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The Middle East offers mystery and adventure that makes for one heck of a vacation that you will never forget. With international flights headed to the region daily, getting there has never been easier. You can spend your days touring historic ruins or shopping at luxurious boutiques. Book a tour of the sand dunes, or dance your cares away at nightclubs so opulent you will want to spend every evening out until dawn. Discover why the Middle East is like no other place in the world. Book your flight to a Middle East destination today!

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Travel Guide for the Middle East

The Middle East is one of the most fascinating tourist destinations, offering cities packed with historical and religious wonders. The most popular destinations within the region are Dubai, Tel Aviv, Abu Dhabi, Jerusalem, Amman, Beirut, Doha, and Dammam. Get cheap air travel deals to the most frequented locales in the Middle East when you travel from Sydney, Australia, and elsewhere in the United States and throughout the world.

Facts About the Middle East

  • Population: Over 200 million
  • Best known for: Luxurious five-star hotels, desert, outdoor markets, ancient ruins, sacred sites, amazing malls, attractions for children, exotic food, incredible nightlife
  • Power: 240V/ 50 Hz
  • Currency: Varies according to country
  • Turkey is also part of Europe, and Egypt is also part of Africa. Iran and Afghanistan are also part of Central Asia.
  • Several world religions originate from the Middle East, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
  • The largest ethnic groups in the Middle East are the Arabs, Persians, and Turks.
  • All countries in the Middle East have a Muslim majority, except for the Jewish majority in Israel.
  • The Middle East is known for its souqs (markets), especially those in Jerusalem, Damascus, and Dubai. Expect a range of products from high quality to cheap.

Languages in the Middle East

If you take cheap international flights to the Middle East, you will hear mostly Arabic since it is the primary language of the region. However, Arabic is a secondary language in Iran (Persian), Turkey (Turkish), and Israel (Hebrew). There are many dialects of Arabic that are spoken by locals in different areas. English is common in tourist areas in big cities and among well-educated residents. English speakers can expect to be understood when they travel to Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates.

Top Attractions in the Middle East:

The Middle East is a great destination for experiencing both history and modernity. The cities in the region are slowly becoming huge urbanized areas with great architectural buildings. Aside from this, there are temples and ruins that you can visit in places like Doha and Jerusalem. Consider spending time at these featured attractions when you travel to Dubai and other top Middle Eastern destinations.

  • Burj Khalifa – The highest observation deck in the world awaits atop this Dubai landmark. At just over 1,820 feet, this unique experience allows visitors to admire stunning city views from luxury lounges. On different levels, guests can also enjoy a gorgeous view of Dubai while learning the history of this Dubai skyscraper. Book a spot on the At the Top Tour to make the most of your visit.
  • The Dubai Fountain – In Downtown Dubai, watch the largest choreographed fountain show in the world. Located on Burj Lake, the fountain’s water reaches 450 feet in the air, and its beam of light is visible from many miles away. The show occurs daily and features Arab music and classics from around the world. To get up close, book a ticket for The Dubai Fountain Lake Ride, available daily from 5:45pm – 11:15pm.
  • Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – As the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates, this incredible structure is an Abu Dhabi landmark. It can hold approximately 40,000 people, and features the largest marble mosaic and largest carpet in the world. Take the free hour-long guided tour during your visit.
  • Yas Island – Known for hosting the Grand Prix every November, Yas Island is also a hugely popular entertainment destination year-round. Attractions include Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld, and Yas Marina, all providing fun activities for the whole family. Ask your hotel concierge for great deals on Yas Island attractions.
  • Old Jaffa – In southern Tel Aviv, Jaffa is a cultural and culinary hotspot, featuring art galleries, theatres, restaurants, and boutiques. Older merchants have integrated with the new developments, so you can still find hummus restaurants, fish stands, family-run bakeries, and a flea market. Jewish, Christian, and Arab cultures mix here, creating a diverse but united community.
  • Yarkon Park – Millions of visitors from around the world flock the Tel Aviv’s largest park every year. Park attractions include six gardens, sports facilities, a water park, concert venues, and lakes. The Rock Garden is particularly impressive, so don’t miss it. Consider a tour of the park via bicycle. You can rent a bike onsite, and explore the attractions at your own pace.

Best Times to Visit the Middle East

Winter months are an awesome time to visit when temperatures are most comfortable. Depending on where you are, temperatures can be surprisingly cool considering it is a desert region. Summer months are hot, hot, hot, often reaching over 100°F during the day. Check the weather online before you travel, so you can pack appropriately.

Weather in the Middle East

  • Expect heat in desert areas even during the spring.
  • Countries near the water, like the south coast of Yemen and the Mediterranean side of Lebanon, enjoy milder temperatures.
  • During the summer, the whole region experiences very hot weather, making it somewhat uncomfortable for travel, visiting attractions, and day tours.
  • Also in the fall, warm temperatures are common.
  • Winter usually sees much colder temperatures, especially in the mountainous areas.

