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Reporters on the job

• DRESSED FOR VACATION: To complete today's assignment about Arab tourists staying close to home, reporter Philip Smucker went to the Red Sea resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh. And after some embarrassing approaches, he figured out how to distinguish between the wealthy Gulf Arabs and the smartly-dressed Egyptians.

"Like most folks on holiday, wealthy Gulf Arab males vacationing in Sharm dress down to skimpy shorts and a T-shirt," says Philip. "So, I'd look at how the women with them were dressed. Gulf state women generally still sport the head-to-toe black chador, but even that is not a sure thing these days. The more-liberal younger generation often wear the Egyptian headscarf."

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But when families go snorkeling to look at the tropical fish, the women often remain covered. "To American eyes, they look like bathers from a 1900 postcard from Cape Cod or Rehoboth Beach, Delaware," he says. Instead of bathing caps, though, the young women from one family Philip observed wore woolen ski caps into the Red Sea. "It looked like they would be a little top heavy in the water," he says. "But they managed exceptionally well."

• SMALL CHANGE: Returning home in a taxi from reporting his story about Palestinian life under curfew, reporter Ben Lynfield left some change behind. As he stepped from the cab, the driver told Ben that he'd dropped a 10 shekel ($2) coin in the car. "As I retrieved it," says Ben, "I realized that was a day's wages for one of the kids I'd interviewed." The children earn one shekel per trip by carpooling with drivers crossing a three-person minimum checkpoint in the Gaza Strip. "I'll never look at small change the same way again," he says.

David Clark Scott
World editor

CULTURAL SNAPSHOT