Coveted by empires across the centuries, straddling both Europe and Asia, Istanbul is one of the world’s great metropolises. Founded around 1000 BC, the colony of Byzantium grew into the Byzantine Empire’s great capital of Constantinople and after the Ottoman conquest of the city, retained its glorious place as the heart of their empire. The city (officially renamed Istanbul after the founding of the Turkish Republic) is liberally scattered with glorious remnants of its long and illustrious history ,and the sightseeing here will impress even the most monument-weary visitor.
As well as the big four (Aya Sofya, Topkapı Palace, Blue Mosque, and Grand Bazaar) leave enough time to explore the many other sights. Although many tourist attractions are located in, or near, the old city district of Sultanahmet, there is a dazzling array of other tourist attractions throughout the further reaches of the city.
Mashhad is Iran’s holiest and second-biggest city. Its raison d’être and main sight is the beautiful, massive and ever-growing Haram (shrine complex) commemorating the AD 817 martyrdom of Shia Islam’s eighth Imam, Imam Reza. The pain of Imam Reza’s death is still felt very personally over a millennium later and around 20 million pilgrims converge here each year to pay their respects (and no small amount of money) to the Imam. Witnessing their tears is a moving experience, even if you’re not a Muslim yourself. If you notice a lot of young couples, that’s because the city’s also a haven for honeymooners, who believe sharing it with the Imam will bless their marriage. Away from the Haram Complex, Mashhad is a good place to buy carpets, it’s a natural staging post for travel to Turkmenistan or Afghanistan, and offers many interesting excursions into little-touristed Khorasan.
Amman, the capital of Jordan, is a fascinating city of contrasts – a unique blend of old and new, ideally situated on a hilly area between the desert and the fertile Jordan Valley.
In the commercial heart of the city, ultra-modern buildings, hotels, smart restaurants, art galleries and boutiques rub shoulders comfortably with traditional coffee shops and tiny artisans’ workshops. Everywhere there is evidence of the city’s much older past.
The culture of Dubai is ingrained in Islam, but increasing globalisation and immigration of various nationalities have transformed the emirate into a melting pot of diverse sensibilities.
However, the influence of traditional Arab culture is prominently seen on its museums, festivals, music and attire. Generosity and hospitality are the most highly prized virtues of in the Arab world, and tourists are welcomed with utmost affection and friendliness. Since 2006, the weekend in Dubai has been shifted to Friday – Saturday, as a token of respect for Friday’s holiness to Muslims and Western weekend of Saturday and Sunday. Although Dubai’s Arab society is open to all cultures, it is important for tourists to respect the Muslim traditions.
Captivating culture, breath-taking luxury, exhilarating adventure and the warmth of Arabian hospitality await you in Abu Dhabi.
Feel awed by one of the worlds top landmarks ? the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – take on the planets fastest roller coaster at Ferrari Would Abu Dhabi, zoom to the pace of a speedboat tour of the UAE capitals coastline, tune to the sound of the wind while sand skiing in our Western Region, and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of a stroll through Al Ain’s cooling oases.
Choose from a myriad of hotels and apartments, from the iconic Emirates Palace, Yas Viceroy and Hyatt Capital Gate to exciting island and beachfront resorts and desert retreats. Experience ultra-modern breaks in the city centre, family adventures on Yas Island or luxurious havens on Saadiyat Island.
Dine at an 18 degrees incline in the worlds furthest leaning tower, savour a romantic BBQ at Emirates Palace, one of the worlds most opulent hotels, enjoy 360 degrees city views from revolving restaurants or taste the masterful cuisine of Michelin-starred chefs!
Abu Dhabi is an eventful capital with an action-packed calendar, including a Grand Prix, the World Cup of Sailing, a PGA golf championship, international art, music, sport, gourmet, heritage and cultural festivals, high profile business conferences and vibrant trade fairs.
The city of Tabriz is the capital of East Azerbaijan province and is one of the most important economic and political centres of modern Iran. Until the 1970s it was also Iran’s second largest city after Tehran. Modern Tabriz is known for being particularly welcoming to foreign travellers and its younger generation have a good a command of English. Tabriz is situated north of the beautiful Mt. Sahand at an altitude of 1340m on a plain surrounded on three sides by mountains.
The plain slopes gently down to the northern part of lake Orumieh which is approximately 60km to the West. A pleasantly mild summer climate makes it a popular getaway for Iranians living in the sun-baked interior and snowy winters bring large numbers of winter sports enthusiasts.
Sophisticated Antalya is a definite tourist hub, and with a population approaching the 1-million mark, it’s among Turkey’s fastest growing cities. These days the international terminals of Antalya airport are busier even than those in Istanbul. Most visitors are on package tours, but Antalya is a popular destination among Turks, too. Enormous hotels east of the city help accommodate them; however,
you can bed down in one of the restored mansions orpansiyons found in the atmospheric Kaleiçi quarter and hardly notice the big urban conglomeration all around. On the hilltop above the harbor are tea gardens and bars with views that extend south to the Bey Mountains and north to the Taurus Mountains.
Jeddah is on the Red Sea in western Saudi Arabia. It the kingdom’s second largest city, with a population of approximately 3,400,000, and a major commercial center in the country. Jeddah is also the main entry point, either by air or sea, for pilgrims making the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, the two most sacred cities of Islam. Both are a few hours inland from Jeddah.
Kuala Lumpur, simply called KL by locals, is the federal capital and the largest city in Malaysia. Literally meaningmuddy river confluence in Malay, Kuala Lumpur has grown from a small sleepy Chinese tin-mining village to a bustling metropolis of around 6.5 million (city-proper population of 1.8 million) in just 150 years. Kuala Lumpur is cultural melting pot with some of the world’s cheapest 5-star hotels, impressive shopping districts, even better food and some of nature’s wonders just an hour away, making this a dynamic city with much to offer.
Sharjah has been selected the Capital of Arab Tourism for 2015 during the 15th session of The Arab Council of Tourism ministers in Cairo on October 18, 2012.
This title is only awarded to a destination after it demonstrates that it meets specific criteria set by the Arab Council of Tourism Ministers.
The awarded country will have illustrated how the destination enhances and positively promotes Arab tourism destinations in international markets alongside its inter-arab promotional strategy. Further criteria include, accessibility to the destination, the variety of tourism opportunities available, the importance placed on archaeological sites, the destinations infrastructure, its development and investment in tourism services, hotel capacity, regulations and licensing of accommodation which reflect a complete range of offerings to different guests for both apartments and hotels.