When you think of the Gulf, you grin and stare at your friend from Kerala, don’t you? We have assumed for many years now that the Middle East is just camels, dates, restricted laws and sand, with the occasional rich Arab zooming off in a Ferrari to his tent. But what you don’t know about the countries surrounding the massive Gulf peninsula can make your jaws drop!
People flock to the lands of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Sharjah and more; no thanks to the highly stereotyped depiction in ‘Sex and the City 2’. There is an abundance of culture, tradition and luxury mixed with the warmth through which a lot of these countries receive you into their lives.
A one-time visit alone to the Middle East would change your perception about the place! Here are 17 reasons why the Middle East has redefined style and tradition in their own unique way!
- The media has ignored the grandeur of their festivals!
There are those who celebrate festivals in a grand manner; and then there is the Middle East. Here, the holy festival of Ramadan and Eid-Ul-Fitr are celebrated with such fervor that every nationality joins in and admires the iridescent fireworks, the brightly lit houses and indulges in amazing, ‘burp-worthy’ cuisine.
- Camels are loved, but they are not transports!
If you have seen an Arab riding a camel on the roads of Kuwait city, it is probably a rehearsal for a parade, not to get to the mall. Citizens love driving in style, and they score high on choosing the best cars too!
- Dubai is not just Burj Khalifa!
The jewel of United Arab Emirates, and possibly the only place a lot of people know existing in the Middle East, Dubai is more than just the home to the tallest (and pointiest) tower in the world; the Burj Khalifa. This glamorous city is shielded by towering skyscrapers, elegant, breathtaking mosques and of course, gigantic malls you could get lost in.
- Others have forests, they have Oman!
If you want to see what a real Oasis looks like, get your nose out of the geography textbooks and visit the Arabian dream of Oases in Oman, at Al Ain. Explore the majesty of nature at Jebel Hefet and you will realize that the Middle East is more than a few dunes on the world map.
- It’s a world in a few countries!
If you have lived in the Gulf, your next door neighbours would have been Sri Lankan, your best friend hailed from Philippines, your accountant was Indian and your French teacher hailed from Egypt. There are nationalities all over the world encrusted in the small countries here; a world map in a nutshell.
- There is a perfect balance of Tradition and modernism!
You can enjoy a rejuvenating cup of ‘sulaimani’ (black tea) whilst spending a night under the stars of the deserts and enjoy a luxuriating spa treatment the next day in the Ramada. There are ‘souqs’ or markets built to preserve the culture that Arabs are so proud of, with the skyscrapers watching over with their glass-blue lights.
- Football is the dream!
They may not have the world’s greatest cricket team, and that’s perhaps why we ignore them so much, but if you join them for a game of football, you will see passion and excitement like no other. After a successful match, the roads throng with overjoyed locals waving the national flag from the sunroofs of their cars! After all, Qatar did not fight tooth and nail to get the FIFA 2022 world cup bid for nothing!
- Its not suffocating with people from Kerala!
The next time you ask your Keralite friend whether his ‘ungel is from the gelf’, you could get punched; by his Arab friend. Although Malayalee folk love the Gulf, there are people all over India and abroad residing in these countries for many years. They even have their tiny communities like ‘Gujarat Samaj’ or ‘Kannada Samaj’.
- They speak Armani better than the Italian!
Middle Eastern folk do not resemble a chessboard; in fact they embrace the recent trends of fashion and style better than Miranda Kerr at the Met Gala! They sport Ralph Lauren, Gucci, and Prada, don TAG Heuer and Movado on their wrists and even share that sacred secret with Victoria!
- They make the future happen faster!
When great first world nations dream of a sci-fi themed future, the smart folk residing in UAE and neighbouring countries dig up sand and cement and construct man made Islands and buildings whose structures could make Newton weep!
- They are home to world class architecture!
Celebrities flock from Hollywood just to see the magnificent work of architects in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah! Each country strives to portray their mosques and minarets in the most sophisticated manner that puts the rest of the world in a daze!
Heard of Ferrari world? It has the world’s fastest roller coaster and yes, it is in Abu Dhabi. The constantly ignored sister of Dubai, Abu Dhabi is the hub of exotic deserts, luxurious hotels, and breathtaking mosques and out of the world architecture.
- They don’t leave their deserts to the Lawrence of Arabia!
If sitting on a camel intimidates you, then you have nothing to worry for as there are several amazing experiences Arabs have conjured up in their fascinating deserts. People have camped under the clear skies and dined on food cooked on a bonfire whilst interacting with locals over a hot cup of black tea! The deserts of the Middle East are not just exotic; they are a lot of fun too.
- They don’t say ‘Akkkhmed!’
Get Jeff Dunham on a plane and down to the Gulf right now! If you see a smartly dressed Arab in a café, remember not to ogle when he greets you in a smooth velvety British accent; he probably has a law degree from Oxford. Few locals restrict themselves to speaking their regional language, and have taken pains to understand Hindi too, thanks to their love for Bollywood movies!
- While others have nature, they build nature!
People ridiculed them for being the driest lands on the planet, so they built beaches right in the middle of their city. Surrounded by peninsulas, the locals living here have strategically built beautiful landscapes in countries otherwise devoid of the beauty of green.
- They don’t eat dates alone; they have cakes too!
You haven’t tasted Middle Eastern cuisine by merely tasting ‘Shawarmas’. Their cuisine is rich, delicious and filled with exotic spices. The famous ‘hamoos’, pita bread, ‘labneh’, ‘muthabool’, ‘Fatayer’ , ‘Zatar bread’ are some of the few lip smacking delicacies you can indulge in. Their sweets are generously drizzled with ghee and vermicelli for you to chew slowly to savour the taste!
- They like the suffix ‘est’ for many things!
Like competitive siblings, Middle Eastern countries ensure that they are head to head on many fronts, whether it be having the biggest airport in Asia (Qatar), the tallest tower (Burj Khalifa), the fastest roller coaster ride (Abu dhabi, Ferrari World) or the richest country from them all! Take a bow Qatar!