Don’t worry. Life goes on even after you leave the excitement and opulence of the Middle East. Whether you migrate to a new country or repatriate, there’s no doubt that the thrill of a move in itself offers at least some degree of initial excitement. Sooner or later, though, the absence of certain aspects of life that are more prevalent in the Middle East than elsewhere will tug at you for awhile, some being:
- Call to prayer – An integral part of daily life, the call to prayer is both peaceful and mesmerizing. What non-Muslim doesn’t come to love the soothing sounds of the adhan, heard over the loudspeaker fives times each day?
- Running into friends – Although the expat population comprises a large percentage of the residents, major Middle Eastern cities still offer a smaller feel. Running into at least a friend or two every time you hit the town is the norm, and it adds to the fun of the whole experience.
- Obtaining tickets for recreational activities – With access to Formula 1 races, pro golf tournaments, and concerts that don’t sell out within twenty minutes of ticket releases, attending events that are saved for special occasions back home are commonplace in the Middle East. It also doesn’t take several hours to exit the venue or car park, so I double-guarantee that you’ll miss these perks.
- Shawarma – One of the most readily available snack foods, shawarma is the Taco Bell of the Middle East. What will you miss about this delicious, inexpensive treat? Everything, especially the garlic sauce.
- Inshallah – Whatever will be, will be; no need to stress about it. If it is God’s will, then it will happen. The Western world certainly does NOT live and work by this motto.
- Punctuality – When you first started working in the Middle East, odds are you made a concerted effort to show up on time for all scheduled meetings and appointments. Then you realized the joke was on you because showing up within an hour or two of the scheduled appointment time only left you endlessly waiting around for everyone else. Admittedly, the lack of punctuality is maddening more than it is endearing, but you will miss it when you find yourself in a society that never seems to stop and take a deep breath.
- Understanding the unwritten rules of driving – Gone are your days of feeling like you’re part of a secret driving society. Stop at a stop sign? Nah, I don’t think so. Obey the speed limit… but I can go 20km over without a ticket! And definitely stay out of the left lane unless you’re ready to play with the big boys. Now everyone plays the same game. It’s probably a bit safer, but still… Its not as much fun.
- Full-service fuel stations – I mean, when was the last time someone filled up your car for you in another country? In the US, I think this perk went by the wayside in the 1970’s. Darn.
- Weather – Ok, I agree that it can get hotter than hot in the summer, but I’d be willing to put up with it in order to scrap umbrellas and ice scrapers for life.
- Desert Safaris – All kinds of fun rolled up in one, desert safaris are a one-stop shop for local entertainment. From dune bashing to sand boarding to camel rides, safaris showcase the best of Arabian desert transportation methods, and none are for the weak. Then there’s traditional food and dance, followed by music and shisha under an impressive display of stars.
By: Suzanne Berg