Middle East Favorite Tips by JohnniOmani Top 5 Page for this destination

Middle East Favorites: 51 reviews and 29 photos

The Five Pillars of Islam (Summary)

Favorite thing: Travellers should know a little bit about Islam before venturing into the area because I believe if you understand a little bit about the religion then you will understand the people better. Knowing about the culture before hand helps in this part of the world because you do not want to be mistaken for something culturally insensitive or offensive. Muslims believe that Allah decides everything and that they must submit to his will. Unlike the Torah or Bible, in which many different people record and interpret the many words and deeds of God, the Quran is said to be the exact words of god himself. The Five pillars are:

1. Shahada which means Muslims must declare pubicly 'There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his Prophet'
2. Salat means Muslims are expected to pray five times a day (sunrise, noon, mid afternoon, sunset and night)
3. Zakat mean that every Muslim has a duty to give alms to the poor. (1/40th of their income is given to the poor)
4. Ramadan - every Muslim must fast for the entire month of Ramadan.
5. Haj - Every Muslim capable of doing so must peform the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their life time.

Understanding and being informed is the key to having a great experience in this part of the world ;)

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Feb 13, 2007
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Alcoholic Drinks

Favorite thing: Most travellers think that the possibility of travelling around the hot desert climates without a drink from time to time is torture or that they will not be able to access their favorite liquid. Many Middle Eastern countries have their own brewed beverages including beer and wine. Almost every single Middle Eastern country offers travellers or expats a chance to relax with a drink. The Arabian Gulf excluding Kuwait, Yemen and Saudi have Western pubs that sell foreign products while alcohol can be purchased in shops in Syria, Jordan etc. Lebanon, Turkey and the UAE have nightlife that would rival most European countries with Dubai and Beirut being better than most European cities. Most people obviously dont travel the Middle East to party but anything is possible and some countries will even shock you ;)

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Feb 11, 2007
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Where and When to Eat?

Favorite thing: One of my favorite things about the food situation in the ME is the possibility that you can find food just about anytime you want depending on the country. Turkey, Egypt and Lebanon offer loads of restaurants and stands offering kebabs and shwarmas while the Gulf states cater more towards the coffee shop crowd. Both experiences are cheap, quick and gives you a chance to eat on the move. Almost every country in the Middle East other than Syria and Yemen have KFC and Western chains. Places like Dubai and Bahrain have so many different chains of Western restaurants that the choice would be on par or better than your home country. The Gulf countries with their coffee shops offer up some great Indian dishes (due to sub continent expats) which is cheap and delicious. The Indian food is usually the cheapest and most reliable because due to the amount of Indian and Bengali expats, the food doesnt sit on a counter top in a restaurant during the heat so you have a better chance of not getting sick if you eat thalis rather than chicken dishes during mid day.

Most restaurants open around noon and the kitchens close when the last customer leaves during the night. The Gulf countries tend to shut down during the afternoon and open up after 5pm and shut down around 11pm. Middle Easterners are late eaters so chances are your eating habits will change during your trip. Note: Ramadan is an exception with shops closing down between sunrise to sunset.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Feb 11, 2007
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Hotels with focus on budget

Favorite thing: Standards range greatly between each of the Middle Eastern countries as well as the Gulf states. The Middle East generally has a good selection to choose from with the cheapest fundooqs being in Egypt, Syria and Yemen. The most expensive hotels are in the Gulf, Israel and Jordan. Hotels in the top range offer you everything you could ever hope for with AC, double beds and showers and Western toilets. Bottom of the bunch are ones with no AC, no TV and less than clean washrooms. The standards in the lower class are squat toilets as well as cold showers. The top end to mid range are suitable for female travellers but the lower end places should be avoided due to the presence of working girls as well as business men. The standards are what you may expect in this part of the world.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Feb 11, 2007
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