In 2011, NFL player Husain Abdullah shocked his team by leaving the sport he loved to explore his faith on spiritual journey to Mecca.
CNN's Inside the Middle East meets the Ice Hockey team living and growing up in one of the hottest places on the planet.
To Erdal Inci, GIFs are a form of visual music.
CNN's Inside the Middle East travels to Turkey to meet the 'Whirling Dervishes' who practice a mystical form of Islam called Sufism.
Lake Urmia in Iran used to be a site to reckon with.
In Egypt, television is a big deal. This is especially true during Ramadan, when networks spend an estimated $140 million on TV programming -- a sum nearly matched by what's spent on advertising.
CNN's Ivan Watson explores the ancient sport of oil wrestling which dates back hundreds of years.
Zawarib founder Bahi Ghubril shows us how artists are turning Lebanon's capital into their canvas.
CNN's Ivan Watson explores the ancient sport of oil wrestling which dates back hundreds of years.
CNN's Becky Anderson embarks on an exciting journey across the region and meets Egyptian film star Asser Yassin.
Dubai is home to the tallest building, largest mall and biggest candy shop.
Orhan Pamuk, Turkey's Nobel Prize-winning author, is neither afraid to confront the human condition in his novels, nor his country's past and political present.
The smell of traditional dishes served during Ramadan fill the house of Iman, a Lebanese mother of four.
Iranian classical musician Hafez Nazeri talks about connecting the world with his culture and the the words of Rumi.
Unmanned aerial vehicles aren't generally thought of as technology that improves lives; they're more readily associated with spying or attacking things.
Arriving in New York City at the age of 19 to study music, Hafez Nazeri knew he wanted to do big things.
Syrian refugees living in Lebanon cook perfect dishes from their home country as they prepare for a life after conflict.
CNN's Inside the Middle East meets a Syrian rock band thriving in Beirut's music scene.
Whether or not Saudi Arabia's Kingdom Tower will be the world's tallest building upon completion is subject to debate (last week, it was announced China just might thwart the Kingdom's ambitions).
It may be a time of fasting, but the Muslim holy month of Ramadan can also be a time of indulgence. (Ramadan begins this year on June 28 or 29, depending on which part of the world is observing.)
When Saher Shaikh first moved to Dubai, the rights of the city's labor population was the furthest thing from her mind.
Sometimes it seems that Abu Dhabi, despite being one of the richest cities on earth, is uncertain of its identity: much of its new architecture is heavily influenced by European examples rather than a desert or Gulf vernacular.
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Inside the Middle East meets Maysoon Zayid, a Palestinian-American who inspires young disabled children in the West Bank.
CNN's Ben Wedeman explores ancient footpaths in the wilds of the West Bank.
Inside the Middle East meets photographer Garo Nalbandian who has captured life in Jerusalem's Old City for more than half a century.
Few ancient civilizations have left an architectural footprint quite as indelible as the Nabateans did in Petra, southern Jordan.
Deep in the remote deserts of southern Jordan, not far from the border with Saudi Arabia, lies Wadi Rum one of the world's most stunning natural wonders.
Tourism is a vital source of income for those living in Jordan's Wadi Rum desert and sustainability is becoming a priority.
Inside the Middle East explores how Jordan's nomadic culture is evolving while keeping traditions alive.
Inside the Middle East explores Wadi Rum, a stunning expanse of windswept valleys and gorges made famous 100 years ago by the visit - and subsequent writings - of British army officer T.E. Lawrence.
Can music heal the rift of revolution and conflict in Egypt? CNN's Reza Sayah meets the Egyptian band trying.
CNN's Jon Jensen and Alasdair Skene were faced with the daunting task of how to capture the beauty of Jordan's Wadi Rum.
Amir Daftari searches for the new "Star Wars" set in the depths of the Arabian Desert, with the help of UAE super fans.
The urge to undress a mummy can be strong. In the 19th century, Egyptologists didn't think twice about tearing off a mummy's wrappings. Even Ramses the Great couldn't avoid the indignity of being stripped bare in front of an audience of curious onlookers.
Arab residents in the Middle East and North Africa may enjoy Hollywood blockbusters, but they are also wary of the content, saying it is potentially "harmful to morality," a study finds.
Dubai, long champion of all things biggest, longest and most expensive, will soon have some competition from neighboring Saudi Arabia.
With no end in sight for the Syrian civil war, it's mostly grim pictures that come out from the country.
The Sea of Gallilee, where Christ reputedly walked on water, is today home to another miracle of sorts.
In Syria, not all rebels carry guns, some carry cameras.
For three decades or so, Syrian artist Safwan Dahoul has been painting pensive, haunting images -- all of which are titled "Dream".
