Middle Eastern winter getaways: Al-Bawaba's guide

As skies turn a miserable grey, Saudi Arabia experiences deadly floods and people across the Middle East huddle around the “sooba” to keep warm, it’s time to start planning your winter getaway. The MENA region has plenty to offer in terms of winter activities, if you know where to look. Here is your perfect guide to where to head this cold season:

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If you can’t get enough of the cold white stuff, the six ski slopes of Lebanon are for you. Brought back from Switzerland in the 1920s by a returning student, skiing in Lebanon has a long history. And, if you get bored of skiing, you can always head to the coastal cities, which are only a short drive away from the resorts.

If you can’t get enough of the cold white stuff, the six ski slopes of Lebanon are for you. Brought back from Switzerland in the 1920s by a returning student, skiing in Lebanon has a long history. And, if you get bored of skiing, you can always head to the coastal cities, which are only a short drive away from the resorts.

Christmas in Bethlehem. What could be more magical than being in the city of Jesus’ birth on Christmas Eve? Special tours are available on 24 December which include Shepherd’s Field, from where it is said the shepherds saw the Star of the Nativity, and the Church of the Nativity itself. You can then enjoy Midnight Mass from Manger Square.

Christmas in Bethlehem. What could be more magical than being in the city of Jesus’ birth on Christmas Eve? Special tours are available on 24 December which include Shepherd’s Field, from where it is said the shepherds saw the Star of the Nativity, and the Church of the Nativity itself. You can then enjoy Midnight Mass from Manger Square.

With average January temperatures of a positively balmy 19°C, Dubai is the perfect winter escape. We all know about the Burj Khalifa and the massive malls, but wintertime offers new experiences of the Emirati city. The New Years fireworks are a particular highlight: in 2014 the city set a world record for the largest firework display.

With average January temperatures of a positively balmy 19°C, Dubai is the perfect winter escape. We all know about the Burj Khalifa and the massive malls, but wintertime offers new experiences of the Emirati city. The New Years fireworks are a particular highlight: in 2014 the city set a world record for the largest firework display.

The Dead Sea draws visitors to float weightlessly in the salty water, and to cover themselves in its natural mud packs. Still warm enough to enter the water for much of the winter, tourists will find that the biggest attraction, after fifteen minutes in the sea itself, is enjoying a top class hotel and heated swimming pools.

The Dead Sea draws visitors to float weightlessly in the salty water, and to cover themselves in its natural mud packs. Still warm enough to enter the water for much of the winter, tourists will find that the biggest attraction, after fifteen minutes in the sea itself, is enjoying a top class hotel and heated swimming pools.

Make the most of going out of season to Sharm el Skeikh which, tourist forums assure me, is “the BEST” in the winter. Visitors can keep themselves active with plenty of opportunities for snorkeling in the Red Sea. Alternatively, you could head into the desert to forget the cold completely, with a Sinai safari, or a trek on the Sinai trail.

Make the most of going out of season to Sharm el Skeikh which, tourist forums assure me, is “the BEST” in the winter. Visitors can keep themselves active with plenty of opportunities for snorkeling in the Red Sea. Alternatively, you could head into the desert to forget the cold completely, with a Sinai safari, or a trek on the Sinai trail.

Want to see the wonders of Petra in Jordan? Go in winter. Escape the busloads of tourist groups and spend your time enjoying the wonders of this ancient city carved out of red rock rather than applying sunscreen! There are days worth of walking and climbing to do at Petra, and it’s much more enjoyable at ten degrees that in the thirties!

Want to see the wonders of Petra in Jordan? Go in winter. Escape the busloads of tourist groups and spend your time enjoying the wonders of this ancient city carved out of red rock rather than applying sunscreen! There are days worth of walking and climbing to do at Petra, and it’s much more enjoyable at ten degrees that in the thirties!

The cultural explorer should head to Morocco, which enjoys surprisingly pleasant temperatures throughout the winter, and has plenty to offer in terms of historical and artistic sites. The highly diverse country has a rich and varied history, still represented in a considerable archaeological imprint, including Roman and early Islamic sites.

The cultural explorer should head to Morocco, which enjoys surprisingly pleasant temperatures throughout the winter, and has plenty to offer in terms of historical and artistic sites. The highly diverse country has a rich and varied history, still represented in a considerable archaeological imprint, including Roman and early Islamic sites.

