Our time in the UAE has been incredible. The people here are extremely friendly and hospitable, and we have been able to see and do so many cool things. 

My siblings and I have never been to this part of the Middle East, and this is Jimmy’s (our cousin’s) first time out of the US. I think many Americans generally have the misconception of this part of the world being extreme Islamists, conservative, who treat their women poorly, and who are overall more strict. And even though I grew up in Lebanon, I’ll admit I was still expecting this part of the world to be more closed off and stand-off-ish. But we have definitely been proved wrong.

Yesterday (our first day here) we went to Al Ain, which is in Abu Dhabi and is known as the Garden City. While staying at an American family’s home, we met their landlord, Abdullah. He came over to their house that morning, dressed in the traditional clothing, and we all quickly became friends. He was extremely welcoming and made sure we were well taken care of. Jimmy said he reminded him of our grandpa who was from Greece who was always smiling and talking to everybody. Hopefully, we’ll get to meet up with Abduallah in Dubai again tomorrow. 

Yesterday afternoon, we went out to the desert sand dunes for the falcon hunting. Muhammad, an experienced falcon hunter, took as all out to show us how he trains his falcons and then sends them out to hunt. We had never seen anything like it.

Afterward, he invited us to his home. Traditionally, the men and women do not eat together, so the men ate outside in a tent, and my sister, mom, and I went inside with the women. Talking with the women and children gave us the chance to hear about their lives, and we just laughed together. As we left, Muhammad’s wife gave us beautiful scarves and slippers. Their hospitality made us feel so welcomed.