This book is one of Angel’s valuable additions to the non-fiction section of our modest home library. He read it when he first moved to Dubai, in order to prepare for what he suspected was going to be more than an extended summer vacation at the time. He found it extremely useful when it came to understanding the culture which he was about to emerge himself into, later he would suggest it to his friends and family members, every time someone came to visit us from abroad.
I never felt the need to read it before since I was born and raised here. Last week as I rearranged the shelves, I came across it and I was strangely curious to see where my husband has been getting his cultural education from, besides from my brothers, and his few Arab friends…
At the beginning of the book, Sir James Craig, the author and the former British Ambassador to Syria and Saudi Arabia, defines its audience by actually listing down the types of readers that could benefit from it, including professional expats who are moving to live in one of the Gulf states with or without their families, and those who frequently travel to the area to conduct business meetings.
I managed to fit myself in one of the groups (Arab Readers), by the book’s definition I was meant to understand how Gulf Arabs are regarded in the west, and to gain some behavioral perspective if I was to travel to the west for business or education training!
I read bits and pieces throughout the week, and I got to the end of it this morning. I thought it would actually make a rather entertaining Friday afternoon light read, if you are new in one of the GCC towns.
I am not going to fully review the book today; you really should read it yourself to explore the subject in depth, or leave me a comment if you would like to discuss further.
Nonetheless, I’d like to point out my favorite part, the Stupidities. A collection of tips that the author insists are absolute no nos, if you intend to stay out of trouble when living in the region. Like not knowing the difference between a heat stroke and heat exhaustion if you are planning to spend few days in the desert, or having your dog in the car in which Arabs are passengers, or in the same room if entertaining or conducting business with Arabs. Almost all Arabs, he adds.
When I am in the room, the dog tip totally applies. Hence, I would like to conclude this post by sending out a sincere apology to my lovely European neighbor, whose feelings I clearly hurt with my inapt reaction in the elevator the other day. I am also sorry for hurting his dog’s feelings, or any other parts of it for that matter.
In my defense, this is a pet free neighborhood, and I would have never kicked his dog had he restrained it, or stopped if form tucking it’s head “under my Abaya”, and licking my legs!!
Anyway, it would be nice if we can leave this unfortunate incident completely behind us, and go back to being friendly and smiling at each other every morning.
I wish you a blessed Friday and a lovely weekend