One of the first things you may notice while sailing around the Middle East is how diverse the landscape is. Oman is highly regarded for its extraordinary natural beauty, and wherever you venture to, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views. As you arrive into the cruise port in Muscat, situated in Northern Oman, you can gaze in awe over the Hajar Mountains, and catch a rare chance to view the majestic Mountain Gazelle.
During your stay in Oman, why not take an excursion to the barren desert plains of the Empty Quarter or visit the sandy dunes of Central Oman. No matter what you decide to do with your time in Oman, it’s difficult to find anywhere in the country that isn’t naturally vibrant and incredible.
On the other side of the landscape scale are the many areas of the Middle East that are becoming major tourist attractions - those that are building bigger and better man-made buildings, sculptures, and structures to rival places such as New York and Las Vegas for example. In fact, Dubai is the Middle East’s answer to the exciting, cosmopolitan, and futuristic cities of the west. The Burj Khalifa is currently the tallest building in the world, while the Dubai Fountain holds the world record for the largest dancing fountains, by far overtaking the famous fountains that line Las Vegas’ luxurious Bellagio Resort.
In a part of the world that is generally known for its history and tradition, its old treasures and hidden cities, these modern and contemporary offerings are somewhat unbelievable. Historically speaking, some parts of the Middle East are not only some of the most important places in the world, but also some of the best preserved examples of long forgotten cultures and civilisations. The lost city of Petra, for example, gives a real insight into the extent and grandeur of the Roman settlers and their architecture. The gigantic Roman theatre, the Royal tombs, and the places of worship are some of the best preserved ruins in Petra, and are truly incredible to see in person.
Of course, it’s not just history and geography buffs who enjoy a visit to Petra - movie lovers are also known to visit the site, marvelling at the landmarks featured in Indiana Jones!
The waters of the Red Sea are famed the world over as a diver’s delight. The temperature of the sea remains between 21 and 28 degrees Celsius all year round, making it the perfect temperature for taking a dip, and the dive sites are both challenging and interesting. The Egyptian coastlines are also considered some of the best places to dive, with the seemingly magical caves of Ras Nasrani, the wonderful eel garden at the White Knight location, and the mysterious deep canyons of the Tower dive site near Sharm El Sheikh.
Not into water sports? No problem. Back on dry land you can treat yourself to a few trinkets and souvenirs whilst shopping in cool, modern, air-conditioned complexes or you can choose a more authentic Middle Eastern experience with a visit to one of the various spice-scented bazaars and souks. Gold, incense sticks, perfumes, and rugs are some of the most popular buys for tourists to the Middle East.
A Middle East cruise showcases the delightful riches of colourful and ancient civilisations as well as boasting a melting pot of Arabic, African, Asian, and European cultures, showing the staggering diversity the Middle East has to offer. More and more cruise lines are incorporating Middle Eastern itineraries into their schedules, and the ports are constantly being renovated and rejuvenated to attract more cruise passengers.
There has never been a better time to cruise around the Middle East!