What Countries are in the Middle East?

So, just what countries are in the Middle East? It’s confusing, I know. Is Pakistan in the Middle East? How about Palestine, is that considered a Middle East Country? Then you get the UAE/Dubai, that’s confusing in its own right! Let me clear it all up for you.

AND, How Many Countries in the Middle East?

Firstly, I should add that I (hopefully!) am a trustworthy source to answer about how many countries in the Middle East. Why? Because I have visited every single one of them! I spent 10 years visiting all 197 countries in the world, which of course included all the Middle East countries too.

martyr monument baghdad
Here’s me traveling in Baghdad, Iraq. Fixing my ‘cheated’ visit to Kurdistan previously!

So let me help answer these questions.

Middle East Countries List:

So, what countries are in the middle east? Are there 15, 16* or 17** countries in the Middle East? Personally, I think there are 17.

  1. Bahrain
  2. Egypt
  3. Iran
  4. Iraq
  5. Israel
  6. Jordan
  7. Kuwait
  8. Lebanon
  9. Oman
  10. Palestine
  11. Qatar
  12. Saudi Arabia
  13. Syria
  14. The United Arab Emirates
  15. Yemen
  16. *Cyprus
  17. **Turkey
  18. ***Northern Cyprus (not strictly a country, but occasionally considered the 18th country of the Middle East)

*The only dispute as to how many countries are in the Middle East lies with Cyrpus and Turkey. Cyrus is an island just off the coast of Turkey. It’s often seen as 2 separate countries – The Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – making things even more complicated! One side is essentially Islamic, and the other Christian-Greek.

Some sources consider Cyprus part of the middle east, making it the 17th Middle Eastern country. Personally, I consider Cyrpus to be one of the countries of Europe. It’s in the EU for starters! So I’d say there are 17 countries in the Middle East (including Turkey, below).

** Turkey is the other consideration as to whether there are 15, 16, or 17 Middle Eastern Countries. Some argue that Turkey belongs to the countries in Europe due to Istanbul being in Europe. But 95% of the country lies in Western Asia, hence more often than not, being referred to as the Middle East.

istalif kabul afghanistan
Driving through the mountains, traveling in Afghanistan with my mum

Frequently asked questions about Middle East Countries

What is the Middle East?

The ‘Middle East’ is a geopolitical term only. It is NOT a continent, or a landmass. It covers a chunk of land within Western Asia (and a bit of North Africa) and historically is home to Arabs, with 13/17 nations ‘Arabic’ countries.

Where is the Middle East?

It’s wedged between Europe and what people think of as ‘Asia’, although technically the Middle East is also part of the Asian continent.

how many countries in the middle east
How Many Countries in the Middle East

Is the Middle East a Continent?

The Middle East is not a continent. It’s simply a geopolitical region. There are 7 continents, and the Middle East is not one of them.

Is Pakistan in the Middle East?

No, Pakistan is not in the MIddle East. It’s in an area of Asia called South Asia.

Is India in the Middle East?

No, India is not in the MIddle East. It’s in an area of Asia called South Asia.

Visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra
The Taj all to myself! Visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra

Is Turkey in the Middle East?

Yes, Turkey is considered in the Middle East, although Istanbul is actually in Europe.

What are the safest countries in the Middle East?

Traveling in the Middle East is often lazily considered ‘dangerous’ by Western media and tourism. This is due to the situations found in Yemen, Afghanistan, and Iraq mostly. However, a lot of the middle east is safe to travel in.

Jordan and Oman, in particular, are both hugely safe. As is Israel, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Lebanon, and the UAE.

Despite this, due to the staunch outdated religious beliefs of much of the region, travel for solo females, or members of the LGBTQ community is tough anywhere outside of the more developed Israel and Jordan.

That said, check your travel insurance when traveling in the region. Often, many of these countries aren’t covered. Safetywing DO cover insurance in ALL of them though, for $10 a week, that’s AMAZING!

Is the Middle East in Asia?

Yes, the Middle East is found within the continent of Asia.

Can i visit Syria
Damascus, Syria


The Middle East is more than we see in the media. Sure, it’s the most problematic region historically, but that doesn’t mean the whole area should be tarred with the same brush. Countries like Jordan, Oman, and even Iran (despite their leadership) are eminently visitable, and in fact, are some of the friendliest, most beautiful countries in the world. Furthermore, Socotra Island in Yemen is my favourite spot on our whole planet!

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