I just finished Neil MacFarquhar’s The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday and realized I won’t visit Damascus while I am in the Middle East. This is not just because the U.S. government looks askance at people traveling to Syria, but because the focus of my time here is on GCC states. The GCC states are: Qatar, the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The gulf culture is distinct from the cultures of the Levant or Arab Africa (generally considered the three major geographic areas of the Arab world), just as the culture of each state in the gulf is distinct.
While I could spend a lifetime immersing myself in Saudi (or Omani or Bahraini or Kuwaiti) culture, I only have a semester here and will delve into those cultures I can reach most easily (I plan to travel to Dubai and Oman and Egypt in the next 4 months).
While I am joyfully excited to be stretching my internal representation of the globe so thoroughly this semester, I wanted to give a few lines to mourn the places I will not go this time around (though, as a general once said, I will return).
Baghdad’s museums (for many reasons).
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know.
And you are the one who’ll decide where you’ll go.
Oh the places you’ll go.