By Sayde Tawk
Political turmoil is usually the major topic covered by regional and world media outlets about the Middle East. However, between the lines of such reporting you will find some brighter aspects of a region where culture, history, tradition, art, hope, solidarity and, most important, a lively young generation deserve to be under the spotlight. From Jordan to Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Oman, Bahrain and others, there is so much to know and experience.
Egypt is a country that carries you back to the days of the Pharaohs as soon as you spot the giant pyramids or take a tour in the Egyptian Museum. The rich history of the country also includes the ancient city of Luxor. On a different note, the Khan el-Khalili bazaar offers an unconventional shopping experience. These are just a few among many other touristic sites that distinguish Egypt. Dahab, a small town on the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula, offers a unique opportunity to contemplate and enjoy famous diving sites such as the Blue Hole and the Canyon. In the heart of Egypt, the restless streets of Cairo overwhelm you with their non-stop energy as families, old and young people get together and socialize till dawn.
History and sites of ancient civilizations are not less abundant in Jordan where the ancient city of Petra, or Rose City, carved out of stone, attracts millions of tourists all year round. When it is not history to mark this country, it is definitely the Dead Sea whose extremely salty and healing waters embrace its beautiful shores. Not far from Jordan, on the coast of Lebanon, Byblos is another ancient city believed to be the oldest in the world, dating back to the days of the Phoenicians. On the other side of the country, the pillars of Baalbek still preserve the magnificent architecture of the Romans. Lebanon is a small country, yet every stone tells a story dating from distant times to recent past. Syria and the old streets of Damascus, Yemen and the historic town of Zabid, Oman and the Al-Balid City or the panoramic views of Salalah, Turkey and the old city of Sultanahmet, and other Middle Eastern countries do not differ much from their neighbours in terms of their rich and ancient history, in addition to their culturally interesting archaeological sites.
On the other hand, with all its valuable history, the Middle East’s perhaps most interesting aspect lies in its youth, whose hope overcomes the countless odds they face on a daily basis, especially the children of Gaza, who wish to fulfil their dreams like all children. The rich traditions, religions and cultures of the Middle East endow these people with an unbreakable will to dream and attain those dreams. Despite the challenges pervading the region, they succeed in maintaining the creativity and intellectual potential that are fundamental to keep contributing to their immense historical heritage that is in turn their major inspiration. Their contributions to art have reached the world. The band Mashrou’ Leila has performed on stages worldwide and attracted fans from across the globe; same is the case of Hishik Bishik, a theatre show that was launched in Lebanon, just to name a couple. The region also boasts renowned intellectuals such as Amin Maalouf, Mahmoud Darwish, Naguib Mahfouz and others.
To this day, the youth of the Middle East have so much to offer to the world; they never waste a chance to break the stereotypes and show the real aspect of the Middle Eastern cultures. Despite the limited access to education and professional opportunities in many communities, the new generation defies the challenges and strives for a better future. The sense of humour, generosity, creativity, wittiness, hope, love, determination, tolerance, humbleness and enthusiasm they have make them exceptional and show the real nature of the Middle East.
With its glorious history and challenging present, the Middle East counts on these intellectual and ambitious youths to carry on with the culture of hope and preserve the historical legacy bequeathed to them by their ancestors throughout centuries of civilizations. After all, between the dominating lines of politics, the Middle Eastern societies are thriving with remarkable intellect and potential that are evident to whoever comes in contact with them.
Source: Wall Street International