“Are you crazy?”
“You’re going to the Middle East?”

The questions came pouring in before I left for my solo trip to the Middle East in December 2016.

As I write this, I’m at the airport in Muscat, Oman, on my final leg of an adventure across Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.  It was one of the best and most inspiring trips I’ve ever taken.


The people I met and interacted with in each country were unbelievably friendly and accommodating – to the point where I couldn’t believe if this was real life or if I was dreaming.

My reason for writing this post is not only to tell you about my amazing experiences, but also to urge you not to listen to what the media says about the Middle East or judge people by what they are wearing.

In this article, you’ll also get exclusive travel tips and advice that you’ll need to know before booking your flights to the Middle East.

*Note – when I refer to the Middle East in this article, I am specifically talking about the Gulf Countries. See below map*


An Introduction to Arabic Hospitality

Part of me can understand why so many people are intimidated to travel through the Middle East, largely due to all the negative media attention.

A few terrorist attacks happen by Muslims, and people suddenly assume that all 1.6 billion Muslims on our planet are bad people.

That couldn’t be farther from the truth.


I’m a strong believer that every country has good people and bad people, whether it be the USA, Syria, Brazil or Somalia.  But as I travel more, I can tell you with certainty that the good people far outweigh the bad in this world.  The Middle East is no different.

I’m American and Jewish. I have red hair and white skin. That puts me in opposition both physically and culturally to almost everyone in the Middle East.

Additionally, I had never extensively hung out with Muslim people or knew much about Arabic culture prior to my trip. But over the last 9 days, I’ve spent nearly every second with them, and I have nothing but positive things to share.


When I arrived in my first country (Kuwait), I met up with another travel blogger named Fatima (@hello965) who I’d only been internet friends with. Not only did she give me a grand tour of her country, but she also introduced me to many of her Kuwaiti friends and helped arrange my first ever meet-up in Kuwait City!

If you were in attendance that evening, I want to extend an extra thank you for coming.  From the bottom of my heart, it was one of the most touching events of my life and I was inspired by meeting every single one of you.


Once I left Kuwait and traveled onward around the Arabian Gulf, Fatima reached out to her friends in Bahrain and Oman to see if they could show me around.  Through those people, I kept meeting more friends of friends of friends, and every person was very kind and hospitable. They picked me up at the airport, took me sight seeing, taught me about their culture, and they wouldn’t let me pay for anything.

The Gulf countries are very safe.  

I walked around everywhere by myself at night (even in dark allies) and never once felt harassed or stalked.  As long as you use common sense (the same that you would in any city) then you should be perfectly fine and safe.

To be completely honest, I feel more afraid walking around Chicago or Barcelona at night that I did anywhere in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar or Oman.

Many women have reached out to me asking if it’s safe to travel around the Gulf as a female, and my answer is absolutely yes.  I met many solo (non-Arabic) female travelers, and they didn’t have any issues from what they told me.   The only thing I’d recommend is to cover your shoulders at all times and don’t wear high shorts (out of respect).  The safety conditions are the same conditions for both men and women – so please don’t worry at all.

I’ve also been asked numerous times if I felt unsafe traveling around the Middle East as a Jew, and my answer is not once.  I even told my new friends and Uber drivers that I was Jewish and they didn’t show any disrespect to myself or to my religion.  In fact, the opposite happened.  Many of them were interested to hear more about Judaism and what it’s like to go to Israel, since they are prohibited to travel there with their passports.

Once again, our perspectives are drastically changed by what the media portrays, and I am telling you from first-hand experience that it’s false.

While most of the Gulf countries share the same language (Arabic) and oil-enriched economy, they’re each slightly unique in their own ways.   For example, you can identify which country a person is from by the way they dress. The men wear different “thwabs” (long robes) depending on their country.  Also, each country has their own traditions which can be seen in Mosques or on the dinner table.

Speaking of food, I can’t wait to share with you what I ate!

Arabic Food

The food that I ate all around the Gulf was fantastic. Although somewhat a mixture between Persian (Iranian), Mediterranean and Indian cuisines, there are several unique dishes to the Arabic world that will give your taste buds a pleasant surprise!


The most common meats are lamb, chicken, beef, goat and fish (only on the coastal areas).   Rice is always served alongside meat.  Pork is very uncommon due to Islamic law and considered taboo by religious beliefs.

