Spending a Month in the Middle East as a Gay Couple? We Did and it Changed Our Life!
In the Western world, the Middle East is generally thought of as a predominantly Islamic Arabic community defined by frequent war and upheaval. Yet the area encompasses many distinct cultural and ethnic groups, and seven main languages. As a result it holds some of the most diverse and vibrant population centers.
- The Old City of Jerusalem is beautiful and so unique
- Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is a must see with iconic little towns
- Beirut is a showstopper and very under-rated travel destinations
- The rolling golden dunes of Oman
- The coast and sea of Cyprus is magical
- Watersports and safaris in Qatar
- In predominantly Muslim countries, restaurants will close during Ramdan until the evening when fasting is broken by the iftar (a meal or even buffet). In Israel, during Passover, grain products or leavened bread may not be sold. It's good to check local holidays that may affect your travels (or make for an interesting experience).
- Me and Josh had to be very aware of public displays of affection( not just gays, straight people too!), taking photos of local women/men (or government-related people/buildings), wearing revealing clothes, trying to touch someone (i.e. to shake hands or tap their shoulder) are a few examples of what may be insulting or even punishable by law.
- Many of Israel's neighboring countries will not allow entry if you have visited Israel. To avoid this complication, ask the Israeli authorities to place the visa stamp on a separate document (you may have to assert yourself). There is a chance that the border guards may refuse to do so, but it's worth asking.
- Double-check visa requirements beforehand to know whether the country issues visa-on-arrival or if you must apply for an advance visa. Prepare to pay entrance/departure fees in some countries, the cost of which may unexpectedly change. In some countries, you may not be allowed entrance based on your citizenship or because they do not offer tourist visas.
- Due to volatile politics, it's wise to stay current with the news in this region.
- Make sure if your traveling from Amsterdam you have no weed stuck in your pockets or in the bottoms of your shoes. Its a very serious crime esp in Dubai and many other middle eastern cities.
Go into the desert with a four-wheel-drive and try riding up and down some of the sand dunes or simply camp under a clear desert sky. For some cultural refreshment, and less bling, try Sharjah, which advertises itself as the cultural capital of the Emirates.
The United Arab Emirates are easy to travel and get into, the main hubs of entry being Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Almost everybody gets a visa on arrival, which is valid for a month.
While the United Arab Emirates are relatively liberal as far as foreigners are concerned, you should be aware that you are still visiting an Islamic country. Sure you can get alcohol, and there are bars and nightclubs, and beaches where women sunbathe in bikinis, however, don’t push the culturally established boundaries. Public drunkenness is not accepted, and neither is cuddling or kissing in public. Both are offenses that can get you expelled or jailed.
Highlights from United Arab Emirates
- Gaze over Dubai from the world’s highest building (at the time of this writing), the Burj Khalifa, or have high-tea in what is often called “the world’s only seven star hotel”, the Burj Al Arab
- Shop in one of the many malls that Dubai has to offer, including the largest one in the world, the Dubai Mall, or go skiing at Ski Dubai in the Mall of the Emirates
- Stroll around the Old Souk of Dubai to take in a whiff of the past
- Go to Abu Dhabi to see more wealth than you can imagine, visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, or the Formula 1 racing track on Yas Island, and while you are there take a ride on the world’s fastest roller-coaster in Ferrari World
- Visit some museums in conservative Sharjah, the cultural capital of the UAE
- See how Dubai would look without the money in Umm al-Quwain
- Take a dip in a cool mountain spring in one of the many wadis that dot the Hajar Mountains
- Get out into the desert at the Liwa Oasis, go dune bashing, or camp out under the stars
- Relax on one of the many beaches that dot the country
- VISIT AND HAVE A BEACH DAY ON THE PALM!
- The United Arab Emirates are not a cheap destination. There are several options to save money. You can look into a hospitality exchange service like couch surfing or you can stay in one of the lesser known Emirates, Ajman, or Sharjah are right next door to Dubai and cheaper.
- It is affordable and easy to get around the big cities with public transport, it will save you money to use them. You can also get buses to the other Emirates.
- If you are planning on going to, staying, or even just passing through Sharjah, it is good to know that alcohol is prohibited in Sharjah and there are regular checks.
- To see more of the country than just the cities, you will need your own wheels or have to take a tour. It is worth going into the desert or visiting the Hajar Mountains, if only to get a taste of something different than malls and beaches.
- While you can wear a bikini at most beaches, you might get stares on the public ones, and may find it more comfortable to go to one of the many private beaches. Never go topless!
- The best time to visit the United Arab Emirates is from October to around April when temperatures are agreeable. Outside of these months, be warned, temperatures can reach 48°C (118.4°F)!
Visit Dubai!!! Trust me its an amazing culture and experience! To learn an awesome Travel Hack to get cheap flights around the world 20$ to $100 read this article. Follow our Travel Instagram BradandJosh! Sound off in the comments! Where have you been in Dubai!
P.S. You have to go to the Irish Village, Rock bottom and get a Bullfrog and you must visit QD's in the Month we lived there, we had to have eaten there at least 7 meals.