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[[Image:Dubai_Creek%2C_Dubai%2C_UAE.JPG|thumb|250px|Traditional boats backed by the quickly rising skyline of [[Dubai]]]]
* [[Amman]] — experiencing a massive change from a quiet sleepy village to a bustling metropolis
* [[Beirut]] — a true cosmopolitan city, the commercial and financial hub of [[Lebanon]]
* [[Jerusalem]] — containing the [[UNESCO World Heritage Site]] of the Old City, this city is sacred for Jews, Christians and Muslims.
* [[Mecca]] — forbidden for non-Muslims to enter, this is the holiest city in Islam mostly known for the [[Hajj]]
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* [[Madain Saleh]] — a Nabataean city hewed out of rock in the same style as Jordan's far more famous [[Petra]]
* [[Palmyra]] — stunning ruins and a lush oasis adjacent to the city
* [[Persepolis]] — the ceremonial capital of the Persian Empire during the Achaemenid dynasty, close to modern [[Shiraz]]
* [[Petra]] — one of the 'New Seven Wonders', Petra is the breathtaking capital of the Nabataean kingdom from around the 6th century BC
* [[Samarra]] — archaeological and Shi'a holy sites, including the tombs of several Shi'a Imams in [[Iraq]]
[[Arabic phrasebook|Arabic]] is the primary language of the region, and the main language in all Middle Eastern countries except [[Iran]] (where [[Persian phrasebook|Persian]] predominates), [[Turkey]] ([[Turkish phrasebook|Turkish]]) and [[Israel]] ([[Hebrew phrasebook|Hebrew]]). Even in those countries, Arabic is fairly common as a second language; in Israel, Arabic is a second official language. [[Yiddish]], [[Ladino]], [[Kurdish]], [[Azerbaijani_phrasebook|Azeri]], [[Armenian]] and several other languages are also spoken in some regions.
English is moderately common in tourist areas and generally rare elsewhere. In Turkey, some German is spoken because many Turks work in Germany.
[[Image:Arabic MixedGrill.JPG|thumb|240px|A fancy Arabic mixed grill. Clockwise from top: lamb ''kofta'', chicken ''shish tawuk'', beef ''shish kebab'', ''rozz'' (Arabic rice), vegetables.]]
Cookery provides obvious evidence of the extent of Middle Eastern influence. Turkish ''doner kebab'', Greek ''gyros'' and the ''shawarma'' of the Arab countries (everywhere from Oman to Morocco) are all basically the same dish. A traveller going overland from Europe to India will find very similar dishes — notably flat breads and kebabs — in every country from Greece to India. These are also seen in [[Central Asia]] and even [[China]]. Many Greek dishes are closer to Iranian cooking than to Italian.
Planning a visit to the Middle East can be complicated in various ways:
* Some countries and territories in the area, such as [[Iraq]] and the [[Gaza Strip]], are in a state of war and should not be visited. See [[War zone safety]] if you must go.
* Some countries, such as [[Saudi Arabia]], do not issue tourist visas except for a few expensive tours.
* Some countries in the region have strict Islamic Law, with heavy penalties for [[Gay_and_lesbian_travel#Dangerous_destinations|homosexuality]], adultery and other offenses. * Many countries in the region do not recognize the state of [[Israel]] for many reasons. These nations may refuse you entry if you have an Israeli visa or an Israeli stamp in your passport, or even a visa for another country that was issued in Israel. The Israeli authorities will generally help you avoid these problems by providing a visa as a separate document so it is not in your passport, however now this has been discontinued; see the [[Israel]] article for details. Only [[Turkey]], [[Egypt]] and [[Jordan]] have official relations with Israel.* For most of the area, suggestions in [[Tips for travel in developing countries]] apply
* [[Caucasus]] — the lush and beautiful Caucasus is a short hop north from Iran.