Traveling to The
Middle East

Photo: Jame Abbasi mosque, Esfahan, Iran

The Middle East has a rich culture you can see in the magnificent details of their architecture. The warmth and welcome you’ll experience from locals will shine a whole new light on what you can experience there. So much to see and taste in the wonder that is the Middle East.


The Middle East

Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Northern Cyprus, Oman, State of Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), Yemen.


Nemrut Dagi statue heads in Turkey

Do I Need a Visa to Travel to the Middle East?

Visas are required for traveling to the Middle East. Obtaining them can feel like a minefield if you don’t know what you’re doing. Please discuss which visas are needed with your travel consultant.

(Photo: Nemrut Dagi in Turkey)

Is the Middle East Safe?


General

The Middle East is a large region that spans across multiple continents, including Asia and Northeastern Africa.  It’s kind of a mixed bag in terms of safety as there are places that have struggled with unrest. But there’s a reason the Middle East is a rising travel destination.

The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), Oman, and Israel are all safe and exciting destinations to travel to. Granted, there are places to avoid in Israel such as the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Morocco is technically part of Northern Africa, but it is rich in Middle Eastern culture and close to the Atlantic Ocean.


Solo

Traveling alone throughout the Middle East is very possible. Even for solo women travelers. There are actually many cases where women have reported that their gender actually aided them during their travels. Despite the reputation of being difficult for women traveling alone.

That is not to say that anyone traveling alone shouldn’t still be careful. There are many cultural differences and it’s important to remember that. The Middle East is also quite a bit more conservative than the States so dressing modestly and being respectful will go a long way.

One last thing to note: women are rarely on the streets alone. Especially in the Persian Gulf. If you’re a woman alone in this area you will likely be stared at quite a bit. It may feel a little uncomfortable but just ignore it and keep moving, rest assured that no one will do anything more than stare.


LGBTQ

The situation for the LGBTQ community is a bit more diverse than you’d think in the Middle East. Homosexuality is illegal in 10 of the 18 countries and is punishable by death in 6 of the 18 countries. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t an active gay scene in those areas, but it’s typically more hidden and kept out of public eye.

However, Israel is very open and accepting. Homosexuality is legal and Tel Aviv has a thriving gay and lesbian scene.


For more useful travel advice check out our Trips Tips section. You’ll find useful information designed to save you time, keep you safe, and show you what being a good global citizen looks like.

When is a Good Time to Visit the Middle East?

The best times to visit the Middle East is during the Fall (September-November) or during the Spring (March – May). Any other time of year it’s possible but the weather is more extreme. Very cold during the winter and excruciatingly hot in the summers.

Will I Have Trouble With the Language Barrier?

The Middle East has over 60 different languages. Making the Middle East one of the most linguistically diverse areas of the world. Some are native to the region while some were brought over from other parts of the world.

English is, for the most part, spoken all over. Especially in regards to business and tourism. In some nations, such as the U.A.E. and Iraq, English is taught in schools as a second language. So you shouldn’t have any trouble communicating during your travels.

Accents can be tricky to understand. Both for you understanding someone else, and them trying to understand you. So be patient and use different words if someone is not understanding what you’re asking.

Is Asia a Good Place to Travel to With Children?

The Middle East has much to see and do for families. The most popular countries are Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

You can expect to see gorgeous beaches, unforgettable landscapes, camel trekking, and even castles. Sounds like a great family vacation to us!

What About Money?

The use of credit cards and ATMs are widely used throughout the Middle East. U.S. dollars are also universally accepted, followed by British Pounds. Though if you’re visiting Iran, then you should know that cash is the best option.

Do I Tip?

Tipping (called Baksheeesh) is generally expected throughout the Middle East. Often wages are much lower compared to Western countries. So, tipping becomes a vital part of their income, much more than a reward for good service.

Typically tipping is always expected at the end of tours and within the tourism business as a whole. How much to tip is up to you. Feel free to make a judgement call based on how long your tour was and how helpful the guide was.

Tipping is increasingly expected at mid-high range restaurants. Although, sometimes one might be included in your bill so you should check your receipt first.

Ready to discuss traveling to the Middle East with one of our Travel Consultants?
Head over to our Contact Page and reach out!


Willamette International Travel