As I've said before, I used to live in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates during about 1988/9 - 1990/1991. I was only about 10 when the whole Gulf War thing happened, and looking back on it, things didn't seem quite real. For the first part, there was only one english speaking chanel on TV, which was highly regulated and only played from 5.30 am to 12 midnight or something like that, so we didn't get much news coverage about what was going on.
It wasn't until we went overseas on holiday that we began to realise how much of a problem was brewing. My parents decided to extend our holiday for a while, at least for my brother and I, while things played out a little more. My brother, my mother and I ended up moving into an apartment in London for about a month while my father went back to Dubai for work (he was the exlporation manager for BHI in the region at the time, and was kind of needed, oil prices being what they were).
After our extended stay in London, we did go back to Dubai for a few months and I started school again. I was a few weeks late for the school term, and the class room was only about 3/4 full. I just assumed at the time that some other folks were taking longer holidays as well, but the students never did end up coming back.
In the moths that followed, there were a few changes around the house that I didn't think too much of at the time. My parents bought a new 4-wheel drive, a monster of a car, and took my brother out into the desert with it to teach him how to drive over the dunes, and which way was Oman or Saudi - the safest places to run if you had to. My father had contacts with the sons of the Sheiks of both Saudi Arabia and Oman, so his name would be able to help us out of trouble. Our store area in the house started mysteriously filling up with canned food and bottled water. My mother started spending all our savings on gold and diamond jewellery (I was told later that this was because she wasn't sure if they would be able to get any currency out of the country, but gold can be sold anywhere).
There were a few other stange changes about the place, too. The local Safeway store was changed into a "Safest Way", to sound less American.
The strange thing was, though, that my brother and I weren't frightened. While I don't like my parents as people, they did a fine job as parents in many ways. I guess this was one of them.
At Christmas time, just before we left in 1990 (we left on new years eve), there were a whole lot of US army guys on shore leave wandering around Dubai and Abu Dabi. I heard lots of stories about the local expat families inviting some of them to their homes for Christmas, so they wouldn't feel so lonely.
It wasn't until we left Dubai and went to Canada, where we finally got in contact with CNN and other 24 hr news networks, that we realised how bad things actually were. We were never in any real danger, but the realisation of what could have happened was frightening in and of itself. And that's my story about my perspective on the first Gulf War.