Debunking Myths of The Middle East

Be careful not to get Trafficked. Don’t get kidnapped. The men oppress their women. There’s a lot of sex slaves out there!

One of the most important reasons why I travel is to combat ignorance. How can you really know what a culture is all about unless you’ve experienced it for yourself? A lot of the above statements were from people who have never visited the UAE in their lives, but the propaganda they “heard” about the Middle East and how terrible it is, with ISIS roaming around and kidnappers ready to take American girls as captives, led them to assume this would be my fate.

Now imagine if I allowed their comments to hinder me, I would’ve never been able to sit here and tell you that I felt safe in Dubai. At some points safer than I do while living in Brooklyn. I traveled to the Middle East and survived. Yes, there are injustices going on in the UAE including a lack of fair labor laws and poor labor treatment for the individuals working on those beautiful buildings, prostitution, human trafficking and mistreatment of housemaids, but this is the case wherever you go, even in America.

Not all women are oppressed in the Middle East. Middle Eastern women have different standards than some American women. Middle Eastern women wouldn’t dare expose their bodies for the entire world to see. They treat their bodies as a temple, only revealing their treasures to their husbands. They know their worth and walk with confidence in their long black Abaya’s. They wear the best of the best underneath their garments. Christian Louboutin shoes, Alexander Mcqueen dresses. Almost every one of the women has a designer bag. While shopping with their friends they open their Abaya’s and reveal they are decked out in jeans and the latest shirts from Zara. They are just like us.

I learned the importance of being chaste while in Dubai. Always being mindful not to offend anyone by exposing my shoulders, or showing too much cleavage like I would in America. Yet, the profound significance of this was that I didn’t feel less sexy, I felt beautiful. One of the most monumental parts of my trip was being able to put on an Abaya for the first time. I felt honored to imitate the essence of a Muslim woman. I felt like they showed me another way. I was able to walk in their shoes for some time, while in the mosque and it felt empowering. I have such indescribable respect for them.

Thank you Jesus for bringing me back home safely. Unfortunately, we do live in a crazy world and anything could’ve happened to me. I am completely aware of that. However the moral of the story is, you should never let other people’s beliefs of a country hinder you from traveling. You should also never let your own misconceptions hinder you. Go for it. Find out for yourself, and you will be glad you did because whether good or bad, you still will have a story to tell and an experience to share for the rest of your life.

Hyatt  Capital Gate Abu Dhabi

Unchartered Territory

It was Christmas Eve and I was at my friend’s holiday party. I got home around 3:30AM and realized that a major deal broke out among travel extremist. Flightdeal and TravelNoire revealed that Etihad Airline had tickets to the Middle East, Hong Kong, India and Africa for less than $700. I booked my ticket to the Middle East immediately for $200. I went to sleep nervous, excited and in disbelief as to what I just did. Now I am taking a major trip in 1 month to unknown territory and I want to again chronicle the whole process.
So here’s what I’ve done so far:

Booked the ticket: I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to travel to the Middle East for less than $225, that’s unheard of.

Pulled out a map:
This is always the most exciting part of planning a trip. A map illustrates the surrounding countries. Sometimes you can maximize a trip by taking day trips to other surrounding cities. Unfortunately, the Middle East is not one of those places where I can venture too far off especially as a woman.

Talk to someone who has been to the country: Bring on the advice. It’s always a great thing when you can talk to someone who has insider information on how a country operates. I learned that in my case it will probably be best to get an apartment rather than an expensive $700 a night hotel.

Research! Where am I going? How many cities are in this country? Which attraction do I want to be near? Transportation? To-do list?

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