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The varying places in the GCC nations March 27, 2012

Posted by fetzthechemist in Uncategorized.

The view Americans get of the Middle East is highly filterred by the media. Travelling there and seeing the people and places, seeing news like al Jazeera (in English) give a much different view. I find Dubai to have been created not to be very Arab. It is a tourist version of Arabia, complete with shopping, western restaurants, and you can find pork on menus and in supermarkets and buy alcohol as beer, wine, or hard liquor. It brother emirate in the UAE, Abu Dhabi, is only about 150 km (100 miles away) and very different. It is a place where people seem to work and live in. Yes, the foreign workers can get alcohol, but there are few tourists. Only business people visiting for business.

Doha in Qatar seems to be a lot like Abu Dhabi, only having recently decided they need to be on the map as a cultural and sports-events locale. But still a city where people live and work. The big tourist stops are malls, not unlike big American malls. No Burj Khalifa, no Palm Islands, no glitziness.

Oman is the sleepy oasis of the past, seeming to be how the others were a generation ago. The people are more relaxed and much friendlier. Kuwait has been indepent longer than the other smaller GCC countries (the Gulf Cooperative Council is Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United arab Emirates (of seven distinct emirates), and Oman). Kuwaitis are good people who have had a cradle-to-grave system of widespread benefits for a long, long time. This confounds foreigners because some Kuwaitis are very bright and motivated to excell, to work hard; but others have grow lackadaisical because the incentives are only add-ons to the basic system. They get by without having to do much.

Bahrain is a nation divided along regious lines, akin to Northern Ireland (Ulster), two sects of the same religion is a side-by-side uneasy relationship. Saudi Arabia is huge, populous, and much stricter in its maintaining of Islam, afterall this is the holiest land in Islam. Where the haji go as required by the Koran; the land of the Prophet. So Saudis are a much more serious people.

Then there are the other Areabs, Pakistanis, Afghans, Iranians, who work in these countries as guest workers. Each nation has its difference, even more wideranging that just the 6 GCC peoples. The stereotyping is no different that foreigners thinking the US must be like the yokels on Beverly Hillbillies or the Dukes of Hazzard or like the mobster types on Jersey Shore or in the Godfather. Wrong.



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