My relationship to the Middle East is like a long-running but complicated love affair. I keep being attracted to it and keep coming back. Each time I step out of the airplane when I arrive there, I am embraced by a pleasant, complex, and—dare I say—almost sensual scent so full of notes, most of which I have never been able to identify. There seems to be a whiff of charcoal and smoke from shisha (the molasses-based tobacco concoction smoked in a hookah) mixed in with scents of spices, flowers, trees and the sun-baked sand. It is a very characteristic compound smell, which I find pleasant. Also, people are just nice and welcoming.