The notion of luxury travel in the Middle East may seem somewhat incongruous. But the region stretches from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean, and by no means is everywhere embroiled in conflict. The friendly country of Jordan, for example, still welcomes American travelers who wish to visit its spectacular archaeological remains, in particular the famous city of Petra. Egypt’s great port city of Alexandria is currently undergoing a renaissance. To the east, the emirate of Dubai, (ruled for nearly two centuries by the Al Maktoum dynasty, famous as owners and breeders of some of the world’s finest racehorses) is in the midst of an extraordinary economic boom. Nowadays a favorite winter destination of affluent Europeans, its fashionable Jumeirah Beach is lined with dazzling new hotels. And picturesque Oman, with its dramatic mountains, ancient architecture and atmospheric trading-port capital of Muscat, is rapidly opening to the world, with first-class beach resorts such as the Evason Hideaway at Zighy Bay.

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