17 Jul

2 Hours Away from Home: The Perfect Island Getaways

The region’s ultimate holiday destinations

Written By Amina Kaabi

We’re well on our way through the summer, and if you haven’t planned your holidays already—you’ll be happy to hear that the region’s offerings for island getaways do not disappoint.

 

From North Africa to the Gulf, the Arab world is home to some of the most beautiful locations. With crystal clear waters and ultra-rich marine life to beautiful landscapes with rich histories, these Arab islands have something to offer everyone.

 

So, if you’re staying local these hot summer months, be sure to keep in mind one of these islands as your go-to destination.

 

Failaka Island, Kuwait

photo courtesy of @shafimon_ummer

 

Just 20 kilometres off the Kuwaiti coast is Falaika, the little-known island with a rich history. Its 2000 inhabitants fled over 25 years ago during the Gulf War, leaving behind all their homes and facilities, much of which has deteriorated over time. In recent years though, the island has increasingly become a tourist destination, with people – both local and outsiders flocking over to get a look at its remnants and swim in its stunning beaches.

 

 

Djerba, Tunisia

 

Known for its white-sand beaches, Djerba is definitely one of Tunisia’s most popular summer destinations. But aside from its stunning sea views, the island (which is the largest in North Africa) is known for its Jewish history. While there, be sure to check out the ancient El Ghriba synagogue. And for anyone who is an art buff, a walk through the village of Erriadh to catch a look at the 250 Djerbahood graffiti murals is a must.

 

 

Farasan Island, Saudi Arabia

 

If you didn’t already know, Saudi Arabia is actually home to one of the region’s most beautiful islands. 50 kilometres off the coast of Jizan (in the southwestern part of the Kingdom) is Farasan island. With a year-round climate perfect for the beach, the island is the perfect escape any time of the year. As the largest of Saudi Arabia’s islands, Farasan is known for its rich marine life, making it ideal for anyone looking to explore what the region has to offer.

 

 

Habibas Island, Algeria

photo courtesy of @ath_salem

 

Though not your typical tourist destination, Algeria is home to a number of hidden gems you’d love to spend your summer at. Among them is Habibas island—just 12 kilometres northwest of Oran. Habibas is known equally for its beautiful landscapes as much as its marine life. The island is almost completely inhabited, with the exception of the lighthouse keeper. It’s a popular hangout amongst locals, though for tourists, transportation can be quite difficult so be sure to link up with a local or a tourist guide that knows their way around.

 

 

Mahmya Island, Egypt

 

Most people know Hurghada to be Egypt’s ultimate beach town with its stunning turquoise waters—but your trip there won’t be complete unless you take a visit to Mahmya. After all, the island wasn’t dubbed ‘paradise’ without reason. A 45-minute boat ride away from Hurghada, you’ll find Mahmya’s crystal clear waters and soft golden sands. It’s the perfect place to spend your day sunbathing and snorkelling. It might even wind up the highlight of your trip.