The town they can't keep down

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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.

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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

A return to the Emirates: Mishal Husain's journey back to the UAE was a family holiday with a difference

A trip down memory lane is a little tricky if, like me, yours was an expatriate childhood. Mine was spent in the United Arab Emirates – 10 happy years from 1975, when I was two years old – which makes it the first home I can remember. But the UAE isn't somewhere I pass through much these days and my friends from there are scattered across the globe. Even if I did venture back, the ever-changing urban landscape is more than likely to have rendered once-familiar locations unrecognisable.

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The pearl fishers: The waters surrounding the island of Bahrain harbour untold hidden wealth

It's 8.30am and Bahrain's gentle winter sun plays on the water as our boat pulls away from the jetty. Our hopes are high for a good catch: not of fish, but of oysters. And not just any old oysters but those with pearls in them.

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