In Abu Dhabi, Feeling Like a Global Citizen

48 Hours in Abu Dhabi [Etihad Airways] from Brandon Li on Vimeo.

I love the international flavor of the United Arab Emirates, which feels not so much like an oppressive Saudi Arabia, as some of my American friends assume, but a real international nation. Living in the UAE, I feel truly like a global citizen. It’s always interesting to meet new people from places I don’t know a lot about and to ask questions.
My beach dog-walking friends on Saturdays are from Canada, Russia, South Africa and Australia. The Argentinian ambassador was a dog-walking friend, but he has now returned to his home country. My weekday evening dog-walking friends are from India, Syria, Scotland, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and the UK. My men’s group friends are mostly from England, Scotland, and Wales, but also from Iraq, India, Nigeria, and South Africa.
My colleagues are from all of those places, plus Slovenia, France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, the UAE, Greece, Spain, Jamaica, Turkey, Tunisia, Palestine, Ethiopia, and other countries. They report to me on their travels in Japan, China, Malaysia, Tanzania, Armenia, islands such as Bali, Seychelles and Phuket (off Thailand).
My students are from the UAE, plus a few from neighboring countries such as Yemen, Sudan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Oman and Iran (of Iranian heritage).
The American Embassy School families are from 60 countries, including many above, plus Ireland and Ecuador, and from all over the US.
Service sector workers and helpers in our compound, plus taxi drivers, and laborers are extremely eager,  hard-working and striving individuals from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.
I wonder what life will be like back in America when I eventually return. I get concerned when I think of the stereotypes of how Americans view the world. Boring compared to the international community we are part of here? Certainly in many cities and towns in the US, especially university communities, you can surround yourself with people from international backgrounds, or who have travelled widely, so maybe we can do that as well, when we eventually return.

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