Well, another year has been and gone and this is our exit year. We return to Australia in June having had a wonderful Middle Eastern experience. While we are looking forward to getting home, we are not looking forward to leaving our many friends who have made our stay here special.
The good news is that many of them have promised to visit us at some future date and we also plan to return in two years for a week or so. So, it's not the end, but a change in where we are ... hopefully our relationships will continue indefinitely.
During my time here I've realised that democracy isn't necessarily the best form of government; benevolent dictatorships (or perhaps a better word is "directorships") work too. Not every country has an excellent industrial relations system with avenues of appeal, equal opportunity and rights, occupational health and safety. I've learnt that exploitation of our fellow humans, often akin to slavery, is still alive and well, even in a country whose citizens claim to be religious and pious people.
I've gained a great deal of respect and affection for the many Asian and Indian people who work here, mostly with very low salaries, poor conditions of service, away from their loved ones, but who remain pleasant, civil and genuine people.
They set an example of work ethic and humility that most of us in Australia could benefit from. Not surprisingly, if you treat them with dignity and respect, they will do almost anything for you.
Above all, I've learnt how very lucky I am to have been born in and lived most of my life, in Australia.