This paper briefly examines tourism activity over a 60-year period in the UNWTO Middle East region together with Israel and Iran. The region has been subject to political turmoil over that period, and its tourist arrivals have not fully capitalized on the potential that the region holds. The region has a wealth of heritage, a climate conducive to tourism and a range of leisure resources that should provide a comparative and competitive advantage to its tourism industry. This paper examines the vulnerability of tourism in the region as countries try to diversify their economies away from energy dependence. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.