Whether you are a film-maker seeking fascinating Arabic sites for your next movie, simply a globetrotter interested in knowing what is ‘out there’ in the Arabic speaking world or someone looking for travel inspiration – look no further whilst we reveal our favourite sites!
- Petra, Jordan
Petra: a rose-red sandstone city of tombs, monuments and sacred structures. But what makes it so unique and why should you see it?
Firstly, it’s over 2000 years old. A magnanimous city, half built, and half carved out of rock, Petra lives up to its reputation. Located in southwest Jordan, Petra is one of the oldest metropolises in the world.
The journey to Petra itself is a great experience. The narrow passageway from The Siq to the Temple of Al-Khazneh (The Treasury) is only accessible by horse or camel, making it a memorable ride.
On arrival, it soon becomes obvious as to why Petra was designated as the capital of the Arab Nabatean kingdom. As a central location for the trade of silks and spices, Petra became a stronghold for trade between China, India, Greece and Egypt. And though the silk and spice trade are long gone, it’s still worthwhile visiting Petra and soaking up on a city seeped with the history of bygone eras.
- Abu Simbel, Egypt
A site of two great statues paying homage to the great King Ramses II. Left hidden in the desert for centuries, Abu Simbel was only rediscovered in 1813 by the brave explorer Burckhardt. Quite surprising really, considering that these statues are 20 metres high!
The true treasure of Abu Simbel, however, lies within the temple behind these gigantic figures. A temple dedicated to the sun gods Amon-Re and Re-Horakhte… designed ingeniously to be illuminated by sunlight only twice a year- on February 22nd and October 22nd. A site for sore eyes- seen only by fortuitous and fortunate travellers.
- Great Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
Constructed approximately 4500 years ago, the Pyramids of Giza still remain one of the most enduring mementos from the ancient Egyptian Kingdom.
The first, and largest Giza pyramid was commissioned by Pharaoh Khufu and towers over the landscape at a staggering 481 feet tall. A necropolis filled with gold and jewels, paving the Pharaoh’s passageway to the afterlife.
The second pyramid was constructed by Pharaoh Khufu’s son, Khafre, with a Sphinx standing sentinel outside his Necropolis, guarding his after-worldly goods and riches.
A final smaller but more complex pyramid stands before these two staggering feats of construction- the work of Pharaoh Menkaure. Perhaps bigger was no longer better by the time of his burial.
- Kasbah de Toubkal, Morocco
An eclectic mix of old and new, Marrakesh is a most certainly a city worth visiting. While Marrakesh Medina, or marketplace, may be the first port of call for the less intrepid of adventurers, there are other, more rural and secluded places worth visiting.
For those looking to move away from the more trodden path, there are some hidden gems to be discovered. Retreat to the Kasbah du Toubkal, a hotel and restaurant sheltered among the Atlas Mountain Range. Thankfully, one needn’t stay at the hotel to visit the spectacular site- a pathway leads up to the Kasbah du Toubkal, making it accessible for those who simply mean to pass by.
If you prefer to stay on even footing, then perhaps The Site of The Garden of the Hesperides in Larache is a better choice. The garden of Hesperides is rooted in ancient mythology and rumoured to be the garden from which Hercules stole a wisdom-giving apple, unbeknown to the guardian nymphs. Despite the absence of both apples and nymphs- the Garden of Hesperides is still a magical place and well worth a visit.
- Al-Ahsa Oasis, Saudi Arabia
Nothing pleases the weary desert traveller more than the site of water. This world heritage site is a true wonder of the Arab world. Nestled in the Eastern Arabian Peninsula, the Al-Ahsa Oasis is a melody of gardens, canals, springs, wells and historical buildings.
As well as paying homage to the ingenuity of mankind, the Al-Ahsa Oasis boasts of 2.5 million date palms, well and truly establishing it as the largest oasis in the world.
- El Djem Amphitheater, Tunisia
Once a gladiator’s arena, the El Djem Amphitheatre still inspires awe amongst its visitors. A relic of the bygone Roman era, the El Djem has had its share of fame and glory. The site for the epic Gladiator film- the El Djem is said to be a replica of the famous Colosseum found in Rome.
Capable of holding up to 35000 spectators, the amphitheatre is truly a grand construction worth viewing. But those of us who may not be able to physically visit the site need not despair! Google street view allows us to experience the amphitheatre by taking a virtual tour.
- Burj Khalifa, Dubai
The final spot for the seven wonders of the Arab world goes to the Burj Khalifa: a modern marvel of inventiveness and imagination. Not only has the Burj Khalifa redefined what we thought possible for the construction of skyscrapers, but it also embodies a sense of cultural heritage. Designed to reflect its Arabic surroundings and embodied with elements of Islamic architecture- the Burj Khalifa is well worth a visit.
So, whether you plan to make a personal visit to some of these beautiful sites or are looking to produce material for native Arabic speakers- it’s always worth knowing some of what the Arabic speaking world has to offer…