Middle East Tour Options

  • Big Bus Tour Dubai – This hop-on, hop-off day tour of Dubai includes a prerecorded guide in 12 languages. Sightsee throughout Dubai on the Beach Tour, City Tour, or Marina Tour. Explore attractions like the Burj Al Arab and traditional souks. You can book a 24-hour tour or a 48-hour tour. The bus is air-conditioned, and your ticket includes many complimentary amenities.
  • Eat Tel Aviv – Start your culinary tour of Tel Aviv at the Jaffa Port. From there, you’ll embark on a walking tour of Tel Aviv that lasts about 4 to 5 hours. Explore the city’s cultural heritage through local cuisine. Enjoy Israel’s best hummus, along with Arab foods, and a trip to the Carmel Market.
  • Abu Dhabi Desert Safari – Choose a morning safari or evening safari to suit your travel preferences. This desert excursion includes transportation to and from your hotel, as well as food and beverages. Activities may include a camel farm visit, camel riding, sand boarding, dune bashing in a 4×4, sunset views, henna tattoos, a campfire, and belly dancing.

Transportation in the Middle East

  • Plane – Take cheap flights to destinations within the region. Many airports offer frequent connections via cheap airlines and major airlines.
  • Car – If you want to drive, some car rental companies will require that you have an international license and reserve a car before your flight lands. If you are driving, be sure to follow the speed limit as cameras capture offenders, and you can then receive a pricey ticket. If you don’t want to drive because it’s more dangerous to drive in the Middle East than it is in the Unites States and Europe, then get around in taxis, which are usually air-conditioned for your comfort. Note that at peak times, such as rush hour, it can be difficult to hail a taxi, so plan ahead if you are in a hurry.
  • Train – Train travel is very limited in the Middle East. Most countries offer limited service between cities, and little to no service between countries.
  • Bus – Bus travel is more realistic than train travel. There’s an extensive network of buses throughout the Middle East.

Middle East Travel Safety Tips

  • You can drink alcohol in the Middle East, but usually only at international hotels. You will often have to show your passport, so be sure to bring it along.
  • Leave any skimpy clothes at home as the locales are typically quite conservative and showing excess skin can offend.
  • Be sure that you purchase travel insurance because medical mishaps here can cost a fortune if you need to seek out emergency care.
  • Note that most religious and cultural sites require that arms and legs are covered, so carry a light sweater around in your bag just in case. Shorts outside of the hotel are not appropriate, even for men. Swimsuits are okay near the pool, but make sure that you cover yourself when you go back inside the hotel.
  • Depending on where you are, tap water is generally okay, but it is better to go with bottled water.
  • Check to see if there are travel warnings for the city you plan to visit before you travel there.
  • Hotels often have taxes that vary according to city. Find out if your hotel has additional charges before you book to avoid extra fees.
    You should not sit in a way that may show your host the soles of your feet.
  • Public displays of affection and hand holding should be avoided.
  • Avoid engaging in a political conversation with strangers.
  • Haggling or bargaining is common in markets for souvenirs, but not for food, and not for products with fixed prices. It’s okay to walk away from an unsatisfactory deal.
  • Due to the desert climate, dehydration is common, so drink lots of water.

Middle East Airport Tips

  • Most international airports have lounges for business class flight passengers and first class flight passengers.
  • Airports often overdo air conditioning, so make sure you have a sweater or coat.
  • Ensure you have the correct currency handy as cash payments are often expected for taxis. Currency exchange service is offered at all airports.
  • Limo or shuttle service can be arranged by your hotel by calling ahead.
  • Alcohol will usually be quarantined at the airport. You will receive a receipt which you can use to get it back on your way out of the country.
  • All airports have fast-food options, so you can get a quick bite to eat before or after flights.
  • Dubai International Airport (DXB) is the largest airport in the middle east, and the base for Emirates Airline.
  • DXB is known for its duty-free shopping, but prices aren’t cheap.
  • DXB has 3 terminals, all with dining options.
  • Abu Dhabi International Airport is the second busiest airport after DXB, and home to Etihad Airways, which expanded its service to include the United States and Australia.
  • Some passengers book flights to DXB, and then travel to Abu Dhabi via bus or taxi.
  • Ben Gurion International Airport is a 20-minute drive from Tel Aviv.

Best Restaurants in the Middle East

The restaurants in the Middle East will have you wishing there were more than three meals in a day. The range of dining options is almost mind-boggling, and you can find almost any dish you can dream up in each and every city. World-class chefs have made this one of the best dining destinations in the world. You will want to return again and again to this region to sample not just the regional tastes and flavors, but also international cuisine.

