Middle East Travels
My Middle East Travels as a sailor put me to the test, including personal beliefs and the formidable feat people must endure with the heat of the desert and the abundance of crude oil in the Middle East kingdoms (countries). Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC) are earning huge sum of money because of oil, considered by many seafarers as “blood of the Earth”.(You can also buy a book on eBay with Middle East experiences on it.)
1. Jubbail (South kingdom or province), KSA
In 2001, our ship reached the coast of Jubbail, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with an advisory sent one week before the arrival, though InMarSat (International Marine Satellite) service that usually service merchant vessels around the world to send and receive messages and even call your family at home. The controversial advisory was the prohibition of religious books inside the vessel, especially the Christian Holy Bible. Oh! I said to myself, it’s a Muslim country after all. Pornographic VHS and magazines were collected and put in the bonded store in front of master’s office. But, some stevedores (Arabian descent) kept urging me about porno films because they want to watch it, too. What an irony!
2. Fujairah, UAE
Meanwhile, the policy in United Arab Emirates for seafarers is more liberal unlike in KSA. UAE authorities usually offer an invitation to seafarers to go ashore. This will also depend on the captain’s decision to let his crew go out and enjoy night life and shopping in the country’s leading cities, like Dubai (an ‘open city’ which means policies are more democratic). We received provisions in Fujairah City, just two hours away from the coast of Dubai. Many merchant vessels usually anchor in UAE waters in the Persian Gulf (one of the special areas according to MarPol 73/78 Oil Convention).
3. Messaid, Qatar
Messaid, Qatar port is still administered by British government. Many Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) have contracts for construction jobs and port development in the said country. The pilot captain who embarked in our ship was of British descent, in his 30s, who happened to enjoy his stay in the port. I usually served continental breakfast (toasted bread, sunny-side up eggs, bacon and sausages along with orange marmalade and juice) to him. He usually confined to his cabin reading available paperbacks in the ship’s library. We’ve been there twice in the span of six-month voyage of the ship.
Das Island being claimed by KSA and UAE is a site to behold. Although, it is considered the prime oil hub in the middle of Persian Gulf, I was misled by my belief that it is an amusement park of its own. Many workers have rotating schedules to ease the boredom and homesickness that one can feel if his duty is in the island.
The sailor’s first contract was concentrated in Middle East travels. Although, it appears to be a travelogue, it will serve as an eye opener for those who want to visit Middle East countries.
Middle East Moments - Lonely Planet Travel Video
The Tallest Building in the World by BruceFenton
Globetrotting the Middle East
With the harrowing events that are happening in the Middle East today, you can choose what kingdom would you like to visit first. If you're an overseas worker, you will be just stationed at your work post. There's danger when you want to go to an unfamiliar place on that particular Arab country, let's say Bahrain, Yemen, Libya or Oman. Or you can travel as photographer to chronicle the events for posterity. Not on my list is being a spy; it's dangerous to be like one that may cost your precious life. (Please refer to the book at Amazon for an interesting adventure.)