mouse over
                  Ski Flights
               Flight specialists since 2001
 
  Welcome to Ski Flights. Middle East Travel Guide   Search over 100 airlines for cheapest international flights from and to all countries, pay in 26 different currencies and credit cards.


 

Travel Guides from Afghanistan to Yemen - travel guides to the Middle East

Important: Camera phones are confiscated from visitors flying into Saudi Arabia as part of the customs process. Confiscated phones won't be returned when visitors leave the country. So, if you have a camera phone and you're going to Saudi Arabia, leave the phone at home or get a camera-less phone for the trip.

Afghanistan
Once an essential part of the hippy trail, friendly, beautiful Afghanistan has sadly been destroyed by years of war and neglect. Home to plentiful countryside and the rugged Hindu Kush mountain range, travellers came for the clear mountain air and to see attractions like the giant Buddha statues of Bamiyan. However, the statues and many other monuments were destroyed under the catastrophic reign of the Taleban, a party of Islamic militants. After 9/11, Afghanistan was accused of harbouring Osama Bin Laden and faced a heavy bombardment from the US which destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure.
With thousands of peace-keeping troops still occupying Kabul and pockets of fighting continuing in the south, it seems it will be some time before Afghanistan is restored to its former glory. Travellers are strongly advised against all travel to Afghanistan, as the threat from terrorist or criminal violence is extremely high. There is also a widespread danger from mines and kidnap throughout the country.  More....

Armenia
Armenia is a trove of history, littered with crumbling churches perched in spectacular settings. Landscapes transition rapidly from lush forests to shimmering lakes and stark deserts. But the best thing about Armenia is the Armenians themselves - ever welcoming and eager to show off their country to visitors. Christianity arrived in 301AD and Armenia proudly calls itself the world's oldest Christian nation. Its kings once held lands as far away as Syria and the Black Sea coast. Lying on the Silk Road and wedged between Persian, Turkish and Russian empires, the country has seen its share of passing merchants, holy men and armies. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union Armenia has seen a revival of nationalism and traditional culture. The capital Yerevan is the nation's hub of cultural activity and progressive thought. The city sports impressive museums and a lively modern arts scene. Cafe culture has been perfected and it's de rigueur to spend inordinate amounts of time lingering over bottles of Armenian cognac. Armenian food is another treat - always served hot and fresh you can expect mounds of grilled meats and vegetables straight from the nearest garden. Visitors will find mysterious stalactite caves, forgotten stone carvings and small villages that have barely entered the 21st century. Just when you think you've seen everything another old monastery pops up on the horizon.  More....

Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan is an Islamic former Soviet Republic on the Caspian Sea, an oil rich and strategically important nation that is the key geopolitical power in the Caucasus. Azerbaijan’s location has always made it a gateway between east and west, and the country was an important stop on the Silk Route. Over the centuries, Azerbaijan has been incorporated into most major regional empires, including the Russian, Turkish and Persian and has been an independent republic since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. Taking in the stunning Caucasus Mountains to the north, the lush green valleys of the south and large swathes of arid semi-desert in between, Azerbaijan is a beautiful country with superb scenery, although it remains virtually unknown to the average traveller. Visitors usually base themselves in the capital Baku, from where it is easy to visit most of the country’s biggest attractions.   More....

Bahrain
With a name meaning ‘Two Seas' it is little wonder that Bahrain, an archipelago of 33 islands in the Gulf, defines itself in relation to the water that surrounds its shallow shores. Modern developments those shallows once harboured a precious trade in pearls; now the same shallows are being reclaimed for ambitious, high profile developments, such as the twin 50-story towers of Bahrain's World Trade Center and the 2,787,000 sq m (30,000,000 sq ft) horseshoe of man-made islands at the southern tip of the country. Oil wealth In the middle of Bahrain, not far from where the Formula 1 racetrack now draws the crowds, is the point where in 1932 the Arab world first struck gold - black gold, that is - and oil has been the mainstay of the country ever since. As visitors travel the modest length of Bahrain, visiting the ancient burial mounds, forts, craft markets and potteries, they will run into many reminders of this momentous discovery, not least in the relaxed affluence of Bahrain's multicultural residents.  More....

