I have no doubt that the more time people spend together, and the more they understand each other, the less likely they are to hate or kill each other. I feel so strongly about this that I wrote a book about how truly understanding another person would make it far more difficult to kill them.
Every so often I discover a group acting on similar ideas to make the world a better place, and it fills me with joy. Yesterday I had the privilege of having lunch with members of such a group.
I’m in Dubai, the largest city of the United Arab Emirates. This modern, cosmopolitan city of over two million is a whopping 82% expats. They come from every continent, culture and religion and, in spite of their current location, they bring plenty of biases and misunderstandings with them regarding Muslims in general and the Emirates in particular.
Enter a group called “Open Door, Open Minds.” Their idea is pretty much what you would guess. Come have a meal with us. Let us show you some of how we live while you ask questions. Any questions.
This organization not only performs outreach to Dubai’s many residents born elsewhere, but they also invite tourists coming through Dubai to participate. I was lucky enough to be in a tour group that did so.
The food is plentiful, and the hosts are warm and sincere. They invite you to try on the traditional clothing worn by your gender, and they take you on a tour of an old home.
They also answer whatever awkward questions the group wants to throw at them. Ours was pretty polite, but I got the impression that not all others were.
A map in the hallway shows the many places these tourists have come from. Have there been enough of them to achieve world peace? Of course not. But ….. it’s a start.