Thanks to troubling news reports, terrorist incidents and heart-breaking civil wars, many tourists have chosen to avoid travel in the Middle East in recent years. But while these issues are pressing in some regions, they do not exist everywhere.
There are still some areas of the Middle East which are stable, safe places for tourists to visit and – for those who brave it – historic, cultural and visual wonders to explore.
The best advice I can give is to keep up to date with current affairs and advice in the places you plan to visit. Make sure that you take out travel insurance to cover you just in case something does go wrong.
Here’s my selection of spectacular, currently safe, places to visit for those who want to travel in the Middle East.
Don’t be put off by its neighbours, Syria and Iraq; security within Jordan is a top priority and the country itself is stable. Stay away from the borders with these two troubled nations and instead visit the beautiful sights in Jordan’s interior, such as the stunning city of Petra and the dramatic desert landscape of Wadi Rum.
Petra was carved into the rocky mountain landscape in the first century. Taking the 1km trail through a narrow gorge or ‘siq’ and discovering the massive façade of Petra’s Al-Khazneh, carved into the mountain itself, is truly an experience of a lifetime.
From Petra, visitors can take a tour into the surrounding Wadi Rum desert to discover the strange, bewitching beauty of the landscape. Explore the desert on a half-day tour, or begin to feel part of it and experience the Bedouin way of life with an overnight stay in a desert camp.
With its extensive coastline stretching from the Gulf of Oman down to the Arabian Sea, Oman offers great opportunities for water exploration such as scuba diving and snorkelling.
Relatively new to tourism, Oman has invested heavily in its tourist industry over the past decade. The result is that both the tourist facilities and ease of travel around the country have greatly improved. And there’s certainly plenty to reward those who travel in Oman.
One of the best places to start your journey in Oman is in its capital, Muscat. Explore the city’s old town and discover the sultan’s palace and the old Portuguese forts. Then move on to the historic town of Nizwa, from which you can explore the beautiful, mountainous landscape of the Western Hajar.
Take time to relax in the stunning coastal area of Al Batinah where, from September to November, you may just see green sea turtles coming on to the beaches to nest.
Take a cruise down the 16km waterway, Khor Ash Sham; as you pass by picturesque hamlets, while your boat is accompanied by pods of dolphins, you’ll discover how little has changed through the ages in Oman.
There is so much to see for those with an interest in travel in the Middle East. As long as you keep up to date with what’s going on in the region, I am sure that you will have the trip of a lifetime.
Patrick Chong is the Managing Director of InsureMore, an award-winning team of specialists in global single trip, family and annual travel insurance for those planning to travel in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, USA, Australia and anywhere else in the world. Besides offering great deals on travel insurance, Patrick also collects and shares the best free travel competitions to help his clients get the most out of their holidays.