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If there’s one positive to come from the recent tension between the West and the Islamic world, it’s a renewed fascination with the Middle East. While Africa can claim to be the cradle of mankind, the Fertile Crescent incorporating latter day Israel and Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran remains the place where sophisticated societies first evolved.
A wonderful destination combining beautiful beachfront properties and dramatic mountain and desert landscapes to explore.
It's time to visit one of the most vibrant destinations in the Middle East.
Back with a vengeance, Beirut is the ultimate party town, and there's plenty more to do besides in Lebanon from skiing to cultural sites.
Shop the souqs and the malls, stay in a luxury hotel and enjoy water sports and a desert safari.
For a small country, Jordan packs an impressive punch in terms of history, culture and scenery, and the proximity of its key sights makes a holiday to Jordan ideal for the time-pressed traveller. Several of the Original Travel team have explored Jordan, and foremost among those sights on a holiday to Jordan are Petra, the fabled ‘rose-red city half as old as time’ and the inspiring desert landscapes of Wadi Rum.
With an almost guaranteed 300 days of sunshine a year, Abu Dhabi is the ideal winter break destination.
Yes, seriously. Set aside your misconceptions and consider visiting one of the most fascinating countries on the planet.
Oman has some excellent and – relatively – unspoilt diving along long stretches of its coastline, and there are sure to be new dive sites discovered in the coming years.
You can witness displays of falconry if you are staying in one of the two excellent desert hotels, Bab al Shams or Al Maha.
Explore wadis and the desert in a 4x4 expedition with an expert guide.
After seeing the sites of Amman, explore the King’s Highway with a knowledgeable driver or guide.
One of the finest preserved Greco - Roman cities in the Middle East and within easy reach of Amman, it truly is a place to let your imagination run wild and to lose yourself in history.
The lowest point on Earth lies at 1,200 feet below sea level, where the Jordan River empties into the Dead Sea.
Explore the vast, hugely romantic swathes of desert made famous by 'Lawrence of Arabia'.
Petra was carved from pink sandstone cliffs by the Nabataeans some two millennia ago, and left undisturbed until its rediscovery in 1812.
The waters of the Arabian Gulf are home to a staggering number of dolphins and migrating whales.
Spend an afternoon and overnight on a traditional dhow for the perfect romantic getaway from Muscat’s hotels.
Only available at the Six Senses Hideaway Zighy Bay, and quite some way to arrive into the hotel.
A tailor-made guided desert safaris is the ideal way to take in the very best scenery that Oman has to offer, and Original Travel can personalise an itinerary to suit your exact requirements.
A four-wheel drive tour into the breathtaking Empty Quarter, of Wilfred Thesiger fame, where a mobile camp awaits.
Original Travel has exclusive access to the private camps on the beach near Salalah and the Empty Quarter.
Just because a city is ancient in the extreme doesn’t mean the accommodation there needs to be, and the funky Mamilla Hotel in Jerusalem is a contemporary case in point.
The beautiful but stark Negev desert was once somewhere to observe from the window of an air conditioned car on route to Eilat and the Red Sea, but the opening of the Beresheet Hotel in 2011 has changed all that.
The brand new Royal Beach Hotel is the first large luxury hotel in Tel Aviv since way back in 1999. It was well worth the wait.
With apologies to Normans everywhere, the funkiest new luxury hotel in Tel Aviv could have come up with a cooler name. Moniker aside, we are extremely excited about the opening this August of The Norman – great location, iconic Bauhaus exterior (created from two 1920s buildings), Israeli contemporary art adorning the walls and immaculate rooms. Oh, and a rooftop pool.
In the running for best boutique hotel in Tel Aviv, the Alma Hotel & Lounge sits pistachio pretty in the heart of Tel Aviv’s famed Bauhaus White City district.
Located in the heart of old Beirut in the district of Achrafieh, the Albergo is one of Beirut’s finest places to stay, and by far the best heritage hotel.
Gordon Campbell Gray's hotel in Central District has created a real buzz in Beirut and is a real vote of confidence in the city's rebirth.
The resort was designed to resemble a Bedouin encampment, and overlooks open plains and dune belts, with the Hajar Mountains in the distance.
