The Middle East is one of the most attractive destinations for travellers. With their similarities and differences, the fourteen countries that are part of this region are an open door to some of the most fascinating and intriguing cultures in the world. At Bonzah we invite you to discover three of the gems in this area of the world:
The United Arab Emirates: Dubai & Abu Dhabi
Of the seven emirates that are part of the UAE, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the most popular amongst tourists by far with their impressive investments in tourism, exotic constructions and seductive atmosphere.
Dubai is bold and audacious and it is famous for its super modern architecture. It offers visitors the perfect balance between Bedouin heritage and glamorous modernism, where traditions and future live together.
Climb to the top of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper, and enjoy stunning panoramic views of Dubai City. The Palm Jumeirah, a man-made archipelago, is another of the wonders that await tourists here. From luxury hotels and beach resorts to up-market shopping malls, it offers plenty of activities for travelers.
Talking about shopping, Dubai takes the experience to the next level with splendid shopping malls where you will find the most important luxury and international brands. Dubai Mall is particularly interesting as it’s the home of an 11-meter high fish tank and a glass tunnel where kids can safely appreciate stingrays and sharks. It’s one of the world’s largest aquariums and over 400 different species can be found there. The Underwater Zoo is also a must see!
Don’t miss the chance to learn more about Dubai’s history! Spend some time at Dubai Museum where you can appreciate traditional local artifacts, ancient instruments or handcrafted weapons and an underground section where the Emirate’s history is showcased. Jumeirah Mosque is another landmark; religiously important, it also displays immaculate architecture and gives great insights into Islamic religion and culture.
Fountains in Dubai are otherworldly and have become a major local attraction. No visit to the emirate would be complete without spending some time watching their nightly dance and water shows!
Abu Dhabi is a beautiful and luxurious capital city of the UAE and presents a fascinating mixture of modernity and tradition and no shortage of attractions. Its extraordinary wealth permeates into every aspect of the city. There are beaches of pristine white sand, fantastic shopping opportunities at the souks and stunning buildings.
No visit to Abu Dhabi would be complete without admiring the great Sheikh Zayed Mosque, one of the largest in the world. It’s an inspiring space, with a light filled prayer hall, calligraphy etched domes, a stunningly beautiful and large hand-knotted carpet and the biggest chandeliers in the world.
Art lovers are naturally attracted to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, a recognized masterpiece and an impressive eclectic museum with a growing permanent collection and attractive temporary exhibitions.
Home of the F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit, the Ferrari World Abu is a themed park with incredible rides, breathtaking and fearsome roller-coasters, authentic Italian restaurants and cafés and a whole area devoted to the youngest Ferrari fans.
Those traveling with kids will also enjoy visiting the Al Ain Zoo. Having dinner with lions, walking with lemurs or meeting giraffes and the rare Arabian Oryx or being part of a thrilling safari are some of the otherworldly experiences you can have there.
Oman has been truly a hidden gem in the Middle East until recent years. Charming souks, beautiful landscapes, exquisite buildings, and interesting culture make it a must-visit destination for anyone planning to visit this area of the world. Its mighty forts, bustling souks and a towering mountain range are just some of the fascinating things you can appreciate here.
Musandam Peninsula is scenically spectacular as the towering red-rock Hajar Mountains plunge dramatically into the deep waters of the Arabian Gulf creating a landscape of fjords and inlets. And for those looking for adventure, the expansive Wahiba Sands and their overwhelming dunes are perfect! You’ll also have the chance to explore the Empty Quarter, the largest sand desert in the world, go on a camel trek or race the desert on quad bikes!
Muscat is the capital city and the cultural hub of Oman, rich in history and tradition. Don’t miss the Portuguese forts of Al Mirani and Al Jilal and, if you love the beach life, you can watch dolphins or go snorkeling in Quorum Beach! Muscat seduces visitors with the perfect balance of tradition and modernism.
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is one of the city’s greatest attractions. It’s a stunning modern mosque that can hold 20 thousand worshippers. The main prayer hall has an impressive chandelier and it is decorated with beautiful blue tiles and a very large Iranian rug. It’s surrounded by beautiful gardens from which you can appreciate the harmonious archway of the building. Take plenty of time to explore the stunning Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and remember to follow the strict dress code that is enforced: your arms and legs should be completely covered and women are asked to cover their heads and hair completely.
