Of Camels and Arabs

“So did you ride a camel to school?”

Too often, the mention of the Middle East conjures up romantic images of Lawrence of Arabia, of men on horseback, or camel-back, if you will, streaming across the desert, cloaks billowing in the wind, dust flying behind them, sporting outrageous headdresses and wielding scimitars and rifles.

For those who know so little about the region, it’s hard for them to reconcile such images with the reality of day-to-day life.  I grew up in the Middle East, but needless to say, I didn’t ride a camel school.  But in a Lawrence-of-Arabia setting, what would I ride?

In this blog, I’m going to try give others a perspective that they might not encounter elsewhere. Obviously, “did you ride a camel to school” is an extreme example of misinformation. And most people don’t really subscribe to Lawrence’s version of Arabia, although it might hover in the background.  But nevertheless, a great deal of mystique still envelops the near Orient in the minds of most Westerners. I hope to shed a little light on the subject.

As a long-time resident of the Sultanate of Oman, a small country on the eastern tip of the Arabian peninsula, I’ll be writing a little bit about Oman.  I will also write about countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Israel/Palestine, Egypt, the Arab world at large, and the conflicts, recent and ancient, that frustrate kings and presidents and boggle the minds of outsiders.

Welcome. Or, in Arabic – Ahhlan wa Sahhlan.


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