Dairy products are widely consumed, especially yogurt (called laban), buttermilk and white goat cheese.  You will also find an abundance of herbs and spices, most notably sesame, saffron, black pepper, garlic, cinnamon and parsley.

Other common ingredients are eggplant, carrots, zucchini, onions, olives, pita, dates, chickpeas and mint.

All of my meals were local during my 9-day trip, except the two times that I ate at McDonald’s in Kuwait and Oman.  (Side Note – I’ve now eaten at McDonald’s in 53 countries!)

My favorite Arabic dishes were the following:

Shuwa (Omani) – goat roasted in a special oven that’s a pit underground. The meat is flavored with a variety of spices, then wrapped in sacks made of dry leaves, which are in turn placed into the oven. It’s amazing.


Machboos (Kuwait) – freshly caught Gulf shrimp on top of rice, and flavored with sauteed onions, turmeric, coriander and dried loomi (a dried black lime).  The spices and flavors in this dish are to die for.


Khubz & Hummus (Bahrain) – Khubz is a Persian-influenced flat round bread, made in a clay oven, which dries rapidly and is best consumed while still warm from the oven.  Dip it in local hummus with green olives.  YUM.  I took this shot inside the back room of a restaurant in Bahrain as they were making it fresh.


Balaeet (Qatar) – this dish has contrasting flavors of both salty and sweet and is usually eaten for breakfast.  The paste is sweet with a small hint of cardamon, topped with wafer egg pancakes.  A bite of sweetness and a crispy salty egg pancake is what makes this dish so unique and delicious.

Karak (Oman) – Inspired by Indian chai, this is a flavored tea made by brewing black tea with milk, spices and herbs.  It’s always served boiling hot (even in summer), and is commonly enjoyed throughout the day. I drank at least 2 cups of karak everyday.

Things to Do in the Middle East

Visit Souks – a souk is a traditional marketplace that has everything from hand-made goods to clothing and electronics. Many of the souks also have outdoor cafes, restaurants, street food and shisha bars.   I recommend to visit them at night as that’s when most of the activity happens.


Walk through the Downtown Area – each big city in the Gulf has futuristic skyscrapers and an electric skyline that cannot be missed.  Just wander around and keep your head looking straight up to the sky! The photo below was in Doha, Qatar.


Go Inside the Mosques – Each country has a “Grand” or “National” Mosque that is well worth a trip inside.  These Mosques are built with so much detail and perfection, and inside, you can admire the massive soft rugs that seemingly go on forever.  Be aware that they have strict visiting hours (during off-praying time), so always be respectful.  


Smoke Shisha at on Outdoor Café – a trip to the Middle East wouldn’t be complete without smoking some shisha (hookah) at an outdoor cafe.  My favorite flavors were apple and strawberry.

Budgeting – Flights, Hotels, Transportation, etc.

The Gulf countries aren’t nearly as cheap as Southeast Asia or even South America…   It’s actually quite expensive.

The only thing that’s cheap is shopping in the souks (markets), where you can bargain down the price — just like I did here at the Muttrah souk in Muscat, Oman.


I spent an average of $100USD per day (not including flights), which covered all hotels, meals, ubers, sight seeing, etc.

There are a variety of airlines that fly from country to country, and all of them are good. In fact, many of the Middle Eastern airlines are listed as the top in the world (Qatar, Emirates, Etihad).  I flew with Kuwait Air, Oman Air, Etihad and Gulf Air and had great experiences all around.


The cost to fly one-way (from country to country) is about $100USD, and I booked flights about 3 weeks in advance. I’m sure you can find cheaper if you book 4-8 weeks out.

For accommodations, I stayed at “budget” hotels, which ranged from $50 – 80USD per night.  I made all my reservations on Booking.com.  Unfortunately, there aren’t many cheaper options unless you use couchsurfing, which is free.

USE UBER whenever possible and avoid taking taxis as they will rip you off.   Uber was very affordable (same prices as in the U.S.), and it’s safer and more reliable than any taxi.  As of writing this, Uber is available in Bahrain, Qatar, Dubai, Tel Aviv and Lebanon.

Of course, you can budget yourself on less than $100USD per day if you use couchsurfing and only eat street food, etc… but I’m way past those days.

