Beyond the airplane Plexiglas, I watched the sandy sheet of scattered lights, miniature palms and whitewashed cubes below growing ever larger. Above the scene, a pale crescent moon hovered stark against the twilit sky.
Just like the crescent on the Islamic flag.
Suddenly, I felt the plane’s wheels touchdown in Dubai—the next stop along my mission to backpack 360 around the world in 180 days, documenting Christian students’ university experiences. But I realized, upon disembarking, that I had no idea what to do next. My friends here had said they’d arranged for me to stay somewhere, with someone, but I didn’t know where, or with whom, or how I’d be tracking them down.
I scanned the crowd in the terminal, hoping against hope to glimpse a sign with my name on it. No signs, no signs… Hey look—a family holding a sign with my name on it!
Soon after we greeted, a deep chant began reverberating from somewhere overhead.
“What’s that sound?” I asked.
“It’s the Islamic call to prayer.”
The haunting tones, rising and falling, filled the terminal. How different from the airport in the Philippines, I thought, with a statue of Jesus in the lounge. Perhaps, the United Arab Emirates would be unlike any nation I’d visited yet.