The 2018 Muslim World Study Tour

The Islamic world, a term that seems to describe a belt that crosses the north of Africa and into the Middle East and sometimes all the way into South-East Asia. When we hear it on the news, in movies, in video games, in any pop-culture, most people imagine the same sorts of things, women in veils, male-dominated society, towns ravaged by war, Islam being practiced openly and defining every moment of peoples lives, but is any of this true? Is that really how an entire region should be defined, how 1.8 billion people should be defined?

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Qatar; the Richest Nation in the World

After 15 hours and two flights, the tour arrived in Doha the first country for the trip and the worlds richest nation per capita. Going into Qatar I didn’t know what to expect, on one hand, I knew how wealthy the nation was, being the 9th largest national wealth fund in the world and, as already stated, the largest GDP (PPP) per capita in the world sitting at an incredible $124,927. On the other hand, however western media, comedy, reporting, and information regarding the 2022 FIFA world cup painted a picture of Qatar as a woefully under-equipped, a country that had no way of hosting an event that required a modern infrastructure and systems to host. Ultimately this resulted in an assumption that acknowledged both points, first that it was undeniably a rich nation but also, that it was not using that wealth to actually progress and develop the country as a whole. Put simply, this assumption might have been true at one point in the past, but during our time in Qatar, it was clear that this was no longer the case. Continue reading “Qatar; the Richest Nation in the World”

Tunisia; The Worlds Newest Democracy

9 Years ago, in December of 2010 Tunisia shook the world with the start Jasmine Revolution, 3 weeks later it was over and the Tunisian people had overthrown Prime Minister Ben Ali, giving birth to the newest democracy on the planet and igniting the Arab Spring. 4 years later Tunisia created their modem constitution. This very recent history plays into why Tunisia was so eye-opening, why it was so exciting, why, frankly, I went a little crazy while there. As a journalism student, a political science student, and most definitely an Islam west student, Tunisia was so interesting for one key reason, it is a 21st century democracy, it is a country not marred by its own democratic past, its decision making is not hampered by constitutions or ideas written down by statesmen and politicians centuries ago. That isn’t to say that Tunisia doesn’t have its own history to reconcile, but the hope, the potential of this nation was why visiting was so interesting. Continue reading “Tunisia; The Worlds Newest Democracy”

Morocco; A Democratic Monarchy

Ruled by one of the oldest monarchies in the world, Ruled by a king whose independent wealth comes in at a striking 5.7billion dollars, and yet whose GDP per capita sits lower than Tunisia, and the lowest on the tour. To put it simply I’m not sure what I was expecting to see when entering Morocco. What little expectations I had leaving Tunisia were not good, after hearing that we were traveling to the country seemingly poorer than the one we had just left meant that I was expecting to see poverty and while in some areas that was the case, overall that expectation was dead wrong.

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Spain; Western Present, Islamic Past

Spain, historically one of the most important counties we visited with its past being dominated by both Islamic and Christian empires, but also to give an opportunity to see Islam within the west right on the border of the ‘Islamic world’. Traveling into Spain I assumed that I knew what to expect, having visited Northern Europe previously I expected something similar, sure it might have its cultural quirks, the differences born out of a warmer climate and slightly different culture, but it would still be ‘Europe’. This might have been true in Madrid, but that assumption grew less and less correct the more south we traveled. Continue reading “Spain; Western Present, Islamic Past”

Summary of the Tour

It’s common for people to describe experiences as ‘eye-opening’, it’s so commonplace its cliché, but it’s hard to describe the tour in another way. The experiences that I had forced me to reconsider and reassess ideas that I had previously believed rock solid, the key one being that democracy is the undeniable right government system, and while I am still unquestionably in favor of democracy, as I’m sure it was clear during the blog, how that democracy takes form is no longer quite so solid. Continue reading “Summary of the Tour”