An ill-timed tour of Syria: Amid the ancient sites, an uprising takes root

It was the morning after the UN voted to bomb Colonel Gaddafi out of Libya that I made my way to Gatwick Airport. Hosni Mubarak had fallen as Egypt's leader just a month before. Tunisia had been swept up in revolution, Yemen's Day of Rage was turning into weeks of bloodshed, and even little Bahrain was stirring with protest.

Palestinian dancers perform outside the Church of Nativity

O little town with big ideas: Welcome to Bethlehem

Come all ye tourists: that's the message from Bethlehem, which is having some success in overcoming high unemployment and the Israeli blockade, writes Matthew Kalman

Pool with a view: the Melia Hotel

48 Hours In: Dubai

The searing heat of summer has mellowed in the Gulf states, making this Emirati city an appealing choice for some winter sun, says Nick Boulos

Corniche cool: Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art

Head to the souq for a taste of Doha

The Qatari capital is a vision of gleaming modernity and luxurious ambition. But is it possible to get a real flavour of the city?  Andy Lynes dines out

Traveller's guide: Jordan

The sights of this wild frontier will stay with you long after you've left

Where's hot? September in Dubai...

Perhaps the question might be better phrased as "where's not so hot?". Dubai simmers down in September, the searing heat of summer subsiding to a more comfortable average in the low 30Cs.

The jewel of the Arabian Peninsula

Whether you want a beach holiday, a bustling city break or a desert adventure, the unique destination of the Sultanate of Oman can provide it all

Saline solution: The remains of the fortress of Masada

Highs and lows: Simon Calder visits the dramatic Masada fortress in Israel's Negev Desert

The fortress was built by King Herod beside the Dead Sea's shores – the lowest dry land in the world.

The Hedonist: Tel Aviv

What to see and where to be seen

Travel Challenge: Luxury Dubai

Each week we invite three companies to offer us their best deal for a specific holiday. Today: a five-night luxury break in Dubai. Prices are per person, based on two people sharing. Each package includes breakfast and flights from Heathrow on Thursday 1 March.

Up creek: From the Shindagha neighbourhood, it's a short walk along Dubai Creek to the Dubai Museum

Traveller's Guide: Dubai

With desert, beaches and audacious architecture, the emirate has plenty to entice visitors.

Oh little town: The Church of the Nativity

Journey to the Source: Bethlehem

Tony Wheeler follows the 14-point star to a place of pilgrimage – and dispute

On The Road: Bewildered on a Bedouin back-road en route to Petra

We were lost. John scanned the sea of sandstone that stretched out to the horizon and finally conceded defeat.

The filth and the fury: A mountain of rubbish is blighting Lebanon's once-beautiful beaches

The wretched of the earth high above turquoise blue seas; take a face mask with you before you clamber up the Jabal al-Zbeleh – the 'Mountain of Rubbish' – and just imagine the beauty of the beach that still exists six storeys of muck below you. These days, you might need the face mask when you observe Lebanon's politics, but the moment you see the middle-aged Palestinians of this place, filthy and gaunt, their shirts and trousers pasted with the detritus of Lebanon, you can only feel compassion. They work high atop this vile garbage heap, to ferret out old plastic and leather and metal and still-ripe tomatoes amid flies and rats and wild dogs and rotten food and used hospital syringes and torn-open sacks of household rubbish and methane gas.

Palestinians to seek UN state recognition

The West Bank Palestinian leadership formally decided to press ahead with efforts in September to win United Nations recognition of a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

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