There is an abandoned millionaires resort on the island named Varosha in Cyprus. The Turkish military does not allow anyone inside and hasn't done so for nearly 40 years.
In ancient Egypt, any books found in ships coming into port would be brought immediately to the library of Alexandria and be copied. The original would be kept in the library and the copy given back to the owner.
In Dubai, license plates are bought and sold for upwards of $14 million in order to show status, with 1 being the most desired, then 2, then so on.
Due to its isolation, a third of the plant life on the island of Socotra (Yemen) is found nowhere else on the planet. It has been described as "most alien-looking place on Earth."
Around 762 A.D., the demand for books in Baghdad was so high that any traders who brought books were given the weight of the books in gold in return.
A natural gas vent in Iraq known as The Eternal Fire has been burning continuously for over 4,000 years and is mentioned by Herodotus, Plutarch, and in the Old Testament's Book of Daniel.
In ancient Persia, engineers built a type of evaporative cooler that could store ice, even in the middle of summer. It is called a Yakhchal.
Camp 1391 is a secret prison, which is located an hour out from Tel Aviv. It has been dubbed “the Israeli Guantanamo.” It was discovered by accident in 2003 by an Israeli historian who was researching old British police buildings.
Saudi Arabia promotes the practice of marriage between close relatives which has resulted in increased incidences of genetic disorders including thalassemia, sickle cell anemia, spinal muscular atrophy, deafness, and muteness.
As a man, you can be arrested in Iran for wearing shorts.
Petra in Jordan had a more efficient and advanced water collection system compared to ancient Rome. It was capable of supporting 40,000 people in the middle of desert.
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology which opened in 2009 is the first mixed-gender university campus in Saudi Arabia. The religious police do not operate on-site, and women are allowed to mix freely with men and to drive on campus, and they are not required to wear veils.
Turkey imprisons more journalists than China and Iran combined.
Iraq shuts down the internet to prevent cheating during school exams.
During the Siege of Baghdad, The Grand Library of Baghdad, containing countless precious historical documents and books on subjects from medicine to astronomy, was destroyed along with the House of Wisdom. The Tigris waters ran black with ink from the huge quantities of books that were flung into the river.
Sesame is a particle accelerator that is currently being built (as of 2018) in the Middle East. Modeled after the CERN which was set up after World War 2 to bring together scientists from former adversaries in Europe, it will allow researchers from openly hostile countries to collaborate. Israel, Iran, and Palestine are its founding members.
In the 1960s, Baghdad was a modern, flourishing, and a very clean city by 60s standards. Girls played volleyball, men played board games in open air cafes while sipping strong Arabic coffee, the police force looked purposeful and the traffic was orderly.
You can't file for Bankruptcy in Dubai. In turn, people abandon their exotic sports cars in the airport parking lot while fleeing. About 2,000 to 3,000 cars including Ferrari, Porche, Land Rover, and Mercedes are abandoned each year to gather dust in the desert heat.
Israel planned to assassinate Saddam Hussein in 1992. Plans were canceled when they accidentally killed their fellow commandos while simulating the method of their attack.
In 1973, Syria had such a powerful air defense system, it almost destroyed the Israeli air force in just 18 days. In 1982 the rebuilt Israeli air force launched the largest air battle since the Korean war, destroying nearly the entire Syrian air defense and air force in under 2 hours.
The snow deadliest blizzard in history was recorded in February of 1972 in Iran. Up to 26 feet (7.9 meters) of snow fell over the course of a week in some regions and about 4,000 people died.
In the village of Kuskoy in Turkey, people talk to each other using a whistled language that can be heard from up to half a mile away.
The Leper King of Jerusalem: Baldwin the fourth ruled Jerusalem from 1174-1185. He refused to hide his leprosy from his subjects and took an active part in the wars and crusades of that time until his disease progressed enough to cripple and blind him.
The Great Pyramid of Giza was once covered in highly polished white limestone before it was removed to be used as a building material for mosques and fortresses.
In 1963, a man tore down a wall in his house and noticed an enormous and complex tunnel system behind it. He had rediscovered the ancient underground city of Derinkuyu in Turkey. At its peak the city could have accommodated as many as 20,000 people and had all the usual amenities found in other underground complexes.
