Middle East Travel Tips for the New Year

Travel to the Middle East and Africa this year is teetering on a lot of the geopolitical implications that affect both regions. While there are obvious destinations to avoid (Syria, Iraq, Libya, Mali) travelers shouldn’t discount a trip to either region altogether. It’s true that the travel industry in North Africa continues to struggle in these times of revolution and discontent and there remains a looming austerity, at large around the world, keeping people at home and cutting down on their travel budget.

Egypt is case in point. It’s been over a year since the fall of Mubarak but the country, and its tourism industry, continues to suffer despite the lifted travel advisories and the go-ahead from the Foreign Office. There are however, efforts at work to revitalize the industry. Earlier this year the annual Caravan Festival of the Arts in Cairo was held at St. John’s Church where in the prominent Maadi District, 45 artists displayed and sold their work, with twenty percent of the proceeds going to charity.

Over in Jordan, it’s an exciting time at one of its most prized destinations- it is the 200th anniversary of the re-discovery of the ancient stone city of Petra. If you’re traveling from afar to Jordan, Petra is a definite must and while most people just go to the site for a day, there is a panoply of exciting things to do in the area, like hiking in the vast Petra Archaeological Park, with its deep canyons and dramatic rock formations. Only three hours’ drive from the east coast.

Lebanon continues to be an enthralling destination for holiday-makers. You can find cheap accommodations everywhere and the tourist attractions are plenty. The Roman site of Baalbeck for example, should be on your list, and of course if you’re in Beirut you must get out and soak up the famous nightlife scene. On the coast, Tripoli continues to attract intrepid travelers as a base for exploring the Chouf mountains.

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