In recent years the Middle East is often in the news because of conflicts between alliances and ancient quarrels. Yet in many places, it is much safer than you think!
Safety Middle East
Various countries in the Middle East, including most Gulf States, are safe for travelling. According to the recently released report Global Travel & Tourism Report of the World Economic Forum (2015) Qatar (2nd), the United Arab Emirates (3rd) and Oman (9th) are among the ten safest countries in the world. Some important indicators that were examined were safety, health, tourism, environment, and infrastructure.
The countries in the Middle East will do everything to ensure their national security and the safety of their citizens. As a tourist, you probably notice the surveillance cameras in almost every corner of buildings and on streets. You might see police cars along the highway and at roundabouts. But you are probably not aware of the fact that conversations can be tapped.
But don’t let this scare you off! According to former NSA chief Stewart Baker, tapping is a normal procedure in many other countries in the world, for example in America and The Netherlands.
The times that you thought you had entered a video game car racing are long over. The quality of the roads, driving skills and other aspects that contribute to road safety improved significantly in recent years. Roads are well maintained with clear signage. Traffic rules have been tightened and the requirements for obtaining a license are more stringent.
Nevertheless, you should pay extra attention on truck roads, country roads and on roads through the mountains or desert. In some countries, it is better not to drive yourself, for example in Saudi Arabia and (parts of) Egypt.
So before you go on the road in the Middle East, make sure you are well prepared. Not only in terms of safety, but also with a good road map. Because if you take the wrong direction, you might need to drive an extra 20 kilometers to get back on track.
The countries in the Middle East seem free, open and tolerant. And they are but within the limits of their own legal system and regulations! Their legal system is not fully independent, as in most Western countries. It is a so-called dual legal system. Depending on the nature of the case and/or the religion of the people involved jurisdiction is exercised according to Sharia (religious law), or in secular courts.
Although it seems unnecessary to mention, I do it anyway. Too many tourists get into trouble every year because they think the rules of the country are not that strict. Or they think that the police will be easy on them because they are tourists. But they are wrong. The police do not discriminate. Therefore follow the dress codes and don’t show affection in public places. Don’t use foul language, be drunk in public or make photos of restricted areas. Just follow the rules. If you encounter problems, contact your embassy.