Gertrude Bell, one of the most famous travelers to the Middle East, said, “Few such moments of exhilaration can come as that which stands at the threshold of wild travel.” The Middle East is, without a doubt, adventure country par excellence. Wide expanses of desert dotted with lush green oases, colorful underwater seascapes, and hidden cities carved in stone inspire exploration in the grand tradition of Lawrence of Arabia and Indiana Jones.

The Middle East’s long-standing and dynamic socio-political canvas is just as colorful as its landscape: ancient civilizations have left rich archaeological records of human struggle and achievement that are no less compelling than the contemporary drama of the Middle East struggle for peace. Five of the seven wonders of the ancient world, numerous relics from three major faiths, and the first written alphabet are only pieces of the historical puzzle. The challenges of politics today range from the preservation of Bedouin traditional lifestyles in modern nation-states like Egypt to the attempts at resolving the crisis between Israel and the Palestinians. Despite the vast diversity of political views, religious beliefs, and economic status in the region, all of its inhabitants adhere to one very strong belief: the profound importance of hospitality.

As a traveler, you will encounter difficulties navigating shifty bus schedules, phantom trains, and stubborn camels. You will take in the Pyramids at Giza, gasp in awe at the lost city of Petra in Jordan, and admire Cappadocia’s natural splendor in Turkey. And yet, at the end of the journey, your most striking memory is most likely to be sipping a cup of ahwa (coffee) while discussing the meaning of life with a spice vendor in a small corner of a souq (market).

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