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20 Signs You've Lived In The Middle East

20 Signs You've Lived In The Middle East

I  have to admit that this post will most likely be found more funny/relatable to those of you who have lived in the Middle East or are currently living in the Middle East. It will, truthfully, lose a lot of it's funniness/realness if you've never been to this odd and beautiful part of the world. However, READ ON and get a lil glimpse into how different this culturally rich, arid place is from your neck of the woods. Also, this serves as a walk down memory lane for my Doha Sweet Doha. 

Twenty (out of many) things that'll have expats to the Middle East nodding their heads:

1.) You order delivery KFC AND you can order it from your phone. What a world we live in. Thanks for making it easier to not interact with people. 

 

2.) Doing things like holding doors, swatting flies, blowing on coals, sweeping a bit of floor, etc. are actually job titles. 

3.) You debate who has the best karak in the country and obviously it's Hot Chicken in Al Wakrah.

 Also, for those of you who have never had the magic elixir known as karak, it is basically steeped Lipton Yellow Label tea with LOTS of sugar and LOTS of caffeine. You'll be pretty heavily caffeinated and feeling like a sugar junkie (or some other sort of junkie) within minutes. The crash, however, is not pretty. 

Also, for those of you who have never had the magic elixir known as karak, it is basically steeped Lipton Yellow Label tea with LOTS of sugar and LOTS of caffeine. You'll be pretty heavily caffeinated and feeling like a sugar junkie (or some other sort of junkie) within minutes. The crash, however, is not pretty. 

4.) You're jealous of people who live somewhere that doesn't have construction and you deeply envy them if they have both grass AND trees. I'm looking at your Barwa City. 

This is what (when you look up our Doha apartment complex on Google) it looks like. 

 Collective HAHAHAHA.

Collective HAHAHAHA.

This is closer to reality. 

 credit: Jon Bowles Photography

credit: Jon Bowles Photography

So, yes we didn't have trees but I did have a bird fly past my window once. I thought it was a mirage. 

5.) You send your friends screenshots of maps instead of addresses because...well, we don't have any. 

6.) You know all stores stay open till midnight or later and it's normal to see 5 year olds running around a Carrefour at 11:45 pm. 

7.) Kids wearing roller blades/hoverboards/skateboards/other wheelie non-mall friendly things in the mall is completely normal. 

8.) Seeing people having picnics on the side of the road in a bit of grass at 10:30 at night is normal. 

9.) Having a falcon stare at you while you're doing non-falcon things is a thing. 

10.) When you look at a Ferrari the way you look at a Honda Civic because they're, like, for real everywhere. 

not impressed, Ferrari. 

11.) You get to spend hours and hours and hours at a cafe and no one will give you the stink eye to leave. People watching for hours with a coffee is a major sport and it's fabulous. 

 Once again, karak. 

Once again, karak. 

 Tea Time is everyone's other karak lover. 

Tea Time is everyone's other karak lover. 

 

12.) You come to the conclusion that lines (and staying in your place in the line) are more of a vague suggestion rather than an actual practice. 

13.) Tissues in cars, tissues as napkins, tissues as toilet paper with their own fancy tissue boxes! This is one of the many things I miss about the Middle East. Obviously other than the great friends and the freaking awesome biryani.

 ooooo...fancy.

ooooo...fancy.

14.) Going to the beach? Why not leave at 7:00 pm? Going to the beach and spending all night there bbq-ing, smoking shisha and just generally sitting around is a huge past time. Does anyone go swimming? Very rarely. Does anyone leave in the morning? No way. When it's over 40 C (104 F), it's difficult to go anywhere when the sun is up. 

 You see here my Greek BFF with her first ever s'more. 

You see here my Greek BFF with her first ever s'more. 

15.) When it rains, everyone freaks out. And rightfully so as everything floods. You see, a lot of the cities in the Middle East were not built with rain and drainage in mind. So now you must swim to work!

 Karak makes another appearance. We are really all quite addicted...obviously. 

Karak makes another appearance. We are really all quite addicted...obviously. 

16.) When a fire alarm goes off in a mall, restaurant, school, etc. no one even blinks an eye. Why? Because it happens so often that no one ever thinks it's real. Is that dangerous? Um, yes. I once sat in a PF Changs in a mall and a fire alarm started going on with lights blinking and a crazy loud siren and no one even looked up from their Firecracker Shrimp. 

17.) You start using Arabic phrases and words in your own language. Lesh habibi? Because you're surrounded so often by other languages that it's fun to learn a new on. Especially if you're a typical American and you know, sadly, only one language. Also, you feel more apart of the culture if you're able to order 5 big chickens, please. 

18.) It's not unusual to see a goat, sheep, camel, etc. in the back of someone's truck/side of the road/middle of the desert petting zoo thing. I am, of course, the person who is making goo-goo faces at the goat. I love you, little goat! Who is a good goat?? You are! 

19.) The weird Doha truck. Oh, weird truck. I love you. I have no idea why you exist but I'm glad you do. 

 

20.) The call to prayer. We lived in the Middle East for two years and it really becomes white noise when you hear it so often, for so long. However, when you do stop to listen to it you realize just how passionate, lyrical and haunting it sounds. Click below to hear the call to prayer from our visit to the Sheikh Zayed mosque in Abu Dhabi. 

So there are obviously many, many other aspects to living in the Middle East that are so vastly different than your home country. Some of them are great, weird and cultural while some can be downright frustrating. However, that is all part of the experience of traveling and adventuring. Pushing yourself to get out of your comfort zone and make friends with people you would have never met, eaten food you would have never known existed and to see things you never would have seen will stretch you as a person. It will make you better for it. 

 

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