sw733
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Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Wed Aug 18, 2010 1:15 pm

Hi Everyone:

I travel to the Middle East fairly frequently, to Muscat, for work...however, I have never yet had free time to check out areas nearby, except for a stop in Dubai once. Later this year, I will have such an opportunity, as I plan to take 5-7 free days after my work in Muscat.

So I ask the experts of A.Net - where should I go? I am not looking for a ton of excitement, but places with friendly people, interesting sites (historical or modern), and a relaxed atmosphere would be ideal.

Thanks in advance for all of your help - this is one area of the world that I am fairly inexperienced with!
 
racko
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Wed Aug 18, 2010 4:02 pm

Tel Aviv/Jerusalem? It doesn't get more historical than Jerusalem. I would stay in Tel Aviv and take a day trip or two to Jerusalem.

You won't get a relaxed atmosphere in Jerusalem, but Tel aviv is the very opposite, very modern, relaxed, a great city.
 
PanHAM
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Wed Aug 18, 2010 4:08 pm

Tel Aviv was the immediate reaction form my side as well. I'll be there on biz from Sunday to Wednesday next week again. Great place to be. Bit problematic to get there from MCT however.
 
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detroitflyer
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Wed Aug 18, 2010 4:32 pm

There are a ton of places to go in Oman,

check out Wahiba sands, The turtle place (near sur), and of course Sohar. There are tons of remote villages that have wadi bashing activities and such.
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nighthawk
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Wed Aug 18, 2010 4:50 pm

Beirut is supposed to be really nice. Has anyone been there?
 
sw733
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Wed Aug 18, 2010 5:34 pm

Thanks for all the feedback so far! I must say I am leaning towards Beirut, if I can find decent airfare out of MCT. I too have heard great things about it and would like to check it out.

Quoting detroitflyer (Reply 3):
wadi bashing

Definitely something I would like to do as well.
 
racko
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:14 pm

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 2):
Bit problematic to get there from MCT however.

Somehow I forgot about that issue.   Maybe to Amman and from there by bus though?
 
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SOBHI51
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:35 pm

Why not Egypt? Great history, nice places to stay and more stable than Beirut. and more flights
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MaverickM11
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Wed Aug 18, 2010 7:03 pm

Quoting racko (Reply 1):
Tel Aviv/Jerusalem?

I thought TLV looked like a downtrodden 70s Miami, and the Bauhaus architecture wasn't doing it any favors. The vibe/people seemed nice but I was struck how dated it looked. Jerusalem obviously is loaded with things to see.
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photopilot
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Wed Aug 18, 2010 7:09 pm

Petra, Jordan would be my first choice.
 
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OA260
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Wed Aug 18, 2010 7:20 pm

Quoting nighthawk (Reply 4):
Beirut is supposed to be really nice. Has anyone been there?

Yep  Beirut With BMI Business Class+Lounges / Lots Pics (by OA260 Aug 5 2010 in Trip Reports)

Highly recommend Beirut.
 
ba6590
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Wed Aug 18, 2010 7:25 pm

Quoting oa260 (Reply 10):
Highly recommend Beirut.

Highly recommend it too, lived there for 4 years before moving to the UK....Great night life, friendly people, great beaches, beautiful women....what more could you ask for  
 
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ClassicLover
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Wed Aug 18, 2010 7:36 pm

Jordan, without a doubt!

I had a brilliant time there - lovely people, great food! Petra is amazing, among all the other things to see and do. Strongly recommend looking into it!
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sw733
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Wed Aug 18, 2010 7:50 pm

Cairo, Beirut and Petra...hmmmm, wish I had more time!

Thanks for all the responses, this is going to be TOUGH!
 
wingman
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Wed Aug 18, 2010 8:11 pm

From my Jordanian friend who has been urging me to visit the region for 10 years now...Beirut, Damascus and Petra of course. I would also add Israel and Turkey if I had the time and money. Sounds like a full month minimum to hit all that. You could whirlwind the first 3 in seven days but you know how that goes, you won't remember a thing. Best to spend all seven days in one place and make it a quality visit that you'll remember for a lifetime. Have fun.
 
rwsea
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Wed Aug 18, 2010 8:25 pm

Cairo definitely does not fit the "relaxed atmosphere" criteria, but the people are friendly and the sights are amazing (I mean come on, it's the Pyramids and King Tut!). I think 5 days would be perfect to see Cairo and maybe do a day or two to Alexandria (easy by train). The prices will be cheaper than what you're used to back home as well.

