The Middle East is quite simply extraordinary, one of the world's most fascinating and rewarding travel destinations. It was here that some of the most significant civilisations of antiquity rose and fell and where the three great monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - were born. Left behind is an astonishing open-air museum of ancient cities and historic buildings, the stones of which still resonate with the sounds of the faithful.
The Middle East is home to some of the world's most significant cities - Jerusalem, Cairo, Damascus, Baghdad and ─░stanbul. The ruins of the once similarly epic cities of history - Petra, Persepolis, Ephesus, Palmyra, Baalbek, Leptis Magna and the bounty of ancient Egypt - also mark the passage of centuries in a region where the ancient world lives and breathes.

The landscapes of the region are equally spellbinding, from the unrivalled seas of sand dunes and palm-fringed lakes in Libya's Sahara desert to the stunning mountains of the north and the underwater world of the Red Sea.

Above all else, however, your most enduring memory of the Middle East is likely to be its people. Their gracious welcome, many kindnesses and boundless hospitality speak of an altogether more civilised age.

From the gravitas of the Sahara to the blue tiles of Esfahan, this is a region for discerning travellers, for those looking for the story behind the headline, and where the bridges between ancient and modern civilisations are everywhere evident. If you believe what the media tells you and decide not to visit, you'd be missing out on the journey of a lifetime.

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