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Bucket List Travel: 5 Locations in the Middle East and Africa to Visit

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Photographed by Jason Kim for Vogue Arabia

As lockdowns around the world are slowly being lifted, those of us with travel wanderlust are preparing for when we can finally add another stamp on our passport. Many of us would love to explore the earth’s majestic, natural beauty or get lost in a quaint, storybook town like Blue City. You can find these alluring destinations and more in the MENA region, as it has some of the most exotic sights and attractions–from beach fronts, to lush gardens, and ancient archaeological sites. Listed below are just some of the magical locations to visit in the region.

1. Dubai Miracle Garden, United Arab Emirates

Dubai Miracle Garden

Photo: Shutterstock

The Dubai Miracle Garden in the UAE, unveiled in 2013, is quickly becoming a must-see attraction when visiting the country. As the largest garden in the world, with over 150 million flowers, it is a sight to see. The vibrantly colorful and whimsical floral displays will transport you to a make-believe world like Alice in Wonderland. Some of the garden’s most eye-catching sights are the flower castle, flower clock, and the heart flower passage. Its beauty is one of the most surreal attractions on this list.

2. The Blue City, Morocco

The Blue City, Morocco

Photo: Shutterstock

Chefchaouen City, known as “The Blue City,” is one of Morocco‘s most well-hidden gems in the mountains. This picturesque town is painted electric blue and features artisans selling beautiful fabrics in its cobblestone streets. You can also find potted plants along the walls, which further capture the quaint nature of this city. Just beyond it, are mountainscapes for hiking and sight-seeing as well as waterfalls surrounding the city.

3. Wadi Ash Shab, Oman

Wadi Ash Shab, Oman

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Wadi Ash Shab, located in the Al Sharqiya region of Oman, is one of the many lush Wadis that can be found throughout the country. Imagine a waterfall surrounded by cliffs, hidden caves, a sandy terrain, palm trees, and cerulean blue pools. These are all of the breathtaking characteristics of the Wadi Ash Shab that make it a prime destination for relaxation. This natural wonder is perfect for hiking, swimming, and engaging with this earth’s beauty.

4. Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia

Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia

Photo: Shutterstock

A desert oasis, Al-Ula, in Saudi Arabia, is being primed to be the next big tourist destination as it offers a time capsule dating back to ancient civilizations. At first glance, visitors will see an expansive land of relics and structures. Taking a deeper look, they will see what is called Ikmah, the library of Lihyan or the “Open Library” where ancient locals could study politics, economic, and social affairs. It also exhibits mud-houses that were recently inhabited just six years ago. The highlight of this site is Mada’in Saleh, a settlement of the Nabataeans, and the first Unesco World Heritage Site in Saudi Arabia. At the moment, there are small-scale hotels to stay at with larger resorts underway for the future. A trip to this mostly uncharted archaeological basin will be an unforgettable experience for those longing to explore ancient culture.

5. Asir Province, Saudi Arabia

Asir Province, Saudi Arabia

Photo: Shutterstock

The Assir Province in Saudi Arabia is a budding tourist destination covered in forests and mountain ranges. When visiting this province, you will be immersed in its rich culture and villages. Locals welcome you with festivals in the capital city of Abha each year. On tours, guests will get a taste of their lifestyles through dance performances and more. From hiking through numerous natural parks to taking a cable car ride down to Habala, known as the Hanging Village, there is much to be explored.

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