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“One finger cannot lift a pebble”.               — Persian Proverb

Journey to the Middle East, the transcontinental region of Western Asia and Egypt, and explore its vast and rich history from ancient times to the present. An understanding of the Middle East comes with acknowledging its place as the birthplace and spiritual center of many of the world’s religions such as Christianity, Druze, Islam, Judaism, Manichaecism, Mandeanism, Yarsan, and Yezidi. The Bahá’í Faith, Manicheanism, Mithraism and Zoroastrianism have found their genesis in Iran.The different ethnic groups are as diverse as the region’s religions. Arabs, Azeris, Kurds, Persians, and Turks are the largest groups by population in the Middle East. The region also has a significant minority population that includes Armenians, Assyrians, Circassians, Copts, Druze, Greeks, Jews, Maronites and Somalis, among others. The 17 countries that comprise the Middle East include: Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, , United Arab Emirates and Yeman.


Blue Mosque Istanbul

Unearth Istanbul In Rumi’s Footsteps

By Lipsa Das

Rumi. That is one of the first thoughts that would cross your mind when you visit Istanbul. When you google Istanbul, Hagia Sophia, the Grand Market, the Blue Mosque would be the topmost tourist attractions on the list.   Read more

Middle East Architecture History
Pakistan mosque

COVID-19 Report from Pakistan and Afghanistan

World Footprints speaks to Ayesha Tanzeem, VOA Bureau Chief for Pakistan and Afghanistan. Ayesha provides some background into the region’s COVID response and ongoing challenges. She shares information that hasn’t widely been reported on outside of the Middle East. What you’ll hear will be enlightening. *********** Ayesha Tanzeem heads VOA’s … Read more   Read more

Middle East Health & Wellness Insights
makkah-Saudi Arabia

My Time in the Kingdom

By Thomasina Tafur

I’m encouraged that real change for women is happening in Saudi Arabia. Women can now drive, attend sporting events, and go to the cinema, and the government has recently approved women to travel outside of the country without a male guardian’s approval. These may not seem like radical freedoms to … Read more   Read more

Middle East Study or Teach Abroad
Photo by Enes Aktas on Unsplash

Far-east in Turkey: Sanliurfa city

By Tania Banerjee

A flood of flat-roofed buildings stands in sharp contrast to the blurry outlines of the distant hills. A chaos of dish TV antennas rules the rooftops. Several minarets of mosques stab the horizon. In southeastern Turkey, just 56 kilometres away from the Syrian border, from the window of my accommodation, … Read more   Read more

Middle East Architecture History
Arab women in airport

Women Gain Right to Obtain Passports in Saudi Arabia

Women’s rights have long been a huge issue in Saudi Arabia due to the strict application of sharia law within the country, with women only gaining the right to drive last year. However, a landmark ruling change will now give Saudi women over the age of 21 the right to … Read more   Read more

Middle East Social Responsibility
Entrance to the Citadel in Aleppo, Syria.

Responsible Tourism: Why It’s Not Okay To Visit Syria

By Scarlett Mansfield

Picture this: You are in Aleppo, standing in front of what is left of your house. You are reeling with the loss of your mother, your father, your brother, or if the world is particularly cruel, more than one family member. An edgily dressed 19-year-old British boy on his gap … Read more   Read more

Middle East Volunteer Travel Social Responsibility
Bedouin on camel in Jordan near Dana Biosphere Reserve.

Shooting Stars and Shay in Jordan’s Dana Biosphere Reserve

By Christina Newberry

Lying on stacked cushions on the roof of a lodge in Jordan’s Dana Biosphere Reserve, I watch a beam of green light shoot into the sky as our guide circles a constellation with the most powerful laser pointer I’ve ever seen. “That orange star, that’s the womanizer,” Ali says. “He’s … Read more   Read more

Middle East Experiences
Israeli foods--hummus, falafels, pita bread, vegan meal

5 Must Try Foods in Israel

The food in Israel is more than enough reason to visit the country. I probably gained 5lbs in the ten days I spent trying out the large variety of foods the country has to offer. This isn’t easy to do since Israeli food is so healthy. Israel’s food takes inspiration … Read more   Read more

Middle East Food & Drink
Arch leading into Tehran

Discovering Iran by bicycle

By Kelly Sheldrick

I’ve travelled almost 20,000km by bicycle through over 15 countries. Often one of the first questions I’m asked when people discover this is, “What’s been your favourite country to cycle through?” Without hesitation I always answer, “Iran.” Photo:  Having a traditional Persian meal with a local family in Zanjan. For … Read more   Read more

Middle East Adventure Off the Beaten Path
Kayakoy, Turkey.

Kayakoy – Turkey’s ghost town

By Tonya Fitzpatrick

In the South West of Turkey sits a popular ghost town. The Kayakoy OR Rock Village,  lies just a short distance from the crowded and famous beaches and resorts in the Fethiye.  Populated with Greek-styled architecture the town was occupted by Muslim and Christian communities who coexisted peacefully until the … Read more   Read more

Middle East Architecture History
This photo of Golda Meir is in the public domain

TODAY IN HISTORY: Golda Meir Becomes Israel’s Prime Minister (March 7, 1969)

At a time in our history when more women are closer to obtaining the office of President or Prime Minister in countries around the world, it is worthwhile noting great female heads of state from the past. On March 7, 1969 Golda Meir became the Prime Minister of Israel. She … Read more   Read more

Middle East History
Jerusalem

Places in Jerusalem where Easter comes alive

By Tonya Fitzpatrick

Easter Sunday is the most joyous day in the Christian calendar.  The day marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ who died on the cross at Calvary as a sign of love for all people so that they can also be resurrected from sin. On a recent trip to Israel we … Read more   Read more

Middle East Religious Travel History
Ephesus library

Exploring the Ancient City of Ephesus

By Tonya Fitzpatrick

Discovering the past and experiencing amazing places that bear the marks of the ancients is one of the most exciting and rewarding travel activities. There are few things more interesting than walking the streets of history or entering the same monuments that our ancestors built and lived in thousands of … Read more   Read more

Middle East Architecture History Preservation
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Walk where Jesus walked

By Tonya Fitzpatrick

Western Wall in Jerusalem. Photo: S. Argun For Christians, few travel opportunities are as meaningful as the chance to visit Israel and follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Even those who do not consider themselves Christians can enjoy the ancient history and stories behind these moving sites. Jerusalem Within the … Read more   Read more

Middle East History Preservation
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Israel – the ancient melting pot of religion and culture

By Tonya Fitzpatrick

There are many places steeped in history that you must have visited and felt in awe. However, there is one place which even leaves history awe-struck. It is Israel- a country where every stone is saturated in history, it’s past and present scarred by war and yet revered for being … Read more   Read more

Middle East Religious Travel Architecture History