In the Western world, as Wikipedia notes, the Middle East is generally thought of as a predominantly Arab community with no clear definition, the most common and highly arbitrary definition includes: Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and the 'Palestinian Territories'
By and large I've tried to avoid the the sometimes problematic political, social, economic relationship(s) between the 'muslim' world and the so-called 'West' but it's not always possible and besides I've staked out my position already haven't I? Still, if you want to delve into this stuff, check out the Bookshelf
And yes, you've probably read that bit (and the following bit) before, that's cos there's a fair bit of overlap between the Middle East and the badlands of the Axis of Evil. Who'da thought?...
Of course, given the drawn-out intercine (or for the pedants out there, internecine) conflicts that are part of the so-called 'Arab Spring', much of what you'll read in these pages is now of historical interest only
Perhaps it was a fascination born of a couple of lifetimes ago when I worked in Sudan and Morrocco; perhaps it's just the road less travelled but whatever the reason, over the years I've travelled in some of the Middle East countries, some with my bike, some without
Iran A mini tour in 2007/2008
I was planning to spend April 2003 riding my trike thru Iran but as Dubbya seemed hellbent on attacking neighbouring Iraq at about the same time I opted to try for Libya instead. Libya didn't work out either... I finally made it to Iran in December 2007. And yes, you're right, not a great time but the trip was short anyway
Iraq Another mini tour in 2012
A quick whizz thru northern Iraq - Kurdistan if you will - in October 2012 before heading home after my EuroVelo 6 adventure
Syria The best yet! A truly brilliant tour in 2001
I spent October 2001 riding my trike thru Syria with brief excursions into neighbouring Lebanon and Jordan, what follows is an account a trip that can best be described as awesome. I met wonderful people, ate sublime food (and some not so sublime - thank goodness for Imodium), saw spectacular sights of both the modern and ancient worlds and well, just had a great time
Yemen An amazing (trikeless) mini tour in 2009
I spent some time in Yemen in February 2009 and while I didn't get out of Sana'a that much, I had a fabulous time in an amazing place
What did I find?
I'm not really sure what I expected to find... altho each place is completely different - d'oh - one thing they had in common was an incredible friendliness, wonderful hospitality and, well, the adjectives tell the story don't they?
And I still rate Syria as the all-time Number One on the best bike tour list