I dream of a Middle East that finally makes it. A Middle East where young people throw off a history of oppression, of patriarchy, of fanatism, of all the other evils. A Middle East full of life, of sensuality, of young people enjoying their lifes, of children growing up to make history. The Middle East of Sheherazade, not the Middle East of Ibn Saud, of Khomeini. A Middle East proud of its diversity, of people keen to know more about each other. Turks marrying Kurds, Sunnis loving Shias, Israelis falling in love with Palestinians, Yezidis and Druze arguing whether they really really should only marry their own kind. Young people smiling when they’re asked whether they’re Sunni or Shia, and responding: I’m Sushi.
A Middle East turning Beirut, Istanbul, Cairo into the fashion capitals of the world, sporting Islamic fashion weeks with the most beautiful hijab creations alongside bellydance fashion weeks in peaceful harmony. A Middle East full of democratic republics, with Jordan’s Queen Noor the only remaining monarch forever, like an Arabic Elizabeth Windsor. Beirut and Istanbul as music capitals of the world, youngsters in New York and Berlin eagerly awaiting the new releases from these studios. Travel guides saying the best discos in the world are in Beirut, Tunis, Istanbul, beautiful people dancing into the morning, into trance, into love. Musicians melting the best of Oriental and Western music, musicians like Ofra Haza and Alabina, and in the Arabic Peninsula melting the best of Asia and Arabia, musicians like AR Rahman.
A Middle East where the oil billions are spent for development, not for private pleasure, wars and religious zealotry, where nobody runs away from misery and poverty. A Middle East where Wahhabism is a dying sect that nobody takes seriously any longer, where Saudi Arabia has become a peaceful republic without princes and an unveiled lady as president, making her first trip after election not to the US but to Iran. A Middle East uniting to rebuild devastated Yemen, devastated Syria and Iraq, giving them back their proud millennium-old history as cradles of civilization.
A Middle East celebrating the beauty and elegance of its women, rather than hiding them behind niqabs and doors. A Middle East that proud of its women, equal, independent, as humans that can do whatever they want. Enjoying their life like Tugba Özerk (please click on her picture)
or hard-working, religious entrepreneurs like Nilüfer, God the Almighty bless her.
A Middle East where Imams, Sufis, male and female, are happy to help happy people to become even happier, to guide them through difficult times, to show them there’s more than material wealth in life.
A Middle East with a democratic State of Palestine, and all the Palestinian refugees in the camps of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon freely choosing to return to any part of historic Palestine they want. An Israeli state proud of its multicultural heritage, its Palestinian heritage, and sending the violent fanatic settlers back to where they came from: America and Russia. And never ever allows them to come back.
A Middle East where the Gulf states, now democratic republics, would give their migrant workers residency and human rights, thus bringing the life of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines to dull and boring Riyadh, Doha, Abu Dhabi. The Gulf states would become the gateways between Asia and the Middle East, a beacon of hope for overcoming South Asia’s poverty, how exciting.
A dream that I have always shared with my beloved Hanan. A dream so many people share, yet it seems just impossible. I would love to live in such a place. Europeans killed each other for centuries for pretty much the same reasons as Arabs, Kurds, Iranians, Turks, Israelis today. Maybe, maybe, I hope, the Middle East can end that period more quickly. Like, maybe, maybe, in 2016. It’s only a dream. But it’s a dream worth dreaming. Inshallah.