The Middle East: My Favorite Things
“This cruel land can cast a spell.”
From the moment I entered Dubai in the fall of 2007, and then Doha two years later, I was intrigued by the Arabian Gulf. It is a land of stark contrasts and enchantment. Sages and Seers. Treasure and Terror. Faith and Fantasy. Dazzle and Decay. Magic and Mirage. In addition to the wonderful people we have come to know, there is much here that I will remember fondly and images that will remain with me. Here are a few…
The Magic Carpet Rides: Flying into and out of these two cities is a unique experience because they suddenly rise up out of nowhere, surrounded by vast, rolling expanses of desert. Every detail is visible. The dunes, the oases, the Arabian Sea speckled with dhows. Palm Jumeirah looks like a lace doily. Estates of Sheikhs, primitive Bedouin compounds, and the gleaming needle tower Burj Khalifa. The Museum of Islamic Art, resembling a pile of blocks (See Post “An Exalted Space”, 4/23/2012 ), the Corniche, Sheikha Mozah’s futuristic circular home, the Zig Zag Towers. Swooping down into a fantasy kingdom with Aladdin!
The Proverbs: Every culture has these, but the ones I collected here seem especially humorous and wise. There are Mark Twains everywhere!
Don’t sleep between people who sit.
Avoid sitting with stingy people.
Don’t be sad about your food.
Don’t look behind frequently when talking.
The answer to a fool is silence.
Only a blind man knows the weakness of the eyes.
Never give advice in a crowd.
Cardamom coffee poured into tiny cups from elegant long-spouted pitchers called dollas.
Mint Lemonade. Simply divine.
The fragrance of Spices in the Souqs.
The stunning calligraphy .
The colorful decorative Tiles and Lanterns.
Prayer Beads and dusty sandals.
Thobes and Abayas.
Kayaking among the fronds of the palm-shaped island.
The dramatic skyline of Dubai and the sunset reflecting off Burj al Arab.
TriBeCa Film Festival in Doha.
Emirates Literature Festival in Dubai.
The Call to Prayer.
The emerging, vibrant voices of Young Artists, especially women.
The sense of Romance…
“The subject tonight is love.
And for tomorrow night as well.
As a matter of fact, I know of no better topic
For us to discuss.”
Hafiz- c. 1320-1389
What more is there to say? Next Post: The Middle East- My Questions
“Bedouins” 1905-6- Opaque and Translucent Watercolor- John Singer Sargent Brooklyn Museum