Cyprus
Fall in love with Aphrodite’s isle, where legend has it the goddess of love arose from the waves, and discover ancient UNESCO-listed sites, wonderful beaches and crystal clear waters. Although compact, this attractive island offers a rich variety of landscapes from pine-clad mountains to golden sandy beaches. The best holiday beaches are found around Ayia Napa and Protaras, where warm turquoise seas lap gently shelving sands and watersports abound. Thrilling waterskiing and even kite-surfing are offered at the main resorts along with fun-filled water parks and boat trips. There’s a buzzing neon-lit nightlife scene in the main towns and a burgeoning cafe culture in Nicosia, Limassol and on Larnaca’s mile-long beachfront promenade. Cypriots are happiest when eating so join them for a mezze, a slow banquet of Cypriot delicacies such as grilled halloumi, dolmades and kleftiko, lamb slowly baked till it drops off the bone.
The stunning Troodos mountains with Mount Olympus at its peak is the place to work up an appetite. With its charming hilltop villages and vine-blessed slopes, it offers a cool relief from the intense heat in summer and a chance to enjoy hiking, cycling, bird watching and, in winter, skiing. Meanwhile, the rugged Akamas National Park is the place to see unspoilt nature. It’s here that protected loggerhead turtles return to beautiful Lara Bay each year to lay their eggs. Venetian walls, Crusader castles and Roman mosaics, which appear at every turn, are testament to Cyprus’s 10,000-year history. The opening of the border with Northern Cyprus and removal of the barrier dividing Ledra Street in Nicosia, put in place when the Turks invaded in 1974, are reminders of its recent political past. Cyprus has undergone significant modernization following its entry into the European Union. A modern country with an ancient history, its stone villages, glitzy resorts, scented citrus groves and perfumed mountains are waiting to be discovered.  More....

Georgia
A large, geographically diverse state in the south-eastern US, Georgia was founded in 1735 by James Oglethorpe, an Englishman who landed in Savannah and established the 13th colony in the New World. Visitors can travel through mountains, white-water rapids and forested ridges honeycombed with caves in the north, farms and orchards in the south, to the mysterious, low-lying Okefenokee Swamp in the southeast, and an Atlantic coastline of tidal marshes. Packed with colourful history, Georgia saw the emergence of Creek and Cherokee Indian nations and the start of the infamous Trail of Tears, the wealthy days of cotton plantations fuelled by slave labour and bloody Civil War battles culminating in Union General Sherman’s devastating ‘March to the Sea’ and the burning of Atlanta. The state is still the home of southern hospitality, gracious homes and a rich history and culture proudly preserved. The booming city of Atlanta - known as ‘The City in a Forest’ - most dramatically expresses the transition from Old South to New. Magnolia and dogwood trees still surround handsome Georgian-style homes, yet only blocks away, dazzling contemporary buildings add to Atlanta’s ever-growing skyline. Georgia’s climate ranges from the low humidity of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the subtropical southern coastal region.  More....

Iran
Iran is located in the Middle East, bounded by Turkmenistan and the Caspian Sea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, Iraq and Turkey. The center and east of the country is largely barren desert with mountainous regions in the west. Tehran, the capital, is essentially a busy and modern city, but the best of the old has been preserved. As one of the first countries to be occupied by the early Islamic armies which came out of Arabia in the seventh century, Iran has a rich and detailed history. The antique sights of Persia, one of the greatest empires of the ancient world, can be witnessed alongside bustling metropolises and vast mountain ranges. Several bazaars are just as old and Iran is the destination for those in search of the most expensive rugs and carpets in the world. Iran has maintained a distinct cultural identity within the Islamic world by retaining its own language and adhering to the Shi’a interpretation of Islam. As a unique Islamic Republic, Iran is ruled by both supreme leaders and elected presidents.  More....

