If you listen to the news, read a newspaper, or even simply browse the Internet from time to time, you will no doubt have read an awful lot about the world’s troubles, many of which are situated in the Middle East, Syria in particular. We can’t avoid the fact that this is a part of the world which does see troubles, but it’s important to balance that view with the fact that the Middle East as a whole is huge with a capital H.

Made up of many countries, including Israel, Oman, Qatar, Iran, Bahrain, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, UAE, some of Turkey, as well as Syria, to name a few, the Middle East is also a region which is rich in culture, beliefs, traditions, and beautiful scenery to make you sit up and take notice. It would be a crime not to explore this stunning region of the world, as well as its rich history too, but when you constantly read about it in a negative way in the news, does it make you want to go?

There is a lot of misunderstanding connected to this part of the world, and perhaps that is because it is so wildly different in culture and traditions to the rest of the western world – maybe we just don’t understand a lot of it. Having said that, we can’t avoid the fact that there is currently one major problem situated in this region of the world – Syria.

If we’re talking about whether it is safe to visit the Middle East, yes on the whole, but avoid Syria at all costs until you are officially told otherwise.

Basically, provided you listen to Government advice, take precautions, and plan your trip properly, there is no reason why you can’t enjoy the Middle East, a rich and diverse part of the world, in fact you will probably find it to be one of your favourites.

So, let’s talk precautions.

If you are a woman, you will need to dress appropriately in most Middle Eastern countries, although some are more relaxed than others. You won’t need to cover your head in all countries in this region, although it’s wise to take a pashmina to wear over your head if the need arises. If you’re visiting a more conservative area, such as Iran for instance, then covering your head is a must. This is where research comes in.

You will also be required to cover shoulders, arms, chest, and in some cases wear a dress or trousers which reaches your ankles – again, not everywhere, so this is down to research again. It’s all about being respectful of cultures and customs.

As with anywhere else in the world, don’t trust people at first meeting, don’t drink too much, stay in touch with people back home, check in regularly, keep your wits about you, and listen to your gut – visiting the Middle East in that respect is no different to anywhere else in the world.

Of course, if you’re feeling a little nervous about the experience but you’re still keen to visit, you’ll find guided tours which will give you something of a comfort blanket, so this could be an option for you.

The mentality that the Middle East in its entirety is dangerous is basically very wrong indeed.

Photo Credit: Jason Mrachina

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