This August, residents of the UAE have a four day break to look forward to for some rest and relaxation. The festival of Eid will be celebrated from August 10 to 13, meaning employees will have Saturday to Tuesday off work. Long weekends provide a great window for a quick escape out of the city for a change of scenery. Surrounded by neighbouring countries with rich and captivating histories and scenic sites aplenty, here are a few countries you might want to tick off your travel bucket list sooner rather than later!
Jordan is one of the safest and most peaceful places in the Middle East with endless opportunities for adventure waiting for the eager traveller. Archaeological sites abound in this ancient country with the most famous probably being the sandstone city of Petra. Carved into the cliffs by the ancient Nabataean civilisation, tourists come from all over the world to catch a glimpse of the momentous Treasury.
The journey doesn’t stop there though, a hike through the lands of Petra will reveal other archaeological marvels and natural wonders. Chase the sunset on a camel back-ride through the orange desert plains of Wadi Rums or go further north to the ancient town of Jerash for one of the best preserved towns from Roman antiquity. For a break from the desert sands, the Dead Sea lies in a pocket along the eastern shore of Jordan waiting with its buoyant waters and salty waves.
Europe and the Middle East collide in the land of Morocco where stories of traders and nomads meeting as old friends in the streets are passed down through the centuries. No two cities are alike in this country where old-world charm and new-age innovation, combined with delightfully friendly locals, creates an atmosphere both harmonious and exciting.
Food in Morocco is an eclectic experience combining the best elements of all who’ve passed through its lands. Arab, Berber, French and other influences can be tasted in the local cuisine served in hearty portions. Towering minarets and grandiose mosques impress with their stunning architecture while ancient winding medinas draw you in with colours, spices and tantalising sights of snake charmers, fortune tellers and eager merchants selling handmade craft items.With so much to offer, enjoying Morocco is an easy feat for any traveller.
Lebanon is home to Beirut, the Middle East’s liveliest city. With a racing nightlife full of glitz, glamour and grit this party city will leave you intoxicated with its buzzing energy and lively people. If you desire something a little calmer, Lebanon also has plenty of beautiful natural sites both scenic and serene. With swaths of mountainscapes, lush cedar forests, and southern coastlines featuring enchanting beaches with turquoise waters, the Lebanese have the best of both worlds when it comes to rest and relaxation.
With much more than a few party tricks up her sleeve, this little Mediterranean nation also boasts an iconic national cuisine full of spice-packed, mouth watering delicacies. Despite the troubles that have befallen this country in recent years, Lebanon is a hearty country sure to please any traveller in search of adventure.
The wonders of Egypt need no introduction. This is the ancient land of the Great Giza Pyramids and the life-giving Nile. Monuments and sites are found everywhere under the sweltering Egyptian sun with Pharaonic Temples, towering statues, royal tombs and more museums than you can count on both hands and feet.
Egypt is a sure paradise for the historically-inclined, but its modern side also has just as much to offer. With its fair share of modern resorts and a thriving contemporary art and music scene, Egypt is fast becoming known as much for its contemporary as it is for its traditional attractions. Some of the best diving sites the Middle East has to offer can be found off the coast of Marsa Alam where the Red Sea’s natural bounty of jewel-like reefs and exotic sea-creatures wait to be discovered by enthusiastic scuba divers.
Croatia is every dreamer’s mediterranian wonderland. Featuring idyllic islands, scenic spots and the sapphire splendour of the Adriatic sea to boot, travellers who chose to visit Croatia usually look forward to an island-hopping adventure besides enjoying the attractions of the country’s mainland.
Dubrovnik’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years due to HBO’s Game of Thrones using it as a filming location The old town allure of limestone streets, charming stone buildings, ancient city walls, and terracotta tiled rooftops imprints the image of an ideal medieval town. From Dubrovnik, travel out on little taxi boats to Lokrum or the Elafiri Islands for a change of scenery. Foodies will gravitate towards Istria, the gastronomical hub of the country. Here, the inclusion of truffle in every dish is practically a way of life with shaving liberally sprinkled on top of many dishes. The finest extra-virgin olive oil, freshest seafood fished from the neighbouring sea and other mouth-watering delicacies await in this town.
If you’re looking to leave the region altogether, Thailand might be the perfect country for your long-weekend. This is a country generous with its charm and hospitality. Perennially popular as a tourist hub, gilded temples, swaths of stunning beaches and a delicious national cuisine featuring a mix of sweet, spicy and sour flavours can be found found in Thailand.
Relax sunbathing on a beach or opt for a traditional Thai massage at Wat Pho temple. Those seeking a bit more greenery can travel up north to Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai for a trek into the lush mountainous jungles for waterfalls and tropical scapes, historical ruins of ancient settlements or a night spent with an ethnic hill tribe. Alternatively, if you’re looking to shop until you drop, Bangkok is the perfect destination where a mix of upmarket international commercial chain stores and rowdy local street markets selling authentic hand-made items can be found.