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10 Most Unexpected National Wonders and Scenic Places in the Arab World

posted on: Feb 19, 2020

By: Ala Abed-Rabbo/Arab America Contributing Writer

The Arab World has many amazing and stunning natural wonders and scenic areas. Many people are taken away by the essence and glory of such places only to explore and visit them, as explained by Ala Abed-Rabbo.

1. The Rub’ al Khali (the Empty Quarter)

Covering parts of Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, the Rub’ al Khali (the “Empty Quarter”) is the sand desert surrounding most of the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula. The desert covers around 250,000 square-mile, (650,000 km2), and it is part of the immense Arabian Desert.

Due to its large size and uninviting conditions of this miracle—the world’s largest adjoining sand desert is how its name came to be, Rub al Khali, or “Empty Quarter.”

Probably winds transported much of the sands colored in red, and some whiter sands likely blew in from the ground of the Persian Gulf. These winds endure shaping the sandbanks into numerous and scenic forms, with steep star and crescent-shaped barchan dunes.

2. Jeita Grotto

The Jeita Grotto is a structure of two detached, but interconnected, karstic limestone caves straddling a total length of nearly 5.6 miles (9 kilometers). The caves are in the Nahr al-Kalb valley inside the locality of Jeita, 11 miles (18 kilometers) north of Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, situated at the center of the western edges of the mountains

Moreover, it is a popular spot for visitors. People may only go to see it by boat since it channels an underground river that offers fresh drinking water to more than a million Lebanese. It is the longest discovered cave in Lebanon, consisting of two galleries: an upper “Jeita Grotto” and a lower one, crossed by a smooth underwater river and the “Dark Lake.”

Apart from being a Lebanese nationwide symbol and a top sightseen destination, the Jeita Grotto plays an important communal, monetary, and cultural role in the country. “It was one of the top 14 finalists in the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition.”

3. Al-Ahsa Oasis

Al-Aḥsa is a plural word of “Al-Ḥisa” which denotes to the amassed sand with solid underneath. Also known as al-Ḥasa or Hajar is an old oasis ancient area in eastern Saudi Arabia whose name is referred by the Al-Ahsa Governorate, which consists of much of that country’s Eastern Area.

The oasis is situated around 37 miles (60 km) inland from the coast of the Persian Gulf.

Also, Al-Ahsa is part of the province known historically for its high skill in tailoring, particularly in making ‘bisht,’ an old-style men’s cloak. In 2018, it has become a World Heritage site. “It has also been part of UNESCO Creative Cities Network since December 2015.”

It is filled with several archaeological spots for people to observe the area’s importance and landmarks, such as Qasr Ibrahim, Al-Asfar Lake, and Ain Qannas.

4. Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum described as “The Mars of the Middle East,” also known as the Valley of the Moon. It is a valley that is cut into the sandstone and granite rock in, located in southern Jordan, 37 miles (60 km), which is east of Aqaba; it is the largest wadi (valley) in the country.

This natural wonder can be described as ancient sandstone pillars extending up from the red sands toward an infinite sky to create beautiful scenery. Walking among the towering rocks that have been carved and curved by ages of wind, sand, and flash floods and making one feel as they have traveled to another planet.

Moreover, this Mars-like site is so interplanetary; it has even stood in for the red planet in The Martian and as the fictional moon Jedha in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

5. The Atlas Mountains

The Atlas Mountains are a mountain assortment in the Maghreb. It splits the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts from the Sahara Desert and stretches about 1,600 miles (2,500 km) through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.

“The range’s highest peak is Toubkal, which is in southwestern Morocco, with an elevation of 4,167 meters (13,671 ft).”

Home to the Berber population, this mountain array has snow-capped peaks, lush forestry, plummeting rocky cliffs, and rich wildlife. If one wishes to experience the diversity and beauty of North Africa, visit these captivating mountains.

6. Wadi Shab

Wadi Shab, “Gorge between the Cliffs,” is an oasis, located in the middle of the Omani desert, is a treasure trove of stunning natural wonder. People visit to relax in its glistening crystalline pools of water or hike along its ancient cliffs for an exact experience of Arabia.

7. Gouraya National Park

The Top 10 Most Unexpected Scenic/Wonder Places in the Arab World

One of the national seaside parks of Algeria is the national park of Gouraya and is in Bejaia Province, close to the monument of Sidi Touati.

“The park became an Algerian National Park in 1984 and has been UNESCO-recognized as a biosphere reserve in 2004.”

The park boasts green forests, rock climbing trails in the mountains, incredible beaches, rich flora, and fauna, and is the perfect scenery to visit for nature-lovers.

8. Musandam

Located in the very north of Oman, Musandam is one of those dream-like locations to visit. With its shimmering green waters and twirling dolphins and other marine life, white-sand beaches, and stony caves, this is the picture-perfect place for a soothing time spent in nature.

9. Tinghir

10 Most Unexpected National Wonders and Scenic Places in the Arab World

The city in the region of Draa-Tafilatet, Tinghir or Tinerhir Tafilalet, is in southeastern Morocco, south of the High Atlas and north of the Little Atlas. It is an oasis about 19 miles (30 km) long and nearly 2.5 miles (4 km) wide.

Surrounded by stark gravelly mountains and deserts, it is a lavish green haven. Consider the secretes and raw beauty of the earth as visitors relish this calming break from the desert.

10. Ichkeul Lake and National Park

Located in northern Tunisia, Lake Ichkeul is situated 12 miles (20 km) to Bizerte, in Africa, the northernmost city on the Mediterranean Sea. The stream and swamps of Ichkeul National Park are a significant stopping-over point for hundreds of thousands of migrating birds each year.

Also, the nearby national park is a majestic setting to the lake, where people can hike, camp, and tour through its flamboyant forests. “The park has been on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites since 1980.”


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