The Middle East sits at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe. Spanning the Levant, Arabian Peninsula and Anatolia, it consists of some 18 countries, including Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The largest Middle Eastern country is Saudi Arabia, while the smallest is Bahrain.
Middle Eastern countries vary greatly in terms of size, language and culture. The region can be divided into four distinct culture areas: Arab, Turkish, Iranian, and the newly evolved Israeli culture. Each represents specific variations within the wider Islamic civilisation. The main religions are Judaism, Christianity and Islam, while there are many minority ethnic groups and practices observed.
The economy of the Middle East is incredibly diverse, with national economies ranging from free-market economies and centralised socialist economies, to hydrocarbon-exporting rentiers. While the region is renowned for its abundance of natural gas reserves, in recent years, there have been notable steps to diversify the economy, with a particular focus on developing the financial services industry. Today, the Middle East remains an attractive destination for qualified professionals seeking career development opportunities, excellent salaries, and a fascinating environment to live in.