History

The Middle East is a place where history is being remade daily. It has always been a battleground for empires seeking control over strategic riches, a constantly regenerating birthplace of civilisations and faiths, and home to the great myths of antiquity. This section sketches out the broadest sweeps of Middle Eastern history - for further details see the more-specific history sections in the individual country chapters throughout this book. Although rock art dating back to 10,000 BC lies...

Budget

Bish Bishi Village ( 364 0727 www.bishbishi.com Mashraba s d with shared bathroom E 25 35, with private bathroom E 45 60, with private bathroom & air-con E 60 80 lg) Despite the fact that it's removed from the seafront, this simple camp has a lot going for it. Freshly painted rooms are arranged around a well-maintained palm-filled courtyard and feature comfortable beds and screened windows some have private bathrooms and air-con. It's extremely clean and offers free use of a washing machine...

Infectious Diseases Diphtheria

Diphtheria is spread through close respiratory contact. It causes a high temperature and severe sore throat. Sometimes a membrane forms across the throat requiring a tracheostomy to prevent suffocation. Vaccination is recommended for those likely to be in close contact with the local population in infected areas. The vaccine is given as an injection alone, or with tetanus, and lasts 10 years. Hepatitis A is spread through contaminated food (particularly shellfish) and water. It causes jaundice,...

Sea

Ferries shuttle reasonably regularly between southern Europe and Israel, Turkey and Egypt. There are other less frequented routes connecting Egypt with Sudan and the Arabian Peninsula. As well as the services listed below, some cruise liners call at Middle Eastern ports such as Suez, Alexandria, Tripoli, Benghazi or Tobruk, but these are beyond the scope of this book. A good travel agent should be able to tell you what's available in the season you are travelling. Unless stated otherwise, all...

Religion

The Middle East is the birthplace of the three big monotheistic world religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The followers of these religions worship the same God, the main difference between them being their understanding of when God's revelations ceased. While Judaism adheres to the Old Testament, Christianity adds on the teachings of the New Testament, and the Muslims claim that their holy book, the Quran, contains the final revelations of God, clearing up the points not made clear by...

Egypt Directory

There are a few youth hostels in Egypt, and many excellent budget hotels. In Sinai the most popular budget choices are beachside camps - all have electricity and 24-hour hot water unless noted in our reviews. Good midrange hotels are much harder to find. When it comes to the top end, travellers are spoilt for choice, with the major inter national chains represented in most of the larger cities. Generally speaking, winter (December to February) is the tourist high season and summer (June to...

Getting Started

Apart from a few logistical matters, your pretrip planning will consist of the pleasurable pastimes of tracking down a great read, surfing the Net to learn other travellers' tales and the odd trip to your video store to find classic Middle Eastern movies. Most types of journey are possible regardless of your budget and can range from the highly active (see p638) to lazing by the sea. To whet your appetite and to survey possible routes, see p27. Two issues to be aware of involve the thorny...

Airlines

The following airlines all fly into the Middle East Afriqiyah Airways (airline code 8U www.afriqiyah .aero) Hub Tripoli. Air Canada (airline code AC www.aircanda.com) Hub Pearson International Airport, Toronto. Air France (airline code AF www.airfrance.com) Hub Charles de Gaulle International Airport, Paris. Alitalia (airline code AZ www.alitalia.com) Hub Rome. American Airlines (airline code AA www.aa.com) Hub O'Hare Airport, Chicago. Austrian Airlines (airline code OS www.aua.com) Hub Vienna....

Between Sudan Saudi Arabia Egypt

Telestar Tours (in Cairo 02-794 4600, in Suez )062-332 6251) runs a ferry between Port Sudan and Suez three times per week. Tickets cost E 300 one way. The Nile River Valley Transport Corporation (in Aswan 097-303 348, in Cairo 02-575 9058) runs one passenger ferry per week from Aswan to Wadi Haifa. One-way tickets cost E 383.50 for 1st class with bed in a cabin E 236 for an airline seat and E 164.50 for deck class. At the time of research the ferry was departing on Monday at around noon. The...

Transport In Egypt

GETTING THERE amp AWAY Entering Egypt If you enter the country via Cairo airport, there are a few formalities. After walking past the dusty-looking duty-free shops you'll come to a row of exchange booths, including a Thomas Cook booth. If you haven't already organised a visa, you'll need to pay US 15 or 15 here to receive a visa stamp. You then fill in one of the pink forms available on the benches in front of the immigration officials before queuing to be processed. Egypt has a few airports,...

Money

Details on each country's currency, places to change money and advice on specific exchange rates are given in the Directory of the individual country chapters. Throughout this general section we have quoted prices in US dollars US as these rates are more likely than local currencies which may go up and down to remain stable. Most of the larger banks in the region with the exception of those in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Libya now have ATMs linked up to one of the international networks eg MasterCard...