When I told friends about our family’s impending move to Abu Dhabi, the first question anyone asked me is whether or not I would have to “cover”. They’d say: “Will you have to …” and then wave their hands around their heads, as if to indicate a beekeeper’s helmet or a halo. It took a while to get used to my wardrobe being the subject of such large-scale concern.
The second question, inevitably, was: “Will you be safe?” No matter what I said about the stability of the Emirates, no one seemed entirely convinced. It is a sad truth that in the West there is a general tendency to see “the Middle East” as a palimpsest of veiled women, oil wells and jihadis. It’s a perception perpetuated by much of western media and, as a result, even intelligent and well-educated people in the United States seem surprised when I tell them that I feel safe in Abu Dhabi.
Recently – sadly – I have found a new answer when people ask me about living “in such a dangerous part of the world”. I point out that people don’t get shot in Abu Dhabi and that the weapons people might have for hunting don’t look like assault rifles.
Originally written for The National. Read the full piece here.