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Arabian Nights

When we left Jordan last, he was recovering from midterm exams and enjoying a weekend away at a fellow student’s home. Just like past weeks, BE’s See the World, BE the Future scholarship recipient has reported back to us on something exciting and new.

The exchange office scheduled for some of the students to do an overnight desert safari trip, and Jordan knew instantly he had to participate—dreaming about the Instagram pictures and Snapchats he would take and share. What else besides social media updates could rub in the fact to his classmates back home that he’s in the Middle East than pictures of him in the desert?

 

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Jordan's "Sand of Brothers" with the beautiful desert landscape in the background.

 

The group took a 30-minute bus ride to the border, just between Sharjah and Dubai. In the distance, Jordan could see cars on the highway stopping for a herd of camels crossing. To reach their destination, after the bus ride, they took a scary ‘fast and furious’ ride in a Toyota Land Cruisers across sand dunes. It was like a rollercoaster ride as the drivers sped over dunes and down steep hills.

Whether someone is studying abroad or simply visiting anywhere in the Middle East, Jordan says it is an unspoken rule that they must take at least one picture riding a camel. On Saturday, that is exactly what he did. When the group arrived at the desert camp, the activities were set up in different stations: sandboarding, 4 wheeler driving, photos with falcons, the girls could get henna (a temporary tattoo popular in the Middle East) applied to their skin, and of course camel riding. The camels only walked in a small circle, so the thought of being on a camel was a lot more exciting than the actual ride.

 

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Jordan and another exchange student riding their new friend, Jamal the Camel.

 

Jordan was able to go sandboarding, watch some of the girls get their henna tattoos, and finally, stroll around in the Arabian Desert. After that, there was a nice dinner served and a stage show. What turned out to be the highlight of the show was a fire dancer who did some cool tricks with different poles and items he lit on fire, and then a beautiful belly dancer, balancing swords on just about every part of her body—Jordan was highly impressed.

 

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The Fire Dancer

 

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The Belly Dancer

 

Around 9:00 pm, after all of the camp visitors had left, Jordan and his group (around 20 college students) were the only ones staying overnight. They had tons of fun playing capture the flag, telling ghost stories around the fire while smoking shisha (a syrupy tobacco mix smoked in a hookah), and eating roasted marshmallows. Talking all night in their sleeping bags, they were able to bond with one another until falling asleep.

Jordan had only gone camping once in his life so, having so much fun getting to pow wow with people he’d met only two months ago helped him appreciate becoming closer to them—especially since it was all of their first time camping in the desert. Best of all, they were able to share their fears and excitements about an opportunity that not a lot of people get to experience.

Be sure and keep up with these final weeks of Jordan’s experiences in the UAE by continuing to check back in each week! Until next week!

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