My life journey started in the Middle East - in Iraq to be accurate - where I lived almost 26 years. I faced there all the challenges of the “Iraqi lifestyle” from the first and second gulf war to the fall of Saddam Hussein followed by the endless civil war after 2003.
I made my first important decision and move to another Middle Eastern country Jordan. This experience served me as a hub to go further to Europe to establish my new life, a better life. But above all I found an ambient and a way of living that fit my own mindset; it was an open-minded way, breaking all the barriers and red lines.
The first thing that I noticed when I moved to Europe was the attempt to attune the west and Middle East.
In this case I am not talking about the cultural differentiation, I want to say that both sides, literally don’t understand, can’t imagine the life of the other and the reflection that they have about each other.
I remember my first conversations with my European friends and answering their question about Middle Eastern society, the way of living there. My first impression was that “nobody knows neither can imagine anything about the daily life of the Middle East citizen, who works, eats, sleeps, faces challenges in life, pursues professional and personal goals”.
The first misstep that a lot of Europeans typically do (when they try to understand the other side) - they start to compare, they try to simplify the ideas in order to absorb them better; they want to find the similarities. Although the reality, and this reality is based on my own experience living on both sides for many years, is that the mindsets, the ways of living and reaching the life goals are completely different.
It is important to stress that the comparison is not about “who is better“, instead it should embrace the realistic insight of the complex combination of human behavior together with the cultural reflection. The simple conclusion on both individual and societal levels is that we all are full of DISsimilarities whether we are from the east or the west.
If we go deeper into analyzing the missteps made by Europeans, it is important to notice that the majority thinks about Middle East as one solid block of a static culture and behavior based on religion, which is only a part of the truth. In order to build the realistic point of view the other important factors should be taken into one’s consideration, for example:
- the country's identity
Each Middle Eastern country has its own separate identity. And even more - each city has its own identity with a lot of differences that have a big impact on how the individual forms his/her basic knowledge and reflects on the world landscape under this specific cultural umbrella.
-the country’s background
If you learn about modern history of Middle Eastern countries, you can notice that each country has its own historical background. Their history can show you the different impact of the religious value that was forced by the new movement of Islamism toward the society. Each country formed its own response and version of “being” slipping it down to the cities level and further reaching individual level.
Typically people form their “knowledge” about Middle Eastern countries taking the cultural religious values as the main basis. And it is true that it is very powerful in this part of the world. But even in this case its final shape is formed by the whole range of different inputs such as: past rulers and governments, the left and right in the political map, the classism of the rich and poor in the society, the educational system, city VS village, until it reaches family values and individual values.
This article is an introduction to a large and complex subject that I will try to cover in several episodes. I will discuss with the readers specific subjects and simplify them in order to show you the things and facts that you don’t know yet about the real life in the Middle East.
Stay in touch, and contact me if you have any questions or send me your request on specific subjects you would like me to cover in my further posts.