The resort is styled as a traditional Arabian fortress, with the rooms located in clusters of two-storey buildings around the atmospheric complex.
The luxurious suites, each with its own Jacuzzi and private balcony or garden, are housed in Polynesian-style low rise buildings, set amidst the landscaped gardens.
Madinat is split into four areas, and even though the resort is large, each one of the hotels leaves the guest with a feeling of relaxation and tranquillity in the most luxurious of surroundings.
The Royal Mirage is comprised of three different properties, the Palace is the largest of the three, and the most family-friendly; the Residence is an exclusive boutique hotel and the most luxurious, and the Arabian Court fits neatly between the two.
We know, we know – the Banyan Tree Al Wadi is not technically in Dubai but actually neighbouring Emirate Ras Al-Khaimah, but it’s a mere 28 miles from Dubai Airport so we’re going with it!
Arranged around a central fireplace, the camp offers simple but comfortable accommodation, and basic bathroom facilities.
All rooms and suites face the Dead Sea and have a spacious outdoor balcony, terrace or veranda.
At 860ft below sea level, the Evason Ma’in Hot Springs is surrounded by spectacular mountain landscapes and natural hot springs just a short drive from the Dead Sea, the single lowest place on the planet. The hotel is designed as an elegant retreat, complete with a wide range of pampering treatments, many of which incorporate the benefits of the Ma’in hot springs themselves.
The Four Seasons in Amman is arguably Jordan’s most luxurious hotel.
The hotel has a contemporary exterior and a luxuriant interior based on Arabic and oriental design.
Playing to Abu Dhabi's natural strengths, the Qasr al Sarab is situated deep in the dunes of the fabled Empty Quarter, the largest sand sea in the world.
Located on the eastern shore of Sir Bani Yas Island, a private nature reserve just off Abu Dhabi’s coast, Al Yamm Villas is a boutique hotel from Anantara, and is an excellent option for couples.
Opening in late 2013, the newest addition to the Anantara stronghold of Sir Bani Yas Island is a private paradise in the midst of the wild savannah plains and salt-domed hilltops.
The Shangri-la is blessed with possibly the best view in Abu Dhabi, looking across the water to the imposing Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
Abu Dhabi wanted to make a big statement when it arrived onto the international tourist destination stage, and what better statement than the Emirates Palace?
Saadiyat Island is arguably the centrepiece of Abu Dhabi's rulers' vision for the Emirate, and the St Regis is the place to stay on the island.
If Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island is the 'cultural island', home to museums and exhibition centres, then Yas Island is the noisy neighbour next door with attitude and (if we're honest) a bit more pazazz.
Located on a five mile long stretch of beach on Saadiyat Island, the Park Hyatt is in a fantastic position and pretty much has it all.
Sir Bani Yas Island off the coast of Abu Dhabi is home to one of the more Original hotels around. Once a private game reserve island owned by the late founder of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan, the animals have remained, and the former Sheikh's lodge has been turned into an immaculate hotel.
The award-winning Chedi is one of the top hotels in the Gulf region.
Fully renovated in 2008, the hotel has the most comprehensive facilities in the region, including a 1km curve of sandy beach and acres of tropical gardens dotted with palm trees.
Situated on a dramatic stretch of coastline just outside Muscat, the hotels are set amid 124 acres overlooking a private bay, with rugged mountains to the rear.
That the three great monotheistic world religions also sprung from the region only adds to a heady sense of cultural significance.
And what a lot's on offer. Aside from some of the most glorious Islamic architecture to be found anywhere, there are well-preserved Roman sites stretching the length of the Mediterranean Coast, shopaholic sating souqs, excellent luxury hotels and romantic riads, and yes, some lovely beaches as well. We've visited them all and believe strongly in the power of comparison that allows us - which city has the best souqs, Marrakech or Istanbul? Tough one, but Marrakech wins, and we can tell you about our favourite shops in the depths of those souqs. Which ancient city is more of a must-see? Petra in Jordan or Leptis Magna in Libya? If you had to choose, it has to be Petra, but both should feature on any wishlist of future travels.
Quite frankly no-one knows the Middle East and North Africa like we do, and we look forward to talking you through the best this wonderful region has to offer.
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