Recently I wrote about Conflict Kitchen, a Pittsburgh restaurant* that is trying to promote understanding between nations by introducing Americans to the cuisine of the countries that hate us. While its goal is admirable, I was thinking that there must be a way to accomplish it that doesn’t rely so heavily on chick peas or, you know, going to Pittsburgh.
The real problem, at least when it comes to our disagreements with countries in the Middle East, is that the people here think we’re so different from the people there, and vice versa. We say, “Oh, we would never make women cover their faces,” and they say, “Oh, we would never live in such poverty that we have to wear ripped pants.” We say, “They are ruled by evil men with fundamentalist beliefs,” and they say, “Hahaha, he is such an idiot, and he’d look more normal if he had a keffiyeh covering that hair.”
However, I’m here today to tell you that the people of that region and ourselves are more alike than you may think, as demonstrated by the following real news stories:
Saudi Arabia Holds First Comicon–Yes, there are socially inept people in Arab nations, too. This three-day event was part of a government initiative to bring more entertainment to Saudi Arabia, which is nice, although a better starting point might have been to lift the ban on movie theaters. Still, it was amazing for young Saudi nerds to be able to mingle with their favorite superheroes and aliens, not to mention members of the opposite sex. Women could even take off their traditional abayas and show off their costumes…in a separate women-only tent. It should be noted that the event was held in the city of Jeddah, where the dress code is far more relaxed than in the capital of Riyadh. Nevertheless, some women, like the attendee at right, felt it necessary to honor the tradition of covering their faces.
United Arab Emirates Starts Space Program–In 1962, John F. Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” In a statement reminiscent of that inspiring declaration, United Arab Emirates Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed declared that they choose to go to Mars not because it is easy, but because they have all this money they don’t know what to do with. To demonstrate how modern and Western his country is, the Sheikh made this announcement as modern Western leaders are wont to do: via Twitter. The tweet included an artist’s rendering of what an outpost on Mars might look like when they have the technology to move the entire city of Dubai to the Red Planet. The Sheikh has set the year 2117 as the goal for colonization, thus ensuring that, like JFK, he would not be around to see his goal reached. Still, he might want to hurry things along a little; if America gets to Mars first, we might ban Muslims.
Iran Issues Travel Ban for U.S. Citizens–Speaking of travel bans, in the wake of President Trump’s original executive order, Iran banned U.S. citizens from entering its country. Unlike Trump’s travel ban, Iran’s ban inconvenienced virtually no one, since American tourists had already been discouraged from visiting Iran in an August 22, 2016 State Department travel warning, the first sentence of which (I swear) was “This replaces the Travel Warning for Iran dated March 14, 2016.” The warning alerts travelers of the “risk of arrest and detention of U.S. citizens, particularly dual national Iranian-Americans.”
Fortunately, those same people are welcome here in the good ol’ U.S.A. Well, maybe “welcome” is too strong a word, but they’re not banned. Yet.
First Marathon to Be Held in Tehran–Iran is willing to lift its ban long enough to invite runners from all over the world, including the U.S., to participate in the first ever marathon in Tehran, to be held tomorrow. The event has provided organizers with the opportunity to display the long-underestimated Iranian sense of humor, with hysterical taglines such as “I Run Iran” and “Tehrun.” Even women will be allowed to run as they would in any other country, assuming their usual running attire is:
“…a headscarf or sports bandana (so that your hair will be covered). A T-shirt with long sleeves and a running pants can be a good choice. Please keep in mind that the length of the T-shirt can not be too short ( T-shirt must cover your hips). You may not wear shorts or skirts showing bare legs.”
Don’t worry, ladies, the temperature is only supposed to be in the 70s.
Saudi Arabia Holds Beauty Pageant–Back to Saudi Arabia now, where we can learn that Arabs, too, like to look at perfect bodies. I know what you’re thinking: How can you have a beauty contest when women can’t, um, show off their assets. Well, that goes to show what you know. It so happens that this pageant featured total nudity! Of course, this particular event was for camels–the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival. Even though it’s billed as a beauty contest for camels, it seems like it’s more akin to the Westminster Dog Show. And with a first prize of $31 million, I’ll bet some people would graft a hump onto their Havanese to compete in this show.
Kuwait Cancels Showings of Beauty and the Beast–The company that runs most of the movie theaters in Kuwait announced, “We were requested to stop the screening and further censor the movie for things that were deemed offensive by the Ministry of Information’s censorship department.” Evidently, the government is less than thrilled about the three-second “gay moment” in the live action film, although the inherent bestiality is just fine. With this cancellation, Kuwait has joined other backward, intolerant places around the world in banning the film, like Malaysia and Alabama.
I hope, now that you have been made aware of the similarities of our lands, we can finally enjoy world peace. Glad to help.
See you soon.
*I wrote about Conflict Kitchen under the guise of a fake Food Network show called Restaurants That Haven’t Closed Yet. Since my post last month, Conflict Kitchen has closed.