Alexander Armstrong with his family

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It's big and brazen and everything is shiny-new, but as comedian Alexander Armstrong and his brood discovered, it's impossible not to enjoy

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The Alila Jabal Akhdar hotel perches at the top of a dramatic valley

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Hotting up: the emirate now welcomes a million UK visitors each year

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From vibrant Tel Aviv to the Negev Desert, Israel's network of bike tracks is growing, says Mark Stratton

The Amman skyline

B&B and Beyond: By the Lemon Tree, Amman

Family drinks parties and an elaborate breakfast spread help to make Matthew Teller feel at home in the bustling capital

Leading light: The 17th-century Blue Mosque and its six minarets dominate the Istanbul skyline

Turkey's finest: Istanbul is the most popular kid on the 21st-century global block

If you want a metaphor for modern Istanbul, look no further than the Marmaray tunnel. It's currently being dug under the Bosphorus to link Sirkeci Station, near the Grand Bazaar, with the ferry port of Uskudar on the Asian shore. The work will take three years to finish; maybe more because workmen keep discovering ancient objects that have to be removed and lovingly catalogued.

Oman oasis: Nakhal Fort

Oman: On the balcony of an ancient land

The most spectacular way to explore Oman's rugged Hajar mountains is to reach for the top, discovers Amar Grover

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