Skip to main content









Donation Heart Ribbon

An American Finds Understanding After Travels In The Middle East

An American Finds Understanding After Travels In The Middle East


Adam Valen Levinson, author, "The Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah"

Photo credit: W.W. Norton & Co.

The book cover for "The Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah" by Adam Valen Levinson.

Was it adventurous, fool-hardy or offensive ... or a bit of all three? After the attacks on 9/11, American student Adam Levinson decided to study Arabic and eventually embark on a journey of discovery across the Arab world.

While working at New York University Abu Dhabi, Levinson hopscotched across the Middle East, visiting Kuwait, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran. Many of those trips took place in the midst of the Arab Spring.

“The whole point of coming here was to find an alternative to the way I saw this other place—an alternative to easy dismissal or intentional ignorance, so often those face-saving masks for fear,” Levinson wrote in his new book, "The Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah: Fear and Love in the Modern Middle East."

Levinson joined KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday with stories from his travels.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or subscribe to our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.