Before I first started traveling in the Middle East in 2008, I had many preconceptions about this part of our world. Mostly acquired through watching television news, some gotten off the street and others a figment of my own assumptions, only some of my imaginings about the Mid East have proved entirely true. Here are six of my true and false beliefs about the Middle East.
Most of the Buildings are Brown – True. One of my earliest childhood impressions of this region was of landscapes filled with buildings of no color other than brown. Apparently this is just the style. Anywhere in the Mid East I travel, I almost never see buildings of other colors, except for the occasional white.
Brown city buildings in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
The Mid East is Dangerous – False. I’ve found that crime rates are low in most areas and, even if people can look a little tough in photos and on television, the majority of the people of the Middle East, men and women, are very nice, polite, helpful, friendly and absolutely not dangerous.
People Wear Flowing Robes – True and False. The Persian Gulf Arabs wear long robes, white for men and black for women, while in less conservative countries like Egypt, Israel and Jordan almost everyone wears Western-style clothing.
People Throw Rocks a Lot – True. For some reason the Western world is into weaponry such as guns and knives while we ignore the utility of rocks. In many countries in the Mid East rocks are recognized as great weapons both to inflict harm during serious strife and for more casual lobs at stray animals and random people during times of peace.
People Listen to Western Music – False. While our music may have worldwide appeal and I do hear it sometimes in Middle Eastern countries, far and away what I hear the most is Arabic music in Arab countries and Turkish music in Turkey.
The Heat is Unbearable – True. This doesn’t surprise me. What does is the fact that during several months of the year it’s too hot even for the locals. I’ve found they dash from air conditioned buildings to air conditioned cars and back as quickly as possible, while still complaining about the heat. 40-plus degrees centigrade is just too hot for humans.