“Living in the Middle East: Ten things to be happy about”
– Nasrine Shah Abushakra Ph.D.
Ok, so there is so much happening in the Middle East these days!!! Some of it tragic, some of it makes people sad, or mad or confused. Nevertheless there are tons of stories about all the negativity—but this is not about that; rather this is about the ten things that make ME happy about living in the Middle East!
- History and culture. I live in close proximity to many of the most breathtaking cultural and historical sites in the world. Who can deny a trip to the mighty Pyramids, Petra or the ruins of Baalabak as happiness?
- The beaches! Almost every nation in the Middle East is saturated by beach culture, from diving in the Red Sea to boating, fishing or dining on some of the best seafood around!
- The food! There are hundreds of simple cold mezzas alone (not to mention hot ones)—and those are just appetizers! Let’s not get started on the main courses or desserts—or the home cooking.
- Sense of community. People in this region get to know each other. I know my neighbors and most of the folks that live near me and around me.
- Hospitality. It’s one of those treasured elements that are part of the core fabric of this region. I will never forget when a friend of mine visited from Boston, a small group of us went for a late night dinner; my friend became friendly with some people who were sitting at the table next to us. These people were the traditional people of the region, and when I say traditional I mean folks who might never have spent time in the West, or who probably don’t speak English and who dress traditionally with pride. They can identify the gender, age and endless other traits of a person from their footprint in the sand! They have not only survived the credulity of the desert but they have thrived in it! When we finished our amazing meal, we asked for the check, the waiter informed us, in Arabic so that my friend from the US could not understand us, that the table next to us had picked it up! “They wanted your guest from so far away to enjoy his time here!” And I might add that this happens often with guests. When was the last time a stranger that you will never see again picks up your check for dinner, simply because you’re visiting their hometown?
- Nightlife. Ok, so you’re thinking, “Oh, so they have a nightlife.” Well I might add that this fact as been written about in Time Out, the New York Times, and so on. You’ll find cities that never sleep throughout the Middle East!
- Endless supply of fresh fruit juice stands! This is a norm in the region, fresh juice stands everywhere that pump out the most delish fresh mango, pomegranate and other endless concoctions of fresh juice. A whole liter of this juice is never more then $10.00!
- Low rate of street crime. You won’t see muggings here, nor will you get car jacked!
- Family friendly. It’s always all about the family, people help each other with their families. The concept, “it takes a village,” rings true here.
- The WOMEN! Ahhh, the women! They’re the heart and the soul. When I think of Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote, “Women are like tea bags. You never know how strong they are until you put them in hot water,” I think of my mother, my grandmother, my many girlfriends. Their robust existence makes me smile everyday!
so everyone is always talking about the bad stuff about the middle east, i decided to write about some good stuff!