How a ban became a blessing: A diary of my workshop in Kuwait

May
5
2016
by
thayne
/
0
Comments

This is a true story of how calamity turned into celebration.

Last Wednesday, I got to the airport for my 10:30 am flight to Kuwait only to be refused entry because I was traveling on a US passport that would expire in less than six months. (I’d checked and my travel agent thought it would be okay, but Kuwait is very strict, as I discovered.)

This is a true story of how calamity turned into celebration.

Last Wednesday, I got to the airport for my 10:30 am flight to Kuwait only to be refused entry because I was traveling on a US passport that would expire in less than six months. (I’d checked and my travel agent thought it would be okay, but Kuwait is very strict, as I discovered.)

I spent most of Wednesday rushing around London, first to the American Embassy for an emergency passport, and then to the Kuwait embassy as Kuwait Airways said that an emergency passport would also require a visa (ordinarily US citizens get visas at point of entry).

By the time I arrived at the Kuwait embassy, it was too late to get a visa, but the consulate gave me an official letter, verifying who I was and urging the authorities to let me in.

You’re not welcome
I caught the 10 pm flight on British Airways, arrived early the next morning and headed for the visa desk.

‘I’m sorry, madam,’ said the clerk, ‘but you can’t enter the country on an emergency passport without a visa.’ I produced my consulate letter. It wasn’t good enough. The clerk said he would have to speak with his manager to find out if he could welcome me into his country.

Ninety minutes passed. Finally, the clerk’s boss got on the phone. Luckily I had my old passport with me, and was able to prove not only that I was bona fide but had visited the country a few times before. With some misgiving, the clerk finally handed me a visa.

You’re welcome
At the hotel, my luck seemed to be transforming. I was given a grand suite overlooking a gorgeous beach, the hotel manager himself showing me around. He gave me his card if I needed him for any reason, assuring me that I was a most welcome guest.

After a few hours’ rest, I headed to the conference room, which was buzzing with a full house of expectant attendees. People had come from Arab states all over the Gulf – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Palestine – to attend my two-day workshop.

You’re not welcome
Ten minutes before we were due to start, I got the news: at the last moment, some authority figures, affected by religious conservatives, had second thoughts about our subject matter and had advised the hotel not to run it.

I was, as the authorities had put it, ‘an unwelcome guest.’

For the next few hours, I sat with my interpreter, and some of the guests, trying to figure out our next move. And how unwelcome was ‘unwelcome’? Deportation – or even worse?

My host, Dr. Salah Al-Rashed, who is effectively the Deepak Chopra of the Middle East, was outside on the phone calling every influential person he could think of. After a few hours, he had some good news: The Minister of Justice – appropriately enough – was going to allow us to use his headquarters to run our event.

Justice prevails
That evening, we gathered all attendees on the beach, where Salah informed them that we would hold one marathon event of 12 hours the following day at Justice’s headquarters.

Picture of Salah on the beach and another one of a group of the attendees on the beach

The Al-Rashed team worked through the night setting up the space and the equipment, and arranging for food. At 9 am we crammed into the large downstairs assembly room, kicked off the workshop, and improvised when necessary.

There was no provision for sound from my computer, so my interpreter downloaded the music I’d planned from iTunes, holding his microphone up to it when needed, such as when the audience was carrying out my Power of 8 intention groups.

Picture of Power of Eight® groups

During the break all of us mingled on the balcony taking in the balmy night air.

A bigger success
At the end of the event, the audience celebrated as Salah and a few other musicians played 45 minutes of Arabic songs on traditional instruments.

The next day the Arabic social media was ablaze with Twitter hashtags like #LynneQ8 as our event went wildly viral. Now a number of Arab countries have assured us that I am indeed welcome, including in UAE and Qatar.

We could have sued the hotel or fought authorities for not having a court order, but by using spiritual aikido and moving around, rather than against, our impediment, we turned a potential ban into a blessing.

And Kuwait – you are most welcome. It was my pleasure.

To watch a video of me and Salah and how our ban turned into a blessing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-X41AeGeCY 

thayne

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Why wait any longer when you’ve already been waiting your entire life?

Top usercarttagbubblemagnifiercrosschevron-down