Iraq
The media depiction of Iraq is of a place where humanity is found at its most ugly; a land of violent insurgency, kidnappings and religious intolerance and extremism. Yet this is also where humanity at its most tremendous once lived. The core of modern Iraq was Mesopotamia, at the heart of the Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian empires between the seventh century BC and AD100. Many great civilizations were cradled in often verdant arms here - amidst huge and unforgiving desert terrain snakes stupendous rivers such as the Euphrates and Tigris. This country supposedly contained the glorious Garden of Eden and Babylon’s bountiful Hanging Gardens. Ancient Baghdad was a focal point of learning, a major stop along the Silk Road. The museums of Iraq were once testament to these cultural learning’s, crammed with astonishing artefacts and relics, but sadly many of these were damaged or looted following the conflict. However, Iraq has been blighted by resurgent conflict: from the Arab Caliphate to Mongols, and from the Timur Empire to the Ottoman Empire. In 1920, the Hashemite Amir Faisal ibn Hussain was proclaimed king; independence came in 1932. In 1958, the Hashemite Dynasty disintegrated via murder and coup. Iraq’s final coup in recent history came in 1968, bringing the Ba’ath Party to power. In 1979, Saddam Hussein became president and party leader of the Ba’ath Party. Iraqis hoped to resolve a long-running territorial dispute with Iran over the Shatt al-Arab waterway, and a full-scale invasion of Iran was launched in 1980. The war degenerated into one of attrition, lasting until 1988, when the two exhausted nations sued for peace. Despite minor territorial gains, the Iraqi economy was crippled and incurred an enormous foreign debt, mainly owed to neighbouring Kuwait. Insistent Kuwaiti demands for repayment, Iraq’s historical claim over Kuwaiti territory, and a dispute over oil reserves provided the main pretext for the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The US-led response to the invasion, with firm backing from the UN, ensured that Iraq suffered a massive defeat. The Iraqi regime was seriously threatened by armed opposition elements among the Shia of southern Iraq and the Kurds in the north. However, the superior firepower of Iraqi troops and the Western refusal to provide effective backing for the rebels resisted this. Thereafter, the USA and others used several means to constrain Iraq, such as a complete trade embargo - excepting a strictly controlled regimen of oil sales with which the Iraqi government could buy food and medicine. Arguably, ordinary Iraqis were worst hit by such sanctions. A few years later, the USA would lead the war against Iraq that has generated such fiercely mixed reactions, from relief that Hussein’s brutal regime was toppled, to anger at the alleged existence of weapons of mass destruction and Hussein’s alleged connections with Al-Qaeda. With time, it is hoped the shackles of war will be dismantled, and Iraq shall pave itself a future as grand as was its past. Note: Iraq continues to undergo a period of transition following the end of the US-led war against Saddam Hussein’s regime in March/April 2003. Most of the country’s political, social, physical and economic infrastructures have, by and large, been destroyed and need to be rebuilt, are in the process of being so, or have only just initiated recovery. As a result of the uncertain situation, some of the information in this guide cannot be relied upon. All travel to Iraq is ill-advised and visas are currently only being issued to aid workers, journalists and certain business people. Any nationals travelling to Iraq for essential reasons should register their presence with their embassy.  More....

Israel
Israel means many things to many people. For millions of travellers around the world, this is the ‘Holy Land', spiritually sacrosanct for the three great monotheistic religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Archaeology buffs, eco-tourists and beach bums all find their own reasons to visit. For others, Israel evokes images of war, suicide bombings and broken peace treaties. However you view the country; Israel is an undeniably beautiful slice of the world, with alternating scenes of sea, desert, ancient towns and verdant nature reserves. Israel's past Weeding through Israel's convoluted history is both exhilarating and exhausting. There are crumbling temples, ruined cities, abandoned forts and hundreds of places associated with the Bible. One minute you're snooping around the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the next you're amid dancing rabbis at the Western Wall. A short itinerary will leave you breathless. And while a sense of adventure is required, most sites are safe and easily accessible. Urban centres Israel's three big cities each have a distinct character and atmosphere. Jerusalem is forever holy and the domain of the ultra-religious. In Tel Aviv you're more likely to spot latte-sipping liberals, internet entrepreneurs and late-night ravers. Haifa has a gritty industrial feel but, as the world center for the Baha'i faith, it has an added complexity making it all the more intriguing. From the Dead Sea to the sea grottoes at Rosh HaNikra, there is plenty to see in between. Israel's people Most of all, Israel is about its incredibly diverse population. Jews come from all over the world to live here while about 20% of the population is Arab. Politics are hard to get away from in Israel as everyone has an opinion on how to move the country forward - with a ready ear you're sure to hear opinions from every side of the political spectrum.  More....

