Traveling to Middle East
Traveling to Middle East seem to be off limits for some people who use to explore, since Middle East often deals with political issues, terrorism, travel advisories, etc. leaving travelers a big "no-no". Travelers often avoid traveling to Middle East since finding a safe place to explore is not as easy as "ABC, 123". Expats who are considering to stay in Middle East is not for exploring it, but work brings them to Middle East. But there's no reason why people should miss out visiting a captivating country, beautiful scenery, prolific history and a distinctive culture.
Middle East are considered formal and traditional, so travelers who are not familiar with the culture should be aware of cultural etiquette. Though there is an extensive cultural differences in some aspects of life, to pay respect to cultural and religious differences, you can still travel, explore and stay safe in Middle East.
It is advisable not to travel alone and should be accompanied with a male family or relative, since women in Muslim Countries are well preserved, conservative and very regimented. They are expected to be reserved and exploit proper behavior. This doesn't mean that women will be treated badly if they don't follow the rules - just pay some respect (e.g. wearing respective clothes, don't go with strangers, don't go isolated places, ac.) with their distinctive culture and traditions and women will be respected in return.
Best Place for Travelers
Though there are countries in Middle East which rules are very strict for travelers, there's still some place to travel safe. Here's some list for you to consider:
UAE - One of the highest ranking, fastest growing destinations in the world, due its modernity and high level security, giving travelers/tourists an unforgettable experience to explore. With its popularity, UAE has a lot of things to offer; dune bashing on the dessert, sandy beaches are just around the city, largest aquarium inside the mall, high class hotel and restaurants, that infamous highest structure - Burj Khalifa, market and gold souq are some places worth to visit.
Egypt - Though with the political unrest for the past years, Egypt has gain popularity on some safe places to visit such as the pyramid of Giza, Valley of the Kings - Nile, Egypt.
Qatar - Qatar has a significant power in Arab World and noticeable to surely become a tourist destination and one of the safe place to travel. A country surrounded by beaches, water sports is a good to go for most tourists. Visiting Art Museum, famous traditional markets; Katara and Souq Wagif. Also don't miss the chance to see the most popular camel racing.
Oman - Though Oman has not yet gain the popularity to become a tourist destination, still you can consider a safe place to visit. With its massive percentage of mountains that constitute the environment of Oman, must-see beaches that green turtles hurdling out of its nest (September to November), cruising through Khor Al Sham, or even sleep in the dessert are bucket list to do in Oman.
Jordan - the number one of the safest place to visit is Jordan. Despite of close proximity with the countries with political unrest, Jordan has its top-class security. Don't miss to visit Petra, one of the new seven wonders of the world, the warm waters of Aqaba, dive and float in the Dead Sea, relax in the hot springs under the stunning waterfall.
Regardless of these countries give safest place to explore, there are things you need to avoid, here are some:
»Don't go isolated place after dark and end up with strange people.
»Drinking alcohol in some places is prohibited, even buying and selling are prohibited too - be wary where is the safe place to do so.
»Some places, women require to cover the hair and wear long dresses.
»In Iran, women never go out alone, so it would be better to be accompanied with family, relatives and friends.
»In Saudi Arabia, employs the strictest among the other countries in Middle East, which women were not seen roaming around alone and always on the guardianship of men.
»If women feel uncomfortable in a situation with strange people start talking to you, ignore or leave them.
»Avoid public display of affection, though you are traveling with your husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend.
Prohibited and restricted items while traveling to Middle East
All Middle East countries have their list of restricted items and travelers or tourists are advised to take precaution to ensure that they are not carrying prohibited items; in the luggage, hand carry bags or even carrying with you. These lists may not be the same for all, here are some items that had been banned:
•Pornographic materials - photos, video, audio, hard disk, etc.
•Chemical or organic fertilizers
•Raw pork meat or other related products
•Crude Ivory or Rhinoceros horn
•Radiation polluted substances
•Unauthorized communication devices
•Restriction on pets
•Mannequins, dolls or statues that may present immorality
Ensure that all medicines that you are carrying are under prescription of your doctor and does not contain any prohibited or banned substances, some countries like UAE has released a list of prohibited and controlled medicines, which you can check here.
However, for emergency purposes, you need to carry such medicines, make sure that you have medical prescription from a doctor in country of arrival.
Seeds and leaves
Seeds like "poppy seeds" used in cooking is also prohibited in some countries in the Middle East. Though use in cooking, poppy seeds has contain opiates - prohibited drug that can trigger positive results in some drug tests. Qat "Khat" leaves, betel, niswar, gutkha or also banned in some countries such leaves have stimulant effect and when abusive use of such leaves will lead you to addiction and create major illness of the body.
Prints, Audio, video and other media
•Potentially offensive printed graphics or materials are not to be carried when traveling to Middle East.
•Publications, photographs, paintings, cards, books magazines consciously implying immorality.
•Illegal software, pirated materials will be confiscated.