The National Museum of Oman is another must see. It opened in 2016 to showcase the Omani heritage. Its different galleries explain the country’s culture and history including arms and armour, maritime history, intangible heritage, prehistory and ancient history or the land and the people.
Bait Al Zubair Museum is also fascinating. It was open in the late 1990s to showcase the private collection of Sheikh Al Zubair bin Ali and it is now an interesting museum complex. There you can appreciate antique maps, typical Muscat furniture, old Islamic coins, traditional Obani crafts, Omani daggers, etc.
Egypt has traditionally been an attractive destination in the Middle East. The Nile, Pyramids, tombs, temples, pharaoh’s monuments, mosques and archaeological sites are just some of the reasons why so many travellers include it in their bucket list.
If you love watersports, then you’d love to know that Egypt offers plenty of opportunities along the Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts. From swimming to snorkeling or diving, there’s plenty to do and keep you busy while admiring the stunning underwater nature.
Cairo, the capital city is one of the biggest urban areas in the Middle East and it is modern, noisy and a gateway to the Giza Pyramids and the renown wonders of the country. Its architecture is fascinating and has famous archaeological spots to visit.
Khan El Khalili Market, the city’s souk, is probably the best place to interact with the locals. There, tourists can find the perfect souvenirs to take back home and beautiful gold items. There’s plenty to choose from: handmade accessories, oils, perfumes, spices, gold artifacts, glass-stained lamps, handmade rugs, etc.! This market is also historically important as it was a major center of economic activity back in Ancient Egyptian history!
The Pyramids of Giza are a must do attraction for anyone visiting Cairo as these four dynasty funerary temples have been wowing travellers for ages. The Pyramid of Cheops or Great Pyramid is the largest one and its interior of narrow passages are open to explore. Visitors can see a plain tomb chamber and an empty sarcophagus. Behind it, there’s the Solar Boat Museum, which shows one of the ceremonial solar barques unearthed in the area that has been restored to its original glory. There’s also the Pyramid of Chephren and its internal tunnel area and the smaller Pyramid of Mycerinus. Guarding them is the famous Sphynx, the lion-bodied figure with a human face, an iconic monument! While in Giza, don’t miss the chance to go on a camel ride!
The Egyptian Museum has a stunning collection of antiquities and it is absolutely impressive! The Tutankhamun Galleries display the treasures found in his tomb by Howard Carter in the early 1920s; the highlights include Tutankhamun’s death mask and sarcophagi, his lion throne and wonderful jewelry collection. Don’t leave without saying hello to the mummies of Hatshepsut, Tuthmosis II, Ramses II and Seti I in the Royal Mummies Collection hall. The ground floor is organized by historical period while the second floor is dedicated to papyrus, jewelry items, tools and gadgets.
The modern city of Luxor, which used to be Thebes in Ancient Egypt is an open-air museum. Located by the River Nile, is the place of grand temples that are either in excellent conditions or perfectly restored: the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, the hieroglyph-lined Karnak Temple and the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut are only some of them.
The Temple of Karnak is a stunning complex. Within its precincts are the Great Temple of Amun,the Festival Temple of Tuthmosis III and the Temple of Khons amongst other buildings.
The Luxor Museum is one of the country’s best museums and it holds a rich and well-displayed collection of artifacts that tell the story of ancient Thebes. Amongst its most precious possessions, there are two Royal Mummies of Ahmose I and Ramses I, amulets, grave and tomb furnishings, and the re-erected Wall of Akhenaten (238 sandstone blocks that used to belong to Akhenaten’s Temple of the Sun at Karnak).
If you’re interested in Egyptian mummies, then don’t forget to visit the Mummification Museum. It’s small but the fascination and it explains the processes behind this Egyptian practice with the aid of clear and informative displays. The exhibits include actual mummies and the tools used in the process.
No trip to Egypt will be complete without enjoying the Nile. Book a Nile cruise and admire the country’s marvels from this natural stage. There are fine hotels, cafés and restaurants in the cities by the Nile and they offer a picture-perfect frame for wonderful holidays in the Middle East.