Many very highly regarded airlines are headquartered in the Middle East, so it is quite natural that there would be a good number of places to learn to fly. The story here is about Turkey and the Arabian Peninsula; other places have individual sims, but these are the heavy hitters.

The United Arab Emirates, home to Emirates and Etihad airlines, is the big standout with over a third – 42 – of the region’s total 110 full flight simulators.

Dubai is the city everyone associates with shopping and the Burj Dubai. It’s also home to the Emirates training centre with 18 FFS’. Sharjah is just down the road, with seven more. Legendary as a shopping destination, local expats know Dubai as a city with many other things to do.

Abu Dhabi is not as flashy, but it’s the powerhouse of the UAE economy and the headquarters of Etihad Airways, as well as the site of its training centre with 17 FFS. The word is that the beaches are a lot better here than in Dubai. Not to mention that Dubai is just an hour’s drive away…

The country with the second highest number (25) of FFS is Turkey, and as in most things in that country, Istanbul is the volume leader with 17 sims at the Turkish Airlines flight training centre and a few more at the IFTC. Of all the cities on this list, this is unquestionably, without a shadow of a doubt, far and away the most exciting and interesting place to spend some time. OK, yes, the traffic can be bad. But so what – you’re in Istanbul! Music, clubs, history, art, shopping, whatever you want and much, much more, it’s all here.

Qatar Airways recently made news when they donated 100,000 free tickets to medical staff. The airline is based in Doha, along with its 19-sim training facility.

Other regional FFS clusters are the Red Sea port of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (motto: Jeddah is Different) with 10 sims at the Prince Sultan Aviation Academy, and Muharraq, Bahrain (which foodies call “The Best Kept Secret in the Middle East”) with seven sims at the Gulf Aviation Academy.

Seeb near Muscat in Oman rates special mention due to its location. Oman Air has its training centre with three simulators here, and unlike other Persian Gulf cities, Muscat is framed by mountains. The city was always a trading port and so has a long tradition of diversity, and features a nightlife more pulsating than you might expect.