I just got back from my second trip to Dubai. (Flickr Set)
The trip to Bahrain and Dubai last year, combined with my recent interactions with my Creative Commons team in the Middle East made me understand just how important this region was culturally and politically and how completely ignorant I was about everything going on there.
Since December of last year, I've been working hard to try to understand the region by talking to Mohamed at Al Jazeera, Donatella who is working for Creative Commons in the region and everyone else I know who knows a lot about the Middle East. However, I realized that there is only so much you can pick up second hand.
I spent a week in Dubai with Mizuka meeting various people. I met some local Japanese including Japanese Ambassador Hatano (in Abu Dhabi), Hiro Hosoi of NTT Communications, Mr. Takeda and Mr. Ohkami from Keio University and Maria Yogo. I hung out with Jay and his friends Balall and Nazia as well. (Special thanks to Jay, Balall and Nazia for spending so much time taking us around.)
My conclusion after this visit is that I really want to spend some time getting to understand the Middle East and that I will make Dubai my base because of the strong infrastructure, relatively freedom and proximity to the rest of the Middle East and eventually Africa (which I want to get into next.)
Luckily, it looks like there will be plenty for me to do. I'll be visiting Jordan in November to speak at a university there about CC, then I've been invited back to Abu Dhabi again in November to speak as well. (This is possibly not confirmed...) It looks like we'll be doing something with Al Jazeera in Doha next year as well. (Stay tuned...)
Also, Creative Commons has a relationship with Ziad Marqa in Jordan and Hala Essalmawi at The Library of Alexandria in Egypt and I'm looking forward to spending more time with them.
Anyway, I plan to spend an increasing amount of time in the Middle East and will try to document it a bit more thoroughly than I've been documenting my travels recently. (Yeah, I'm slacking on my blog. Sorry.)