Top 5 Highlights of My Trip

1. Sleeping in the Omani desert – I went on an incredible desert tour with a company called One Roof Oman.  They picked me up at the airport, and we drove 4 hours overnight into the middle of the Wahiba Desert of Oman.  We camped in tents, cooked burgers over a fire, and woke up at 5:30AM to one of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen (below).

If you go to Oman, contact them at [email protected] or What’s App (+96899387526) and they will arrange an amazing tour for you!


2. Kuwait City Meet up – I held my first meet up in Kuwait City at a coffee shop and about 30 amazing people showed up.  Words can’t describe the feeling I had when I got to meet everyone and share travel stories.  One kid, named Mohammed, is only 14 years old but came all by himself on a school night.   I connected with him personally, and even had to call his dad to convince him to let his son stay out later and join us for dinner.


3. Playing Golf in Kuwait City – Kuwait is the 15th country I’ve played golf in, and it was one of the most memorable rounds of my life!  Huge thanks to my friends at Sahara Golf Club for arranging this round for me.  I actually played really well (3 over par), and I got to break in my new Snapchat Spectacles at the same time.


4. Hiking in Wadi Shab, Oman – I had no idea what Wadi Shab was until my good friend Lee Abbamonte told me to check it out.   It’s one of the best displays of nature I’ve ever seen — huge canyons, boulders, and steep cliffs engulfed by cold fresh water that you can swim in.  I went cliff jumping and climbed waterfalls all day long at Wadi Shab it was fantastic.  There are many “wadis” in Oman, but this is definitely the best one to visit. Trust me.


5. Walking around Souk Waqif in Doha, Qatar – Each country has a variety of “souks” or markets to visit, but my favorite was Souk Waqif in Doha.   During the day, it’s virtually a ghost town, but at night, the streets come alive and you can spend 6+ hours enjoying the Qatari atmosphere.  This is the place to buy all your souvenirs, eat street food or chill at a coffee/shisha bar and people watch.


Final Tips Before Going to the Gulf

  • Try visiting from November – March, otherwise you will be miserably hot.  December & January is the best time.
  • Be respectful of Muslim culture. Don’t visit a mosque during prayer time on Friday or Saturday.
  • The workweek in the Middle East starts on Sunday and goes until Thursday evening, which means the weekend nights are on Thursday and Friday night.
  • Don’t get mixed up by the exchange rates, specifically in Kuwait and Bahrain, as those are the two strongest currencies in the world. 1 USD = 0.25 Kuwaiti Dinars…. so that 5 Dinar meal you paid for was really $20USD.
  • Avoid visiting during Ramadan, as everything will be closed from sunrise to sunset and it’s actually illegal if you are found eating on the streets. The month of Ramadan changes every year (it’s always the 9th month of the Islamic calendar), so make sure to check an Arabic calendar to see when it is.
  • Be respectful to everyone, no matter the circumstance. If you give someone a middle finger, then you can be thrown in jail even if there was no witness present.
  • Due to cultural and religions beliefs, some women are not allowed to touch men.  So as a rule of thumb, never reach your hand out to shake a female’s hand… let her reach out if she’s comfortable in doing so.
  • Make sure that you check visa restrictions for entry. For American citizens, you can enter visa free or get a visa-on-arrival in every country I went to.
  • Booze is illegal in some countries (Kuwait), and only found in select hotels or restaurants in other countries.  What I’m trying to say is — don’t travel to the Middle East to expect a wild nightlife scene (the only exception is Dubai).
  • Bring extra U.S. Cash with you as back up money, beacuse you can easily exchange it in every airport.  For getting visa on arrivals, you can use a credit card at the immigration desk or U.S. Cash.

When looking back on my trip to the Middle East, I cannot stop smiling and thinking about all the fun times and memories I had.   I’ve made dozens of incredible friends and I’m already starting to think of my next trip to Iran and Saudi Arabia.   I hope that after reading this post, you will consider taking a trip to the Middle East so you can experience Arabic hospitality for yourself.

Lastly, it would mean the world to me if you could share this post on Facebook to help spread message of peace and love.   And don’t hesitate to email me with any questions you have!