Jordan
Petra, the jewel in the crown of Jordan’s antiquities, has been declared by popular ballot one of the ’new’ Seven Wonders of the World. The magnificent rock-hewn city of the Nabateans hardly needed further billing (since Jean Louis Burckhardt discovered it in the 19th century, it has been a favourite destination for Europeans) but at sunset on a winter’s day, when the rose-pink city catches alight, it’s easy to see why it has charmed a new generation of visitors. Not to be outdone by Petra’s success, Wadi Rum, that epic landscape of Lawrence and Lean - ’Arabs’ man’ and moviemaker - is a contender as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Two such weighty accolades would be entirely disproportionate to the minimal size of Jordan. But Jordan, once an important trading center of the Roman Empire and straddling the ancient Holy Land of the world’s three great monotheistic religions, is no stranger to punching above its weight. Stand on Mt Nebo, newly consecrated by Pope John II, and survey the land promised to Moses; unwrap a scarf or two at Mukawir, where Salome cast a spell over men in perpetuity; float in the Dead Sea, beside a pillar of salt, reputed to be Lot’s disobedient wife - go just about anywhere in Jordan and you’ll find every stone bares a tale, and those of Madaba’s legendary mosaics tell more tales than most. With so much history wrapped up in this tiny desert kingdom, it’s easy to overlook the modern face of Jordan - something the new king is trying to address in ambitious developments at Aqaba and along the Dead Sea. In the meantime, the Bedouin still herd their sheep across an unchanged landscape in living continuity with the ancient past.  More....

Kuwait
Kuwait constitutes a puzzling but intriguing mix of Western liberalism and strict Islam. The capital, Kuwait City, is a bustling metropolis full of the high-rise buildings and luxury hotels. Yet the country is also host to elaborate and opulent mosques and palaces, and its religion is an integral part of its affairs. This juxtaposition perhaps stems from Kuwait’s marrying of Islamism with oil-wealth, mostly traded with Western superpowers. Upon independence from Britain in 1961, Sheikh Abdullah assumed head of state, adopting the title of Emir. The large revenues from oil production allowed independent Kuwait to build up its economic infrastructure and institute educational and social welfare programs. In the early 1990s, the emir established a National Assembly (Majlis), which placed limits on the power of the ruling family. Since then, the national assembly has clashed several times with the emir and the cabinet (which is still dominated by the al-Sabah family) over misuse of state funds and poor management of the all-important oil industry. Underlying these disputes is the growing impression that the aging and increasingly infirm al-Sabah clan is no longer capable of running the country. However, they continue to dominate Kuwaiti policies. Surrounded by three major Middle Eastern powers, the main threat to the country came from the renewal of Iraqi territorial claims over Kuwait (along with the overdue repayment of some US$40-60 billion on the part of Iraq), which led to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The Kuwaitis later recovered their country by virtue of a US-led, UN-backed multinational military force. After a period of euphoria, the Kuwaitis had to address a number of difficult questions; the future security of the country was dealt with by the signing of defence and security pacts with the USA, the UK and Kuwait’s Gulf allies. More recently, Kuwait was one of the first countries to join Operation Iraqi Freedom following the US-led war against Iraq, and provided aid and support during Iraq’s (ongoing) process of reconstruction.  More....

