Middle East Holidays
Ranging from contemporary cities, untouched natural beauty and a limitless wealth of historical treasures, the Middle East has enough attractions to make it an irresistible magnet for travellers from all corners of the globe. This is a region of extraordinary diversity, from the modern skyscrapers of Dubai to the traditional ways of Saudi Arabia, providing an incredibly rich experience for every visitor and their differing holiday expectations. Made up of 16 emirates, the Middle East is one of the least travelled regions in the world due to it’s past of political turmoil, however, in recent years many states have become holiday hotspots with bucket-list attractions, world-famous landmarks, expansive beaches and mouth-watering restaurant offerings - a holidaymaker’s heaven.
Middle East Destinations
Featured Middle East Hotels
An especially exciting aspect of visiting this region is it’s living history. Whilst many holiday destinations have dedicated museums to reflect on the country’s heritage and culture, the Middle East showcases its history everywhere you look. Its historical stamp on the world is monumental - home of the first hand-built city, and where man learned to write and count, as well as being the birthplace of three of the worlds most popular religions. Conversely, many travel to the Middle East for its westernised modernisms such as the tallest building in the world, The Burj-Khalifa found in popular Dubai, or Abu Dhabi’s Famous Formula 1 Circuit playing host to The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The regions recent growth within the travel and tourism industry has seen some emirates become global holiday hotspots, even smaller destinations such as Ras Al Khaimah has invested millions into catering for tourists with luxury 5* resorts and sprawling gulf beaches dotted between breath-taking mountain scenery, ancient mosques, and prehistoric villages. Another destination growing in popularity is the scenic Fujairah, positioned in the east and home to one of the planets most thriving marine environments – experience the richest coral reefs and visit traditional fishing villages featuring a majestic mountain backdrop. Oman was until recently undiscovered by Western tourists; however, it now presents itself as the adventure capital of the UAE, offering dune bashing, fjord cruises and nomadic experiences like no other. Alternatively, their strong cultural traditions remain in-tact making Oman one of the best destinations to experience true Arabia.
The Middle East is a region of mystery, evoking images of Arabian Nights and scorching deserts. There is probably nowhere on earth where traditional culture and heritage are so perfectly blended with lavish wealth and ultra-modern amenities. Stick to the safe areas, and you can be sure of the warmest and most welcoming hospitality in the world.
Time Difference: GMT + 3-5 hours depending on location
Flight Time From UK: 7-9 hours depending on location
Language: Arabic, with English widely spoken
Ramadan: 1st April – 30th April 2022
When to Visit
The Middle East is renowned for its hot, dry desert climate although due to the varying terrains and position of emirates the weather can fluctuate significantly from one to another. The desert and mountainous areas see significant seasonal changes with winters dropping below freezing and summer heat soaring well above 40°C. In the more built-up cities seasonality is less diverse, and sometimes the difference between winter and summer is purely hot and hotter. With that being said, the best time to visit the Middle East is generally between March and May – the season of spring. This period near enough guarantee’s warmth and sun, without the temperature inhibiting outdoor activities. Similarly, autumn offers pleasant warmth enabling a much more varied exploratory experience rather than being confined to air-conned indoor attractions.
Where to Stay in The Middle East
• Abu Dhabi
As the capital of the UAE and just a 7-hour flight from the UK makes Abu Dhabi a popular tourist destination. It’s year-round sunshine, white-sand beaches, multitude of attractions and vast selection of luxury resorts only add to its appeal. It’s surrounding islands offer exciting activities no matter what your preferences, Yas Island is perfect for thrill-seekers and Grand Prix fanatics with the fastest roller coaster in the world and F1 Circuit. Whilst Saadiyat Island is seen as the country’s capital of creativity, home to a collection of modern museums including the Abu Dhabi Louvre.
The modern metropolis of Dubai is where city and desert collide, offering travellers prestigious restaurant and shopping experiences with the largest mall in the world and iconic brunch locations. Alternatively travel a short while to reach the expansive empty quarter for 4x4 dune driving, camel-back riding and Bedouin camp making. In recent years Dubai has become a celebrity hotspot and bucket-list destination for the ultimate luxury getaway with 7* hotels, pristine beaches and record holding structures producing an ironically unique location continuously gaining traction from tourists.
Ajman is the fifth-largest city but smallest emirate in the United Arab Emirates and is located along the Persian Gulf. It is best known for its array of cultural attractions – The Ajman Museum is particularly striking due to being situated in an 18th century fort. It is also renowned for its peoples genuine welcoming hospitality and generosity making for a wholesome destination full of inclusivity and culture.