Thanks for reading — Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate 🙂

Drew Binsky

Drew Binsky

A graduate from The University of Wisconsin-Madison, Drew Binsky has visited 190+ Countries since 2012.He first caught the travel bug while studying abroad in Prague, then taught English in Korea, and now he's on a mission to visit every country on earth.Follow his journey on YouTube & Instagram @drewbinsky 🙂

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  8. Well, my experience was completely different. I had a layover in one of the countries you speak of and I have never felt so uncomfortable in my life. There weren’t many women on the street, and all of them were covered, walking behind men. And even though I was covered (only my hair was showing) every man on the street was staring at me. when I was exchanging money in the airport, 2 men got behind me very closely while i was at the booth and I did not feel safe at all. I would feel very uncomfortable going out jogging by myself there. it doesn’t feel like the safest place in the world.

  9. Hey Drew,
    We love your blog. We just recently found it and have thoroughly enjoyed it. We are a family of 8 living in Bahrain. We travel extensively as well. Living in Maldives, Indo, Singapore, Malaysia, etc. My husband’s job keeps us on the go, which we love. Our family is biracial, black and white. We have 4 teens, 2 boys and 2 girls and 2 young ones. I have to say that we LOVE living in the Middle East and LOVE the hospitality of many forward thinking folks here. However, we have experienced quite a bit of racism and xenophobia. Our girls are also not safe to walk around alone, or even go jogging alone. Prior to having children, I also was assaulted walking around solo, at a resort, visited mostly by expats, my shoulders were covered, and so were my legs. At least half of the expat women I work with have been similarly assaulted. I would strongly caution you to not post on your blog that it is totally safe for a female to travel to these regions alone. You have met a niche of people who are forward thinkers, taxi drivers, tour guides, etc, are very friendly to anyone who helps pay their salaries. We would never allow our daughters to travel alone in this region even if they speak Arabic and can understand all that is said. We have very dear friends and neighbors, all nationals, who look after our kids, the village mentality, who will caution us as well to keep our daughters safe and not allow them our unaccompanied. We hear directly from our local friends here about sexual abuse in families. Many adult women attest to the abuse they endured at the hands of fathers, brothers, cousins, uncles, etc. We deal with this in the states as well, but the overall view of women in the region in general is disturbing. Forward thinking men here will fully agree. Marriage and divorce laws attest to this.
    Two more things to consider…
    One…we do have a child who is a “person of determination” (we call it disabled in the states). She has experienced SO much discrimination in the region. Yes, there are many kind and gracious people in the region, and yes they are working toward improving this, but the majority have been unkind to her. In this region, people with disabilities are often kept hidden away from the public eye. You will see many elderly in wheelchairs, treated with respect. But, you will not see children in wheelchairs very often. Oman was an exception. Our children fit right in with the Omani people and they were VERY kind and accomodating to our daughter with disabilities.
    Second…The migrant workers here live in appalling conditions. We have the same issues in the states but not to this level. Indians, Bengalis, Filipinos, Indonesians, Pakistanis, etc, are treated with little respect and often abused. I work with an organization that helps these minority women, who have been abused, raped and impregnated by employers, return to their homes after they are put in PRISON by employers. We have seen an Indian man beat nearly to death by a group of Bahraini men smoking hookas outside of a restaurant. You can google all of these things. The state newspapers report these things daily as well. These countries admit these issues themselves.
    I love your blog b/c it does give people a better view of the Middle East than the media, but make sure you also have a balanced view. Expats are treated significantly better than citizens here. A lot of what the people hear about the Middle East is wrong, but some of it is true also.

  10. I disagree on view of the certain guy that middle east is unsafe and dangerous middle east is really dangerous for christian missionaries and white supremacist you people had no other works if you are so concerned about human rights violation then stop supporting wahhabism and baathism what execution what you islamophobe its hadd punishment we are not going to delay it for anyone we will not going to suffer like divorce family break illegitimate children and by the way american you must look into your laws oy vey capital punishment in america and mass incarceration and human rights are not even fine in america wikipedia-human rights in america the condition are not fine even in america a child lost his life in detention center and mexican migrants are poorly beaten in us border women areh america is no1 in rape and rainn states high sexual assault in offices we dont need classess from you

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  12. Glad you enjoyed your stay. You unfortunately were experiencing the facade that so many tourists and expats are duped by during thier stay. Perhaps you need to consider the thousands of migrant workers who live in appauling conditions, are abused and assaulted by thier employers and are treated no better than slaves. Perhaps you should also consider the appauling human rights records of these countries that still stone people to death or behead people in public executions. Perhaps yet again you should consider the atrocious way females are treated in a society where they have no rights and if they dare to speak out will find themselves imprisoned or worse. But yes I am sure you enjoyed your trip as have many of your responders who have either travelled or lived as the privileged few do and chosen not to see what is in plain view beneath the glittery facade of the middle east. BTW please don’t question whether I have visited… I have spend many years helping the poor and abused in these countries.

