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.

An authentic insight into the Arab world

City Slicker - Amman: Don't be too quick to pass through Jordan's capital for Petra or Wadi Rum. Mark Rowe offers ideas for new and returning visitors

Ask the traveller: Holiday bargains

Q: Are there any deals at the moment, given the twitchiness resulting from the Arab spring uprisings? There must be bargains for the brave.

"Peggy Sue", via email

The town they can't keep down

City Slicker: Beirut - Lebanon's capital, like its taxis, can take a beating then bounce back. Sarah Barrell has some tips for new and returning visitors

Traveller's Guide: Syria

Rogue state or not, this Middle Eastern nation is packed with attractions that will dazzle anyone who visits, says Matthew Teller

The Experts' Guide To The World: Israel

It may seem quirky to pick a busy street corner as your favourite place in a city, but this is no ordinary corner. With your back to the sea, look up the length of the wide Ben Gurion Avenue from its intersection with Ha'atzmaut and wonder at the most beguiling sight in Haifa, Israel's mellowest city: the manicured park, stretching up the Carmel hillside, and the golden domed shrine that is one of the two holiest places in the Baha'i faith. But that's not all there is to this corner, which is not just a junction between two streets, but between east and west, past and future, Jew and Arab.

The Experts' Guide To The World: Beirut

It's Hariri's table, just to the right of the main door, the seat with its back to the street, just where he always took café au lait, just where he took coffee with friends seven minutes before he was assassinated. The murder of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri – via the UN tribunal's indictment of the supposed murderers – has placed Lebanon as close to the abyss as it has been for many years. And for a few weeks after his Valentine's Day massacre in 2005, along with 20 others, the Etoile restaurant kept a coloured photograph of the dead man, grey-haired, smiling wanly, upright at his seat.

Iran: A journey from Tehran to Esfahan reveals a country of beauty and poetry

"In the name of God," said the form we had to fill in to get a press card. Was it "in the name of God" that we had to shroud ourselves in loose clothes and headscarves, the minute our plane landed on Iranian soil? Was it "in the name of God" that nearly all the women we saw, as we crawled through the rush-hour traffic from Tehran airport, were wearing black? And it's in the name of God, presumably, that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has, for the past five years, been living under the threat of being stoned to death.

The Hedonist: Abu Dhabi

What to see and where to be seen

Oman: Dive in to a magical world

Wildlife Special: Oman is full of intriguing forts and bustling souks, but some of its most spellbinding sights are underwater, says Kate Humble

Brilliant Beirut

The Lebanese capital knows how to party, with stylish hotels, sizzling nightlife and plenty of bling – and Bentleys – on show. But equally distracting are the cultural landmarks that surround the city.

A child's-eye view of an ancient land

Scrolling through Jordan from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea brings Classical civilisation to life for young travellers – with plenty of thrills on the way
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