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History & Heritage


The pearls of the Arab world according to Time magazine

The sights to see, paths to wander, and flavors to savor are plenty… For the first time, Time magazine has compiled a list of the planet’s greatest 100 places to discover. Naturally, the Arab world features prominently on the noteworthy catalog.

Watch out Paris, London, New York, and all the other tourist traps! You’ve got some competition. For the first time ever, Time magazine has listed the world’s 100 greatest places to discover, featuring incredible sites from the Arab world. While the categories are varied—the list includes hotels, museums, parks, restaurants on the list—the criteria on which the experts have based their list are also very specific: quality, originality, innovation, sustainability, and influence.

Let’s get cultured

For culture buffs, Time magazine recommends a bunch of  Middle East gems dedicated to knowledge and understanding. The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, is one of them. Also known as Ithra, this building was designed by Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta in 2017. Its purpose? Allowing the sharing of intellect and creativity across cultures. With its museum comprising four galleries, encompassing Saudi identity and heritage, Islamic art and civilization, and the culture of the Arabian Peninsula, its unique homegrown cinema, or its performing arts theatre, the King Abdulaziz Center promotes understanding of all forms of artistic expression, both within the Kingdom and abroad.

Another undeniable place to treat yourself intellectually is the Abu Dhabi Louvre. Inaugurated in 2017, it is the first major universal art museum in the Arab world. Every visitor has the opportunity to contemplate ancient and contemporary works of great historical, cultural and sociological value from the world over. Unlike the Louvre de Paris, this oriental twist aims to explore the connections between civilizations or cultures that seem distant in time and space. In addition to its cultural character, this museum radiates with its modern sunkissed architecture, all in an immaculate white, which since opening, has left many visitors spellbound.

But if intellect is what you’re after, then look no further than the Quaraouiyine library, in the heart of the medina of Fez. Founded in 1359, it is one of the oldest libraries in Morocco, with no less than 3,823 manuscripts, 24,000 books and 600 periodicals. It also appears on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Some of these literary gems date back to the earliest days of Islamic history, such as a 9th century Quran, or a 10th century written account of the prophet’s life. While these books are all loaded with history, so is the library that houses them. In fact, we owe its very creation to Fatima el-Fihriya, daughter of a wealthy Tunisian businessman who emigrated to Fez. The philanthropist had dedicated her inheritance to her community, via the construction of the mosque and library that we know today.

See also

Saudi Arabia: 5 Landscapes You Won’t See Anywhere Else

Let there be entertainment

No wonder Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi is one of Time magazine’s top 100 places on the planet to visit. Located on Yas Island, this park, which covers nearly 153,000 square meters, is a real paradise for film lovers, or those who wish to learn more about the 7th art. Spread over 6 zones—Warner Bros. Plaza, which pays tribute to the golden age of Hollywood cinema, Cartoon Junction, Bedrock, and Dynamite Gulch, inspired by the worlds of Bugs Bunny, Scooby-Doo or Tom & Jerry, Metropolis, the city of Superman—the park offers its visitors 29 attractions and shows, each more sensational than the next and which will surely immerse you in the magic of cinema.

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Saudi Arabia : Cinema 500 km, a movie before cinemas

Make way for the extraordinary

Marriott MENA House is an extraordinary hotel, in the one and only Cairo, Egypt. Sitting in the midst of vast, sumptuous gardens and just a stone’s throw from the Giza plateau, famous for its pyramids of Cheops, Chephren and Mykerinus, you can enjoy a break of well-being in a fascinating setting. Beyond the 331 luxury rooms and suites that make up this exceptional hotel, Marriott MENA House offers its visitors the opportunity to discover the pyramids’ exceptional heritage, which have witnessed more than 7,000 years’ worth of glorious civilization.

Published on 13 December 2018