A Travellerspoint blog

Going to Yemen?

sunny 41 °C

Hot of the press. I just got my letter for the Yemen study abroad program for the summer. Not good, not bad, I'm an alternate. The good news is I survive to fight another day, the bad news is that I'm going to go insane waiting for this. But this does bode well on a certain level. I was an alternate for the NSEP and I wound up getting that. More details coming...

Posted by mc327503 12:15 Archived in Oman Comments (0)


sunny 40 °C

Sorry for the total lack of updates recently/ We're now in ISP period, where we don't have official classes every day, and we're just working on our research projects. The thing is, it's getting up to 105 on a regular basis, so that pretty much eliminates anything between noon and 5 PM. I very stupidly made the decision to go out around noon to do some research, having slept in a bit too much this morning. Words don't begin to describe how hot it is. I had my backpack with me, with my laptop, and in the 100 feet to the road where I hailed a cab, I was already pretty muched drenched in sweat where my backpack was. Of course, the cab didn't have A/C. Ironically, a lot of people don't even use A/C at the height of the heat, because the extra heat generated from the cooling system can wind up frying the engine. I haven't heard back about the Yemen program yet, which is making me incredibly frustrated. Sana'a , where the program is based, is up in the mountains, so if I do get in, at least it won't be AS hot.

Posted by mc327503 05:39 Archived in Oman Comments (0)

Back in Muscat

sunny 40 °C

Sorry about the delays in posting, the traveling eventually caught up with me. Abu Dhabi was interesting, but pretty tame after being in Dubai. We visited a girls university, interestingly enough. The director is an American from Utah, and we had a pretty interesting Q&A with some of the girls there. Once again, doing our part to convince people over here that no, in fact, Americans do not all live like what you see on TV, and no, not everyone thinks all Muslims are terrorists. But, by far, the best part of the visit was the fact that the university food court had a Burger King in it. It tasted like freedom... and grease, which apparently go hand in hand. Anyways, now we're back in Muscat. We're done with the formal part of studies, which means we aren't going to class on a daily basis anymore. Of course, now I suddenly realize that I've decided to do an independent research project where I'm going to need to be interviewing the heads of large companies and directors of government bureaus. In other news, I expect to hear back about a program I applied to in Yemen for the summer sometime this week. So, with any luck (insha'allah), the 'and beyond' part of the title of this blog will include Yemen. I'll update when I know anything. Just about one month left to go...

Posted by mc327503 12:26 Archived in Oman Comments (0)


So... Dubai. You know, every time I think I'm starting to get a handle on this region, something happens and it all gets blown out of the water. Although, given the scale of the stuff going down in Dubai, its hard not to reevaluate a number of things. This city is like living in SimCity 2000. You literally see entire blocks of a city going up at once. And not just neighborhoods. A few years ago, the city decided that it needed a proper downtown. So, they're building a downtown, with about fifty odd skyscrapers going up at once. Then there's the Burj Dubai area. They're calling it the most expensive square kilometer in the Middle East. Luxury condos, the tallest towers in the Middle East. a waterfront community with gondolas, just the most ridiculous stuff that you can think of. This is in addition to the three Palm islands that they're constructing off the coast, the manmade island in the shape of the globe, and the Dubai Pearl, another luxury resort/living community with waterfront properties cut into it. I'm seriously beginning to think that there are a bunch of people sitting around in a room somewhere in Dubai going "Alright, what's the craziest thing you can think, nothing's off the table, don't worry about money, let's just build it." If there was any place on earth that might eventually build a Jetson-like community, it's Dubai. We went to a couple of malls yesterday, and the malls are pretty interesting. They designed an entire mall around the voyages of Ibn Butttuta, the Arab explorer that covered three times as much ground as Marco Polo. The mall consists of six pavillions, each one designed around a different part of his journey; Andalusia, Tunisia, Egypt, Persia, India, and China. Each one had it's own design, and it was like a conglomeration of six Vegas malls all rolled into one. The other mall, the Mall of the Emirates, has an indoor ski area. There's nothing as interesting as watching women in abayas, and men in dishdashas, just learning how to ski, while it's 80 degrees outside. Anyways, American cultural hegemony is on full display in Dubai. It's almost worthless being here, since it's pretty much just like being in New York, but with even worse traffic. While focusing on pretty projects like the Burj al-Arab, the city planners forgot the basic stuff, like a metro. And it's even more expensive, so I'm going out a bit, but not much. I'm definitely looking forward to getting back to Muscat, if only for the reason that I'm expecting to hear back about going to Yemen around that time.

Posted by mc327503 05:18 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (1)

Doha, Qatar


We're now in the middle of our 10 day, 3 country swing. I missed posting from Doha, so this will have to make up. Doha is a smaller version of Dubai, and they're rushing to catch up, including the crazy man-made islands. Doha's project is called the pearl, and it's supposed to look like pearls growing in oysters, with luxury houses all over the islands. Doha is pretty much like any major US city at this point. Applebee's, Dunkin Donut's, Burger King, McDonalds, Starbucks on every floor of the City Center mall. The really cool part of the trip however, was when we get the chance to visit the Al-Jazeera headquarters. We visited the Arabic language, English language, and documentary channel buildings. In the English language network, they were on air live as we were going through. Iranian President Ahmadinejad's press conference announcing the release of the fifteen British sailors was going on as we were touring, so the place was frantic with activity. Our tour guide was from Mansfield, Ohio, believe it or not. She was an International Relations major from OSU, and we commisserated over how OSU managed to lose two national championships in the same year. We also got to meet the host of Inside Iraq, and Iraqi-American by the name of Jassem al-Alawi. He was very articulate, and his analysis of the current state of affairs in Iraq was prescient. I've known for a while that al-Jazeera gets a pretty bum wrap all over the world, and this more or less confirms it. The Arabs think its controlled by the Israelis, the Americans think its controlled by al-Qaeda, so they must be doing something right journalistically to piss off so many people at once. Anyways, now it's off to Dubai, the Las Vegas off the Middle East.

Posted by mc327503 05:11 Archived in Qatar Comments (1)

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