Middle East travel
Tensions in the Middle East have ratcheted up since the killing of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani, while the unintentional shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger jet has done little to instill confidence in travellers to the region.
I’ve visited the Middle East several times over the last 15 years and discovered a compelling part of the world which has a lot to offer.
The futuristic desert cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi are thrilling discoveries en route to chilled Indian Ocean beach holidays. Oman is more low-rise, restrained and authentic, but with a splash of luxury should you want it.
Further up the Gulf is the small state of Qatar, where I happily spent a week exploring capital city Doha and indulging in some dune bashing out in the desert. Jordan and Israel, meanwhile, have a wealth of historical treasures and the relaxing Dead Sea.
For sunshine seekers during the long UK winter, the Middle East presents opportunities for good weather and a seaside climate. But how do you decide if it’s safe to visit? Read more below the gallery
A taste of the Middle East. Click first image to view gallery
For UK travellers, the definitive place to go for advice about visiting the Middle East is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website. The information is detailed, comprehensive and updated constantly.
Iran, Iraq and war-ravaged Syria and Yemen currently carry a red warning against all travel. More popular destinations including the United Arab Emirates come with the advice that “the security situation could worsen with little warning”, while historically most visits are “trouble free”.
A whole host of other trusted travel sources, such as Fodor’s, are also providing information about the situation.
As part of my year of travel, I was very keen to visit Iran, famed for its cultural treasures, delicious cuisine and welcoming people. But I put this on ice before recent events, concerned about the government’s attitude towards LGBT issues.
I’ve also had my eye on a tour of Lebanon but am reconsidering, given the presence of Iranian-backed militias in the country.
Choosing never to travel to the Middle East again would be an oversight. The region has so much to offer and is richly photogenic.
But you don’t have to make any decisions alone – there is a lot of guidance available.