I have heard that Syria, particularly Damascus and Palmyra, are absolutely amazing. I think Syria and Beirut are next on my Middle East wish list.
 
SurfandSnow
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Wed Aug 18, 2010 8:54 pm

Quoting sw733 (Thread starter):
Muscat

I was most impressed with Muscat, though I felt as though I was able to see almost everything in one day. Very relaxed and friendly though, and tons of historic forts, etc. to see! And the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort was probably hands down the nicest hotel I've ever stayed at!

Quoting sw733 (Thread starter):
Dubai

Well worth a visit, if only to see the interesting modern architecture. You can easily beat the heat at Wild Wadi waterpark, or even Ski Dubai! However, it's not relaxed, nor is it friendly.

Quoting sw733 (Thread starter):
I am not looking for a ton of excitement, but places with friendly people, interesting sites (historical or modern), and a relaxed atmosphere would be ideal.

I'd say Jordan would be your best bet. Amman is a very laid-back city, and the Abdoun area is clean, safe, and very friendly. There are historical Roman ruins mixed in with modernity, and you can always escape to the Dead Sea or Petra to see some really fascinating stuff. Then you have the beach down in Aqaba.

Personally I loved Istanbul and Cairo, but it doesn't sound like those hectic metropolises would be your cup of tea.
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Jasondn
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Wed Aug 18, 2010 9:35 pm

I seem to have similar interests as you and I am from South Africa living in Kuwait!

Here's our list of places to see and do before we leave the Middle East:

1 - Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt)
2 - Jordan - no so much Amman as more the Dead Sea, Petra and Aqaba (Monte Carlo of Middle East)
3 - Beirut
4 - Cairo
5 - Hurghada (Egypt)
6 - Istanbul

Also check out Wataniya Airways from Kuwait - really good and quite well priced! They fly out of the biz jet terminal and have brand new A320's.
 
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ClassicLover
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Wed Aug 18, 2010 9:43 pm

Quoting SurfandSnow (Reply 16):
I'd say Jordan would be your best bet. Amman is a very laid-back city, and the Abdoun area is clean, safe, and very friendly. There are historical Roman ruins mixed in with modernity, and you can always escape to the Dead Sea or Petra to see some really fascinating stuff. Then you have the beach down in Aqaba.

Everyone should visit Petra and the Dead Sea once in their lifetime. The Dead Sea is seventeen different kinds of amazing to swim in   Not been to Aqaba yet, I hear it's great though! Can't wait to go back to Jordan actually!
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sw733
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:52 am

Quoting SurfandSnow (Reply 16):
Istanbul
Quoting Jasondn (Reply 17):
Istanbul

Love Istanbul. I've been there before and plan to go back this winter. But true Middle East (and perhaps Egypt) is more what I am looking for. So, I am going to decide between Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan depending on how good of a price I can get from Muscat to there.

Thanks for everyones help!

[Edited 2010-08-18 19:52:56]
 
BA
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Thu Aug 19, 2010 3:10 am

I love Beirut and Istanbul. By far my favorite cities in the Middle East. Damascus is also nice and is a good day trip from Beirut.

Cairo is also definitely worth visiting.
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OA260
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Thu Aug 19, 2010 6:51 am

Quoting BA (Reply 20):
and Istanbul. By far my favorite cities in the Middle East. Damascus is also nice and is a good day trip from Beirut.

I love Istanbul also , Id love to go to Damascus. How do you get their from Beirut? Overland?
 
PanHAM
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Thu Aug 19, 2010 7:56 am

Quoting racko (Reply 6):
Somehow I forgot about that issue. Maybe to Amman and from there by bus though?

I'd take LCA or ATH to connect

 
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SOBHI51
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:13 am

Quoting oa260 (Reply 21):
How do you get their from Beirut? Overland?


