The Kindness of Strangers in the Middle East

7th February 2019


When I work or travel in the Middle East what I notice and love most are the acts of kindness, the unspoken give and take that seems to operate within society here. Acts that you are unlikely to experience back home.

For example, one morning in Oman our jeep got stuck in the steep dunes and one of the drivers tried to get it out with his jeep, a couple of guys from the UAE who were camping nearby saw the trouble we were in and went out of their way to tow us out. Later that day we passed them again and this time they were helping another vehicle who also needed to be towed out. We gave them some of our fruit, them directions to a perfect camping spot that we knew of on the nearby beach - the kindness had gone full circle.

When we leave camp and pass the Bedouin villages or settlements, our local guides and rivers will pack up any food that we have not eaten and will give it to the Bedouin families.

We then met a group of men from Salalah as we were heading out of the desert on the last day. We saw them at a rest stop and Khalid, our guide, gave them directions to a place where they could camp because they weren't familiar with the area. He then said they could follow us. In exchange thiis grateful group then produced a pot of fresh coffee, providing us with a clean paper cup each, as if prepared to be giving.

They followed us for a couple of hours to our next stop where they produced bananas for each of our clients. When we finally parted company they gave Khalid a plate of meat and fat, as a token of gratitude, this meat and fat lasts for days in the desert which makes it an ideal food to keep travellers going. It may not be quite our cup of tea... but it's the thought that counts!

The kindness here also reminds me of times in Syria and Jordan, stories of never having to worry about dropping your wallet, for no-one would take anything, people would run down the street after you in order to return it.

Arriving in a new country and looking around as an obvious new arrival when someone asks if they can help and literally sits on the taxi with you assisting you to where you want to go, not accepting anything as thanks, sometimes even paying for the taxi.

Heartwarming acts of food offerings, in Morocco, it was always a case of too much kindness, if there is such a thing, too many offers of come for Shay (tea) and come to eat at my house, it took 5 hours to travel 2 miles on a bike!


Carly Fillis

Carly was born in sunny Wales. Her parents were in the RAF so she was always moving around and gaining new experiences. Having grandparents from South…

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