This website is designed to be viewed in browsers Internet Explorer 10 or above.
Please update your browser to view this site.
Safari for Windows was discontinued, unfortunately you have to
switch to a different Internet browser like Firefox or Chrome.

15 things you didn’t know about the Middle East

By JoThursday 19th July 2018

Best known for skyscrapers and shopping malls, water parks and fountains, the Middle East is a must-visit for many. But there’s much more to this part of the world than meets the eye, and now’s the time to take a look.

United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates

1. 80% of the population are expats

Over 200 different nationalities make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE), making it a real melting pot of cultures.

2. They love falcons

You’ll find falcons everywhere: in their emblem, on their currency and in people’s homes as pets. There’s even a special falcon hospital.

3. They’re building an eco-city

Since 2008, the UAE has been building Masdar City. It’s set to be the world’s most sustainable city, powered entirely by wind and solar energy.

4. The world’s tallest building lives here

The Burj Khalifa stands at a jaw-dropping 828 metres high and has more than 160 storeys. That’s about three Eiffel Towers!

5. There are two manmade islands

Palm Jumeirah Deira and Palm Jebel Ali are made from 3 billion cubic feet of sand surrounded by 7 million tonnes of mountain rock.

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi

6. It has a record-breaking tower

At 35 storeys with an 18-degree lean, the Capital Gate tower has overtaken the Leaning Tower of Pisa to earn the title of ‘World’s Furthest Leaning Manmade Tower’.

7. Pearls are big business

The Persian Gulf is one of the world’s prime locations for pearls, and Abu Dhabi’s pearl divers used to go searching up to 30 times per day.

8. There’s an annual food festival

The Abu Dhabi Food Festival showcases the most innovative food from some of the world’s top chefs – a must for any self-professed foodie.

9. Dates, dates and more dates

You might not think it, but there’s lots of agriculture in Abu Dhabi. In fact, in 2015 they produced 93,075 tonnes of dates.

10. There’s lots of green space

There are over 2,000 glorious gardens and parks, spanning more than 400km. But, only 10km are open to the public.



11. The Dubai Mall has a dinosaur fossil

A 155-million-year-old Diplodocus Longust can be found in the centre of the word’s largest shopping mall.

12. Next-level vending machines

You can buy all kinds of wacky things from vending machines, including cameras, laptops, phones and even gold bars.

13. Women go first

Not only are there women-only carriages on the Dubai metro, but women go to the front of the queue when they’re paying bills.

14. Gold, gold and more gold

40% of the world’s gold is traded in Dubai and there’s a world-famous market gold market: the Deira Gold Souk.

15. It’s where east meets west

With all the different nationalities and cultures, Dubai is a mix of religions, traditions and celebrations from both sides of the globe.

Inspired to visit the Middle East? Book your spot on our Spice Route cruise and spend seven days exploring its many wonders.

Join the conversation...