The article "Our Cultural Demon -- The Ugly Arab" {Outlook, Aug. 19} provided a valuable look at American prejudices toward the Arab world. It was timely and on target.

I recently returned from a six-week stay in Egypt and Jordan, where I studied Arab culture and language on a Fulbright-Hayes scholarship. Many of the stereotypes that I have seen and heard in the United States by many of my students and some colleagues are simply that -- stereotypes. I found the Arab people in both Egypt and Jordan to be intelligent, peaceful and most hospitable.

In fact, I felt much safer in Cairo than I do in downtown Washington. I could walk almost anywhere at anytime without fear for my personal safety. The Arab culture is nonviolent, and there is little violent crime. Many Egyptians and Jordanians welcomed an opportunity to exchange rational ideas about the Palestinian problem and peace in the Middle East. I found no wild-eyed terrorists or lazy sheiks on the loose. It is unfortunate that our culture cannot get beyond seeing a terrorist or camel rider behind every Arab we encounter and that the media must continue to portray them as such. GAIL A. NOLAN Falls Church