AMERICAN IN ARABIA Finds the Arab Within

Published February 29th, 2012 - 01:56 GMT
Brett loves nothing more than a bit of mansaf and a drag of hookah.
Brett loves nothing more than a bit of mansaf and a drag of hookah.

In spite of his religious cultural shock, our American in Arabia feels that he is more Arab than not. Besides pure genetics, here's why Brett thinks he's got the art of being an Arab down.

A recent study submits that everyone from Alaskans to Zambians can find their heritage from the Middle East. The report proposes that by analyzing DNA samples, it can be suggested “that billions of people around the world have an ancient ancestry in Arabia.” While most of my family is either British or German, after being in the sands of the Levant for 4 years, I think this report might be right----my family is Arab.

Let’s start with my father. There are several things that prove him to be Hussein in the membrane. Firstly, I’ve never seen him wear shorts in public. It could be hotter than an afternoon jog in Dubai and he’s still going to be sporting slacks.

Next, he is a strong supporter of capital punishment. Dad thinks most crimes should be prosecuted with varying degrees of pain and appendage loss. Fortunately, I still have all of mine.

And the main reason I think my old man is Arab: facial hair. Growing up, we all remember his mustache; finely trimmed and always thick. It was intimidatingly big. When we got him upset, I’m sure it would reach out and smack me on the head.

I have flashes of Bedouin in me as well. This was evident when I went to my first Mansaf gathering, emphasis on the Man. Talk about a masculine meal! A meat and rice dish served on a huge pizza tray, to be eaten standing together, with your bare hands. No 'girly' men allowed!

After my first massive bite I realized I was in love. This succulent blend of tender lamb, yogurt and rice soon crushed my wife’s meatloaf as my favorite all–time dish. Sorry, sweetheart.

Halfway through the meal, the fellow menfolk around me began sitting down one by one . Eventually, of the 200 gathered, only old man Fares and I were left standing. I eventually sat down out of respect for the host, who apparently had to remain at the platter with me until I finished.

My apologies to that 90 year old man and also, to the funeral party for my gluttony. I should have gotten the hint when they dismantled the tent while I was still stuffing my face. 

Above these things, you know what makes me Baret al-Weer the most? I love people. My whole family loves people. Any relationship we have is more important than any petty rift or ideology.

I can’t think of a better way to fill my time than hookah, laughs and fighting over the bill. Now I just need to work on my mustache and then my Arab citizenship will be official.

By Brett Weer

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