  13. Hello Drew, I am fascinated by your YouTube channel and what you do. You made me want to visit many countries. I live in Lebanon, when are you coming?

  14. Sure you had nice time. Whats your passport again… which will explain most of goodies
    Meetup in kuwait sounds interesting. Is there?

  15. I visited Dubai and Turkey last 2013,both countries are amazing even people are amazing,but one thing that i have noticed that almost all women are being abused specially the OFW women,but i never heard that they abuse men,only women specially the maids and they even take and keep their maids passport,i am not speaking generally but most of them are abusive and terror employers.they are good with tourist because of course tourist has a lot of money or can afford to anything and tourist are their special guest of course they will treat them well other wise thy won’t come back for another trip and no more tourist will come to visit middle east anymore,the equality treatment of human kind are being neglected.

  16. A “few” terrorist attacks………. eh? Explain that to Europe.

    1. First of all Jews demonise Muslims in the news media…..
    2. Then Jews say “Muslims are our brothers and we welcome them all” …….
    3. Then after that, terrorist attacks happen (which always look staged, are always blamed on Muslims – not forgetting the convenient Muslim ID/passport nearby, which is beyond ridiculous)

    Care to offer an explanation? or will you censor my post?

  17. You went to only the safest most developed countries in the Middle East with plans to already meet friends you knew and with plenty of money, of course you had a good time

    But don’t generalise the Gulf as the Middle East and push liberal propaganda on us.

    1. Dave, you’ve got a narrow, simple, shallow mind. I live here in the Middle East and love it. Have no plans on leaving anytime soon. Drew, I live in Saudi, hit me up if you travel this way. Love to show you around the eastern province.

    2. Hey Drew why don’t you go ride bicycles on the Afghanistan border like your liberal friends did this year, let’s see how long you last. Why don’t you travel to Iran, Iraq, how about Somalia, dude you have money and connections this isn’t a real test of nation wide civility, you are spreading propaganda

  18. Perfect timing!!!
    My first time in Dubai was in 2005 and remember saying, “I need to come back like in 10 yrs when all these cranes along the beach and Jumeriah Ave finish all these construction projects.” Sure enough I was back in Dubai and Abu Dhabi twice, in March and April of 2015! Amazing!! Love the culture, respect for others, food and hospitality are to die for! I May include Jordan as I would love to visit Petra. In any case, congratulations on a very informative and insightful article!
    Thank you much!

  19. Hi Drew. My wife and I spent some years in Saudi Arabia. They too cook meat underground. There it’s called Mandi.
    We now live in Bahrain so I was surprised you only mentioned Dubai as having a great night life.
    Bahrain has plenty of bars, clubs and restaurants. Live bands and world class DJs. Bahrainis take their night life seriously. In fact it’s so popular that close to 100 million cross the bridge every year. Some Thursday nights it can take 4 hours to get into Bahrain!
    If you come to Bahrain again give us a shout!

    1. I forgot to say the bridge I mentioned above is the 30km causeway linking Saudi Arabia to Bahrain.
      You probably gathered that

    2. Agree about night life in Bahrain.. I’m here as well 😊😊 love this place.. Was in Qatar and Uae and for me Bahrain is the best so far.. Contact me on instagram please 🙂 yelenahairstylist

  20. Thanks for sharing such a positive experience about the Middle East. I lived in Kuwait for 2 years and have had many similar, but also somewhat different experiences. While I absolutely loved my time living in Kuwait and traveling around the area, my experience as a female wasn’t all butterflies and rainbows. While I never felt unsafe, I definitely felt uncomfortable. Men hollering out their car windows, “I love you”, men consistently staring me down as I walked past, and once I had a man follow me home (this happened several times to friends of mine, too). My Indian-Canadian friend had significantly worse experiences, as Rina explains.
    Also, my Jewish friends said they wouldn’t, for a second, even consider admitting this fact about themselves. We were teachers, and I guess the repercussions would have been too severe. What those were, exactly, I’m not sure, but enough for them to hide their true identity.
    Like I said, it’s an amazing part of the world, and I always tell people to visit (especially Oman – one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever been to!). But, it’s important not to overlook some factors that could make people feel uncomfortable (especially if staying longer than a few days/weeks).