Kyrgyzstan
The main attraction of Kyrgyzstan lies in the breathtaking landscape of mountains, glaciers and lakes; their isolation ensures that they have been almost forgotten by the crowds. The lakes and mountainous terrain provide excellent opportunities for trekking, skiing, climbing, sailing and swimming. For more ambitious travellers, it is possible to follow the route of the old Silk Road to Kashgar in China, crossing the border at the Torugart Pass, near Lake Chatyr-Kul. Trekking tours and adventure holidays in this region are offered by a growing number of companies.  More....

Lebanon
Lebanon’s diverse patchwork of Mediterranean-lapped coast, rugged alpine peaks and green, fertile valleys is packed into a parcel of land some 225km (140 miles) long and 46km (29 miles) wide. Once known as the ‘Paris of the East’, Beirut commands a magnificent position, thrust into the Mediterranean. Behind the city are towering mountains, visible when the traffic haze settles down. The Corniche seafront boasts beaches, restaurants, theatres and a dazzling variety of shops and restaurants. Beirut suffered greatly from Lebanon’s 16-year civil war, but following an impressive and ongoing process of reconstruction, the city was poised to become one of the most popular tourist and business destinations in the Middle East before the Israeli attacks of 2006. Outside of the capital, several UNESCO World Heritage Sites await, many of which reflect the country’s various ancient civilizations. Phoenician tombs, Roman temples, Crusader castles and Mamlouk mosques can be found in the cities and ruins of Baalbeck, Byblos and Tyre. The town of Aanjar in the Bekaa Valley contains an Umayyad site from the 8th century - a unique historical example of a commercial center that was inland. Within the mountainous interior of the Kadisha Valley, ancient monasteries and churches can be seen, including a chapel built into the rock face.  More....

Oman
Mountain villages clutched against canyon walls, clusters of dates weighing heavy in the plantation oases, a ribbon of sand blown across the dunes, a lone camel padding across the limitless interior - these are the kinds of images afforded by the beautiful and enigmatic country of Oman. In years gone by, Oman was rich with copper and frankincense, and enjoyed an extensive East African empire. Then, in the early 20th century, a deeply conservative ruler, Sultan Said, chose deliberately to isolate the country from the modern world. His son, peace-loving Sultan Qaboos, assumed the throne in 1970 and that date now marks the beginning of the widely celebrated ’Renaissance’ in which the country has been returned to an age of prosperity and progression. What makes Oman’s renaissance somewhat unique in the region is that the transformation has been conducted with great sensitivity towards traditional values - there are few high-rise buildings in the capital, Muscat; the country’s heritage of forts (numbering over 2,000) are meticulously restored; ancient crafts like weaving are actively supported. Moreover, traditional Arabian values, such as hospitality and practical piety, are still in evidence making Oman somewhere to experience Islamic culture at its best.  More....

Qatar
Forget the 20th-century stereotype of a rich Arab Gulf state, of hastily thrown up tower blocks, chaotic streets and bafflingly tacky urban sculpture: Qatar - or at least the capital, Doha - has metamorphosed into a self-confident, elegant entrepôt that gives the UAE a run for its money. Occupying a flat peninsula jutting into the oil-rich waters of The Gulf, Qatar is one of the richest per capita countries in the world - a wealth exhibited in high-profile projects, such as the new Museum of Islamic Art, built to house the largest such collection in the world. With 50% of Qatar’s population living in the capital, the country is a virtual city state. But for those not content with jogging around Doha’s fine corniche, a string of beaches beckon for rest and recuperation, and the magnificent dunes of Khor al-Adaid help even up the odds between God and Mammon.  More....

