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Dubai is a destination that mixes modern culture with history, adventure with world-class shopping and entertainment. Catch a show at the Dubai Opera, see downtown from atop the Burj Khalifa and spend an afternoon along Dubai Creek exploring the gold, textile and spice souks. If you’re looking for thrills, you can float above the desert dunes in a hot air balloon, climb aboard a high-speed ride at IMG Worlds of Adventure or skydive over the Palm Jumeirah.
Stunning coral reefs and turquoise waters perfect for windsurfing have made Hurghada, on Egypt's Red Sea Coast, a busy resort town. Within easy reach of the stunning Giftun Islands and the Eastern Arabian Desert, Hurghada has seen enormous amounts of development in the past decade—and yes, it does seem overrun with tourists at times. But it’s a relatively easy beach escape for Europeans, and some of the world's best diving and snorkeling sites are just offshore. Walk or catch a cab to explore the old quarter, El Dahar.
A youthful, modern metropolis with a diverse population, Tel Aviv dates back to only 1909. Clubs, bars, a thriving arts community, gay life and beaches attract artists, musicians and young professionals to Tel Aviv's more secular scene. Its UNESCO-designated Bauhaus architecture has won the city the moniker "The White City". Walk, drive or take cabs between the cultural exhibition pavilions of Haaretz Museum, historic Independence Hall Museum, bustling Carmel Market and Old Jaffa's boardwalk.
Few places inspire such passion as Jerusalem. Its significance to Jews, Christians and Muslims endures. The Israeli capital's major sites include the Old City, the Wailing Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Via Dolorosa, and the Dome of the Rock, the world's third-holiest Islamic shrine. The Old City is easily explored on foot. Away from the religious sights, jazz clubs, hip restaurants, arthouse cinemas and edgy theatre entertain Jerusalem's 725,000 inhabitants and constant stream of visitors.
The Luxor in Las Vegas : the actual CITY of Luxor, Egypt : marshmallow fluff : fois gras. (We’re sure you knew that. We just enjoy analogies.) Sure, the hotel/casino in Vegas might have a beam of light visible from space, but we bet you'll find a hot-air balloon ride over the Valley of Kings much more illuminating. (Editor's note: Our list was compiled before political unrest prompted many countries to issue travel warnings for Egypt. If you're currently planning a trip to Egypt, please consider the risks and monitor your government's travel alerts.)
Cairo has lot to live up to: the Jewel of the Orient, the City of the Thousand Minarets and the Melting Pot of Ancient and Modern Egyptian Civilizations are just a few of its titles. To take in some of the Egyptian capital's magnitude, visit the Antiquities Museum, which houses King Tut's earthly goods, see the massive Citadel and Khan Al-Khalili bazaar. Leave driving to the locals and travel by taxi, or book a car and driver. Transfer to a camel at the pyramids and brave the gaze of the Sphinx.
Atmospheric backstreets paint a very different picture to first impressions of Abu Dhabi. The often slick and modern capital of the U.A.E. presents a fascinating mixture of tradition and progression. Tracing its rich history back to around 3000 B.C., Abu Dhabi maintains a more distinctly Arabian ambiance than glitzy Dubai. Taxis are a safe, reliable way to get around sites such as The Corniche Park, the White Fort, the Heritage Village, which offers glimpses into Bedouin life, and the Women's Craft Centre.
Thanks to the addition of an international airport in 2001, Marsa Alam is fast becoming a premium tourist destination, especially for scuba divers. The waters here are brimming with marine life and pristine dive sites. Landlubbers, don’t miss the Emerald Mines and the Temple of Seti I at Khanais.
Jordan's UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, but outside this lost canyon city, other dazzling experiences await: the breathtaking 2000-year old Treasury, the narrow Siq gorge, the trek up to Al Dayr monastery. The High Place of Sacrifice is another site that will amaze. Hotels can arrange drivers or barter for a taxi from Aqaba. Desert resorts abound nearby and, should security conditions allow, Jordan offers countless more treasures and riches.