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Turquoise waters jux­ta­posed with bar­ren land­scapes. Rugged deserts are fronting trop­i­cal oases. Opu­lent lux­u­ry resorts and rus­tic beach­side cab­ins define the sur­re­al beach get­aways in the Mid­dle East.

This region abounds in stun­ning and entic­ing coastal hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions that com­ple­ment the fas­ci­nat­ing cui­sine, peo­ple, music and archi­tec­ture of ancient cultures.

Blessed with a warm tem­per­ate cli­mate, the Mid­dle East offers the dis­cern­ing trav­eller a reward­ing and relax­ing escape along its vast and cap­ti­vat­ing coast­line so, if you’re yearn­ing for a well-earned hol­i­day in a unique loca­tion, head to one or more of the fol­low­ing sur­re­al beach get­aways in the Mid­dle East.

For opulence

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Opu­lence thrives in the Gulf region of the Mid­dle East. The penin­su­la hous­es some of the most lux­u­ri­ous and deca­dent des­ti­na­tions in the world, which are fit for roy­al­ty, and many of these front stun­ning beaches.

The wealthy Emi­rate of Abu Dhabi hosts two stun­ning resorts, which abound in sophis­ti­ca­tion and excess. Emi­rates Palace offers indul­gence, while the Burj Al Arab is regard­ed as the world’s most lux­u­ri­ous hotel and over­looks the blue waters of the Gulf.

Stun­ning beach­es sur­round Oman’s cap­i­tal, Mus­cat, and pro­vide the back­drop to the sophis­ti­cat­ed Shangri-La Barr Al Jis­sah Resort and Spa. Still in Oman is the Six Sens­es Zighy Bay, a high-end hotel perched above an azure bay backed by harsh, rocky cliffs – the aes­thet­ic which typ­i­fies Oman’s unique coastline.

As an island, Bahrain is bound to pos­sess some won­der­ful stretch­es of coast­line, and it also hous­es an opu­lent resort. The Al Areen Palace and Spa is the only all-vil­la pri­vate pool resort in the Ara­bi­an Gulf and is a place to expe­ri­ence lim­it­less luxury.

Trav­el­ling fur­ther afield, away from the Gulf, vis­i­tors can still rev­el in deca­dent lux­u­ry. The Kempin­s­ki Hotel Ishtar in the Dead Sea in Jor­dan promis­es all of the trap­pings of a high-end resort as well as access to the sooth­ing and spe­cial waters of the Dead Sea.

If you can afford it, or even afford to splurge and treat your­self to some­thing gen­uine­ly remark­able once in your life, you could vis­it one of the loca­tions men­tioned above and live like royalty.

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For short escapes

Trav­ellers with a short win­dow for a beach hol­i­day can escape to many coastal gems.

After explor­ing the pyra­mids, weary trav­ellers can unwind in Ain Al Sokhna, which lies just two hours from Egypt’s cap­i­tal. Vis­i­tors can choose between laz­ing by the pool and watch­ing dol­phins frol­ic in the sea or play­ing on a jet ski, sail­board or kayak. The resort area also rewards guests with ele­gant hotels and fine din­ing, as well as white sand beaches.

Anoth­er stun­ning coastal retreat close to Cairo is Gouna. Sit­ting on the shores of the Red Sea, Gouna hosts many five-star hotels and apart­ments by the mari­na, as well as oppor­tu­ni­ties for snorkelling, canoe­ing and sun­bathing, plus fine din­ing and all-night dancing.

Saadiy­at in Abu Dhabi is home to the hawks­bill tur­tle and blue-flag beach­es and is just 10 min­utes from the cen­ter of the city. It also boasts a sea-front links golf course designed by Gary Play­er. Kite Beach, a short trip from the heart of Dubai, offers end­less activ­i­ties for fam­i­lies and offers respite and relax­ation for an after­noon or a day.

Mean­while, Damour in Lebanon is famous for its par­ty scene, sim­i­lar to that of Nis­si beach in Cyprus.

For beauty

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Tout­ed as one of the most pic­turesque beach­es in the region, Taba is sit­u­at­ed on the Sinai Penin­su­la in Egypt and achieved its fame cour­tesy of its bronze-coloured moun­tains and the vibrant colours of the Red Sea.

Com­plet­ing the allur­ing pic­ture is its per­fect year-round weath­er and lux­u­ri­ous resorts, plus the chance to wan­der the sand dunes on the back of a camel and share tea in a Bedouin tent.

Chal­leng­ing Taba for beau­ty suprema­cy is Marsa Matrouh or Cleopatra’s beach. Yes, Cleopa­tra her­self is said to have bathed and relaxed in its waters, such as the beau­ty of its white-sand beach­es, nat­ur­al rock pools and caves at Agee­bah beach.

A nat­ur­al rocky break­wa­ter pro­tects the calm waters, and the des­ti­na­tion is served by an inter­na­tion­al air­port and many excel­lent hotels.

Salalah Beach in Oman is backed by green hills, while Olu­d­eniz in Turkey hosts per­fect white sand beach­es, spec­tac­u­lar views and majes­tic moun­tains ris­ing from its shores.

