Over the past few months, I've gotten the privilege to travel more than ever at any point in my life yet. I've gone to multiple Italian cities, towns, and regions. Nonetheless, the place I've learned from the most is not Italy, but the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Regardless of only having spent a week there, I promise you, I was able to learn so much from the people there.
Even though I truly hate to say this, but the reason why I learned so much from them is because it helped me break the totally erroneous stereotypes that a lot of people from the western hemisphere have of Arabic people. I know it sounds horrific, but probably due to all the terrible terroristic events that have happened around the world, a lot of people have formed wrongful ideas of what Arabic people are like.
I believe this may be the product of the fear that those who are responsible for these horrendous actions have infused in the families of the victims and the rest of the world. It definitely must be very hard to not have this sort of stereotype/belief when someone close to you was a victim of such an act. However, in the case something of this sort happened to someone close to you, it still does not make you right for believing on stereotypes of this kind.
You may think, "who am I to tell you this? He probably does not know what losing someone this way feels like." In all honesty, to answer that question I must admit, you're right, I am absolutely no one and yes, fortunately, I do not know what it feels like to lose anyone in such a way. Nevertheless, I do know that we should not generalize or see a whole ethnic group as inferior, or dangerous, due to the fault of the very few or the marginal group of individuals who commit these acts.
Over the past week, I was truly able to sweep off my mind several stereotypes because of my interactions with Arabic and Muslim people. After taking a closer look, visiting some of their most important religious establishments and cities, I found out they are in fact some of the best people you'll meet. They are very kind, hard-working and incredibly respectful and religious.
There was not a single time I felt excluded, offended, disrespected or awkward when hanging out with them. All of them would greet me with a big smile and a "Hello, how are you doing today?"
In fact, their society, or at least the UAE, is so concerned with the well being of its citizens that they have some of the strictest rules I've seen. And no is not what you think, they do not force men to wear kanduras (robes) or women to cover all of their skin. Instead, they have rules mainly concerning the safety of their citizens and tourists, like needing a license to buy and sell alcohol (if you are a resident).
Even if it does seem harsh to have a rule like that, they simply view it as a way of keeping their society safe and based on the numbers it has worked quite well for them. In fact, according to "https://ourworldindata.org/alcohol-consumption ", the UAE has one of the lowest alcohol consumption levels and alcohol-related death rates in the world. No, I'm not saying alcohol is bad, I actually enjoy drinking on occasion, but those who frequently abuse it are definitely not doing anything good for themselves and others.
On another note, the UAE also has some of the most open people I've met. If you have previously been or plan on going to the UAE, you'll notice that they are very amicable and literally everyone speaks English, which is quite impressive considering that they are not forced to learn it. Heck, my cousin has lived there for 14 years and she has not learned any Arabic, because everyone speaks English perfectly.
It almost seems like Arabs living in the UAE are aware that a lot of people living elsewhere have undeserved stereotypes of them so when foreigners come to visit, they instantly become the nicest people you'll meet.
The truth is though, that they are naturally nice and extremely open; that is simply how they are. This may help explain why cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi have so many people from different cultures, religions, and backgrounds.
In short, I recommend you to travel not only to see the world but also to learn from others and break mental barriers down. Only then, you'll see that stereotypes are simply called "stereotypes," because they indeed are oversimplified ideas that do not tell the full story.