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Jon McGill's Avatar Joined almost 7 years ago
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Admitting you're an atheist while travelling in the Middle East - last commented 29 May 2012 08:40 PM

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Go to: Admitting you're an atheist while travelling in the Middle East

Jon McGill's Avatar Jump to comment 45 by Jon McGill

The Uae is a lot different... Almost doesn't feel like the middle east... Anyway, Arabs are in the minority in some parts of the Emirates, e.g. In Dubai, there are Hindus, Chinese, Americans, etc. No comparison with Yemen. You can be as atheist all you want in Abu Dhabi, I should think.

Sun, 29 Apr 2012 21:54:39 UTC | #938225

Go to: Admitting you're an atheist while travelling in the Middle East

Jon McGill's Avatar Jump to comment 35 by Jon McGill

Gordon, I'm interested to hear more details about the occasions where you said you avoided kidnapping... What exactly happened? Where were you? What were you doing? Etc...

Fri, 27 Apr 2012 09:28:10 UTC | #937650

Go to: Admitting you're an atheist while travelling in the Middle East

Jon McGill's Avatar Jump to comment 31 by Jon McGill

@Jono4174, Yes, Christopher Hitchens was indeed very brave. Although, Lebanon doesn't quite have the reputation as does Yemen for violence against foreigners. I wonder if Christopher Hitchens ever had the same kind of nightmares that I had... ? Same question for the ultimate in brave, Salman Rushdie... and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, too. My respect for these folks went up several notches after my time in Yemen...

@tangatoto

Surely as an atheist , you would consider religion to be meaningless rubbish, and the proponents of it, in its various guises, to not warrant much , if any , respect.

As I wrote above, I do not respect religion, definitely not. The respect I show is simply a self preservation mechanism... i.e. diplomacy to save your own neck. It's hard to understand this ugly necessity to curb one's natural tendency to ridicule the ridiculous, unless you really experience first hand your own personal danger.

Thu, 26 Apr 2012 15:12:17 UTC | #937489

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Jon McGill's Avatar Jump to comment 24 by Jon McGill

Wow, impressive, how big is your collection of Jambias, Gordon? I came home with two, but one of them broke... must have been made in China.

As a funny anecdote, I went to visit the great mosque (nicknamed the Saleh mosque) in Sana'a and had to go through a metal detector to get in... I was wearing my non-chinese Jambia, but when I started to take it off to go through the metal detector, I got waved through... it was like "no, we don't consider a sword to be a weapon"... imagine carrying a curved almost-sword through a metal detector in the UK/US ;-)

By the way, not all this discussion ought to be negative toward Yemen. On the plus side, now is a great time for shopping in the old souk/Baab al Yemen... you can find great deals since there are so few tourists. Another positive thing I should say about the Yemeni (and I guess Arab/Islamic culture) is the amount of social interaction that exists there... compared to Europe and US, Yemen seems like the Waltons as far as family bonds go... they really stuck together and know their neighbors, invite friends over and have wonderful hospitality.

However, I wouldn't count khat (qat) as one of the pros of their society. I mean, for one thing, it is responsible for probably the worst dental hygiene that I've ever seen anywhere. Secondly, the people do nothing all day other than pray and store khat in their cheeks... what kind of life is that? No ambitions... a sedate boring life. Thirdly, the qat crops are so vast that it's depleting the well water that is Yemen's sole source of drinking water, at alarming rates. Lastly, my own personal experience with it was that it gave me sores in my gums and intense nightmares.

By the way, I also heard that the last community of Yahoodi's in Yemen have fled to Israel.

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 20:40:17 UTC | #937327

Go to: Admitting you're an atheist while travelling in the Middle East

Jon McGill's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by Jon McGill

@gordon, if they had "like" buttons on this blog, I would press it for you...

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 13:57:29 UTC | #937218

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