Travelling around the Middle East is overwhelming and unforgettable. The Middle East has something to offer to every traveler: beaches, mountains, fauna, scenic beauty, luxury hotels, historical monuments, rich culture – a treat for all the senses. The experience will leave you a little exhausted; because there’s always something more to see.
This wonderful land is riddled with so many mysteries and astonishing things which are at times uncanny. It is almost as if every corner of this land has something waiting to be unraveled, just like these:
1. Marble village of Dhee Ayn – Al Baha, Saudi Arabia
The village got the moniker “Marble Village,” for the rocky outcrop it is built upon. Surprisingly, the houses of the village itself are not made of marble, but instead of flake stones similar to other villages in the Al Baha region. The gray mountains that tower behind the outcrop and the green fields in the foreground add to the beauty of this picturesque village.
2. Wadi Jin (Valley of the Jinnis) – Saudi Arabia
Wadi Al-Baida, also called Wadi Al-Jinn, is a mysterious valley where cars move uphill even when their engines are off! The valley is situated some 30 km northwest of Madinah. It draws thousands of locals and visitors from around the around the country – leaving them all baffled by the phenomenon.
Many of the locals believe that the power of the jinnis is present in Wadi Al-Jinn. While others claim that the mountains in this region create an optical illusion of the road heading uphill well in fact it is not, similar to other magnetic hills across the globe.
3. Socotra Island – Yemen
There are some weird places in this world, but one in particular seems to be from a different dimension all together. The plants that grow on Socotra Island, in the Indian Ocean, are so strange that one might think that they are from another planet.
The island of Socotra has been isolated for millions of years from the mainland thus developed a flora and fauna so diverse, unlike anywhere in the world. In fact a third of the 700 rare plants on Socotra don’t grow in any other place in the world.
4. Dilmun Mounds – Bahrain
Up until the 1960s, the country boasted of the world’s largest collection of prehistoric burial mounds – an archaeological wonder left over from the 4,000-year-old Dilmun civilization. Aside from the sheer breadth and number of the mounds, their importance rests in their age, rarity and what they reveal about ancient society.
Even today, while going out of the major cities in Bahrain one can see numerous mounds springing up in the desert landscape.
5. Majlis Al Jin (Meeting/gathering place of the Jinn) – Oman
Discovered recently in 1985, this is the second largest known cave chamber in the world. The only entrances to it are through the three free-fall drops from the roof.
6. Bimmah Sinkhole – Oman
If you are not familiar with the term sinkhole, you might be mislead by the Arabic name of the place and the local legend, which says that the hole was formed due to a meteor falling on this spot.
However, Bimmah Sinkhole occurred naturally due to limestone erosion which formed this picturesque sinkhole. Apparently the sinkhole is also connected to the sea through an underground tunnel, which may explain the unique color of the water.
7. First Skyscraper city in the world – Shibam, Yemen
Like Manhattan, the high-rises of Shibam were built on a rectangular grid of streets and squares. However, the skyscrapers here are made of mud and date back to the 16th century. Home to about 7000 people the town was once located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa, and Europe and thus was a stopping point for traders traveling along the frankincense and spice routes.
Its 500 huddled buildings, ranging from five to 11 stories high, are the tallest mud buildings in the world!
8. Movie Theater In the Middle Of The Desert– Sinai, Egypt
Somewhere on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, nestled at the foot of a desert mountain range, sits a peculiar sight that is almost completely out of place: hundreds of seats for an outdoor movie theater.
Tons of old seats and a generator were hauled in from Cairo, not to mention a giant screen that looked like the sail of a ship. Everything was set for the opening night, but there was one small problem. The locals weren’t particularly keen on the whole idea and decided to discreetly sabotage the generator. So now it sits in the middle of an isolated desert and not a single movie has ever been screened in it.
9. Iram of the Pillars “Atlantis of the sands” – Oman
While there is much speculation on its actual location, many archaeologists believe that it is the site of Shisr in Oman which is where the lost city of Iram is located. Iram was the famed city of the people of Ad. Although a lot of excavation is yet to be done on the site, the areas that have been excavated look absolutely breathtaking.
10. City of the Dead – Cairo, Egypt
Almost 20 million people live in the Cairo metropolitan area, and housing is tight, even in the suburbs. Left with no choice some of the city’s residents have moved into a necropolis dating back to 600 A.D. The residents of the place seem to have incorporated the graves well in their lifestyle, some use the grave markers as desks and shelves well as others have hung strings between gravestones for their laundry to dry out!
11. Black Magic City – Bahla, Oman
A city full of myths and legends, it is commonly believed that Bahla is the main cradle of magic in the Middle East – it was also the former capital of Oman. Today, an imposing historic fort stands in the heart of the city which is also believed to be made with the help of supernatural forces.
12. Tree of Life – Bahrain
This phenomenal 500 year old tree grows in the middle of the desert with no known water source. In spite of this the tree flowers twice a year and is covered in luxuriant leaves for most of the year.
13. Jeita Grotto – Lebanon
One of the world’s most amazing agglomerations of stalactites and stalagmites, Jeita Grotto is considered to be the pride of Lebanon. It was also a finalist in the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition. One can take a boat ride through these mesmerizing caves which form the longest cave network in the entire Middle East.
14. Mit Ghamr – Egypt
In the Nile delta at Mit Ghamr, hundreds of dovecotes stand erect like earthen chimneys along many streets and are used for farming pigeons. Constructed out of mud brick, the Egyptian dovecote is an extremely common sight across the country and is especially prevalent in Mit Ghamr.
Throughout Egypt, not only are the pigeons consumed as food, their droppings are also considered a valuable fertilizer. In a country with little arable land, the bizarre dovecotes are a crucial part of urban planning.
15. The Hanging Village of Habalah – Saudi Arabia
This is easily one of the most fascinating places Arabia has to offer. The village sits halfway down a precarious cliff face about 63 km southeast from the city of Abha. Habalah literally means ‘of or relating to ropes’, a reference to the fact that when this village was inhabited, the only way that people and supplies were lowered to the village from above were by means of a habal (rope), thus the moniker.