    1. Thanks for your comment, Lauren! I can imagine how you may have a harder time living/traveling thru there as a women. But the Jewish thing, I had no problems whatsoever. I found all people to be respectful.

  21. Thank for a wonderful representation of the GCC. I am an American married to a national. I’ve made Kuwait my home for 30 years. I feel like I have been an ambassador to both cultures all this time.

  22. I lived in Kuwait for 6 years with my family, taught at the University and help run a trade magazine, and have blogged about my experience, too. I’m going back in March for a visit and cannot wait!

    There is something so stirring and serene about the GCC. People are incredibly kind and generous one-on-one. They may hate the politics of your country but they take you as you are, and individual. I worked and interacted daily with Kuwaitis, Syrians, Iranians, Indians, Lebanese, Jordanians, Egyptians and people from the South Asian countries. It is true that not all are treated equally; there is a sort of caste system. But it is a true Melting Pot.

    I have to laugh when people ask me questions about my safety. They don’t believe me when I say we rarely locked our doors. I found that if you show them courtesy, they will show you courtesy. If you are a woman, don’t gaze directly at any man. And yes, dress modestly. Even so, if you are white and especially blonde , men will follow you and ask for your number but when you tell them no, that usually puts an end to it. While there are many upsides, the downsides are the treatment of domestic workers and pets, which I witnessed firsthand.

    As a side note, I smiled when you mentioned McDonalds. Loved the McArabia!!! And speaking of food, I hope you tried mohamra. My fave! Thank you again for shedding light on this beautiful and misunderstood part of the world.

  23. Hi Drew. My husband and I are Kiwis and lived in Kuwait from 2010-2014. He was working and I was on my own until I made connections with expat ladies groups. It certainly is a different experience for women than men but overall, particularly because I learnt a little Arabic, I had a wonderful experience. We loved travelling in the region to all the countries you mentioned and particularly loved Oman and the wadis plus mountains – just amazing! We retired early and are back in NZ but spend each winter away in the northern hemisphere so like you, we are exploring new destinations. Thanks for your interesting take on each of the places you visited – hopefully the people I share it with will get a better understanding of what we loved about the Gulf. We travelled a lot in our 20s & 30’s and lived/worked in London and on a kibbutz in Israel as well so we’ve experienced many cultures and history, food etc and can’t wait to see more. Travel is fantastic!

  24. I have lived in Kuwait for 8 years and am leaving in May to explore other options in other parts of the world. I’m from the United States. I find most of your observations and experiences to be spot on, but as a solo female living in the Gulf, I have to tell you a woman’s experience traveling in this part of the world will likely be very different from a man’s. It takes more than covering your shoulders and knees to avoid unwanted attention here. But I have never felt unsafe in any of the countries you visited in the Gulf, and have visited UAE and Oman as a solo female traveler. Absolutely loved Oman! I am so glad you had a positive experience and really enjoyed reading about it here. This is the first time I’ve read your blog, but I will certainly be back. I actually wanted to share your post on Twitter but I don’t see an option to do that.

  25. Fantastic article, thank you so much for writing about your experience, my husband and I are hoping to visit my cousin who has lived in Kuwait for 33 years…she’s from Indiana! Best wishes for your travels and fulfilling your passion!

  26. I too have lived in Kuwait (2010-2011) and I am heading back in two weeks. Being female I did not venture out much in Kuwait which I regretted when I came back. This time around I will for sure explore more. Food is awesome and the people were friendly, drivers are crazy though. I loved the Souks and did try much of the culture. I did not visit the neighboring countries when I was there before, now I look forward to seeing Oman, UAE, Qater & Bahrain.

