Where (Not) To Go In The Middle East (part II)

on Nov 03, 2016 at 1:00 PM in Travel, Middle East, Politics, Society, Middle East

See Part I.

With safety concerns in mind, we've checked the status of tourism in countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa and issued some recommendations. Keep in mind that political events can change the situation rapidly. Register with the U.S. State Department (or your own country's equivalent) if you're going on an extended trip to the area.


What's Happening: Anti-government protests that began in February 2011 mushroomed into an all-out civil war, and the security situation has been unstable ever since.

Tourist Fallout: The violence and fighting in Libya essentially ended most tours and cruise stops in the country during 2011, and most governments now advise against any travel to Libya. The U.S. Embassy in Libya suspended its operations in 2014.

Should You Go? No.


What's Happening: Some Arab Spring protests were held in Morocco in 2011, the same year as an unrelated terrorist attack on a restaurant in Marrakesh, but the country is relatively stable.

Tourist Fallout: Tourism in Morocco has remained fairly steady in recent years, and tour offerings are plentiful.

Should You Go? Yes.


What's Happening: Oman experienced several demonstrations, some violent, in early 2011, when protesters called for government reforms and a better standard of living. Sultan Qaboos bin Said responded with a hike in the minimum wage, some reshuffling of cabinet members and other reforms. The furor died down quickly, compared to other Arab countries, and the country has remained safe for for tourism since then.

Tourist Fallout: With a less developed tourism trade than many Middle Eastern countries, Oman has grown in popularity over the past few years, with numerous tour options available.

Should You Go? Yes.


What's Happening: As in many Arab countries, demonstrations against the Syrian government started in January 2011. Now the country is engulfed in a civil war that shows no signs of receding.

Tourist Fallout: Before the violence, tourism to Syria had been on the upswing. That's done now. Most Western countries have issued travel warnings against all travel to Syria, and the U.S. Embassy in Damascus closed in February 2012.

Should You Go? No.


What's Happening: Although Arab Spring actually began here in December 2010, Tunisia had been relatively stable until the terrorist attack on the Bardo Museum in March 2015, which killed a number of foreign tourists.

Tourist Fallout: MSC and Costa Cruises, the two cruise lines whose passengers were directly affected by the Bardo Museum attack, canceled all Tunisia calls for the rest of 2015. Other major cruise lines also canceled calls. However, Intrepid Travel continues to offer Tunisia tours. The U.S. State Department does not currently warn against travel to Tunisia, but other governments, including Australia and Canada, advise visitors to use a high degree of caution due to the possibility of future terrorism.

Should You Go? Yes, as long as you are a traveler who can handle uncertainty. Otherwise, wait.

United Arab Emirates

What's Happening: The U.A.E., which includes Dubai and Abu Dhabi, avoided most of the upheaval that categorized Arab Spring. While some of the emirates have had some economic dips, the country's income per capita remains among the highest in the world.

Tourist Fallout: All tours and cruises have continued as usual.

Should You Go? Yes.


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