If you can’t get enough of the cold white stuff, the six ski slopes of Lebanon are for you. Brought back from Switzerland in the 1920s by a returning student, skiing in Lebanon has a long history. And, if you get bored of skiing, you can always head to the coastal cities, which are only a short drive away from the resorts.
Christmas in Bethlehem. What could be more magical than being in the city of Jesus’ birth on Christmas Eve? Special tours are available on 24 December which include Shepherd’s Field, from where it is said the shepherds saw the Star of the Nativity, and the Church of the Nativity itself. You can then enjoy Midnight Mass from Manger Square.
With average January temperatures of a positively balmy 19°C, Dubai is the perfect winter escape. We all know about the Burj Khalifa and the massive malls, but wintertime offers new experiences of the Emirati city. The New Years fireworks are a particular highlight: in 2014 the city set a world record for the largest firework display.
The Dead Sea draws visitors to float weightlessly in the salty water, and to cover themselves in its natural mud packs. Still warm enough to enter the water for much of the winter, tourists will find that the biggest attraction, after fifteen minutes in the sea itself, is enjoying a top class hotel and heated swimming pools.
Make the most of going out of season to Sharm el Skeikh which, tourist forums assure me, is “the BEST” in the winter. Visitors can keep themselves active with plenty of opportunities for snorkeling in the Red Sea. Alternatively, you could head into the desert to forget the cold completely, with a Sinai safari, or a trek on the Sinai trail.
Want to see the wonders of Petra in Jordan? Go in winter. Escape the busloads of tourist groups and spend your time enjoying the wonders of this ancient city carved out of red rock rather than applying sunscreen! There are days worth of walking and climbing to do at Petra, and it’s much more enjoyable at ten degrees that in the thirties!
The cultural explorer should head to Morocco, which enjoys surprisingly pleasant temperatures throughout the winter, and has plenty to offer in terms of historical and artistic sites. The highly diverse country has a rich and varied history, still represented in a considerable archaeological imprint, including Roman and early Islamic sites.
If you can’t get enough of the cold white stuff, the six ski slopes of Lebanon are for you. Brought back from Switzerland in the 1920s by a returning student, skiing in Lebanon has a long history. And, if you get bored of skiing, you can always head to the coastal cities, which are only a short drive away from the resorts.
If you can’t get enough of the cold white stuff, the six ski slopes of Lebanon are for you. Brought back from Switzerland in the 1920s by a returning student, skiing in Lebanon has a long history. And, if you get bored of skiing, you can always head to the coastal cities, which are only a short drive away from the resorts.
Christmas in Bethlehem. What could be more magical than being in the city of Jesus’ birth on Christmas Eve? Special tours are available on 24 December which include Shepherd’s Field, from where it is said the shepherds saw the Star of the Nativity, and the Church of the Nativity itself. You can then enjoy Midnight Mass from Manger Square.
Christmas in Bethlehem. What could be more magical than being in the city of Jesus’ birth on Christmas Eve? Special tours are available on 24 December which include Shepherd’s Field, from where it is said the shepherds saw the Star of the Nativity, and the Church of the Nativity itself. You can then enjoy Midnight Mass from Manger Square.
With average January temperatures of a positively balmy 19°C, Dubai is the perfect winter escape. We all know about the Burj Khalifa and the massive malls, but wintertime offers new experiences of the Emirati city. The New Years fireworks are a particular highlight: in 2014 the city set a world record for the largest firework display.
With average January temperatures of a positively balmy 19°C, Dubai is the perfect winter escape. We all know about the Burj Khalifa and the massive malls, but wintertime offers new experiences of the Emirati city. The New Years fireworks are a particular highlight: in 2014 the city set a world record for the largest firework display.
The Dead Sea draws visitors to float weightlessly in the salty water, and to cover themselves in its natural mud packs. Still warm enough to enter the water for much of the winter, tourists will find that the biggest attraction, after fifteen minutes in the sea itself, is enjoying a top class hotel and heated swimming pools.
The Dead Sea draws visitors to float weightlessly in the salty water, and to cover themselves in its natural mud packs. Still warm enough to enter the water for much of the winter, tourists will find that the biggest attraction, after fifteen minutes in the sea itself, is enjoying a top class hotel and heated swimming pools.
Make the most of going out of season to Sharm el Skeikh which, tourist forums assure me, is “the BEST” in the winter. Visitors can keep themselves active with plenty of opportunities for snorkeling in the Red Sea. Alternatively, you could head into the desert to forget the cold completely, with a Sinai safari, or a trek on the Sinai trail.
Make the most of going out of season to Sharm el Skeikh which, tourist forums assure me, is “the BEST” in the winter. Visitors can keep themselves active with plenty of opportunities for snorkeling in the Red Sea. Alternatively, you could head into the desert to forget the cold completely, with a Sinai safari, or a trek on the Sinai trail.
Want to see the wonders of Petra in Jordan? Go in winter. Escape the busloads of tourist groups and spend your time enjoying the wonders of this ancient city carved out of red rock rather than applying sunscreen! There are days worth of walking and climbing to do at Petra, and it’s much more enjoyable at ten degrees that in the thirties!
Want to see the wonders of Petra in Jordan? Go in winter. Escape the busloads of tourist groups and spend your time enjoying the wonders of this ancient city carved out of red rock rather than applying sunscreen! There are days worth of walking and climbing to do at Petra, and it’s much more enjoyable at ten degrees that in the thirties!
The cultural explorer should head to Morocco, which enjoys surprisingly pleasant temperatures throughout the winter, and has plenty to offer in terms of historical and artistic sites. The highly diverse country has a rich and varied history, still represented in a considerable archaeological imprint, including Roman and early Islamic sites.
The cultural explorer should head to Morocco, which enjoys surprisingly pleasant temperatures throughout the winter, and has plenty to offer in terms of historical and artistic sites. The highly diverse country has a rich and varied history, still represented in a considerable archaeological imprint, including Roman and early Islamic sites.