magnificent Citadel home to the pillars of the Roman Temple of Hercules, the Ummayyad Palace, Roman Theatre and Jordon Museum are some important tourist destinations. However, getaways from here include the Dead Sea and Jerash a site of Roman ruins.
Many include Egypt as a part of the Middle East, and hence Cairo is an important tourist spot for the Pyramids, a wonder of the world. Besides, the cruise on the Nile, the main city central district as well as the world renowned Egyptian Museum are some of the many attractions that Cairo boasts of. Egypt also is home to Luxor the pharaoh’s capital that has stunning archeological references, Alexandria for its ancient and Roman landmarks as well as beaches and Sharm el Sheikh the popular beach resort town.
The Middle East is of course a collection of many wonderful cities that merit a visit due to their specific historical and modern nuances, as well as, their natural settings such as, Muscat, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Tehran, Mecca, Ankara and more.
Besides the cities and towns, the Middle East is also where some of the world’s most iconic geographical features reside. The Red Sea, Dead Sea, the Nile, Wadi Rum, Sea of Galilee and more natural landscapes that range from vast deserts, to green valleys and large rivers makes the Middle East region a great natural wonder of the world too.
The fact that many countries combine to form the Middle East, it is of no surprise that it boasts of a magnificent platter of cuisines that are an envy of the entire world. Lebanese, Arabian, Mediterranean cuisines, that have given the world the hummus, shawarma, baklava, mejadra, pita, falafel and many more lip smacking dishes are the pride of the Middle East.
The Middle East, is an explosive yet synchronized blend of ancient, past as well as modern worlds, all finding place in their trademark ways in this often disturbed in parts yet peaceful in others region. But what one no one really knows, is how goose bumps arise when ancient archeological sites loom large, or how the jaw drops on viewing the world’s tallest building, what a sweet toned conversation can touch and how can the land that gave us One Thousand and One Nights draw us in to a soothing attractiveness that is hard to shake off. For all this and more you need to jet off to the heart of the world called the Middle East.