  27. I lived and worked in the Middle East-kuwait and Bahrain for seven years. I’m Indian – American female and faced a lot of racism and so did my husband who is Arab. We faced so much discrimination it was unreal. I would go out to eat with my colleagues who were white American and they would be ackwoleged and seated and the servers would look past me. It was in the culture. Locals would talk to them and be extremely friendly but would think I worked for my colleagues or crack a joke at my expense because of my ethnic background. It was also hard for me when I was changing jobs. They wanted to test me to make sure I was proficient in English because I was not a ” real” American because I wasn’t white or they wouldn’t hire me because I was not the right color.
    But we looked past it and did what we were supposed to do and did meet good people. And yea travel was amazing and food was the best. And as you mentioned good and bad people exisit everywhere. For you as a white American you will benefit from traveling to countries in the Middle East and South East Asia.
    Glad you had a very positive experience but it isn’t the same for everyone.

  28. What you shared in your article needed to be said. Thank you. I am an American living in Kuwait now for 12 years. I have tried to help my family in America understand why I love living here but they have been fed too much bad information from the media, so they just don’t get it, especially the part about feeling more safe here than in America. Oh by the way I am a woman and sure I would agree that a woman alone would have a different experience than a man but still a positive experience.

    1. Hi Ahmad-yes a wonderful article. Dan and I feel so blessed to have spent 4 wonderful years in Kuwait. We are so grateful for our lasting friendships especially with your family. Our girls will be best friends forever! This article makes me want to get back soon for a visit! Take care!

  29. So pleased you had a wonderful experience. I’ve had the privilege of visiting the Middle East 7 times over the period of 30 years and I’ve found it and the people to be most wonderful. The families are incredible .their love and respect for their families is incredible. Restaurants,malls. Grocery stores etc. are so wonderful. I love it and am so glad you did as well.

  30. Loved the article but can’t help highlighting that you are also male. A single woman would have an entirely different experience in that environment and probably not as successful. You are privileged in that regard and a very good steward of American culture.

      1. Thanks for the blog and for allowing me to go down memory lane. I spent 6 years in Kuwait teaching history…highlight of my career! As a female, I traveled to 7 or 8 Middle Eastern countries, including Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Etc. I was welcomed with open arms and felt very safe (and I was living there when 9/11 happened). Since returning to the States, I have remained in contact with many former students, many of whom can to the US or Canada for higher education. Wonderful experience!

  31. Dear Drew, I’m happy to read that you enjoyed your stay in Oman. If you only stayed longer maybe we could tell you more facts about the amazing history of relations between the US and Oman. By the way the Shuwa is not usually cooked in oven, its one of the Omani wonders. WE GRILL IT UNDER THE GROUND.

  32. Amazing article! I really loved the things you wrote about the Middle East. All the places look amazing & hopefully one day I’ll get to visit them!

  33. Fantastic post! Thankful to read anything encouraging others to explore this wonderful part of the world. I’ve lived in Jordan for about 5 years now and sometimes it’s hard for people to understand why I stay/ keep going back… until they visit, that is 😉 happy travels!!!

  34. Pingback: World traveler explains why “Everything you heard about the Middle East is wrong” – Site Title
  35. This article is amazing, thanks for breaking it to the world that the Middle East is a safe place and i am happy that you enjoyed your trip to Kuwait and all the middle eastern countries and im also happy that ive met you hope to see you again in the future

  36. Seriously it’s amazing post , you touch me with your words , the way how you describe our GCC am sure it will inspire allot of people around the world ..
    Hajar from Bahrain

  37. Lovely article Drew and thank you for addressing the safety concerns! Unfortunately, a lot of media convey specific events in regions and forgets the other parts which conveys a false perception. The same for me when I travel to other countries people from my country are worried and scared. I guess every country is safe and unsafe in specific ways; best advise would be to research, keep an open mind and try for yourself.

    So very happy to have finally met you, you’re an inspiration to all of us!

    1. Thanks so much for everything Fatima! You are in large part why my experience in the ME was so wonderful, and I cannot wait to get back there again. I only have positive memories and things to share about the ME to anyone who wants to visit in the future!

  38. I absolutely love this post. So timely for me. My first trip to Middle East this year. I’m on a mission for 193 too. Would love to chat sometime! Love you and Lee.

  39. I’m glad that you enjoyed visiting Kuwait & the other GCC countries. Pleased to meet you in Kuwait’s meet up. Looking forward to catch up in the near future 🙂

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