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- Middle East and North Africa
Middle East and North Africa
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, although recent troubles haven’t helped the region’s cause. 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.
That the three great monotheistic world religions also sprung from the region only adds to a heady sense of cultural significance. There can be, for instance, few places that feel quite so deliciously lived in as the old town of Damascus, claimed as the longest continually inhabited place on earth.
Combine diving with the stunning cultural and natural sights on offer in the Middle East
And what a lot 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 and diving 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.
One of the things that sets us apart from other companies is that we can offer both cultural trips and diving. And what a treat lies in store beneath the waves. The staple for UK divers is of course the Red Sea, and a trip to Sharm El Sheikh or less crowded parts of this coastline is the most accessible, world-class diving destination for those of us based in the UK. Undiscovered it is not but it is still home so some stunning coral and abundant marine life, especially if you know where to look.
It's not all just about the Red Sea...
Apart from Egypt there is diving in the Middle East in the far less crowded Oman which has long been a favourite destination of ours and offers a very different diving experience to the Red Sea. And we are constantly on the lookout for new hotels and boats that fit the bill. Soon to come we hope Sudan and Djibouti. Watch this Middle Eastern space…