Nice points. I tell you what, if you want to read something mind expanding in terms of regional BBQ, Steve's BBQ Bible is your read.
Read it front to back like a book. Of all of his books its probably my favorite because it has International BBQ. Once you start dabbling in International BBQ is when I feel you really start to make the transition. And of course, you can throw away your spice rack, because by the time you're done you'll have a whole cabinet (Now I'm sure Z will post pix of his spice garage or basement or office complex LOL, just kiddin
Anyway, I actually like a lot of Mid-East BBQ #1 for its flavor and #2 because it had so many influences when east-west trade routes travelled through. Sometimes I like to inject a Southwest spin on Mid-East dishes and it comes out well more often than not. But I'm a dabbbler and not much on exact recipes and such and it drives my wife crazy when I hit on something and she asks how I did it and tell her some of this and that.
But I worked at that, it took me awhile to get to a point where I was comfortable enough with spices, oils, butters, vinegars etc. to just happily romp through them as I please. Steve's books went toward most of that knowledge for me
Just try some fusion cooking. Find some things you like and then think about how to merge them. It's great fun!