Saudi Arabia
There is a veil hung over Saudi Arabia that distorts the reality that resides behind it. Lift the veil, however, and you will find that many conceptions of Saudi Arabia are misconceptions. It is a country with many areas of beautiful oases and dramatic mountain-tops, beaches and rivers. Its cities, although having no nightlife, do have plenty of cafes and restaurants. There are also shops galore, from the souk to the huge department store. Indeed, Saudi Arabia’s major cities are generally very modern, with amenities of a high standard. In the year AD622, Prophet Muhammad launched a successful campaign to recapture Mecca from the Persians, who had made it a province of their empire. Afterwards, the Muslims would continue their expansion across the Arabian peninsula and into Syria, Mesopotamia (Iraq), Persia, and westwards into Egypt and North Africa. As the birthplace of Muhammad, Saudi Arabia contains the holiest cities of Islam. The Saudis take the responsibility for protecting the integrity of this holy land with utmost seriousness, and Islamic laws are strictly enforced by the mutawwa (religious police). To the non-Islamic eye, Saudi Arabia also succeeds in being beautiful and praiseworthy. This complex country is likely to remain a significant part of the worldwide map for some time.  More....

Syria
The Syrian Arab Republic revels in its antiquity, having been inhabited for tens of thousands of years - and in the variation and cultural riches that such antiquity has brought it. This is a country that preserves scores of relics documenting the rise and fall of different civilizations, and which continues to welcome such diversity. Syria was once regarded as a frontier region, bordered to the east by the Arabs and Persians. The Persian invasions were repulsed but Syria eventually fell to the Muslims in the mid-seventh century. From then on, Syria was to be firmly part of the Muslim world, although retaining Christian and Jewish populations. Muslim control of Syria was vital to the defeat of the Christians and their expulsion from Jerusalem. Even when the terrifying force of the 13th century Mongols was unleashed on Syria, their massive Hulagu army was eventually defeated at the Battle of Goliath’s Well – a victory that, in retrospect, must be seen as one of the world’s most decisive military engagements, preventing both the Muslim world – and the Christian one – from certain doom. Today, Syria’s Islamic identity is as central to the country as its Arab roots. Such doctrine over-spilled into Arab nationalism in the 1950s - indeed, Nasser’s revolution in Egypt prompted Syria to join Egypt in the United Arab Republic. However, the alliance was short-lived, Syria seceding in 1961 to form the Syrian Arab Republic. Since then, Syria has been ruled at the head of a tightly controlled dictatorship. Even when General Hafez al-Assad of the Ba’ath Party (or Arab Socialist Renaissance) died in 2000, and his son Bashar assumed headship, Western hopes that the country would pursue a more pro-Western line proved misguided – in the vocabulary of the US Bush administration, the Syrian Arab Republic is a ‘state of concern’ (one level below the ‘axis of evil’). Although Syria pulled its forces out of Lebanon in 2005 after being implicated by a UN report for the assassination of former Lebanese premier, Rafik Hariri (Syrian troops have remained there ever since the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, in a (successful) attempt to prevent the expansion of Israel, and to counterbalance Israeli military might in the region), relations with numerous Western states remains fragile. In short, the Syrian Arab Republic’s long history is littered with dramatic episodes, from being subsumed into past empires (Babylonians, Canaanites, Assyrians, Phoenicians, and so on) to more recent events, such as Napoleon’s campaign in 1799/1800, the Egyptian invasion in the 1830s and the insurrection in 1860-61. However, such battles and scrambles over territory have translated into a catalogue of staggering cities full of stunning monuments, from the entire city of Damascus to the country’s many mosques. The events have also failed to impair the character of the Syrian people who – surprisingly to some – exude friendliness and warmth, and are justly proud of their land.  More....

Tajikistan
Tajikistan’s mountainous terrain is ideally suited to the adventurous trekker, while the ancient Silk Road routes, incorporating some of the country’s most stunning landscapes, offer a glimpse into a more prosperous era. The Tajiks come from an ancient stock – the inhabitants of the Pamir Mountains claim to be the only pure descendants of the Aryan tribes who invaded India over 4,000 years ago, and that the Saxon tribes of western Europe also originated there. Tajikistan’s inaccessibility has protected it from most invaders, although Alexander the Great founded a city on the site of modern-day Khojand, calling it Alexandria Eskate (Alexandria the Furthest). Tajikistan was established as a sovereign state in 1991, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The ensuing power struggle led to civil war in late 1992, resulting in about 30,000 deaths. In 1994, Russian troops were brought in at the request of the beleaguered regime. Moscow also brokered negotiations between the government and the United Tajik Opposition (UTO). It is now some time since the opposing parties signed a 1997 peace agreement that brought the Tajik civil war to an end, and the political situation is currently stable. Tajikistan was never well-equipped with a comprehensive infrastructure for tourists, and some sites were destroyed in the civil war, but there is still much to see.  More....

