Behind the veil…

Namaste! As many of you know I find myself once again in the UAE (United Arab Emirates). This time around it has been quite different! Rather than spending time vacationing or working within my realm of therapeutic wellness, I found myself helping in a work intense marketing office for a local corporate venture! The company builds “green homes” which I loved!

Basically they needed help with the launching of a new product in one of the biggest Expos in the region… Cityscape/Citybuild, and I was lucky enough to help. In the office I met wonderful people and my closest colleague happened to be a beautiful Spanish lady fluent in Italian, Spanish and English. What a treat! Together we wrote press releases, shopped for the event, and managed to learn quite a bit about each other’s life!

For those of you that have met me in the last few years, my background is actually in corporate hospitality and public relations. My university degree is in business with minors in psychology and tourism. Wow! For many years of my life I worked in the field! It was only twelve years ago that I completely changed my path and decided to go back to what I knew as a little girl… wellness. I was blessed to grow up in a household where wellness was the theme. As a spa owner my mom was a true maverick. She introduced yoga over 40 years ago in the island of Puerto Rico, where she was a foreigner, and to a society that was mostly conservative Catholic at that time. We were Catholic as well but not conservative and it was my mom’s intention to teach yoga as a path of health, wellness and deeper understanding of life. And with many obstacles to surpass, she moved forward and succeeded. Her work won great accolades within the community and her spa became “The Spa” in San Juan, at that time. 

Well, going back to my time here, it was very  interesting for me to find myself once again doing the work that I did so many years ago! For the first time in all the months that I have spent over the last few years visiting the Middle East, I got a chance to meet so many Arab locals. What in the past was a dream of mine, to interface with the locals, perhaps meet a Sheikh some day, became a reality!  I met several Sheikhs and I am actually in a local newspaper photo where the Sheikh is greeting our company’s managing Director.  Amazing! I got a chance to meet face to face and shake hands with some. It was a gift to meet some of  the rulers (of any country!).  

At the Expo, our stand was very impressive. The Managing Director of the company, a gentleman from Saudi Arabia, educated in the United States, made sure that our green product was introduced effectively. Our advertising campaign was very strong, and the media response was overwhelming.  People heard our name everywhere and at the Expo, we were very, very visible and very successful. We laboured as a team day in and day out for four days non stop. I was just helping so my part was much easier than for the rest, who worked endlessly into the night to ensure that all was ready for the avalanche that awaited us the next day!

During the four days, most of our visitors were local men and women dressed in their traditional long gowns with headdresses.  The women in black, the men in white. When you live here you coincide with locals everywhere, of course, but interactions are very limited. They are always gracious but you do not usually make friends in the street with locals. They are reserved and cordial and they simply let you be. The ladies are not very approachable, they tend to travel with other ladies or with their spouses. Many are fully covered exposing only their eyes.  I had always been curious and wondered what their personalities would be like “behind the veil” “How are they different from me?” would be a question that repeated itself in my mind almost daily when I encountered them.  I was blessed at the Expo to have the opportunity to inform so many gentlemen that came by, about our product, and to do the same, as well as to establish giggling momentary friendships with the ladies! I found the Arab locals to be very curious, repectful and many with a fun sense of humor, their personalities charming and playful. 

 I was so blessed to get to spend one on one time with one of the Arab ladies for almost 3 days (she also helped at the office while I was there!). We talked about yoga, meditation, Reiki and we both shared that spending time together felt as if we had known each for a long time. We  look forward to spending time together ahead.   At the Expo, I worked with many amazing  people from different nationalities: Brazil, Syria, Germany, Sudan, Lebanon and more…and, I met several ladies that were fully covered. In the past I was almost a bit intimidated, aside from curious, about the veiled women of the Middle East. Yet, as we shared time together I realized that there was little difference at the human level between us. It was truly beautiful. We laughed together, we asked each other questions, we learned together. Upon leaving one veiled lady said ” I truly enjoyed spending time with you” and little did she know that a dream for me had come true in these interactions when I replied ” it was wonderful meeting you, thank you so very much for stopping by”.  I deeply meant every word. I realized that behind the veil there were many mirrors of me, and I was blessed with a deeper understanding of cultural diversity.

It is rather unfortunate that the international media relates to us the stories that foster and create a sense of deeper separation, alienation, anger and hatred, and fail to bring attention and awareness to the real news…. yes, the real facts…. that, in truth, we are all (all races, and cultures) brothers and sisters created by the same Source. How are we going to help each other grow in love, acceptance, gratitude and understanding? That is the question. Would you like to know the answer?   ….. Meditate.  With love and blessings! Ariel

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