Rising from Arabia’s desert sand, the cities of the Middle East gleam in the hot sun, towering testaments to the ingenuity of the designers and builders of the vast skyscrapers that mark the horizon. Dig beneath the surface and you’ll discover an intriguing heritage that stretches back thousands of years.
Close to Aqaba, your emergence from the gorge that leads into the ancient rose-red city of Petra, many of its buildings carved into the solid cliff face, is a moment you’ll always remember. That may also be true of an ascent of Dubai’s ultra modern Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. You could follow the Frankincense trail in Oman. Our Middle East cruises also open up the possibility of reaching the awe-inspiring pyramids at Giza in Egypt, or even the incredible temple complexes of Luxor and Karnak.
The Arabian Peninsula has changed beyond all recognition in the past century, thanks mainly to the discovery of oil which has made the small states that make up the region unimaginably wealthy. Prior to this relatively recent development, the Middle East was largely traditional desert with farmers, traders plying the wares across the region and fishermen taking advantage of the fertile Gulf waters.
The Middle East is a mix of traditional eastern cultures and modern western influences. For example, you’ll find towering glass skyscrapers with traditional Middle Eastern décor and flourishes. Heading away from the cities during your cruise around the Middle East, you’ll find more traditional culture with camel racing and hunting with falcons amongst the pastimes enjoyed by locals.
On any Middle East cruise, expect to find staple ingredients of olives and olive oil, pittas, honey, sesame seeds, dates, sumac, chickpeas, mint and parsley. Lamb is the favoured meat and you can find some wonderful dishes – often featuring spiced, grilled lamb on kebab skewers.