Travel Advising with Cultural Tolerance and Understanding in the Middle East
When I received my invitation to attend the 2014 Virtuoso Chairman's Event in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, I was thrilled. The United Arab Emirates has been an up and coming destination that has become more and more popular in recent years. However, as I planned for my trip and spoke to friends and family about my journey, the response was less than favorable. Many people replied, "Wow, aren't you afraid", "Don't you think it's a scary time to be in the Middle East" and "Please be careful" were some of many phrases I heard. Having sent many travelers to the UAE in recent years, I wasn't concerned about safety in the least bit, but was curious how I would feel about the culture and way of life. You see, like many people in the US, I have always looked at the Islamic way of life with curiosity and concern. The news has been no help and I have to admit that I have always secretly stared at the covered women and felt an urge to tear off their head coverings and set them free from, what I perceived to be, a life of silent suffering. I couldn't comprehend walking around covered from head to toe in the heat of the day, staring at the world from a one inch slit.
When we arrived in Dubai for our week of discovery, of course, I was immediately surrounded by the local attire and culture. As my curiosity began to peak, I was incredibly pleased that our first stop was The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding in the historical Al Fahidi District. Our visit was an Emirate lunch of traditional dishes of chicken, rice, lentils and goat. The aroma was intoxicating and the display of food that lay on carpets on the floor was like a work of art. Sitting on pillows on the floor, you could feel a sense of truly being in the Middle East.
|Sampling the local cuisine|
|Great discussion about UAE|
|Trying out the local attire|
As a travel advisor, I feel it is so important to visit destinations and understand the cultures that exist without judgment or prejudice. I certainly may not agree with everything that exists but I believe that taking the time to learn about the culture and society allows me to be a better person. This journey did just that and I feel so incredibly fortunate to have had this amazing opportunity.
I'll be back Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and until then, I will send my clients to experience all that you have to offer.
by Amanda Klimak CTIE
by Amanda Klimak CTIE