We boarded our flight, with our assigned seats, me in an aisle seat in the bulkhead with lots of legroom. My friends were a bit behind me and we settled in for the flight. An Omani gentleman came up to me, looking at his boarding pass. Across the aisle were 3 seats and 2 young Omani women were sitting there, window seat and middle seat. The man looked at them, turned and sat in the window seat by me, leaving an empty seat between us. I knew he had the aisle seat across from me where the 2 ladies were. Sure enough, very soon, the 2 people assigned to the seat he was in and the one next to me came, asking for their seat. He refused to answer them and turned and looked out the window. The passengers left and a couple of minutes later the flight attendant came back with their boarding passes in her hand. She asked the man to move to his assigned seat. He turned and looked at her and then turned away, looking out the window again. The attendant tried to tell him all seats were assigned and he needed to take his seat so the 2 passengers could get seated. He would not speak to her. Finally, I spoke up and offered to move across the aisle next to the ladies, leaving 2 seats for the other 2 passengers. With a great sigh of relief, she thanked me.
You may be thinking...what a jerk that man was! But actually, it probably had something to do with his religion or his cultural values. At first I thought he was being unreasonable and thought to myself...Self, don't volunteer to give up your seat! But the more I thought about it, the more I believed that he was following his beliefs.
So, don't forget...leave your snickering at home when traveling abroad and just enjoy the cultural differences!