Travelling abroad is a great eye-opener. It will expand your mind and force you to face your judgements, many of them inaccurate. Travel is an enlightening experience, one which I have been very lucky to have done since I was a child.
One of the most intriguing and, dare I say, phenomenal places to visit, is the Middle East.
Contrary to many westerners’ beliefs, this region is quite safe, even for women travelling alone, (barring places with political unrest). It is a fascinating place.
My first introduction to the Middle East was as a ten year old visiting Egypt with my family. Despite it being so different to my home, there was something about the place that I couldn’t shake off. Something fascinating, something intriguing, something indefinable.
I would return to Egypt many years later as an adult and despite all the negative hype about the Middle East at the time, I found this a place I was treated with much respect by both men and women.
Across the region, cultures and religions meld together, ancient and modern live side by side, 5,000 year old structures stand beside modern-day skyscrapers. The people are very friendly and hospitable, willing to help a stranger from another land. This chivalrous code of conduct towards visitors is deeply engrained into their collective psyche.
I met many western women living across the Middle East, all of them there for love. I also met so many wonderful Middle Eastern couples, strong, intelligent men and their strong, independent women, some doctors, some lawyers, some teachers. All of them fabulous.
That’s how my very first romance novel, Duty Bound Desire: The Sheikh’s Forced Marriage was born. It is the first of a trilogy with the second book to be released at the end of May.
I taught in Egypt for a while, loving it. The students were attentive and eager to learn. The parents had such respect for the teachers, holding us in high regard. It was a teacher’s dream.
I later travelled further east to the United Arab Emirates. Here the landscape is different but no less mesmerising. It is here I would find myself walking through the desert after a very bumpy dune bashing ride. Why was I walking in the desert? I should have eaten a lighter lunch, (you get my drift), and couldn’t finish the ride.
I could see the Bedouin camp we were to meet up again in the distance. The 4 wheel drive took off and I began walking across the desert sands towards the camp. The sun was setting over the desert and the scene was simply magnificent. It is some of these scenes I would later write about, the memories of the people and the places still so fresh in my mind.
Duty Bound Desire: