Is the Middle East Dangerous?

Palestinian Protesters clash with Israeli Soldiers, 2015 Photo: Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty

Short answer… yes. I mean… considering sharks, football hooligans, Japanese Encephalitis, hippopotami, divorce lawyers, falling anvils, people who hang around outside airports… pretty much everywhere is dangerous. It’s an unforgiving world out there.

In 2013 I relocated my family from Korea to the middle east. Several friends and colleagues had warned me of the danger, explaining that this was an unwise, if not insane path to tread. A few expressed disapproval at my willingness to subject my wife and young daughter to such oppressive living conditions, and were dubious of my claims that my wife would be free to drive, to get a tan, to have a drink at the bar… (Saudi Arabia is just one of many middle eastern countries – they are not all the same).

Relaxing at Jebel Akhtar, Oman Photo: Peninsularity Ensues
Relaxing at Jebel Akhtar, Oman
Photo: Peninsularity Ensues

Four years on, my wife and young daughter adore their lives in Oman. Situated North of Yemen, East of Saudi Arabia and South of Iran, Oman tends not to make headlines. This is less by accident than design.

I often check the Omani newspapers. It generally doesn’t take long, because not too much happens there. Here’s a recent front page from the Times of Oman, the nation’s most read English daily.

Times of Oman - It Might Rain Screenshot: Times of Oman
Times of Oman – It Might Rain
Screenshot: Times of Oman

There’s no point pretending this isn’t a volatile region, and that a few middle eastern destinations might best be left off the travel list (I’m not planning a trip to Syria right now).

Danger can be found in unlikely places though, just as happy, sleepy little nations that many people have never even heard of. When the major national stories of the day are weather related, with such attention-grabbing headlines as, ‘Muscat wakes up to a rainy morning’… well, that’s probably as relaxed a place as anywhere. Cheers.

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