Welcome to the Middle East

A hot, arid climate, with desert making up a vast majority of the region. With 17 countries and approximately 60 languages it is a diverse area rich with culture and tradition. Islam is the largest religion, but Judaism and Christianity (which originated there) are also well represented.

Samuel Turner

Turkey has gotten some harsh criticism recently but it's still a holiday paradise offering up turquoise waters and vibrant culture. 

Lisa Owen

When I first booked a tour to Jordan, all I knew about it was the ancient city of Petra. But as I started researching Jordan more – I found the capital Amman had plenty to do to fill a day or two – and I wasn’t disappointed starting my journey here.

Natalie Hensby

I recently travelled with a friend to Dubai en route to Africa. At the recommendation of another friend and our travel agent we extended our three-hour stopover in Dubai to 40 hours.

The United Arab Emirates is spread out over desert and coastline and it is comprised of seven emirates. Ranked fourth in the world for oil resources, the UAE has one of the fastest growing economies in the world and one of its cities, Dubai, is one of the hottest tourist destinations in the world. As with many up and coming places, the UAE is a mashup of old traditions and modern culture.

Before you head off on your Arabic holiday to Qatar, there are a few things to know that will make your trip easier:

Qatar shares its borders with Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf, so this Middle Eastern country is an incredible mix of beautiful water views and sand dunes and desert excursions. Thought to be the newest Dubai for its oil-rich glitz and glamour,

In general, it’s worth noting that Turkey is a safe country. There aren’t high levels of petty crime or aggressive attacks. In fact, most Turks are unbelievably honest and would go the extra mile to help you out rather than rip you off. However, in a city like Istanbul where over 12 million people live, there will always be a few with less-honourable intentions. More specifically, there are a few scams that are run in Turkey that can put unaware tourists at the mercy of these aggressors. Note that these scams usually happen in large cities like Istanbul and are more rare in small towns and villages. Read on for more information about the most common scams run in Turkey as well as suggestions on how to avoid them.

Once famous for figs, the ancient city of Smyrna, is now called Izmir (EEZ-meer). The city has transformed into a modern, developed and busy commercial centre, that’s set around a huge bay and surrounded by mountains. The city boasts broad boulevards, glass-fronted buildings and modern shopping centres that attract visitors from all over the world.

As you may have already figured out, Turkish is the official language of Turkey, where over 72 million people use the language daily. As the language developed over time, different influences came to change the language. Today you can find French, Arabic and even Persian words that have been modified and incorporated into the Turkish language. While these influences may give the impression that Turkish will be difficult to learn, the opposite is actually true. Since 1928, Turkish has used a slightly modified Latin alphabet for its spellings, making it easier for English speakers to pronounce the words phonetically (hotel in English is spelled “otel” in Turkish).

Istanbul is the city that figuratively has a foot in the east and the west: one part of the city sits in Europe and another part of its city in Asia. Where these two vastly different continents come together in Istanbul, you will find a veritable stew of different influences and cultural diversity.

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