Kuwait at night
I always get confused looks when I tell people I grew up in the Middle East. The general public eye often has ridiculous outdated ideas of how people in the Middle East dress, act, and live on a day-to-day basis. I often get questions like:
“So, you live in tents?”
“Aren’t you guys surrounded by deserts everywhere?”
“Oh, you guys wear jeans? I thought you only wore those black overall dresses?”
Growing up in Kuwait and the U.A.E, the reality is that much of the Middle East has defined what it means to live lavishly. We have some of the world’s most extravagant shopping malls with the biggest brand names, as well as the fullest range of entertainment. That is not to say that wealth and royalty in the region has created a sense of identity and cultural loss. In fact, people are still able to keep their background and heritage intact while enjoying a sumptuous lifestyle.
Ascia AKF, hybrid Kuwaiti/American blogger and her husband Ahmad ASB, insta: @asciaakf
My experiences in Kuwait and the U.A.E showed me the best of both the traditional culture in addition to a contemporary lifestyle. You can wake up and have a traditional breakfast, and then dine in the most exquisite restaurants for lunch. Shop in Louis Vuitton or Gucci, followed by a visit to the local souqs (markets) for a taste of traditional Arabic styles. Grab a coffee from Starbucks, and then head on to a shisha café and enjoy some Arabic tea as well as numerous hookah flavors. You can enjoy go-karting and jet skiing under the sun, or play a game of cards in the diwaniya (traditional gathering area).
Mubarikiya Souq in Kuwait
People growing up in these countries are overflowing with creativity, success, and passion. More and more citizens are pursuing careers in fashion, interior design, architecture, photography, and journalism. Many Middle Eastern countries are diverse places in their cultures, traditions, occupations, and even the kinds of people you’ll meet.
Art exhibition in Kuwait
So no, we don’t live in tents and wear black overall dresses all the time. You bet that we’ll camp for a few days in the desert and sleep in tents. If there’s a cultural or traditional event, we will put on the black abayas (black coverall dress). However, that doesn’t take away from the modern and luxurious lifestyle that many Middle Easterners are a part of.
Xeina Almsallam, Kuwaiti visual director and project manager at Khaleejesque Magazine, insta: @kuzmoz
Rawan Abdelaatty, Online Columnist
Images: Rawan Abdelaatty, Mohammad Alatar