That is the best way, avoid summer weekends as borders stops can take a really long time. I deal with a great taxi driver if needed i can provide info.
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PlymSpotter
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:57 am

Be sure to visit Aleppo too if you are going to Syria, the citadel there is an often forgotten treasure on the scale of the Pyramids. Nearby San Simeon is also very much worth a visit, and you can continue overland from there to Turkey, which is much cheaper to get back to UK/Ireland from.


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ramzi
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:52 pm

Quoting BA6590 (Reply 11):
Highly recommend it too, lived there for 4 years before moving to the UK....Great night life, friendly people, great beaches, beautiful women....what more could you ask for

My vote goes for Beirut. The atmosphere in that city is outstanding. Best to visit early or late in the summer, this way you avoid excess heat but can still go to the beach and are exposed to a variety of people from all over the world.

As stated, night life is amazing. What no one has mentioned is the historic sites which you asked about.

1.Baalbek
2.Byblos
3.Tyre
4.Anjar
5.The Cedars

All five are world heritage sites and beautiful places to visit. Depending on what you are particularly interested in I can suggest much more. Jeita is a new 7 wonders finalist, a must see if you make it to the region. There is obviously the renovated Beirut Central District, known as the Down Town area with the newly opened Beirut Souks. This is the best mix of historic and modern sites and a relaxed atmosphere.

If you are interested in beaches there are hundreds of beautiful spots all along the Lebanese coast.

Good luck and enjoy.  
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flanker
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:10 pm

Beirut used to be nice.

I go to Istanbul every chance I get. I love that city.

I also tell people to go to Egypt if they get the chance. Everything is awesome there, except the bugs in the packaged food on trains.
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OA260
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:28 pm

Quoting SOBHI51 (Reply 23):
. I deal with a great taxi driver if needed i can provide info.

Well I wanted to go with my friend but he wont go to Syria. Politics and all that  
Quoting ramzi (Reply 25):
still go to the beach and are exposed to a variety of people from all over the world.

I didnt see many tourists other than loads from the Gulf states when I was there.

Quoting ramzi (Reply 25):
1.Baalbek
2.Byblos
3.Tyre
4.Anjar
5.The Cedars

On my to do list in November hopefully.

Quoting flanker (Reply 26):
Beirut used to be nice.

Still is IMHO


A recent article on the state of toursim in Lebanon :

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/a56d64e2-a95...Dbeirut%26ftsearchType%3Dtype_news
 
ramzi
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:37 pm

Quoting oa260 (Reply 27):
I didnt see many tourists other than loads from the Gulf states when I was there.

That's why I said early or late in the summer  
Quoting oa260 (Reply 27):
Still is IMHO

#1 destination for two years in a row, first time by the NY Times, I'm guessing its safe to say it still is.

Quoting oa260 (Reply 27):
On my to do list in November hopefully.

Glad to hear that. Let me know if I can provide any help.  
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BA
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Thu Aug 19, 2010 11:31 pm

Quoting oa260 (Reply 21):
How do you get their from Beirut? Overland?

Yes, it takes 2 to 3 hours on average depending on traffic and border crossing times.

Quoting flanker (Reply 26):
Beirut used to be nice.

Beirut IS nice.
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directorguy
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RE: Best Places To Visit In The Middle East

Fri Aug 20, 2010 10:32 pm

Here are my 2 cents:

1. Dubai-It's close to Muscat, and you'd be able to fit in all the major sights in 5-7 days.
2. Cairo-The largest Arab city is also th gateway to a fascinating culture 5,000 years in the making. Got great sights, great vibe to it.
3.. Beirut-It's got a great nightlife, places to walk, and the people there are very welcoming of foreigners. In Dubai 90% of the people are foreigners and in Egypt you'll only deal with people in the tourism industry. The Lebanese people themselves give the city a unique vibe the country wouldn't be the same without.
4. Amman-I always think of Jordan as the quintiessential Arab country-got fair share of stuff to do. Plus, would be a great way to go to Israel. Going from Oman to TLV, I'd book MCT-AMM-MCT and AMM-TLV-AMM seperately on RJ, just to be on the safe side.

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