Top 10 Middle East Destinations to Visit in 2016

The dynamic region of Middle East is always in news, be it the sliding prices of oil barrels or the political resurgences in the region. Needless to say, the Middle East region is truly unique. It comprises the part of Arabian Gulf, Trans Jordan, Iraq and Levant, Iran, Turkey, and Egypt. This
dynamic region has seen several turbulent clashes of civilizations, holy crusades, siege of towns,
maritime trade and glorious empires flourishing and floundering.

Middle East is in turmoil but still, the region has ample attractions to pull tourists. It’s vast and timeless desert still holds some of the greatest cultural treasures of the world, be it the mighty
Pyramids or the hidden Treasury of Nabateans. You will see the past effectively mingling with
the present, as you discover ancient cities like Cairo and Istanbul. At the same, you will witness
modernity and contemporary trends that have added new elements in things to do in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other major destinations. This year, check out some of the most amazing Middle East destinations to visit in 2016!


The Iranian capital has to be the top destination of the Middle East as it rejoins the mainstream world. Tehran is a beautiful city strewn with extravagant palaces, ornamented gardens, grand boulevards and a spacious Public Square. Tehran is the dynamic heart of the country and has a vibrant cosmopolitan look and feel to it. The city might feel chaotic, dizzying and overwhelming, but once you take the walking trails and interact with the locals, all your wrong notions about Iran and Iranians will be dispelled!


Once the seat of the Romans, Byzantines, and the Ottomans, Istanbul is perhaps the only city in the world which can carry history, heritage, art, and culture, with flair. Istanbul has several layers of history and emulates a rich collection of cultural heritages ranging from the ancient to medieval ages of the glorious Ottoman Empire. Crossing the Bosphorus still feels as special as a trip in the labyrinth alleys of the Grand Bazaar. Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, and Egyptian Bazaar are a few more must-visit sights, especially if you are visiting the city for the first time. Plenty of Istanbul hotels are available all-round the year due to its well-organised tourism sector.


Egypt’s capital is now steadily gaining stability after all the turmoil and tumultuous events it has faced, and once more, tourists are dropping into the city to admire its historic markets, Coptic and Islamic neighbourhoods, and its historic bazaars. Cairo is also the gateway to Egypt’s iconic Pyramids of Giza – one of the last standing Ancient Wonders of the World, which still continues to defy age and mystifies its visitors. Cairo also has enough modern attractions like stunning museums, restaurants, and nightclubs. Cairo is also the regional hub of transport and receives plenty of flights from all over the world.


The transition from a sleepy village to a maritime trade town to a modern-day plush city, is the real story behind Dubai. Today, Dubai is a city of superlatives. The world’s tallest tower, the world’s largest shopping mall, a seven-star hotel, and many more contemporary architectural and engineering marvels are in the pipeline. However, despite the concretization, the soul of Dubai effectively survives and can be best witnessed during a stay in the desert or while sailing on a Dhow boat along the Dubai Creek. World-class gastronomy, shopping and entertainment avenues, and fine hospitality is what drives Dubai into one of the world’s most visited cities. There exists some of the world’s best hotels in Dubai and the Dubai Airport is a major international aviation hub of the region.


Controversial and contentious, but the fact is simple, you can’t ignore Jerusalem. A city which is so important to Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, that all three sides claim it and adore it with utmost reverence. 3000 years of history, tales, and legends mingle efficiently in this historic city, which still retains its old-world feel with its labyrinth of lanes, alleys, and bazaars. Visit attractions like the Dome of Rock, Al Aqsa Mosque, Temple Mount, Tower of David, and many more important and historic cultural heritages.

Abu Dhabi

The capital of UAE has decided to plot its own course rather than emulating its vibrant and glitzy neighbor Dubai. Abu Dhabi seems more authentic in terms of Emirati culture and experience and boasts of grand cultural attractions like the stunning Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Emirates Palace, and Zayed National Museum. However, it still packs a punch in terms of attractions like Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi and Yas Waterworld. Abu Dhabi has several world class hotels and most of them ensure a world class facilities and top-notch hospitality and experience.


Jordan’s vast desert and wadis seem like a land from a distant planet, and is also home to Petra, a lost city built by the Nabateans in the 5th century BC. A winding and narrow 1.2- kilometer-long, high-sided Siq (the main entrance in Petra) leads visitors to the Treasury, a grand monument which mysteriously stands till date. Over a period of time, the remaining city comes into view, invoking bemusement in the droves of tourists who brave the hot and dry weather. Explore the ruins and soon you realize that a full-fledged city functioned here once, which got lost to the world and its ruins were rediscovered in the 19th century. Amman is the nearest international airport to Petra and being the capital of Jordan, receives flights from all over the world.


Time stands still in Luxor, a land which is the middle of desert, perched on the bank of River Nile. It is a city of ancient Egyptian secrets, treasures, and heritages. The Valley of Kings, Valley of Queens, Karnak Museum, Luxor Temple are a few timeless attractions that highlight Luxor. Revel in a cruise along the Nile and watch the sun go down over the vast valley of Luxor, casting shadows on the mysterious temples and tombs. As the night creeps in, watch the stars and contemplate the true meaning of life in this timeless place that seems to defy all odds.


The capital of Oman looks amazing, especially Old Muscat, which still retains the historic architecture and the traditional look and feel. Surrounded by barren mountains amidst the backdrop of blue waters of the Gulf of Oman, white-washed Arabic houses, and occasional vegetation, make Muscat truly idyllic. The city also has notable attractions like the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Bait al Zubair, Al Alam Palace, National Museum of Oman, Royal Opera House Muscat, and many more. Muscat has some beautiful hotels which incorporates the elements of Islamic, Arabic and modern architecture.


Authorities of the Qatari capital have embarked on a massive construction spree and intend to give a major face lift to the city of Doha. Qatar is set to host the 2022 Football World Cup and is developing its infrastructure and facilities on a massive scale. The river-front and marina is revamped into a more contemporary style. The city has a mix of stunning modern architecture and includes wonderful museums like the Museum of Islamic Arts. Moreover, innovative engineering and architecture will see Doha transformed into a state-of-the-art city come the 2022 Football World Cup. Doha has some of the most contemporary hotels in the region with high-quality services.

Guest post written by Saurabh Das.

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