As I am back in New York now and have had a very long flight home to reflect on my trip to the Middle East, I have a few thoughts. First, the Middle East is a very pleasant place to visit. The people are very nice in all of the countries that I visited and I never felt unsafe at any time in any country. In fact, they were more hospitable than most western places that you could go to. The streets are generally clean and most countries, especially the new Gulf countries have all of the comforts of home.
Second, the Middle East is not a place to go for a very exciting nightlife scene. The Muslim countries are obviously much more conservative than western countries and there are generally only bars in big hotels and they are very tame at that. There are obviously some exceptions, mainly in Dubai, Beirut and Damascus but again-it’s not a place you are going to really experience nightlife or anything like that.
Third, the mall culture is either heaven or hell depending on who you are and if you like to shop or not. All of the new Gulf countries (Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE) have humongous malls and incredible amounts of duty free shopping. They are generally packed places to be and also tend to be the center of the social scenes in these countries.
Fourth, the food is great. Middle Eastern food is excellent and the restaurants all have good food but the best in my opinion is always from the food stalls in the streets. They may not be the cleanest places on Earth but they sure do have some good food. Just keep an eye on how they are preparing the food because hand washing is not the most common thing out there.
Fifth, Yemen and Oman are two of the most beautiful and picturesque countries imagineable. The natural scenery of both countries is hard to fathom because it is that nice. These are generally forgotten countries and haven’t been spoiled by mass tourism and are really a treat.
There are many other thoughts as well but in general, the Middle East was a nice trip to be on and I would recommend certain things to people to see and plenty to not bother with. Keep in mind that these places are very safe, nobody brings up politics and they are also very expensive in general, especially the new Gulf countries. However, with an appropriate amount of time for each place, you can see many places in a short periods of time and not get hit too bad with costs. Few places require long amounts of time to see thoroughly but just be sure to get out of the cities and see some of the countryside…or should I say desert and beaches.