Geez, sometimes I wish I actually looked impressive.

You come here to this Arab country thinking that, “Hey, we’re all Muslims!” and for once you actually don’t stick out like a sore thumb, at least not because you wear hijab, but you do stick out because you’re not ‘Arab chic’.

You should see these ladies walking by!

Nose in the air, black abayas with swarofski crystals lining the edges, their hijabs tied up in such a way as to accentuate the bump of hair on their heads, kind of like the hump of a camel, only a bit more elegant.

Eyebrows plucked into symmetrical arches, make up–ooh la la! Versace or Gucci or whatever sunglasses, Marc Jacobs purse over their shoulders and the mandatory sky high stiletto heels!

Apparently there’s a particular hierarchy in these rich Arab countries.

Qataris are the top in Qatar.

Then come white people.

Then other Arabs (except Egyptians).

Then come poor Arabs, like Egyptians.

Then way way down there are Pakistanis and Phillipinos.

We’re like the grunt laborers.

Met a dear friend here. She took a job as a teacher in an international school and what’s driving her crazy is the attitude she sees against laborers.

One of the funniest things she said was how we all grew up in Canada defending Islam and Muslims, and the Middle East, and she said, “What were we thinking?”

She works at a school with all these rich kids coming, but the parents let the nannies raise the kids. And the way the system works here, once the nannies come over, they have to hand over their passports and basically all control over to their employers. And they’re at the mercy of their employers–that is if they have any mercy. Often they don’t.

The parents travel all over–without the kids–and they often don’t pay the nannies what’s properly owed them.

They’ll spend tons on stuff, but they won’t invest in people. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Of course they’re not all like that, I’m sure. But enough of them are!

And they import these poor men from countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh to toil away in the desert heat, doing all the physical stuff that keeps the place looking nice, but they pay them dirt wages.

Recently they did pass a law that they couldn’t force them to work when the temperature was about 40 degrees Celsius, and the thing is most of the time in the summer it’s more like 52 degrees! So you know what the Qatari government does?  They fudge the numbers.  The offical temperature here never goes abouve 40 degrees! Although there are plenty of people with their own independent thermometers showing it’s in the 50’s!

Went to visit a publisher here. She had a British accent, and even though she seemed to look me up and down like I was a fly that went splat on her windshield, oops, I mean windscreen (they call them windscreens in the UK I believe) I smiled, shook her hand, and talked to her about my books as enthusiastically as I could anyway.

And inside I told myself, “Don’t lose your nerve girl, your books BELONG here! It’s a Muslim country!”

Ah, who am I kidding?

And it occurs to me that there’s a reason why Iran is the first Muslim country to actually take me seriously enough to pay to bring me over. The director of the organization actually looked over my credentials and decided I was eminently qualified to be a juror for their storytelling festival.

And it makes me wonder. These Qataris are some of the richest people in the world and yet they have absolutely no influence in the world.

Even the white people who come here to make money off them seem to have little to no respect for them.

God doesn’t change the condition of a people till they change what is in themselves.

I guess they don’t realize that wealth can be as much of a test from God as poverty.

They will be questioned, on the day of Judgment, as to how they used, or misused it.

But frankly, I think it’s just stupid to wear clothes or buy purses that have someone else’s name on it! Even if it’s some fancy schmancy designer.

Basically it turns you into a walking billboard. How dumb is that!

Glad to be out of here!

Curious to see what Tehran is like.

I’ve got about three more hours here, insha Allah.

Let’s just hope my luggage gets there with me this time.