Rapidly growing in the tourism industry Fujairah has made every effort to develop its visitor attractions and facilities in order to appeal to the increasing international interest. This mountainous region provides a striking contrast against the glamourous developments of Dubai providing a more authentic Middle Eastern experience, boasting ancient forts, and sprawling picturesque beaches perfect for snorkelling, scuba diving and sunbathing.
• Ras Al Khaimah
Just a 45-minute drive from Dubai makes Ras Al Khaimah the perfect alternative to the stand-alone city break holiday. This laid-back emirate offers breath-taking landscapes and coastlines, as well as vast desert planes full of activities, culture, and natural beauty. Relax on the pristine 64km long coastline or discover over 7000 years of heritage and culture – the Mohammed Bin Salim Mosque is an iconic structure not to be missed. If it’s adventure you seek, Ras Al Khaimah features the Jebel Jais Flight – the world’s longest zipline.
As a recently new tourist destination, Oman is one of the most adventure-filled emirates in the Middle East known as the go-to place for scuba diving, fossil hunting and desert camping. Alternatively, it’s rich culture offers travellers an authentic Arabic experience, from the customary kahwa coffee served with dates on arrival to being the birthplace frankincense. One of the most popular tourist attractions is the mass turtle hatching between July and October whereby travellers can witness five of the world’s seven species burry around 60,000 eggs on the beaches set to hatch 5 days later.
Qatar perfectly showcases the harmony of old-world hospitality combined with modern architecture, shopping, and cuisine. Whilst steeped-in-tradition with its ancient pursuit of falconry and camel racing, its cosmopolitan stance is indicative of its rapidly evolving capital Doha, featuring soaring skyscrapers, an expansive shopping development, and a ranging collection of sophisticated culinary experiences. From once a popular stopover Qatar is set to host the 2022 World Cup, an event anticipated to ramp up visitation appeal and their presence in the travel and tourism industry.
Bahrain mixes the beauty of the past with the excitement of the future, with outstanding natural beauty, relaxed private beaches, futuristic architecture, and an electric atmosphere. It’s historical offering is extensive from the Dilmun Civilization to the Portuguese reign, the Islamic era and the evolution of the pearl industry of which contributes to the fine jewellery and shopping experiences Bahrain has to offer. It’s island benefits provide holidaymakers with fantastic coastlines with gleaming beaches and opportunities for an abundance of water sports.
• Saudi Arabia
Having only recently opened its doors to the travel and tourism industry, Saudi Arabia is a kingdom that inspires true exploration and appreciation of culture offering a tailored journey to every traveller. For your yearly dose of adventure stay in Bedouin desert camps in AIUIa, or trek through the mountains in Taif, alternatively relax with some souq retail therapy Jeddah or soak up the cultural modernisms of Riyadh.
Famous Middle Eastern Attractions and Experiences
• Al Balad – Saudi Arabia
Also known as the colourful city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Al Balad is the old section of the city and where once was a gateway for Muslims on their pilgrimage to Mecca arriving by sea from Africa, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, a cultural scene not to be missed.
This Formula One motor racing event takes place annually at the Yas Marina Circuit on Yas Island. If you feel the need for speed this exhilarating event sees some of the worlds top race car drivers complete 55 laps at incredibly high speeds every December.
• Burj Khalifa, Dubai
Visit the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, soaring 828m up it is classed as one of the greatest engineering feats of all time. Head to “At The Top” for 360 degree views of the modern skyline and contemporary city below.
• Al Fateh Grand Mosque, Bahrain
As one of the largest mosques in the world, this is a fascinating cultural attraction and a must-see when visiting Bahrain. In 2006 Al Fateh Grand Mosque became the site of the national library of Bahrain whilst still showcasing its exquisite architecture and interior designs whilst serving a cultural purpose.
Middle Eastern Cuisine
Middle Eastern cuisine generally features a variety of spices, a type of meat and rice, with many staples including grains, lentils, beans, nuts, figs, and dates. Dates especially are a symbolic offering given to visitors along with coffee on arrival as a gesture of the regions renowned hospitality. Due to its location as a crossroads between Europe, Asia, the Caucasus and North America, the Middle East has developed into a food hub where many recipes were exchanged, tested, and perfected. Religion largely impacts cuisine making lamb the favoured meat since both Jews and Muslims do not eat pork and although alcohol is prohibited in some countries, it is not in all. Under the ottoman empire sweet pastries became a traditional food stuff with a thick coffee consumed at the same time.
Popular foods that originated from the Middle East are as follows:
- Hummus – a classic chickpea dip attributed to the Middle East but loved all over the world.
- Manakeesh – similar to pizza and is severed as a breakfast or lunch dish.
- Grilled halloumi – incredibly popular in the western world as of recently.
- Falafel – a staple food for vegetarians in the western world and has sparked many debates regarding the dish’s provenance.
- Kofta – minced lamb or beef balls common in Iran and Pakistan.