By Larissa Yanofsky
Moving through a busy hallway, an assortment of people navigate through the crowds.
Coming from all different directions, people of all types pass through the hall. People wearing baseball caps, beanies and hoods inhabit the hallway. Occasionally however, there is a brightly colored head mixed into the masses. A vibrant red and a pastel floral pattern are among the heads that stand out. A conscious choice made by two sisters make them easy to spot in a crowd, wearing traditional Islamic headscarves called hijabs.
Senior Sarah and freshman Nada Dibas were born and raised in San Diego. Their family is originally from Palestine, but a majority of them live in the U.S. now. In 2006, when Nada was 10 and Sarah was 6, their father was offered a job in Dubai, located in the United Arab Emirate, and they packed up their things and moved.
“He thought it would be very educational and good for us. You can learn more in the world when you change environments completely, which we did,” N. Dibas said.
Moving to a new country was an eye opening experience for both of them.
Being born in the U.S then moving to Dubai, they were able to experience a totally new environment that was more closely related to their religious background.
“They’ve seen a lot of the culture, like their parents culture and everything; they’ve connected more with it. If you’re exposed to to a different environment like that, you see different perspectives,” said their childhood friend, senior Maram Deiranieh.
One of the main differences between their life in the U.S and their life in Dubai would be the education that they received.
“Well the system over there, they don’t give you many options, like here where you chose your classes after a certain grade level. You don’t have the choices of different classes like you have here, so basically your choices would be between biology and accounting or physics and economics,” said N. Dibas.
The educational emphasis on science has left Nada with the desire to go to medical school or law school. Her ambitions to become a doctor or a lawyer are fueled by her love of science and orating. Besides their education, one aspect of their life that remained quite the same was their religious experience.
“[We moved] so we could learn a little bit more about our religion, which is funny because I felt like there was no difference between here and there religion wise because of the diversity,” N. Dibas said.
While Dubai is a Muslim country, it is well known for its diverse selection of religions, including Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism and Hinduism. It is a common misconception among Americans to regard all Middle Easterners as being Muslims or to regard all Muslims as middle Eastern.
“The thing about Islam is that it’s a religion, not a race,” N. Dibas said.
While Sarah and Nada are both Middle Eastern and Muslim, it was normal for them to see people from all over the world living in Dubai. Religious diversity in Dubai is embraced and all religions coexist.
“I think its easier to live in Dubai because religion wise, you get a lot less discrimination with Islam, and there isn’t that stereotype about it. People understand it, there are no misconceptions like here,” S. Dibas said.
Though the Dibas sisters were born and raised in San Diego, they are still regarded by some as foreigners. The U.S is their home, yet they face discrimination and people fail to realize that they are just a part of this country as any other citizen, regardless of their racial and religious background.
“We are a minority; we’re one of the very few that wear the headscarf, which I don’t feel is a bad thing because I personally believe that every person should stand out in their own way so I love the minority. The underdog is always the one I root for,” N. Dibas said.
While they are a minority at our school and in the U.S, they feel very attached to the country regardless. Their life abroad has allowed them to see the world in a new light and be more appreciative of everything it has to offer. Living a completely different life in Dubai allowed the sisters to experience and indulge in the world.
“You learn a whole new language, a whole new culture, the different types of cultures, different ways of thinking, and it helps you deal with the world better,” Nada said.