Before releasing an album most bands would talk about record sales or concert dates. But for Egyptian band Cairokee the bigger talking point is whether they will get arrested.
CNN's Nic Robertson travels to the banks of the Galilee river where hundreds of millions of birds migrate every year.
Dubai's most impressive buildings are looking a little psychedelic this week.
In many ways, Musab Al-Jamal makes for an unassuming rebel.
While an art student at Dumlupinar University, Turkish illustrator Murat Palta watched "Star Wars". As with the generations of fans that preceded him, he was struck by the film's epic quality. Though the movie is set in the future, Palta was reminded of the colorful Ottoman miniatures that illustrated Turkish literature from the 16th century.
Throughout my career as a doctor I have traveled from the mountains of Yemen to its deserts. I have seen first hand what happens when children give birth to children. I have seen the tombstones of girls who died too young because they married too young.
It may seem stunning that one of the most visited tourist attractions on the planet is a mall. Attracting 75 million visitors a year, The Dubai Mall gets more foot traffic than the Eiffel Tower, Niagara Falls and Disney World combined.
Every day the Dubai Fountain puts on twelve spectacular shows of light and water.
Dubai Mall aquarium is one of the largest ion the world. Find out how employees maintain the delicate ecosystem.
Bigger than fifty football pitches the Dubai Mall is one of the most visited places on earth.
Somayya Jabarti is making her mark in a man's world. She has been appointed Saudi Arabia's first female newspaper editor.
In the Old Testament, camels made for a very useful literary device. Primarily, they represent great wealth; When Abraham journeys to Egypt, the Pharaoh offers him a huge bounty, including sheep, servants and -- the crème de la crème -- camels, in exchange for Abraham's wife, Sarah (though in fairness, the Pharaoh thought they were siblings).
Like other Saudi women, she's not allowed to drive or move around freely. But Somayya Jabarti will soon be setting the news agenda for thousands of readers in the Middle Eastern kingdom.
When Jwdat Abu Ghrb spotted a dark shape last summer in the waters off Gaza, where he was diving for fish, he initially thought it was a corpse.
For most people plunging into the ocean's cold, dark depths without an oxygen tank would be an alarming experience. But for Ahmad Tahilmet and his friends its one of life's greatest pleasures.
What is it like to live in the tallest building in the world?
CNN's Sara Sidner meets Emiratis diving as deep as 30 meters, without oxygen tanks.
If you think drag racing is extreme, you should try doing it uphill and on sand.
What is life like for the men who build Dubai's skyscrapers?
"Champ of the Camp" is a documentary exploring the lives of the South Asian laborers who helped build the city's skyline.
CNN's Sara Sidner explores the tradition of pearl diving which helped many Emiratis earn a living in the past.
CNN's Sara Sidner explores Dubai -- one of seven Emirates that form the UAE.
CNN's Sara Sidner explores the booming arts scene in Sharjah, the most conservative Emirate in the UAE.
CNN's Jon Jensen reports on an unusual competition in one of the most remote places in the UAE.
A priest's flock is crowd-funding $35,000 to restore a renowned Lebanese library, which was set on fire a few weeks ago.
A Saudi man has lost more than 700 pounds (320 kilograms) -- more than half his body weight -- since Saudi Arabia's King ordered him hospitalized in August, according to a Saudi magazine that interviewed him at a hospital.
For palaeontologists, the Middle East has long proven a bit of a blind spot.
Imagine a warm brew of lager so heady you had to plunge a straw through the thick surface scum to get to the fermented liquor below.
What do you give the sheik who's already checked palaces and private planes off his royal wish list?
There are moments when reality television can highlight a country's sensitivities.
In Egypt, the words "street food" and "gourmet" don't often go hand in hand.
Egypt's revolution in 2011 gave birth to an explosion of new creativity, especially street art.
Leone Lakhani meets two business partners who are putting a fresh spin on traditional street food.
CNN's Leone Lakhani explores how Egypt's revolution has given new life to creativity.
Leone Lakhani discovers how art, music and food are all influenced by the bustling streets of the Egyptian capital.
With its vast shopping malls, indoor skiing centers and artificial indoor beaches Dubai can lay claim to the dubious distinction of being one of the most air-conditioned cities in the world.
Hot, thirsty, frustrated and exhausted, British adventurers Alastair Humphreys and Leon McCarron were already feeling despair set in.
Jersey, Guernsey, Holstein; the world's dairy cattle breeds bear the names of some of the wettest, lushest, and greenest places in Europe, testament to the fact that to produce milk you need a lot of water.
American Jennifer Grout fell just short of the top prize in the "Arabs Got Talent" competition after a remarkable run to the finals by a 23-year-old from Massachusetts who barely speaks Arabic.