Fine Dining in the Middle East

  • La Petite Maison, Dubai – Dining in Dubai doesn’t get any better than this award-winning French-flavored superstar. Reservations are a must as this place is super popular.
  • Marco Pierre White Steakhouse and Grill, Abu Dhabi – Some of the best restaurants in the Middle East are located inside hotels that cater to international guests, and this Michelin-rated elegant establishment is no exception. Expect magic to be served up with impeccably plated food and stunning desserts.
  • Catit, Tel Aviv – People often overuse the words “fine dining,” but at Catit, the phrase does not go far enough. It is positively innovative artwork on a plate that will wow even the most discerning foodies.
  • Olea at The Four Seasons, Amman – The setting is effortlessly chic, but it seeks to make you feel like you are dining at home. Olea is known for their sawani (a meat and vegetable dish), but they also do a stellar brunch on Fridays where you can dine on their terrace in style.
  • Market Jean-George, Doha – Any time you have the chance to sample the food of this world-famous chef, book a table as fast as you can. This chef serves up international food that dazzles on the plate. You will want to save room to try as many courses as you can, so this may be an occasion to skip lunch and go overindulge at dinner.
  • Burgundy, Beirut – It can be tough to score a table at this cozy restaurant, but it is worth the trouble to try. The menu is a French lover’s dream, and the wine list is divine.
  • Asahi Pan-Asian Restaurant, Dammam – Inside the Sheraton Dammam Hotel, this Pan-Asian restaurant serves Japanese and Chinese classics like sushi, sashimi, and tempuras.

Mid-Range Restaurants the Middle East

  • Lal Qila, Dubai – This Mughlai themed restaurant features décor reminiscent of medieval India. The all-you-can-eat Asian fusion buffet keeps guests returning for more. If you miss it in Dubai, check out the Abu Dhabi location.
  • Café Arabia, Abu Dhabi – For a taste of Arabian culture, travel to this new eatery that seeks to spread peace and love to visitors from around the world. Dining at this cozy café is more like visiting a friend’s home, adding a sense of community to the experience. Stop by for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
  • Orna and Ella, Tel Aviv – If you’re seeking comfort food in Tel Aviv, this is the place to go. It’s a favorite among locals for its mouthwatering menu, especially the sweet potato pancakes. The servers are friendly, and the vibe is intimate yet very social, often with long lines to get in.

Cheap Eats the Middle East

  • Abu Hassan, Tel Aviv – For the best hummus in Israel, go to this Tel Aviv institution. It has been a local favorite for about 50 years, and its popularity continues to grow among residents and tourists. Foodies from around the world travel here to try the hummus. Arrive as early as you can because they close for the day when the hummus runs out.
  • Sumaq Grill, Abu Dhabi – This fast-casual restaurant serves authentic Middle Eastern food made with fresh, natural ingredients. Order a wrap, salad, or bowl with beef, chicken, or falafel, and add vegetables and sauces. Located in Al Seef Village Mall and at Al Bateen Park.
  • Hatam, Dubai – Throughout the United Arab Emirates, you’ll find this restaurant chain serving Persian cuisine. Since 1989, customers have enjoyed great service and delicious food in a casual environment. If you’re in Dubai, try the location in the Dubai Mall.
  • Al Farooj Fresh, UAE – This fast-casual restaurant chain specializes in grilled chicken. Cheap flights to the United Arab Emirates will lead you to nearly 20 locations throughout the country. In Dubai, you can try this healthy fast-food in the food court at Mall of the Emirates.

Best Middle Eastern Hotels

If you want a home away from home, the luxury hotel that you stay in will definitely take care of that. Whether you want to explore urbanized Dubai, the mosques in Istanbul, historic Persia/Iran, or Jerusalem, the hotel you stay in adds extra spice to your holiday. Here are some of the best hotels that you can book in the Middle East region:

  • Burj Al Arab, Dubai – There’s no shortage of stunning, swanky hotels in Dubai, but nobody does luxury quite like the Burj Al Arab. This architectural marvel is so impressive, it tops our list of the most stunning in the city.
  • Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi – Not only is the location ideal and central, the property is an iconic part of the city just waiting to impress you. The hotel pools and gardens are totally inviting. Why wouldn’t you want to stay in a proper palace on holiday?
  • The Norman, Tel Aviv – This contemporary boutique hotel is certainly sophisticated in style and service. The location is right in the heart of it all, and the rooms are a posh oasis in an urban setting.
  • The St. Regis Doha – This hotel is total elegance with restaurants that will have foodies not wanting to leave the property. Butler service is a cornerstone of your stay, so you will find yourself pampered from check-in to check-out. Located in a gorgeous area of the West Bay, the sublime hotel pool allows for hours of relaxation.
  • Movenpick Resort and Dead Sea Spa, Amman – Five-star luxury is surprisingly affordable in Amman, so you have no excuse not to indulge. This sprawling resort is located at the lowest point on the earth, and the waters are said to be healing.
  • Qasr Al Sharq, Jeddah – This hotel sits on the edge of the Red Sea and does not skimp on luxury. The rooms have an Arabian nights type of feel, and the spa is world-class.
  • Four Seasons Hotel Beirut – Four Seasons Hotels can always be counted upon for a superior stay and great staff. The property in Beirut will not disappoint. The spa and restaurants inside this hotel are the best in the city.
  • Sumahan, Istanbul – This hotel boasts that “there is no better way to see Istanbul,” and that claim is hard to dispute. It features lovely views, and the rooms have all the comforts you need for a great stay.

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