The Middle East is a study in contradictions.
Many women are covered to the hilt in black, their faces and forms obscured from anyone who falls outside of the family unit.
Modesty is a way of life in this culture, so it is a bit jarring when you get a chance to see an Arabian belly dancer.
A few months ago I mentioned our exciting desert safari through the dunes outside of Dubai. After our trek in the armored truck, we made our way to an Arab oasis for a rustic Middle Eastern barbecue.
Our hosts invited us to the compound for savory grilled kababs, camel rides, and other entertainment typical of the arid locale.
The camel ride was fun, but the dismount left a bit to be desired.
When the camel wrangler tells you to hold on to the harness, you hold on to the harness. I didn’t think about it ahead of time, but apparently camels have to kneel to let its passengers dismount.
We held on and didn’t fall off, but I cannot guarantee I dismounted with grace.
After our delicious dinner of grilled meats, couscous salads, and a variety of savory vegetables and freshly sliced fruits, we were treated to two performances, the first involving a whirling dervish.
This dance is a form of meditation that can be found in many Middle Eastern and Asian cultures. It is mesmerizing. Just a few minutes in to the dance, I thought the performer was going to draw me into his trance.
The dancer wore layers and layers of colorful skirts that would spin as he revolved around the dance platform. As he danced, the performer would peel off his skirts, layer by layer, and twirl them in the air above.
The performance led to an unexpected and very lively light show of sorts.
After the whirling dervish, the audience was treated to a performance by a traditional Arabian belly dancer.
I could only hope to have a few of these moves.
There are several companies in Dubai that offer these desert safari and barbeque packages. We enjoyed the services of Desert Safari Dubai.
Should you embark on your own Arabian adventure, may I suggest wearing pants and comfortable walking shoes! A skirt would not do well on the camel ride, and stilettos would not do well in the dunes.