All the destinations around the world in today’s blossoming travel market have their fair share of good publicity, misinformation, attraction and fame. One market in particular which has undergone some serious scrutiny and discussion in recent memory is the area known as the Middle East. This sector of the world travel market is just as attractive and alluring as the best of its competitors, yet it is evident to us at the Joys of Traveling as well as many others who’ve been there, that this segment of travel and tourism has been dealt some serious blows of misinformation and stereotype from all sides. It is this ongoing phenomena of popular opinion based on stereotypes which brings us to the question we have decided to consider this week. With everything you may be hearing, you may believe or have been brought to understand is it really a good time to go to the Middle East? As always we believe in good research and facts for the most accurate knowledge, so we invite you to consider our experiences and research as well as reading up on the state of things from a variety of sources.
In order for us first to get a proper perspective on what exactly we are speaking about it is good to first define what we mean by Middle East. In common parlance of those living outside these countries “The Middle East” often is more of a political-cultural term or even a stereotype applied to the Islamic nations found across Asia Minor, The Arabian Peninsula and Northern Africa. It is a term that has come to signify countries identified with Islam which carries quite a diversity of backgrounds and expressions from Moroccans to Turkish and from Emirates to Pakistani peoples. Often the stereotype brings to mind many opinions on these cultures which come from partial, outdated or misunderstood and sometimes true situations that are found there. People have strong fear about safety and security when watching the recent media presentations about Tunisia, Egypt and Syria. Many associate Islamic countries with religious and political oppression, intolerance, prejudice, lack of education and yes, even that the climate and living conditions are beyond harsh. What can we say about all these things? Well to address each one and how it applies in every country and culture would take the written work of a lifetime. It is an objective and practical position however to state that human beings are often at the mercy of misinformation and half truths. Many of the cliché’s about any subject really are a simplified manner of thinking and expression which may be easier for the distant listener or reporter, but they contribute nothing to the unity and understanding which we seek in cultural exchange. In fact such stereotypes hinder any kind of positive impact and interaction whatsoever.
Speaking from our own personal experiences, we at the Joys of Traveling have had some privileged opportunities in the last year to be part of and explore the regions of The Middle East and other Islamic countries. Places such as Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and the U.A.E. have given us an expansive view of the social as well as travel landscape as it exists in these places now. In truth it has been a difficult time for much of the area. Some countries are struggling with war, others with protests and all of this with the media camped out in the midst of it all. This affected even some of our own trips as the editorial team was forced to change its travel plans on a proposed Syria trip. Overall our experiences have been counted among the most formative of our lives and have been tremendously rewarding. None of us have faced a single problem and neither have we been in any way threatened in our personal safety. From everything we have seen and done recently, with our most recent trip concluding just days ago we can give an emphatic yes, to the question of today’s article. Yes, it is a good time to go to the Middle East.
It would hardly be credible just to take our overall experience for it. We have gathered some of the main reasons to travel in the Middle East from our traveling team and put together the most compelling for our readership. Here are some reasons why a good time to go is now:
- Prices: Even prior to the current world sentiments and firestorm of media attention these destinations have always been very reasonable. The effects of stereotyping and sometimes blatant assault on a country’s reputation have lead to an even more depressed flow of tourism which has been the source of many recent deals and dropping prices. The value for money has always been great and now it’s better than ever. What is amazing is that the opulence and greatness which adorns for instance the U.A.E. with is modern treasures of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, does not affect the affordability of its travel market. In Dubai you may get a 45 min taxi ride for the price of ten U.S. Dollars or enjoy a quality restaurant for a fraction of the price elsewhere.
- Infrastructure: The truth is that these countries have a great eye on tourism and it finds a great role within the life of the nation. Sure, some will have a more developed or specialized industry than others but we have been singularly impressed on how serious each of our destinations in this area take travel and tourism. There is a strong sympathy for the tourist here because it is tied to an understanding of refreshment and relaxation from the harsh climate which everyone appreciates. For that reason as well the displays of food, water, precious gems, gold and comfort have a high role of importance and the traveler gets a strong sense of pampering while at rest. The infrastructure extends from the world class ski resorts in Lebanon to the amazing Red Sea beach resorts. Palaces and towers of untold luxury await the Dubai and Abu Dhabi explorer and a Spa experience which speaks to all the senses unfolds on Jordan’s Dead Sea coast. Overall is possible in these countries to have an authentic 5 star experience for a fraction of the cost we’ve found anywhere else.
- Culinary Selection: Needless to say with such attention to tourism, comfort and relaxation the prospects of gastronomic delights abound. Not only are there amazing spreads of local foods which offer a succulent recharge, but there is a variety of international flare almost everywhere. Malls, hotels, waterfront districts and modern day oases offer the journeyer a spread from the Salmon of Scandinavia to the delights of South Pacific Island fare.
- Airlines: What can be more enjoyable than arriving to a great travel destination? Flying with a carrier who understands service of course! It is a fact that this region is served by some of the top airlines in the world. The affordability coupled with the quality experience brings together the best aspects of travel in our opinion. It seems that with the arrival of modern affordability the quality of care and service onboard the aircraft truly became a thing of yesteryear. These airlines pay attention to both which is ushering in a new golden era of travel. The newness and functionality of the airports in the Middle East is not something to be overlooked either. This goes for the proficiency and affordability of the public transport too.
- Safety: This is a concern for the traveler no matter where we find ourselves. Obviously some places are more risky than others and we need to be informed and prudent in our actions. That being said our visits to the Middle East have been very safe and in fact many hotels and public places have extensive security which makes one feel very confident and protected. Often tourism is understood as an essential part of economy and life so, people can be very vocal and helpful if they see someone in trouble. The majority of people are conscious of your happiness and preserving their country’s good name.
Overall we believe the Middle East is an opportunity ripe for the picking in today’s ever expanding travel market. The destinations are varied and each has its own character and customs. For more details be sure and check out our destination section on our website to get familiar with specific countries and unforgettable experiences. People here are welcoming and friendly. If you are from another place you may face some challenges such as people’s tone of voice or the hectic bustle of a market such as the famous Khan el-Khalili in Cairo. It is important to remember that you cannot expect people to be familiar with your customs as you are entering their home and visiting them. You also have the right to expect they will respect and be open to your customs when they come to visit your country as well. It is important as always to be open minded, culturally understanding and finally to be informed and pursue as much research as possible. Now is definitely the time to head to the Middle East. The conditions and attractions are just waiting for your visit and the present situations are presenting us with even more affordable options and the wonders are ever increasing.