Continent: Middle East
Area: 7.3 million square kilometer
Largest Country: Saudi Arabia
Smallest Country: Lebanon
Languages Spoken: Urdu is the main language
Currency: No uniform currency Dirham and Riyal being mostly used
Religion: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity
Climate: Hot and Arid
Middle East, a sesquipedalian continent is a birthplace of three religions namely Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Thus, a tour of the Middle East countries will leave you with understanding of rich and diverse cultural heritage of many a civilizations that took birth here as well as moments of splendid beauty of untamed landscape and vast deserts. Apart from being synonymous with oil-producing nations, this part of the world has some rich, ultra modern and bustling cosmopolitan cities with international hotels and shopping malls and festivals. While there are mountainous countries such as Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan there are desert countries such as Turkmenistan and Iran. However, the most popularly visited country is Turkey and a visit to the oil-rich countries including Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar will help you sample the riches of these countries that have grown economically and benefited tremendously from their rich resource that is oil. It is; however, in Yemen that one can find old-styled Arabia leaving anyone spellbound. From trekking to hiking to skiing, everything can be done in the Middle East.
History of the Middle East will take one to the ancient days, as the place had been the cradle of many civilizations ranging from Mesopotamian to Egyptian, however, the term Middle East owes its origin chiefly to the British. The place is also one of the major spiritual centers of the world and has been in limelight in most political, cultural and economic clout.
The other civilizations that lived in the soils of the Middle East include the Persian, Arabian and Levant. The vast Middle East was first unified under Achaemenid Empire and then by the empire of Macedonia. And then, there was the Arab Caliphates followed by the Seljuk Empire. Thus, too many civilizations left their imprints on the soils of Middle East. However, the growth of modern Middle East emerged only after the World War I, and subsequently with oil as rich resource, Middle East gained prominence and importance in the international arena as well. There are issues of war and anarchism though but still Middle East remains to be a popular tourist destination in every hitchhikers world itinerary.
The physicogeography of the Middle East is very diverse. While there are low relief areas, there are also vast stretches of deserts. And again, there are mountainous regions as well as many rivers that drain the plains for agriculture to thrive. There exist huge water bodies too.
The low land belts in the Arabian Peninsula and the main rivers include River Nile and River Euphrates. The climate though is mostly hot, arid or semi-arid with very low level of precipitation. Along the coastal Mediterranean Sea and Caspian Sea, the temperatures are moderate.
With each footstep into this part of the world, a captivating tale of luscious natural beauty of the landscapes at the same time modern essence of bustling city life unravels. From the liberal Gulf state of Bahrain to ruins of mosques, ancient cities and a glorious past of countries like Iran, war ravaged Iraq to an oil-rich state Kuwait one can take time to explore all corners of the Middle East.
Middle East also boasts of several skyscrapers donning the skyline, luxurious hotels, international cuisine, sprawling amusement parks, scintillating nightlife, Haj pilgrimage. Not to mention about the warm and the friendly people here.
It is Dubai, the fastest growing city that attracts a large number of tourists from all over all the year round. Not because it is flashy and jazzy, but it possesses a surreal beauty of its own. On one side there are international hotels with its gourmet's delight, while on the other side it has an old world charm in its ancient mosques and homes built by Persian traders and the historic wind towers. There lays immense recreational opportunities in the palm-fringed beaches and several of the theme parks here.
Dubai Creek is by itself a great attractive spot and people mostly travel around Bur Dubai and this Dubai Creek. The world's tallest building, Burj Dubai is an engineering marvel and a feat everyone must visit and appreciate.
There are also many art galleries and museums such as the Art Space, B 21 Gallery and the Children's city to name a few. The city buzzes with activities during the shopping season from December to February, and summer surprises are usually held between June and August months.
Activities too are in aplenty in Dubai from boating,indoor skiing in Ski Dubai, Riding, playing golf in one of the riches Golf tournaments known as Dubai Desert Classic. Some of the most beautiful parks of Dubai are Al Mazmar Beach park, Creekside Beach Park and Jumeirah Beach Park.
Turkey is another must-visit place in the Middle East and it is a transition place of Islam and Christianity and also Asia and Europe. The astounding natural landscapes cast a magical spell on every visitor and this architectural treasureland is filled with resplendent mosques to beautiful churches. If you have time make sure you include Istanbul which is a crossroads of cultures and civilizations, Cappadocia where you see the volcanic rocks and also villages underground or in valleys, and visit to Pergamum and Ankara are worth visiting places of the country.
Another great stopover can be the state capital of UAE, Abu Dhabi. In contrast to Dubai's busy buzz, Abu Dhabi is more relaxed and one can experience a touch of the Arabian living here. One can visit the wonderful Qasr Al-Husn palace and museums such as Cultural Foundation and Women's handicraft Center. However the largest mosque in UAE is in Sharjah, one of the seven emirates.
However, it is the beautiful city of Yemen that beckons tourists to live a life of old colonial living from grand palaces to spicy souqs. It is in Yemen that the Old Sana, one of the sites of human inhabitations, has been declared as the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stroll through the ancient village Shibam, famous for its ancient mosque and old town gate.
Saudi Arabia in the Middle East is another land of undulating sands on one side and modern technology creeping in slowly but silently the other side. Jeddah and Riyadh are the two holiest cities of Saudi Arabia. Riyadh is the state capital and has one of the largest airports in the world. Both the cities have sprawling hotels and shopping malls to impress the shopping enthusiasts.
Along the coast, lays the rich state Kuwait. With traditional ethos and hospitality, Kuwait is a hotchpotch of treasured bazaars and skyscrapers. Wander around the mosques and you can explore the bygone days in the sands of time. Visit the Oil Display Center museum and the famous Red Fort when in Kuwait.
The countries of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan are not only easy to visit but very safe too as well. These close-knit countries have lots to offer to their tourists from tales of Lawrence of Arabia to spectacular desertscapes, impressive old world architecture, to surprisingly ski resorts as well to Roman theaters in Syria and an array of archaeological treasures.
Middle East has some impressive nightlife and Beirut is supposedly the party animals Paradise of the Middle East. The cosmopolitan living and easy living with drumbeats and jazz music is all available in major cities in this part of the world. From clubs to discos to theaters to concerts to opera shows, you can enjoy anything to keep you entertained from dusk to dawn in all of the important cities here, including Qatar and Dubai, Istanbul, Damascus, Amman, Kuwait, etc. If you are a party animal, make it a point to visit the bars and the nightclubs that will leave you with a memorable experience for times to come.
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