Think of the Arab souk -- the fabled marketplaces of the Middle East -- and it immediately conjures up images straight from the Arabian Nights: mountains of yellow turmeric, shafts of light through lattices and the air thick with incense smoke.
Sara Sidner gives you backstage access to what really happens behind the scenes at Inside the Middle East.
Sara Sidner looks back at some of the most fascinating culinary stories covered this year on Inside the Middle East.
CNN's Sara Sidner looks back at some of the most memorable stories covered this year.
When all-American Jennifer Grout first stepped on stage to audition, nobody could have anticipated how this 23-year-old from Massachusetts would take the Middle East by storm.
Next year's college applicants have some difficult choices to make. Is it better to go to state school or private? Stay close to home or ship out to Abu Dhabi?
This summer 23 year-old Mohammed Assaf won the "Arab Idol" singing competition and with his silky smooth vocals has united Arabs across the world.
Sometimes, residents of the Middle East have a hard time taking a joke. This, at least, is how the editor of the satirical blog the Pan-Arabia Enquirer sees it. The website, based in Dubai and self-dubbed "the world's only 7-star satirical news source," gets roughly 400,000 page views per month and is often likened to The Onion. According to its editor, some of the most popular stories are often confused for bona fide fact.
When charity and creativity go hand in hand, the result can be a work of art -- quite literally.
Inside the Middle East looks at the tradition of making handmade leather at one of the oldest tanneries in the world.
Inside the Middle East travels to Morocco, where Hala Gorani meets a famous musical group reborn after 50 years.
Inside the Middle East travels to Morocco, where Hala Gorani explores the real Casablanca.
Development in Bahrain has not been slow. In half a century, the small Gulf Island has grown from a hilly, desert landscape with 143,000 inhabitants to an overcrowded metropolis of 1.2 million residents. The most striking change, however, has been topographical.
Saudi Arabian women defy authorities over female driving ban. CNN's Mohammad Jamjoom reports.
Saudi women plan to demonstrate against their nation's no-women driving laws. More from CNN's Natalie Allen.
There's something extraordinary happening in Saudi Arabia right now. I should know -- you see, I was born there, lived there half my life, speak the language and understand the customs. Lately, I'm both amazed at and humbled by what I'm seeing: Extremely brave Saudi women, more driven than ever to change their society, despite the sad fact that they still aren't allowed to drive.
At first glance, it seems the graffiti revolution that descended on the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring has largely bypassed Dubai. The city's public transport -- usually an irresistible canvas for taggers -- remains remarkably glistening. The walls of the city's myriad new builds are unmarred by aerosol sketches. Head indoors, however, and you're likely to find a different story.
Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive. Mohammed Jamjoom reports a growing number of women want to change that.
Jomana Karadsheh visits a Jordan eco-lodge hotel which transports people back in time.
CNN's Jomana Karadsheh visits the Jordan Museum which will exhibit more than 4,000 artifacts once it opens.
History enthusiast Stellan Lind has made it his mission to reenact ancient gladiator battles.
Jomana Karadsheh visits a hotel designed as one of Jordan's first eco-lodges which transports people back in time.
CNN's Jomana Karadsheh visits the Jordan Museum which will exhibit more than 4,000 artifacts once it opens.
Jomana Karadsheh looks at how the Arab nation has been influenced by Romans, Crusaders, Ottomans, Arabs and Europeans.
Few books truly invade a national psyche. When a work manages to do so for 1,000 years, it's a pretty spectacular feat.
In many ways, the Middle East makes a strange -- and at times perilous -- hotbed for caricature.
Traditionally, Saudi Arabia hasn't had much time for film. The country boasts no cinemas, and until last year, nothing but a handful of shorts had ever even been filmed on Saudi soil.
Last April, images of Kurdish men dressed in drag started making the rounds on Facebook.
A few weeks ago, an Arabic campaign exploded on Twitter. The Arabic hashtag -- #??????_??????_?????? (loosely translated as "the salary does not meet my needs") -- reached 17 million tweets in the first two weeks.
Chef Arda Turkmen stops for dessert at Gulluoglu, one of the oldest baklava bakeries in the world.
Chef Arda Turkmen meets the owner of a restaurant that's bringing historic food back to life in Istanbul, Turkey.
Chef Arda Turkmen explores the Turkish city's buzzing food scene, a great way to experience its rich past.
Turkish restaurant owner Batur Durmay is a leading voice in Ottoman cuisine with recipes dating back hundreds of years
Chef Arda Turkmen discovers the city's street food -- including a market that sells barbecued sheep heads.
