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Transcribed by Joseph Geni
Reviewed by Morton Bast

0:11 Hello, Doha. Hello! Salaam alaikum.

0:17 I love coming to Doha. It's such an international place. It feels like the United Nations here. You land at the airport, and you're welcomed by an Indian lady who takes you to Al Maha Services, where you meet a Filipino lady who hands you off to a South African lady who then takes you to a Korean who takes you to a Pakistani guy with the luggage who takes you to the car with a Sri Lankan. You go to the hotel and you check in. There's a Lebanese. Yeah? And then a Swedish guy showed me my room.

0:47 I said, "Where are the Qataris?"

0:49 (Laughter)

0:50 (Applause)

0:53 They said, "No, no, it's too hot. They come out later. They're smart." "They know."

0:58 (Laughter)

1:00 And of course, it's growing so fast, sometimes there's growing pains. You know, like sometimes you run into people that you think know the city well, but they don't know it that well. My Indian cab driver showed up at the W, and I asked him to take me to the Sheraton, and he said, "No problem, sir." And then we sat there for two minutes.

1:19 I said, "What's wrong?" He said, "One problem, sir."

1:21 (Laughter)

1:22 I said, "What?" He goes, "Where is it?"

1:24 (Laughter)

1:27 I go, "You're the driver, you should know."

1:29 He goes, "No, I just arrived, sir."

1:31 I go, "You just arrived at the W?" "No, I just arrived in Doha, sir."

1:34 (Laughter)

1:35 "I was on my way home from the airport, I got a job. I'm working already."

1:39 (Laughter)

1:40 He goes, "Sir, why don't you drive?"

1:43 (Laughter)

1:44 "I don't know where we're going."

1:45 "Neither do I. It will be an adventure, sir."

1:47 (Laughter)

1:50 The Middle East has been an adventure the past couple of years. It is going crazy with the Arab Spring and revolution and all this. Are there any Lebanese here tonight, by applause?

1:59 (Cheering)

2:00 Lebanese, yeah.

2:02 The Middle East is going crazy. You know the Middle East is going crazy when Lebanon is the most peaceful place in the region.

2:08 (Laughter) (Applause)

2:10 Who would have thought?

2:12 (Laughter)

2:13 Oh my gosh.

2:15 No, there's serious issues in the region. Some people don't want to talk about them. I'm here to talk about them tonight. Ladies and gentlemen of the Middle East, here's a serious issue. When we see each other, when we say hello, how many kisses are we going to do?

2:28 (Laughter)

2:30 Every country is different and it's confusing, okay? In Lebanon, they do three. In Egypt, they do two. I was in Lebanon, I got used to three. I went to Egypt. I went to say hello to this one Egyptian guy, I went, one, two. I went for three — He wasn't into it.

2:45 (Laughter)

2:50 I told him, I said, "No, no, I was just in Lebanon." He goes, "I don't care where you were. You just stay where you are, please."

2:56 (Laughter) (Applause)

3:00 I went to Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, they go one, two, and then they stay on the same side: three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 —

3:10 (Laughter)

3:12 Next time you see a Saudi, look closely. They're just a little bit tilted.

3:16 (Laughter)

3:18 "Abdul, are you okay?"

3:19 "I was saying hello for half an hour. I'll be all right."

3:22 (Laughter)

3:23 Qataris, you guys do the nose to nose. Why is that? Are you too tired to go all the way around?

3:30 (Laughter)

3:31 "Habibi, it's so hot. Just come here for a second. Say hello. Hello, Habibi. Just don't move. Just stay there, please. I need to rest."

3:38 (Laughter)

3:40 Iranians, sometimes we do two, sometimes we do three. A friend of mine explained to me, before the '79 revolution, it was two.

3:47 (Laughter)

3:49 After the revolution, three. So with Iranians, you can tell whose side the person is on based on the number of kisses they give you. Yeah, if you go one, two, three — "I can't believe you support this regime!"

3:59 (Laughter)

4:00 "With your three kisses."

4:02 (Laughter)

4:04 But no, guys, really, it is exciting to be here, and like I said, you guys are doing a lot culturally, you know, and it's amazing, and it helps change the image of the Middle East in the West. A lot of Americans don't know a lot about us, about the Middle East. I'm Iranian and American. I'm there. I know, I've traveled here. There's so much, we laugh, right? People don't know we laugh. When I did the Axis of Evil comedy tour, it came out on Comedy Central, I went online to see what people were saying. I ended up on a conservative website. One guy wrote another guy. He said, "I never knew these people laughed." Think about it. You never see us laughing in American film or television, right? Maybe like an evil laugh: "Wuhahaha."

4:42 (Laughter)

4:43 "I will kill you in the name of Allah, wuhahahahaha."

4:46 (Laughter)

4:47 But never like, "Ha ha ha ha la."

4:49 (Laughter)

4:51 We like to laugh. We like to celebrate life. And I wish more Americans would travel here. I always encourage my friends: "Travel, see the Middle East, there's so much to see, so many good people." And it's vice versa, and it helps stop problems of misunderstanding and stereotypes from happening.

5:06 For example, I don't know if you heard about this, a little while ago in the US, there was a Muslim family walking down the aisle of an airplane, talking about the safest place to sit on the plane. Some passengers overheard them, somehow misconstrued that as terrorist talk, got them kicked off the plane. It was a family, a mother, father, child, talking about the seating. As a Middle Eastern male, I know there's certain things I'm not supposed to say on an airplane in the US, right? I'm not supposed to be walking down the aisle, and be like, "Hi, Jack." That's not cool.

5:36 (Laughter)

5:37 Even if I'm there with my friend named Jack, I say, "Greetings, Jack. Salutations, Jack." Never "Hi, Jack."

5:44 (Laughter)

5:46 But now, apparently we can't even talk about the safest place to sit on an airplane.

5:51 So my advice to all my Middle Eastern friends and Muslim friends and anyone who looks Middle Eastern or Muslim, so to, you know, Indians, and Latinos, everyone, if you're brown —

6:00 (Laughter)

6:02 Here's my advice to my brown friends.

6:04 (Laughter)

6:05 The next time you're on an airplane in the US, just speak your mother tongue. That way no one knows what you're saying. Life goes on.

6:12 (Laughter)

6:13 Granted, some mother tongues might sound a little threatening to the average American. If you're walking down the aisle speaking Arabic, you might freak them out —

6:21 (Imitating Arabic)

6:23 They might say, "What's he talking about?" The key, to my Arab brothers and sisters, is to throw in random good words to put people at ease as you're walking down the aisle. Just as you're walking down —

6:33 (Imitating Arabic)

6:35 Strawberry!

6:36 (Laughter)

6:43 (Imitating Arabic)

6:44 Rainbow!

6:46 (Laughter)

6:48 (Imitating Arabic)

6:49 Tutti Frutti!

6:50 (Laughter)

6:51 "I think he's going to hijack the plane with some ice cream."

6:54 Thank you very much. Have a good night. Thank you, TED.

6:57 (Cheers) (Applause)