Turkey
Turkey proudly sits astride two continents: a position that has given rise to a culture that reflects both East and West. It is a country where European aspirations sit comfortably alongside Asian traditions and the volatile atmosphere of the Middle East morphs seamlessly into the relaxed outlook of the Mediterranean world. Turks have only lived here since medieval times when they arrived as land-hungry nomads from Central Asia. Before that it was Byzantine territory and Istanbul - then Constantinople - was the political center of a vast Christian empire. Romans, Persians, Lycians and Phrygians were former occupants of the same territory, and earlier still, Hittite tribes had built an Anatolian empire before collapsing around the time of the Trojan Wars.
Such a rich history has left an indelible mark and Turkey abounds with historic sites and archaeological wonders set in a varied and beautiful landscape. The Mediterranean coastline is punctuated with well-preserved Greco-Roman cities such as Pergamom and Ephesus, while the austere and rugged Anatolian plateau has cave churches hidden away in the improbable fairytale landscape of Cappadocia. Istanbul, still very much the pulse of the nation, has even more to offer, with Roman aqueducts, Byzantine churches and Ottoman mosques and palaces. With history at every turn, it is tempting to portray Turkey as a quaint, time-locked country that adheres to tradition but this is far from the truth. The modern republic's first leader, Kemal Atatürk, saw to it that Turkey was reinvented as a modern secular state following the demise of the Ottoman Empire. What you see today, thanks to Atatürk's comprehensive modernization, is a healthy combination of ancient tradition and contemporary outlook. This outlook sees little contradiction in having modern European ways tempered by Islam and time-honored traditions of hospitality.  More....

Turkmenistan
The territory of what is now Turkmenistan provided the bedrock for many of the most powerful empires of their age. The Parthians, the Seljuks and the Khans of Khoresm all based their empires at various points on the edge of the Kara-Kum Desert, while Alexander the Great conquered the region during his epic campaign of the fourth century BC. The influence of Islam dates from the seventh century AD, when the region was under Arab control. Modern-day Turkmen are descended from tribes that migrated to the area in the 10th century from the northeast. Almost all the attractions lie around the fringes of the desert and in ancient ruins such as Merv (now Mary). The capital, Ashgabat, is a modern city. It replaced the one founded in 1881, which was destroyed in an earthquake in 1948. The Sunday market here is the best place to buy Turkmen carpets. Mary, due east of Ashgabat, is Turkmenistan’s second city and lies near the remains of Merv, which was once the second city of Islam until Ghengis Khan’s son Toloi reduced it to rubble in 1221. Turkmenistan’s harsh desert conditions and terrain mean that tourism has been relatively undeveloped. Another reason is that since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the country has remained largely closed to the outside world under the rule of President Niyazov, who died in December 2006. It is effectively a one-party state, governed by the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan, which comprises mostly former communists. Although the country benefits from from its oil and gas deposits, its economy remains underdeveloped due to the low presence of foreign investors. It remains to be seen whether Niyazov’s death will bring about the changes needed to encourage foreign investment and tourism.  More....