Turkish chef Arda Turkmen stops for dessert at Gulluoglu, one of the oldest baklava bakeries in the world.
The Middle East is currently the setting of a new form of airspace race. As the economies grow in a handful of countries in the region, so too do ambitions -- and few things symbolize a country's aspirations as aptly as an airport.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has intervened to help a man who has become one of the heaviest people in the world.
Climbing the world's highest mountain is challenge enough, but for Raha Moharrak, it also meant breaking a taboo.
Two Israeli bands, one Jewish and one Arab, are joining together in "metal brotherhood" to spread a message of peace through rock 'n roll.
The Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan, ended this week, marked across the Islamic world by the feasts of Eid el Fitr.
Tel Hazor in northern Israel has long been a treasure trove for archeologists, but a recent discovery of part of a 4,000-year-old Egyptian sphinx has been a most unexpected find.
As Ramadan has drawn to a close -- and with it, mandatory daytime fasting -- Muslims can breathe a sigh of relief as their diets return to normal. Many, however, will be surprised to find their clothes a little snugger, and their health in a perilous state.
CNN's Leone Lakhani meets an archeologist whose team has made a discovery that could rewrite history.
CNN's Leone Lakhani visits Acre, an Israeli city with both rich history and cultural diversity.
CNN's Leone Lakhani meets Amnon Ben-Tor who manages Tel Hazor, the largest archaeological site in Israel.
CNN's Leone Lakhani visits Sebastia, an ancient city in desperate need of preservation.
Leone Lakhani travels to the Israeli city of Acre, one of the best preserved and oldest settlements in the Middle East.
The Arab world's relationship with media is -- like the region itself -- complicated and often contradictory and one that has been changing rapidly since the Arab Spring.
Can car-loving Saudis be convinced to step out of their air-conditioned comfort and take public transport?
A young Yemeni girl stares defiantly into the camera. Her question is a shocking one, coming from an 11-year-old:
For those that live and work in the Middle East, Ramadan is a period of considerable downtime. In many countries, special laws require the working day is reduced to accommodate those fasting (observers are meant to abstain from food, water, cigarettes -- even gossip -- during the daylight hours of the month-long holiday).
I approached Baalbek on a hot, dry day out of Beirut, down a broken road where children played, oblivious to passing cars.
In the scorching desert of Qatar, scientists are showing that saltwater can be used to help grow crops.
Things are looking up for entrepreneurs in the Middle East as a new breed of crowdfunding is emerging to help bring life to innovative ideas from the region.
Qatar's youthful new ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, has acquired another jewel in his burgeoning crown. The archaeological site of Al Zubarah on the northern tip of the tiny Arab emirate has been added by UNESCO to its list of World Heritage sites.
High in the hills between Ramallah and Nablus in the West Bank sits a huge construction site its developers hope will transform the lives of Palestinians for generations to come.
Fancy a stroll around the observation deck of the tallest building in the world?
Leaping from rooftops and doing backflips off walls is when Prince Haydar feels the most free.
Those countries in the Middle East that have been spared political upheaval find themselves enmeshed in a different sort of battle of late. As Qatar, the UAE and Jordan split what's left of the region's tourists, each is fighting to pull in the lion's share. Their weapon of choice? Theme parks.
A land of superlatives.
Even during difficult times, Iraqi Airways is aiming high.
Filing nervously into a sports hall in Mosul, northern Iraq, around 20 girls prepared to practice gymnastics. Compared to their male counterparts at Mosul University's Faculty of Sport, their number is small. Another difference is that the gates to the sports hall were locked behind them and an announcement made that the hall was exclusively allocated for women.
Playboy magazine recently published its first Hebrew language edition in Israel -- but has anyone actually been reading the articles to notice?
In the last few months Iranians have found themselves in a cyber no-man's land.
The United Arab Emirates is no stranger to superlatives: the world's tallest building, among the world's most expensive hotels, even the largest kebab.
In popular culture, butlers are usually portrayed as "Made in Britain" and tend to stately homes somewhere in the English countryside. The last few years has revealed a different reality, however. Increasingly, "Jeeves" and his ilk are as likely to be found managing a palace in Saudi Arabia as a manor in England.
One contestant on "Arab Idol," the Middle Eastern version of American Idol, has been drawing attention because of more than just his impressive vocals.
Last month, thousands of people in Saudi Arabia opened up their newspapers to find a full-page picture of a woman with a black eye clearly visible underneath her burqa.
If Facebook is the ultimate popularity test, then the most famous art institute on the planet is not in Paris, New York or London.
It has been a rocky couple of years for the people of Egypt. Since the 2011 revolution, the economy has tanked, street protests are an almost daily occurrence and the political situation remains volatile.