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Published:June 18th, 2007 05:42 EST
Inclusion The Gift of an Expanded Worldview

Inclusion The Gift of an Expanded Worldview

By Simon Bailey (Mentor/Columnist)

The Middle East.

What comes to mind when you hear about this region of the world? Unrest, war, poverty, extremists, terrorists, oil, Iraq, Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden? The reality is that many of us who have never been to the Middle East form opinions and assumptions based on what we see on television, read in print media, hear from our neighbors and co-workers, and conjure up in our own minds. I will be the first to admit that I`ve done it many times.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

What comes to mind when you hear the name of this city? Do you think that it must be similar to Baghdad, Beirut or Islamabad simply because it`s in the Middle East? In truth, Dubai is one of the most vibrant cities in the world right now, bar none. How do I know? I`ve just spent seven days there for business and pleasure. Yes, "a brother from another" is exploring potential business opportunities on the other side of the world.

I arrived in Dubai with my own worldview, excluding anything that was not in alignment with my American mindset. You know the story"typical spoiled American, know-it-all, expecting to see soldiers on street corners with machine guns positioned in the cradle of their arms, ready to take down anyone who gets out of line. Yes, I excluded from my worldview the possibility that the residents of Dubai would be sophisticated, refined people. Boy was I wrong! Dubai is an incredible multicultural melting pot, consisting of Emiratees as well as people from India, Hong Kong, The Philippines, Australia and the United Kingdom, just to name a few.

Dubai is in the midst of a twenty-first century renaissance. An astounding one-fifth of the world`s cranes are in Dubai right now. I saw them with my own eyes. There are skyscrapers going up everywhere. They are building a HealthCare City that will include the likes of The Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and Harvard Medical School. (Currently, many people needing special medical attention must travel to the United States. In the future, these people will be able to travel to Dubai, less than half the distance to the U.S., to get help.) Dubai is also building the equivalent of Las Vegas luxury hotels (without the casinos) and Walt Disney World combined. They are calling it Dubailand, and when it`s completed in 2010, it will be the largest theme park in the world.

You may be wondering, as I did, who is behind all this aggressive development in Dubai. His name is Sheikh (pronounced "shake") Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. As the United Arab Emirates` Vice President and Prime Minister, he is often referred to as "Shake-Mo"! Many in the Middle East consider him the Walt Disney of his time. I can honestly say after seeing how he has invested $10 billion dollars of the royal family`s wealth to ensure Dubai`s future that anything is possible. Consider the following:

  • 20,000 construction workers work three shifts a day " around the clock " to build Dubai;

  • Delta Air Lines started direct service to Dubai from Atlanta, GA on June 1st;

  • There are more ex-patriots living in Dubai than citizens born and raised there;

  • 40,000 people per month on average are moving to Dubai.

By now, you`re likely thinking this is an infomercial for Dubai. Guess what? You`re right! But it`s also an infomercial for an expanded worldview. I`m "selling" you on the idea of putting aside your assumptions, biases and prejudices, and making room in your mind and your heart to see this hidden gem of the Middle East " and other parts of the world " in a fresh new way.

I know so many people who`ve never traveled outside of their state and who have a negative opinion about the Middle East, especially with the war in Iraq. I understand that. However, I also believe there are too many Americans who seclude themselves to their surroundings and exclude themselves from the richness of other cultures.

How many of you have a passport? How many of you will plan an overseas trip in your lifetime? How many of you will take advantage of work/job opportunities to travel or live overseas? I say, "Go for it!" You owe it to yourself to go and see the beauty of other countries and peoples for yourself. I " a brother from Buffalo, New York " am probably the last person you`d think of traveling to such faraway places. Quite honestly, I`d never been outside the United States until I started working for Disney. Since then, I`ve traveled to amazing places, including Brazil, France and South Africa.

Something happened to me in Dubai. It`s going to take me awhile to process it, but I know that I came to a place of profound clarity while in the Middle East. I know that my soul made room to connect with other human beings from around the globe. And I know that I`ve become more inclusive in my thinking instead of excluding people who don`t fit my paradigm. My worldview has been expanded. I want to include in my life other human beings who don`t look like me, talk like me or think like me. I want to invite them to sit at my table of learning and development.

What about you? How inclusive are you in connecting with people from other cultures and regions of the world? Look at your life right now"if everyone in your circle or sphere of influence looks like you, talks like you, thinks like you, and acts like you, then your circle is too small. Yes, that was very opinionated, and yet I believe very true!

I invite you to expand your worldview. Don`t do it because you have to"do it because you want to.

Simon Believes"When you expand your worldview, you enrich your life beyond measure.

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