The resort offers a full array of activ­i­ties such as paraglid­ing above the sand, sea and moun­tains. Dis­cov­er its long wide beach­es, famous blue lagoon and hid­den coves.

For rejuvenation

Float on top of the sea, revi­tal­ize your skin and regain that healthy glow in Dead Sea resorts in Jor­dan. The waters of the Dead Sea have long been hailed for their abil­i­ty to improve the health and well­be­ing of those who bathe in their waters. The rich waters pro­vide vis­i­tors with the sur­re­al expe­ri­ence of remain­ing buoy­ant on the sur­face of the water.

You may not entire­ly be able to walk on water, but this is the clos­est you will ever get.

For diving

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Scu­ba divers are spoilt for choice in the Mid­dle East, whose clear waters and year-round sun­shine promise excel­lent vis­i­bil­i­ty and an abun­dance of marine life, as well as the bonus of warm water and many wrecks.

Marsa Allam is known as the pre-emi­nent dive site in Egypt and is locat­ed along the Red Sea coast. The land­scape is impres­sive, sit­ting between the sea and the moun­tains, and the trop­i­cal fish and coral reward the diver.

The snorkelling is just as impres­sive, as are trips in glass-bot­tom boats. Of course, vis­i­tors can then bask in the sun on one of the beau­ti­ful beach­es and work on that tan!

Egypt also boasts sites such as Ras Mohammed Nation­al Park for wall div­ing, and Dahab, a bohemi­an town with a famous dive called Blue Hole. Aqa­ba in Jor­dan attracts many under­wa­ter adven­tur­ers to its sunken wreck, Cedar Pride.

An increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar div­ing des­ti­na­tion is Sau­di Ara­bia, which plays host to the Boil­er Wreck off Jed­dah, and Yan­bu, where it is pos­si­ble to get up close and per­son­al with ham­mer­head sharks – if you dare!

Have you con­sid­ered Iran?

Admit­ted­ly, this coun­try does not spring to mind when beach­es are men­tioned, but the dive scene is grow­ing in this nation thanks to sites such as Kish Island, known for its colour­ful coral and moray eels.

Divers can’t go past Oman. Locat­ed close to the cap­i­tal of Mus­cat, an inter­est­ing des­ti­na­tion in itself, are dive sites such as Day­maniy­at Islands, Al Fahal Island and the Al Munas­sir wreck, which attracts a type of sell-less sea slug called nudi­branchs. Oman also promis­es the oppor­tu­ni­ty to dive off a tra­di­tion­al dhow.

For a gen­uine­ly sur­re­al dive expe­ri­ence, swim among the sunken ruins of Roman cities off the coast of Tyre, Lebanon, a UNESCO World Her­itage site.

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For rustic charm

To tru­ly savour the nat­ur­al beau­ty of Mid­dle East­ern beach­es and the win­ning com­bi­na­tion of stark land­scapes and stun­ning waters, vis­it one of the more rus­tic beach resorts in the region.

Ras Shi­tan in Egypt offers trav­ellers rus­tic beach­side bun­ga­lows and authen­tic bam­boo huts on the shores of the Red Sea. The des­ti­na­tion promis­es peace and relax­ation, as well as crys­tal clear waters with a rugged back­drop. The small resort is locat­ed in North­ern Nuwei­ba and is famous for its under­wa­ter moun­tains and caves, as well as the vibrant marine ecosystem.

Named for its annu­al vis­i­tors, Tur­tle Beach in Oman is an untram­pled and stun­ning beach. The near­by beach of Ras Al Jinz hosts tur­tles every year, and vis­i­tors can wit­ness con­ser­va­tion efforts while learn­ing more about the crea­tures. There are reg­u­lar tours to the tur­tle nest­ing sites as well as an impres­sive and mod­ern vis­i­tors center.

Accom­mo­da­tion is avail­able at Tur­tle Beach Resort, which enjoys views of the ocean and the cus­tom­ary rugged Omani land­scape. Mean­while, Ras Al Jinz Tur­tle Reserve also offers accom­mo­da­tion in rooms or lux­u­ry eco-tents.

Stay­ing on-site at Ras Al Jinz is an advan­tage, as many of the vis­its to the tur­tle nest­ing sites leave very ear­ly in the morn­ing. It also gives vis­i­tors the chance to sit back with a drink and a meal at the end of the day and watch the world go by over the ocean.

Final Thoughts

The land­scapes, cul­ture, cui­sine and marine trea­sures of the Mid­dle East are tru­ly unique and spec­tac­u­lar, and the resorts which hug their shore­lines can be just as mem­o­rable. White sandy beach­es and lush or rugged coast­lines beck­on vis­i­tors, who can stay in rus­tic beach­side cab­ins or some of the world’s most opu­lent and deca­dent resorts. Divers, fam­i­lies, par­ty ani­mals and nature lovers are catered for, and some pic­turesque beach­es lie just moments from the heart of major cities.

Through­out the region, hol­i­day­mak­ers are spoilt for choice when in need of a lux­u­ri­ous and unfor­get­table beach­side holiday!


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