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Blick auf die Suleymaniye Moschee in Istanbul, Bild: Nick N A / shutterstock

7 highlights for the trip to the Orient

It is said to resemble a “fairy tale from 1001 nights”. Something mysterious, almost mystical, is associated with it. It promises an escape as if to another world, where something unknown awaits at every corner: exotic spices, magnificent remnants of former advanced civilizations, Bedouins wrapped in robes riding camels. The language is from the Orient and all the expectations that come with a trip to corresponding countries. If you choose the right highlights, you can actually experience all this – and much more.

In search of the Orient…

… many people who want to travel are already faced with the first important question: Which countries belong to it at all? After all, there are no defined boundaries as to where the Orient actually begins or which cultures can still be described as Oriental. Although the Orient is probably known to every child because of stories like that of “Aladdin”, only a few people know how it is defined in detail. It is therefore time to shed light on the matter: The term is derived from a Latin word called “Oriens”, which can be roughly translated as East. It includes several countries in Africa and Asia that have a similar culture and religion and are sometimes characterized by the aforementioned peculiarities. The most important influencing factors are Islam, the hot climate and the great wealth of numerous countries in the oriental world, which make for a unique mix. This is what makes up the “fairy tale from 1001 Nights” for many people in this country and is reflected, for example, in typical food, typical music or typical clothing.

The Orient, as the Orient is also called, primarily includes Afghanistan, Egypt, Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Yemen, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. This already makes it clear how diverse the travel destination really is – and that one cannot actually speak of the one Orient. Instead, it is worthwhile to explore this part of the world in all its facets and to discover the differences in oriental culture depending on the country. In addition to traditional places to go such as the oriental markets, there are also modern sights that are worth a visit. So if you want to experience the real Orient, you should plan a round trip and don’t miss the following highlights:

Morocco: The epitome of the Orient

Marrakech
Marrakech, Image: Matej Kastelic / shutterstock

If you are looking for the classic Orient as most people imagine it, with its colorful market hustle and bustle, its spicy scents and its ancient sights, Morocco is the perfect destination. The former capital Marrakech in particular is therefore often referred to as the “Gateway to the Orient” and impresses with its original culture, its bright colors and its safety, because not every destination in the Orient is suitable for a trip, as the previous list has made clear. Nevertheless, a certain amount of caution is also advisable in Marrakech, especially in crowds such as traditional markets. Nevertheless, a visit is worthwhile – with appropriate safety precautions – and the “must-sees” for visitors to Morocco also include the “blue city” Chefchaouen, the Sahara, the former royal city of Fez and the UNESCO World Heritage Site Ait Ben Haddou. They all allow visitors to immerse themselves in the fascinating past of the Orient.

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Israel: The Land of Encounter

Israel, Tel Aviv
The beach of Tel Aviv, Image: Dance60 / shutterstock

Few people think of Israel first when they plan a trip to the Orient. But it is a recommended place to go for so many reasons, because there the oriental culture shows itself from a completely different side. Israel is a country where different religions and cultures meet; Today as then. This has left numerous traces and shaped it into a diverse destination that also reflects oriental influences. The bazaar in Jerusalem or the Dome of the Rock, for example, seem to be typical. But other sights also make up this part of the Orient and present it in a new light: dream beaches near Eilat, holy sites of various religions such as the Western Wall or the oldest inhabited city in the world called Jericho. However, precisely because Israel is such a melting pot, there are always conflicts there. Once again, therefore, a certain amount of caution is required when traveling.

Jordan: A journey into the past

It is only in the last few years that Jordan has been enjoying increasing popularity as a travel destination in the Orient. Because there, the remnants of earlier advanced civilizations can be explored in a safe environment and for comparatively little money. With the rock city of Petra, Wadi Rum, the Dead Sea and the capital Amman, Jordan has no shortage of highlights and each of them brings an incomparable oriental flair. So if you associate the Orient with the desert, Bedouins and camels, Jordan should not be missed. Above all, however, it is worthwhile to seek contact with the locals. Those who behave respectfully prove to be extremely hospitable and may allow them a first-hand insight into their culture.

Qatar: Modern Orient of Superlatives

At the latest since the bid for the 2022 World Cup, Qatar has probably been a household name. The country is located on a peninsula on the Persian Gulf and is also characterized by a desert-like landscape with high dunes. In contrast, however, are the ultra-modern skyscrapers that adorn the modern Orient today, especially in Arab regions. Qatar is therefore an excellent place to go to experience today’s Orient and to change your perspective, so to speak. But even here there are still some sights with typical oriental flair, such as the Souq Waqif market in Doha. If you want to go to Qatar in the near future, you may still be able to attend a World Cup match and thus experience the futuristic atmosphere that prevails everywhere in the country particularly intensively. Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that it is an Islamic country and therefore sports betting, for example, is prohibited. If you still want to do so, you should do so in advance in your own country after a careful look at the quotas .

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Oman: The Oriental Caribbean

Oman, Nakhal Fort
The fortress Nakhal Fort in Oman, Image: Hans Wagemaker / shutterstock

Oman is one of the lesser-known destinations on the Arabian Peninsula. Nevertheless, it is absolutely worth seeing – especially if you are looking for oriental flair. Oman is home to impressive Islamic places of worship, ancient sights, fortresses, some of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as well as Wadi Nakhar, the so-called “Grand Canyon” of the Orient. But not only these highlights are good reasons to travel to Oman, but also its beautiful beaches and oases, which have earned it the nickname as the Oriental Caribbean. Overall, Oman is considered one of the safest, most peaceful and beautiful destinations for a vacation like from 1001 nights.

Turkey: Bridge between Occident and Orient

Turkey is also one of the most popular travel destinations in the Orient, but it is important to move away from the tourist centres. After all, this was once the birthplace of the Ottoman Empire, but today Turkey is also strongly influenced by its Western neighbors. It is therefore considered a bridge between the Orient and the Occident, which in turn has given it its very own charm, which differs from other oriental cultures. If you are looking less for mass tourism in Turkey and more for the oriental side of the country, you will find it in Edirne, Istanbul and Izmir, for example.

UAE: A culture through the ages

Finally, the United Arab Emirates cannot be missing from this list. Similar to Qatar, they stand above all for the future of the Orient. Superlatives await at every corner and the wealth of these countries is visible in numerous details such as gilded decorations. Nevertheless, the robes, the camel markets, the high sand dunes and much more make it clear that you are still in the Orient. A unique mixture that everyone who is interested in the Orient in all its facets should have seen. However, this does not mean that all rules have been overridden in the United Arab Emirates. Islamic principles also apply here, which must be observed, for example, when choosing clothing or gambling. It is therefore essential to inform yourself in advance and to adhere to these rules – then nothing stands in the way of a successful trip to the Orient of then and now!