Middle East Countries


Once the center of the Ottoman Empire, the modern secular republic was established in the 1920s by nationalist leader Kemal Ataturk.  Straddling the continents of Europe and Asia, Turkey’s strategically important location has given it major influence in the region, and control over the entrance to the Black Sea. Turkey  is a curious mix of the west and the east  But the faith of the bulk of the population is Islam.

A 360-spectacular view of the Black Sea

We visited Istanbul, Kusadasi, Troy, Ephesus, Pamukkale, and Cappadocia in 2009 as part of our 3-week Eastern Europe and Turkey trip.


Israel was established as a state for the Jewish people, following the Second World War. Israel is considered part of the Holy Land (together with areas of Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Territories). The three major monotheistic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—all have historical ties to the region. Israel has a vibrant modern history and culture, based in part on the diverse, immigrant origins of its inhabitants returning from the Jewish Diaspora.

At Jerusalem, we observed a Bar Mitzvah ceremony.

We visited Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Dead Sea in 2012 as part of our 23-day Egypt, Jordan & Israel trip.


Jordon is a young state that occupies an ancient land, one that bears the traces of many civilizations.   Part of the Ottoman Empire until 1918 and later a mandate of the United Kingdom, Jordan has been an independent kingdom since 1946. It is among the most politically liberal countries of the Arab world.

A thrilling ride on a 4×4 at Wadi Rum desert

We visited Amman, Petra, Wadi Rum, Madaba, and Jerash in 2012 as part of our 23-day Egypt, Jordan & Israel trip.


The Empty quarter, Bidiyah

We visited Muscat, Nizwa, Bidiyah, and Jebel Shams in 2016 as part of our UAE, Oman and Qatar trip.


The areas claimed by the State of Palestine lie in the Levant. The Gaza Strip borders the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Egypt to the south, and Israel to the north and east. The West Bank is bordered by Jordan to the east, and Israel to the north, south, and west. Thus, the two enclaves constituting the area claimed by State of Palestine have no geographical border with one another, being separated by Israel. These areas would constitute the world’s 163rd largest country by land area.  

A group of Palestinian high school students visiting the Church

We visited Bethlehem in 2012 as part of our 23-day Egypt, Jordan & Israel trip.


Since the mid-1800s, Qatar transformed itself from a British protectorate into an independent state with significant oil and natural gas revenues, which enable Qatar to have a per capita income almost above the leading industrial countries of Western Europe.

Pearl Monument on the Corniche of Doha Bay

We visited Doha, Al Zubarah, and Al Khor in 2016 as part of our UAE, Oman and Qatar trip.

United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven emirates on the eastern side of the Arabian peninsula, at the entrance to the Persian Gulf. Each of the Emirates is an absolute monarchy headed by its own sheikh (or ruler). Each emirate retains considerable autonomy, each with their own laws.  It is a modern and dynamic country, rich in history and culture, and an easy starting point for travels in the Middle East.

At Abu Dhabi, this Emirati showed me how to wear my headscarf.

We visited Dubai and Abu Dhabi in 2016 as part of our UAE, Oman and Qatar trip.

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