6 Common Misconceptions About Travelling in the Middle East

This article was created for The Travel Project by James Martin, who was born and raised on a farm in Canada. Now 27 countries down and with so many more to go, he's forever dreaming of where to go next.

There are some massive misconceptions surrounding The Middle East. This is largely in part due to the way the region is portrayed in the media: all we hear are the negatives, which causes us to unconsciously stereotype.

So, here is a list of some of the the most common misconceptions, and why they're untrue...

It's Unsafe

All we hear on the news about the Middle East is usually conflict related, so no wonder you think it’s unsafe. But the sad truth is, crime is everywhere and anywhere. A large amount of Middle Eastern countries actually have extremely low crime rates. Their strict laws drive people away from resorting to criminal activity and are the foundation for keeping crime out of the picture. It has been said that you could forget your wallet full of cash for hours just sitting in the open in a Dubai Mall and come back to find it in the exact same spot, untouched.

a building in Dubai

There will be a language barrier

If you don’t speak Arabic, you may be a little intimidated by the Arabic characters. But the truth is, if you speak English (which, if you are reading this, you clearly do) then you are extremely lucky no matter where you go. English is one of the most spoken languages and most popular second language in the world, and this includes the Middle East. In fact, in some countries in the Middle East you will find that English is more widely spoken than the countries national language.

SIMILAR: THESE BEAUTIFUL WORDS HAVE NO EQUIVALENT IN ENGLISH

It’s way too hot

You know what they say, if you can’t take the heat then get out of the kitchen. Well…or I guess you could always just turn up the A/C. Whether you live somewhere where it rains most of the time or somewhere where it gets to minus 35 degrees Celsius in the winter, there are ways to deal with the weather, like an umbrella or a goose-down jacket and a furnace. Heat in the Middle East is no exception. Just pack light loose-fitting clothes, travel during the winter months when the temperatures are milder, and, if you have to, jump into a place with air conditioning whenever you need to cool off.

Middle East Beach

All Middle Eastern Countries and Cultures are the same

Are all Western cultures the same? Are all Asian countries the same? Ya….um….no!

You won’t be allowed into a mosque if you're not Muslim

Though this is true for some mosques, as they don’t want tourists taking pictures and disrupting prayer times, it is not the case for all. A mosque was explained to me as being ‘a holy house for all of God’s brothers and sisters’, including those of a different faith. So, go visit a mosque, learn more about the Islam faith. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is not something you want to miss out on.

RELATED: I’M HALF PAKISTANI, HALF BRITISH, AND PEOPLE HAVE LOTS OF QUESTIONS WHEN I TRAVEL

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

The Middle East doesn’t have much to offer

For some reason, everyone just thinks the Middle East is a bunch of sand. Which is partially true but boy, there is a lot going on in all that sand. The Middle East is so diverse, it literally has something for everyone. Outdoorsy type? Sleep under the stars in Wadi Rum, Jordan. Adrenaline junkie? Jump out of a plane above Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, or go dune bashing on a Desert Safari. Fashionista? Shop the gold plated Prestige section of The Avenues Mall in Kuwait. Culture seeker? Visit the Falcon Souq in Doha, Qatar. Anyway, you can see where I am going with this – I could go on forever. Literally something for everyone!

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