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06.06.2016 (06.06.2016)
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From Bahrain to Yemen, old world to oil world, the Middle East blends desert sand with capital gain; and brews a nice cup of coffee.

Map of The Middle East - TravelNotes.org

Egypt is often included in the Middle East but at Travel Notes we list the North African country in Africa; as do FIFA – Fédération Internationale de Football Association.

Likewise, although Cyprus and Turkey are shown on this map of The Middle East, we link to them from the Europe section.

Funnily enough, Israel play in the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) but are slap bang in the middle of much of the Middle East’s political problems.

Perhaps that’s why they don’t play football with their Arab neighbours; who in footballing terms, all play in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

I’ve visited Israel a couple of times; once even combining it with a tour of Jordan; travelling between Eilat and Aqaba at the Wadi ‘Araba crossing and returning across the King Hussein Bridge in the north – from Amman to Jerusalem (al-Quds).

Kurdish Refugees in Northern Iraq
Kurdish Refugees in Northern Iraq

 My only regret is that I didn’t stay in the region a little longer and travel through Lebanon and Syria as well.

 My visits to the border regions of Iran and Iraq, from Turkey, were far from happy moments – covering the Kurdish refugee crisis – although it was quite an experience getting my Iranian visa in Ankara and later watching the border guards in Iran flip through their books to find my name.

We didn’t have Internet and FTP in those days, so I had to hitch rides back to Turkey and catch a long-distance bus to Ankara, to get my film out through DHL.

It was worth it though, as the photo agency even sent me clips from a Japanese magazine that used the story.

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