The state of Kuwait is banned from the Olympics due to government legislation that permits the state to interfere in elections of sporting organizations. As a result, Kuwaiti athletes compete as independent athletes under the Olympic Flag instead of their own flag.
In the town of Aleppo, a man named Mohammad Alaa Jaleel has been maintaining a cat sanctuary, taking in over 100 cats displaced or abandoned during the Syrian Civil War.
3 men from Yemen tried to sue NASA for invading Mars, claiming they had inherited it from their ancestors 3,000 years ago.
In 1168.AD., Fustat, the then-capital of Egypt was ordered to be burnt to the ground by its own vizier to stop it falling into the hands of the crusaders.
In 1993, the golden covering of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem was refurbished following a donation of $8.2 million by King Hussein of Jordan who sold one of his houses in London to fund the 80 kilograms of gold required.
Oman has a strong tradition of Scottish bagpipe music, owing to their Sultan having served in a Scottish regiment of the British Army.
In 2013, rats in Iran grew so big that snipers had to be deployed to combat the cat-sized rats.
The 2003 invasion of Iraq was initially called "Operation Iraqi Liberation", but was quickly changed to "Operation Iraqi Freedom" due to the acronym spelling out "OIL."
Saudi Arabia developed robotic camel jockeys because too many 4-year old slave boys were dying. Child slave jockeys were outlawed in 2005.
Qatar, a desert state, is aiming to grow up to 70% of its own vegetables by 2023 thanks to the launch of a new farming system that needs no soil and which recycles irrigation water. The pilot project had been “a great success” and adapted well to Qatar’s harsh growing conditions.
350 million years ago, there existed a species of 20-foot tall mushroom in Saudi Arabia. It was likely the largest living thing on dry land at that time.
Turkey was planning a TV show where a rabbi, a Buddhist monk, an Orthodox priest, and an imam attempt to convert 10 atheists each week, with any converts offered a free pilgrimage to one of the four holy sites. The Diyanet denied permission for an imam to appear and the program was canceled.
A mentally disabled Iranian girl named Leyla Mafi was prostituted by her mom at an young age. At the age of 9 and 14, she gave birth to children. At the age of 19, she got sentenced to death for “immoral behavior.” A lawyer was able to intervene and got the sentence reduced to public beating and imprisonment.
Bahrain's government banned Google Earth because it allowed Bahraini citizens to see vast tracts of royal-owned land and palaces next to poor and overcrowded Shi'ite villages.
A man named Omar Borkan Al Gala was kicked out of Saudi Arabia for being "too handsome". While attending Riyadh's annual Janadriyah Festival, religious police escorted him out because they believed women would "fall for him" and become disarrayed from their husbands.
Up to 95% of the historic structures in the city of Mecca have been demolished over the last three decades. Many of the sites were over 1000 years old and many were connected to the life and times of the prophet Muhammad and his companions.
Ancient Egyptian Gods Horus and Set battled it out for dominion over Egypt by trying to force the other to consume his semen.
There is a youth orchestra called the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra made up of top Israeli and Palestinian musicians to promote peace in the Middle East.
Shibam is an ancient mud skyscraper city in Yemen, which has been dubbed the ‘Manhattan of the Desert.’
In Ancient Egypt, the deceased bodies of beautiful and high ranking women were left to decay for 3 to 4 days before being sent off for embalming. They did this to discourage necrophilia.
In Israel, on Yom Kippur eve, so much of the population is observing the holiday that the streets are almost completely empty, and secular Israelis have made it a holiday tradition to bike and rollerblade through the empty streets.
In 1983, Saudi Arabian developers tore down Ajyad Fortress, a centuries-old Turkish fortress that was once used to protect Mecca and the Kaaba from invaders and bandits, to build a Megahotel complex.
The Iran women's national soccer team fielded up to 8 men in 2015.
In 2002, a fire at a girls' school in Mecca, Saudi Arabia killed 15 girls. It has been strongly suggested that their deaths occurred due to the involvement of the "religious police," who prevented them from leaving the building because the girls were not wearing correct Islamic dress.
In 1974, a massacre which was attempted at an Israeli school was averted because it was the Passover holiday, and none of the children were at school.