Navigating the Arab Spring

City Travel, Featured, Solo Travel — By on May 18, 2012 at 12:25 pm
By Ashleen Williams
Special to Lost Girls 

Arab SpringEverything changed in the Middle East in December 2010, when Muhammad Al Bouazizi, a Tunisian fruit seller, lit himself on fire and ignited what is popularly called the “Arab Spring.” Though a little over a year has past, there is still unrest and revolution occurring throughout many of the Arab countries which makes traveling a bit difficult. It also makes this the most exciting time to travel in the region, and if you know how to stay safe you can have a highly rewarding experience.

Here are some suggestions to help you navigate the environment during, and after, a revolution:

Before you go, read the news and sign up for text message alerts with the US Embassy. While these tend to be suggestions no matter where you’re traveling, the alerts will you give you a general idea of which areas might be best left to another day, and what the current attitude is toward foreigners.

  • Dress for the occasion. If you’re traveling to a place with ongoing protests (and therefore ongoing crackdowns) wear comfortable shoes that will allow you to out run a situation. Wear a scarf to help you blend in, and subsequently help protect your nose and mouth from teargas. This could also come in handy if you need to seek refuge in a mosque or other religious place while waiting out a demonstration.
  • Keep a bottle of Coca-Cola on hand. It does amazing things for tear gas.
  • Know who to follow on twitter. While you can’t trust everything you read in 140 characters or less, following tweets in your region can help keep you aware of the situation. This is also a great way to get a visual through twitpics and video.
  • Keep your opinions online about the revolution limited. These things are happening in police states, the government will know what you tweet.Arab Spring
  • Travel with other people when possible. Even if you’ve been living or traveling in an area for a long time, you can’t anticipate every possible fork in the road. It’s always safer to travel with another person.
  • Keep your passport handy. Police checkpoints are easier to go through if you know to have your passport on hand and ready to be inspected. Stay calm. It’s like going through customs – no one will benefit if you lose your patience.
  • Remember that this is first and foremost about their country, and their future.
  • Most importantly: talk to people. Get caught up in the moment, but always have an exit plan.

 

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    1 Comment

  • Alex says:

    This is a really interesting topic, but I would have loved to see some of these points expanded on. For example, how can coca cola help with tear gas? I don’t think the average person knows that, and its not going to do much for them to have a can on hand if they don’t know what to do with it!