The Arab Swimming Incident

Okay, I have a story that I’ve shared with many of you. It’s a story about what really is right and wrong and what is perceived as right and wrong. I often think about the story and call it The Arab Swimming Incident –

A few months ago, while on a business trip on Dubai, I went to the pool for a swim after work. The only other people in the pool were these little Arab kids about five or six of them, water-wing age and a little older. Trouble already, you can see it coming.

While I was hanging out in the water, I noticed one of the kids was trying to teach himself to swim. He was flailing terribly but he was trying really hard. I mean he was just flailing! The other kids were playing with each other a little ways away.

I looked around for any parents but outside of lifeguards, no adults were around. After watching this kid for a while, it was more than I could stand. So against my better judgement, I went out to this swimmer kid and began teaching him some swimming basic.

As you can picture it, this required holding him while teaching him the basics. How to move his arms, kick his feet, breath etc.. This went on for a few minutes and we were making some good progress. As the other kids saw me, they wanted me to play too. Pretty soon, this turned from swimming lessons to full-on pool play. I was throwing the kids off my shoulders, having splash fights and normal pool roughhousing.

All of a sudden, I see this big Arab guy standing next to the pool with his hands on his hips. The guy was big, tall, wearing dark glasses and full-on Arab dress. He began shouting at us in Arabic. I mean he was shouting loudly and with much passion. My heart sank and I just knew I was about to go to jail…or worse. I imagined doing this back home in Katyland and the wrath that I would probably get from scared parents. But this is not Katyland and I don’t have the same level of rights that I would there.

The Arab dad yelled out more Arabic and then followed up with English language. What he was shouting was, “Raffi, listen carefully what the man is teaching you. He is teaching you how to swim”! He walked away just as quickly he appeared.

After I collected myself, we began our swimming lessons again.

I felt the way you feel after experiencing a really bad, near-miss traffic accident.

This incident really struck a chord with me and I’ve thought about it often. What gets me about this situation is that this is the way it should be.

So, there you go, now you know The Arab Swimming Incident.


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