Things you didn’t know about life in Middle East

An elderly Middle Eastern person sitting on a bench.

Asking what life is like in the Middle East is pretty similar to asking what is life like in Europe. Remember, the Middle East is made up of 17 states, some of which can be quite different between each other. But, unfortunately, this doesn’t stop people from generalizing and thinking of the Middle East as a backward, medieval place where crime is abundant and freedom lackluster. So, to confront these ideas and give you a better overview of what life is like in the Middle East, we are going to take a closer look.

Life in Middle East

For most Westerners, life in the Middle East would be quite normal. True, there are certain areas that have a strong religious presence where you might find some liberties that westerners take for granted, missing. But, in most big cities like Dubai or Abu Dhabi, you can lead a life that is almost the same as if you were in Europe. You can purchase liquor and pork, you can wear whatever you want and you can enjoy the produce brought in from all over the world. Heck, you even have the Global textile industry expanding to Dubai, so you can imagine how open and welcoming they actually are.

Religion

But, let us not forget how important religion is to the middle east. To completely understand the importance of religion for the people living here you would have to dedicate years of research. After all, three of the world’s largest religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) all came from the Middle East. Not to mention all the wars and disputes that happened since the dawn of these religions. Our advice is that if you want to move here, you better have at least a basic understanding of the most dominant religions. That way you will be able to better accustom yourself to their culture.

Jewish people in Jerusalem.
Life in Middle east is usually quite influenced by religion.

Countries of the Middle East

In order to get a better idea of what life in Middle East is like, we are going to look into a couple of countries. These countries are most visited by tourists, which is why we are going to look into them a bit more. But, we still advise you to study their cultures carefully before you contact a company like Four Winds Saudi Arabia and move here.

Turkey

Life in Turkey is easy if you are an Eastern minded outsider. Turkish people pride themselves on being quite welcoming and are willing to respect any point of view. But, as it is with most Eastern countries, you need to tread lightly. Today’s Turkey is dominated by Sunni Turks, which means that their culture is the most prevalent one. So, do yourself a favor and study up on how to properly behave in Sunni culture, if you want to avoid unpleasantness.

Big cities like Istanbul are a great place for visiting as they are usually more open and still rich with culture. Speaking of which, Turkey is full of history. So much so that you would have to go back thousands of years in order to understand their current state of affairs.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is a country that has a strong Muslim presence. Now, if you are not familiar with the Muslim culture, you might think that this leads to poor living conditions, especially for women. But, actually, it is far from so. People of Saudi Arabia put a strong emphasis on family values. Families here are numerous and they spend most of their time together. This safety provided by strong families has lead Saudi Arabia to being one of the youngest countries in the world. Over 50% of people are under 25 years of age.

Arab parents dancing with kids; family life in Middle East.
People in Saudi Arabia usually have quite strong family ties.

The only drawback of Saudi Arabia is that they can be closed off. Once you get to know their customs and learn how to treat them properly, Saudis can be terrific people. Luckily, even Saudi Arabia is becoming more and more open. Women wear veils less and less, you can get delivery by air from Jeddah, and you can even drink in some parts of Saudi Arabia. So, who knows what kind of life will people live in Saudi Arabia within the decade...

United Arab Emirates

Living in the United Arab Emirates is dependent on two things. Your income and the place you are living in. Cities like Dubai are excellent for young people who manage to make over 20k a month. Here they can go out partying, shop and have fun as if they were in any large Western city. And, let’s not forget the rate in which Dubai is build up. The builders are using the best of the modern construction technologies to grow Dubai and make it into a truly modern city.

Buildings in Dubai.
Some buildings in Dubai can be quite impressive.

But, life is not so nice in UAE for poorer people. Especially if they live in more rural areas. Life can be hard, especially when you consider that the UAE has mostly hot, desert climate. Just like in some US cities, the differences between poor and rich people can be daunting sometimes.

Israel

The best way to think of Israel is that it is a beautiful, yet a war-torn country. But, surprisingly, this doesn’t stop Israelis from leading quite a normal life. They work, play, study and live quite similarly to people in any other country. The two major differences are the religions and the military. Religion plays a big role in the lives of people that live in Israel. Here you will find specialized supermarkets and stores that only sell products according to a specific religion. Secondly, you have the presence of the military. In Israel, it is quite common to see fully armed soldiers walking beside you. So much so that people of Israel no longer notice a soldier with a huge gun, walking past them. After all, it is just a part of Israeli life.

Written by Lisa Roberts