When my plane departed John F. Kennedy Airport in February 2013 a small part of me wondered if I would ever see America or my family again. During a whirlwind month balancing closing-out one gig while spinning-up another, I had successfully secured an expedited visa to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and was on the cusp of what would prove to be a three-year foray into the heart of the Middle East. I had long been enthralled with Middle Eastern culture, studying Arabic and arguing with expats over the best hummus and falafel available in New York (Editor's Note: the Hummus Place and Taïm, respectively). Yet this was my first excursion into the heart of the Muslim world and I found myself experiencing nearly every feeling imaginable on that twelve-hour flight abroad.
In July 2017 the first airborne taxi service will operate in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Having lived in the Emirates for a number of years, it is little surprise that this particular technical advancement would be showcased there. Dubai remains the preeminent destination for glitz, glam and the futuristic way of life.
I had the opportunity to visit Los Angeles in November 2015 for the theatrical premiere of APEX: The Story of the Hypercar. Between glad-handing well-wishers and brainstorming the evolution of the brand at the Soho House, I had the opportunity to visit the (then under construction) Expo Line. Though I had long benefited from the convenience of mass transit in New York City and now Dubai, the existence of a public transportation network connecting Los Angeles to Santa Monica stands out as a milestone of mankind's progress in creating rational means of transporting human beings from Point A to Point B.
During March of 2013 I had the opportunity to experience the world's most sophisticated transportation system first-hand. Natural scientists have printed forests' worth of scholarship on the honeybee's dance and lowly ant's pheromone trail. It is truly an act of divine wonder that creatures are able to organize traffic flows between colonies and food sources, unearthing the optimal path balancing safety and speed -- and all without need for top-down control mechanisms like the ubiquitous robocop with its red, amber and green lights. Yet had these scientists set aside their magnifying glasses and used their time to study a little Arabic, they could have gleaned a decade's worth of research by speaking to the average Cairo driver.
On November 21st, 2013 I leapt from my bed to the sound of a gunshot. Rubbing my eyes to remove the feces-filled soot from last night's trash burning, my hotel room slowly came into view as the frost from my breath circled around me. My first thought was a terror group was targeting my hotel in Nairobi, followed quickly by regret for not being back in Dubai with my wife and kids. As I pulled up my jeans I recognized the audible sound of silence.