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The choice of countries that constitute the Middle East is even more arbitrary than the act of drawing a line along the Urals to carve out Europe from (the rest of Eur-) Asia. Nevertheless, the pulldown menus on the website were getting unwieldy and so another clustering of locations was called for. Thus far we’ve had the pleasure of visiting and climbing in three countries spread out over four trips. Those outings exposed us to fascinating cultures including levels of hospitality we’ve not experienced elsewhere; and to develop a friendship that we greatly value.
With the exception of Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain (perhaps I’m wrong about those?), every other country in the region offers at least some interesting climbing opportunities. There’s a new (as of 2020) 5-pitch route in the Iraqi Kurdistan, a single multi-pitch route in Israel, some single pitch sport lines outside of Palmyra in Syria, one or two multi-pitch lines in Lebanon, and a bunch of things in the UAE including some very appealing looking long-ish limestone climbs. There are granite and sandstone formations in Egypt – in the Sinai as well as in the Red Sea Mountains; plenty of long multi-pitch limestone routes in Oman; and, of course, the otherworldly Wadi Rum in the south of Jordan. Turkey is probably the champ here in terms of how much of the rock has already been developed and the areas are very well documented in multiple guidebooks, both in English as well as in Turkish.
Both Iran and Saudi Arabia offer an amazing variety of climbing with the former having a longer history thanks to a very talented pool of local rock climbers and the former having an enthusiastic expat community of route developers. Before the recent war, Yemen has had some route development by French and English-speaking climbers; and of course, the remote and isolated and absolutely mind-blowingly beautiful Socotra Island is very mountainous and has tons of potential though I’m aware of only a couple (=2) of climbing expeditions there.
“Jordan – First Trip” (February 2012)
.“Wadi Rum Quickie” (February 2016)
.OMAN (February 2014)
.TURKEY (August 2020)
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