Welcome to the Middle East

The Middle East conjures images of sultans, sand and solitary isolation. Never ending hills of sand and sparse windswept desert. Ancient mosques and bedouin traders. It is a region rich not just in oil but in history, tracing its lineage back to the Great Empire of Persia, and across the Asian continent to the spice lands of India and the Orient. European seafarers have been trading with the Middle East and beyond for as long as there has been civilisation. Many ancient seafarers of the Mediterranean – Phoenicians, Egyptians, Romans, Trojans, Greeks and the Venetians – faced the long and arduous voyage from the Mediterranean, around the Cape of Good Hope on Africa’s southern tip, long before the seafaring nations of Western Europe took to long sea passages to trade with the Far East and beyond.

If only they could have taken a short cut via the Suez Canal and through the Red Sea, perhaps the world would have been fully charted that much earlier!

Although the Persians and Ancient Egyptians did in fact try to dig a canal in ancient times, as far back as 500 BC, it wasn’t until the latter half of the 19th century that work commenced on what was to become one of the engineering wonders of the world and the greatest conduit to global trade seen at that time.

Sailing to or through the Middle East in a superyacht is a unique experience. It is the gateway from the Mediterranean to the south and the great expanse of the Indian Ocean. The Suez Canal represents its own challenges and is a maritime experience one must try to achieve. In the Great Southern Route we have endeavoured to provide first hand advice and key contacts to make the passage as straightforward as possible.

Recently, new cruising areas have increased in popularity in the Red Sea including Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada. Refuelling in Djibouti is commonplace and gives most superyachts the range to then head off into the Indian Ocean and set course for the Seychelles, Maldives and India, or up the coast to Oman and around into the Persian Gulf to visit Dubai, Bahrain or Kuwait.

Dubai, with its massive tourism-orientated construction program, is becoming one of the new superyacht destinations with some excellent facilities and many planned and well under construction. “The Palms” and “The World” man-made offshore island communities are an engineering feat of 21st Century proportions and will attract many visiting yachts in the years ahead.

Although typically most superyachts transiting the Suez and Red Sea have headed south and east to the islands of the Seychelles or Mauritius or due east to India and the legendary Maldives. Whatever your cruising plans, welcome to the Western Gateway of The Great Southern Route.