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This phrase means "Peace be upon you" in Arabic. You hear it a lot in Saudi.
This poem is a reflection I have every time I go there (in my work). I go there often.

As-salaam 'alaykum

Fdf5205c-8b5b-4da8-a6dc-63fe28d680a9by Billy J. Stewart20 Feb 2015

Gosh but it burns here,
Sun, sand and flares.
Day and night, lighting the sky in a swathe of orange flicker.
Visible like little candles,
When I fly into Dammam.
And money.
Money pumps out of the ground and from the gulf sea.
Rich and black.
Smelly as Hell.
I assume Hell is sulphurous, the oil sure is.
The remnants of some ancient world,
A long lost “Garden” maybe,
I dunno. Huh..!
But here…
Here it just flows, to be boiled,
And cut and stilled and tanked,
So we can fill our cars, and buy plastic, with plastic.
For the good of mankind.
Making the relatives of the King, and all his merry men,
Richer and richer, in their plush jobs.
Still, it’s better than the alternative isn’t it.
I mean, isn’t it!?
All that mad-dog Kamikaze stuff is just up the road,
And it feels like they’re coming.
I sit in the back seat again,
Taking the hazardous, maniacal drive, “freestyle”,
Through endless security,
From the Oasis that is my hotel, a bubble of western decadence,
To the gates of…the next citadel of Petrochemical technology.
Gathering thoughts, breathing deeply and slowly,
Gripping my laptop case,
With white-knuckled, sweaty hands,
Eyes everywhere, watching through gun-totting Pillboxes.
Ah, an AK, weapon of choice, the “widow-maker”.
Seen them before, tuh..!
That’s an Uzi, very portable.
And settling back I rub my forehead…relaxing the lines.
I should be used to this, me,
I mean, where I’m from, like, seen it all before,
In darker days, now that we’re not medieval barbarians anymore.
And the fallout of that thought sears with comic irony into my brain,
Burning a hole into my cauterised consciousness.
But one thing I can’t do,
Just can’t,
Is to pretend it’s all perfectly normal.
Didn’t then, won’t now.
Sorry, I just won’t, I’m an “infidel of long practice”,
Disbelieving the demagogues of idealism.
The road opens again.
There is no greenness here, only sand,
And dust.
There are no cows here, only camels,
And the odd goat.
There are no forests here only Date Palms.
But you know what…
The heart of man is here,
So I should feel at home.
Here he is, cocooned in testosterone and oppressed by money,
Wrapped up in the gown of Islam,
Hidden behind the beard of Father Abraham.
I know it.
I know it because…
…it’s just like me.
Infidel I am, maybe,
Oh Lord but we are wedded to the religion of self.
We have made You in our own pathetic wannabe image.
In our little global pet-deserts, wherever they may be.
OK, hypocritical self-righteous muse over,
Passport out, gate-pass, grit teeth, smile at the guards,
And dream of gate 35 in Abu Dhabi,
And a nice Shiraz,
And that runway pointed north-west.
On with the show…we have arrived…
As-salaam 'alaykum..!