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Tuesday 28 June 2016

✉ The Dubai Betrayal: Wayne Wilkins [2] - Jeremy Burns

Today author takes over our blog to tell us about her/his latest novel, The Dubai Betrayal (10 May 2016, Fiction Studio Books, 400 pages), a Political Thriller, book two of the Wayne Wilkins series.

"Jeremy Burns' THE DUBAI BETRAYAL is an intense and authentic thriller that bristles with both hard-edged action and intelligent international intrigue.

Filled with believable characters in well-drawn locales, and a high-stakes but utterly convincing plot, THE DUBAI BETRAYAL will leave fans of Daniel Silva and Brad Thor breathless for more."
– Mark Greaney #1 New York Times bBestselling author of BACK BLAST, A Gray Man Novel

Author Guest Post | Synopsis | Trailer | Teaser | The Series | About the Author | Tour Stops

The Power of Perspective

      It’s incredible how moving halfway across the world can change your perspective.
      Up through college graduation, I had lived in the same mid-sized city all my life.  Though I had traveled throughout the United States a fair amount while growing up and in university, my international travel experience amounted to a single weeklong Caribbean cruise with my family years before.  And though I was well-read and liked to think myself fairly cosmopolitan in my understanding of the world, I only knew a handful of non-Americans.
      All that changed in the summer of 2008, when I packed a pair of suitcases (far too much space of which was occupied by books, if we’re being honest here), bade farewell to my family and friends, and moved nine time zones, two continents plus an ocean, and nearly 8000 miles from the only city I’d ever called home.

      Dubai was, in many ways, a perfect city for me to broaden my perspective on the world.  For one, it was westernized and modern in its infrastructure enough to not feel too foreign for a neophyte world traveler like myself, with spoken and written English abounding throughout the city (indeed, English was, for all intents and purposes, the official language of the city, for Arabic, the real official language of the emirate and nation, wouldn’t get you very far with the Pashto-speaking Pakistani cab drivers and the Tagalog-speaking Filipinas staffing stores and restaurants; all of the expatriate workers, however, spoke at least passable English).
     Further, the city’s famously high percentage of foreign residents (more than 85% of the city’s denizens are not locals) meant that I would not only be interacting with my host city’s culture, but with that of hundreds of other cultures as well. And finally, Dubai serves as the biggest air traffic hub in the region, opening up a myriad of direct flights to destinations across the Middle East, as well as throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, and beyond.

      Having just graduated from college and indoctrinated with the belief that Americans are far too America-centric in their thinking about the world, it surprised me that, at least during that season, much of the world was far more focused on goings on in the United States than I had expected.  Headlines on local newspapers from Dubai to Dhaka and beyond were regularly focused on Bush or Obama, on Congress or the U.S. stock market.  The day after Obama won the 2008 election, major newspapers in Dubai dedicated entire special sections at the front of the physical paper to election coverage, policy positing, and other news from Washington.   And when I encountered a pair of young men in a Jordanian archeological site [El-Beidha, Petra, Jordan] who asked my nationality weeks afterward, they exuberantly cheered “Obama” with wide grins and thumbs up.  Whether or not he has lived up to their hopeful enthusiasm is another story, but the fact is, the world’s eyes were on America.  And in many ways, they still are.

      During my time in Dubai, I befriended people from dozens of different countries across all six inhabited continents and from a myriad of religious backgrounds.  I had a Hindu roommate from Delhi, dated a girl from Scotland, and counted among my travel companions Canadians, Spaniards, and Australians.  As a teacher at an international school, I personally taught students from forty-seven countries, while my colleagues collectively hailed from more than two dozen nations.

      My students taught me a number of things that were echoed in my interactions with others throughout the city and region.  I learned that you don’t give an Iranian the “thumbs up” gesture.  That the left hand is considered unclean in Arab culture.   That there are a number of Palestinian Christians that don’t match up with the clean-cut Israeli-Palestinian divide promoted by many in the States.  That Osama bin Laden’s family still owns and operates one of the largest construction firms in the Middle East (seeing “bin Laden Construction” on the side of cranes and cement mixers never really stopped being strange).  That Ramadan is a beast to fast through in the desert heat of summer.  And that many Iranians, Afghanis, and other national groups considered universally hostile toward the United States are often big fans of American culture and people, if not its government.

      And yet, I also saw some of the ugliness of the world, of the fractious nature of clashing histories and cultures birthing new conflicts in the present.  That a lot of hatred still festers with some people, old grudges held against competing groups, religious strains, ethnic groups, and, most of all, Israel and the West.   Despite this, I saw plenty of competing good that gives me hope for the future.
      Dubai was also a tremendous launching pad for not only exposing me to people from different cultures but also for me to travel to more than twenty other countries as well.   During my travels, I explored ancient ruins in Egypt and jungle temples in Bangladesh, forbidding fortresses in Lebanon and forgotten churches in France.   I befriended an Argentinian in Luxembourg, later sharing a train ride to Belgium, and, alongside a newfound Israeli friend, went on a double date with a pair of German girls in Rome.  I played guitar and sang Christmas carols with a group of young music teachers at their house in a village in southern Germany, putting to good use my high school chorus familiarity with “Stille Nacht” and discovering they had a strange predilection for the music of Avril Lavigne.  Sometimes I’d travel alone, sometimes I’d travel with friends, but every time, I came away with a fresh perspective.  On the world.  On humanity.  On America.  And on myself.

      And though I’ve moved back stateside since my time in Dubai drew to a close, I still strive to live by a mantra I encouraged my students to follow and that I now offer to you.
      Never stop being curious. Never stop exploring. And never stop learning.

Jeremy Burns

The Dubai Betrayal
Available NOW!

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CMash said...

It sounds like Mr. Burns had a very exciting and profound learning experience from his travel to Dubai. Very nice post.

BooksChatter said...

It sure does - I have added some pics!