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Middle East

Work

It's quite possible to pick up work in the Middle East in order to extend your stay and eke out your savings - but you have to know where to look and what you're looking for. Forget places such as Iran, Syria or Libya: realistically, your best options are Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Territories and Turkey, ie the places where other foreigners gather in numbers.

Business hours

With just a few exceptions, the end-of-week holiday throughout the Middle East is Friday. In Israel and the Palestinian Territories it's Saturday (Shabbat), while in Lebanon and Turkey it's Sunday. In countries where Friday is the holiday, most embassies and offices are also closed on Thursday (in Libya they close Saturday), although in areas where there are lots of tourists, many private businesses and shops are open on Thursday mornings and many stores will reopen in the evening on Friday.

In many countries, shops and businesses have different opening hours for different times of the year - they tend to work shorter hours in winter and open earlier in summer to allow for a longer lunchtime siesta - and during Ramadan (the month-long fast for Muslims), almost everything shuts down in the afternoon.

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Open sesame

Where possible we give the opening times of places of interest. The information is usually taken from notices posted at the sites. However, often the reality on the ground is that sites open pretty much as and when the gate guard feels like it. On a good day he'll be there an hour early, on a bad day he won't turn up at all. Who can blame him when in out-of-the-way places he may never see a visitor for days anyway? With the exception, perhaps, of those countries with a more Western concept of timekeeping (Israel and the Palestinian Territories and Turkey, for example), all opening hours must be prefaced, therefore, with a hopeful in sha' Allah (God willing).

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