Covering the region between Western Asia and Egypt, the Middle East stands at the crossroads of the ancient and modern worlds. With an abundance of history at its disposal, the Middle East hosts several man-made wonders and showcases a number of treasures for the soul from its architecture, bazaars and cuisine, through to vast desert vistas.
Weather & Climate
The climate in the Middle East is generally summarised as hot and dry, especially true in the desert regions of the Arabian Peninsula. These extreme heats can be uncomfortable to those unfamiliar with such conditions but for sun followers or water sports enthusiasts there’s nothing better! In saying that, there are times of year in certain locations, such as the northeast of Turkey before May or mid-October onwards that can be beset by snow and even the desert areas’ temperatures can drop to freezing overnight. For those more sensitive to the heat, as a general rule the best times to visit are in Autumn and Spring (September to November and March to May).
History & Culture
Known as the “Cradle of civilization”, the earliest recorded civilizations in history were established by the Sumerians in 3500 B.C in Mesopotamia, which is modern day Iraq. This region also housed the Akkadians, as well as the ancient civilizations of the Babylonians, Assyrians and most famously, the Egyptians, with their monumental Pyramids standing today. Unified for a period by the might of the Roman Empire, the Middle East played a major role in the rise of religions, providing the stage for the rise of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. As the centuries have proceeded, the region has had its share of political and social upheaval, along with a clash between ancient customs and modern social norms as the world rapidly becomes smaller.
- Despite Arabic, Turkish and Persian being the most commonly spoken languages in the region, English is spoken in a large number of countries.
- The Middle East gets its name as it lies between Asia, Africa and Europe, and is also often referred to as the “Crossroads of the world”.
- The Dead Sea, which gets its name from its hypersalinity which means that no animals can live in it, has the lowest elevation of land on Earth, at 427 m below sea level.
- Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, has been destroyed and rebuilt seven times in its long history, giving it the nickname of “the Phoenix”.
While there are many amazing sights in the Middle East, at times it can be a volatile region politically. With safety at the forefront of most travellers’ minds, it makes sense to plan out your itinerary using the most current and up-to-date travel alert warnings. While these may err too far on the side of caution for most seasoned travellers, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. While in the Middle East, be mindful that there are many strong cultural traditions that are adhered to that may differ from your own way of life, and that it is important to adhere to these.