United Arab Emirates
From the timeless tranquillity of the desert to the lively bustle of the souk, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) offers a kaleidoscope of attractions for visitors. In recent years, the country has rocketed to the forefront of the international tourism stakes. Dubai has led the way with phenomenal investment in opulent hotels and infrastructure and is now firmly established as one of the world’s top short break and holiday destinations. But Abu Dhabi is also developing fast, helped by its new airline, Etihad, and several other emirates are following suit. The space age image of the UAE’s modern cities is in marked contrast to its comparatively recent past prior to the advent of the oil industry, when these seven sheikdoms were a sleepy backwater reliant on fishing and pearls. Abu Dhabi City is a modern and sleek city, filled with skyscrapers. The UAE’s capital, located on an island connected to the mainland by two bridges, is increasingly developing visitor attractions. And dazzling Dubai is a tourism honeypot, with superb shopping and rich cultural life. The UAE is a federation of seven states (emirates) - Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Qaiwain - formed in 1971 after independence from Britain.  More....

Uzbekistan
The country boasts some of the finest architectural jewels among the Silk Road countries, featuring intricate Islamic tile work, turquoise domes, minarets and preserved relics from the time when Central Asia was a center of empire and learning. Good examples of this architecture can be found in the ancient walled city of Khiva in Urgench, the winding narrow streets of the old town of Bukhara and Samarkand, known locally as the ‘Rome of the Orient’. The Ferghana Valley, surrounded by the Tian Shan and Pamir mountains, still produces silk and is well worth visiting for its friendly bazaars and landscape of cotton fields, mulberry trees and fruit orchards. Uzbekistan’s mountain ranges attract hikers, cyclists and backcountry skiers, while experienced mountaineers come to climb some of the world’s highest peaks. The territory of modern-day Uzbekistan and its close neighbors have seen many empires rise and fall. The Sogdians, the Macedonians, the Huns, the Mongolians, the Seljuks, the Timurids and the Khanates of Samarkand, Bukhara Khiva and Khorezm all held sway here at one time or another. Central Asia really came of age with the development of the Silk Road from China to the West. Samarkand and Bukhara lay astride this, the most valuable trading route of its day. The riches that it brought were used to build fabulous mosques and madrassars, most of which were destroyed by the Mongol hordes in the 13th century. Much of the damage was repaired and new cities were built by Timur the Lame in the 14th century.
The Russians had had their eyes on the lands over their southern border since Peter the Great sent his first military mission to Khiva in 1717. It was to be another 150 years before they started to make any considerable headway. In 1865, General Kaufmann took Tashkent and signed agreements with the Khans. There were Russian client Khans in Khiva until 1920. The Bolsheviks were resisted in Central Asia by bands known as Basmachi until the 1930s; they were finally suppressed and Moscow took control. Uzbekistan declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Today Uzbekistan is bordered by Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. More....

Yemen
Yemen has established itself as a tourist destination, attracting travellers with its striking scenery and spectacular Islamic and pre-Islamic architecture. Yemen boasts hugely varied landscapes, from magnificent mountains to lush fruit-growing valleys to semi-arid plains and wide sandy beaches. The towns and cities hide souks and spice markets, mosques and ancient city walls. To the Romans, Yemen was Arabia Felix, whose mountains and fertile areas distinguished it from the barren desert of the rest of the Arabian peninsula. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Yemen came into the seventh century under the influence of Islam. It remained within the orbit of various regional powers until, in the 15th century, it became a flashpoint in the struggle between the Egyptians and the Ottoman Empire. During the early 17th and early 19th centuries, the struggle for control was between the Europeans and the Ottomans. Split in two by political and civil warfare throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Yemen was finally reunited in 1990 under Ali Abdullah Saleh. The country is home to numerous significant archaeological sites, while adventure travellers can enjoy camping and trekking in the unique Socotra archipelago, which counts over 270 endemic species among its enormous range of wildlife and plant life.  More....

 
Saudi Arabia travel
Caribbean travel
El Salvador travel
Africa travel
Australia travel
Europe travel
Far East travel
Middle East travel
North America travel
South America travel
South East Asia travel
               Home

Ski Flights search budget flights

© Copyright 2001 - 2012 Ski Flights. Richmond.  TW9 4JH, part of Flight Center UK Excluss Promotions - all rights reserved.   Privacy  Contact
Reproduction of this Web site, in whole or in part, in any form or medium without express written permission from Ski Flights is prohibited.

Flight Travel Guides Flight Travel Guides