15 essential podcasts to help you understand the Middle East

Trying to understand the Middle East is complicated at best and impossible at worst! News stories give conflicting views of developments on the ground and much of the mainstream media coverage is steeped in stereotypes and lacking in nuance.

These 15 podcasts deconstruct Middle Eastern history, politics, culture and the economy to give you a clearer picture of what’s going on in this fascinating and often misunderstood part of the world.




Our man1. Our Man in the Middle East

The BBC’s former Middle East correspondent Jeremy Bowen recalls his 20+ years as a journalist covering the region, taking listeners on a fascinating and gripping journey through his first hand experiences of the events that have shaped the Middle East’s history and continue to have an impact on the region and the world today.


islamic history2. The Islamic History Podcast

A fascinating account of the history of Islam, especially useful for those trying to understand the origins of the sectarian conflicts currently raging across the Middle East.




Politics & current affairs


Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 14.45.10.png3. Middle East Focus

Middle East Focus is produced by Washington DC’s Middle East Institute and covers both current events and wider themes such as regional relations and women’s rights.



Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 16.04.264. Caliphate

The New York Times’ highly addictive documentary podcast, Caliphate, follows terrorism journalist Rukmini Callimachi in her quest to understand the inner workings of the so-called Islamic State.



hookah.jpg5. Off the Hookah

Al Monitor’s weekly podcast, Off the Hookah, offers an up to date and sometimes amusing look at the headlines in the region.



ME weekly6. Middle East Weekly

The Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy provides a very insightful view of the events dominating the news in the region and their impact on the rest of the world.


Dardasha.jpg7. Dardasha Weekly

Dardasha Weekly explores some of the important questions surrounding events in the region today, offering useful context if you’re trying to get your head around what’s going on in the news.






KFPA.jpg8. KFPA – Voices of the Middle East and North Africa

KFPA Radio explores the complex web of class, gender, ethnic, religious and regional differences which separate and distinguish the ways of life and political and ideological perspectives of people in the Middle East.


Kerning Cultures.jpg9. Kerning Cultures | Middle East

Kerning cultures seeks to dissect the traditional media narratives of the Middle East, telling stories that reflect the depth and richness of the region.






D&D.jpg10. Dirhams and Dollars

Produced by the Gulf News Business team, Dirhams and Dollars gives a weekly insight into business in the Middle East, focusing on how current events in the region and worldwide are shaping the economy and business environment in the Gulf and beyond.




POMEPS.jpg11. POMEPS Conversations

Marc Lynch, an academic at George Washington University in the US, produces the Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS) podcast, interviewing a different academic every week about to discuss their work. The podcast explores a variety topics from jihadist poetry to blogging in Egypt.


LSE12. LSE Middle East Centre

The podcast version of live events taking place at the London School of Economics Middle East Centre. The MEC’s busy programme includes talks by visiting academics and speakers on Middle Eastern history and politics.



middle-east-centre.jpg13. Oxford Middle East Centre

Recordings of events at the University of Oxford’s Middle East Centre, where leading academics and authors discuss current events and key themes in regional history, politics and culture.






Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 14.55.34.png14. Syrian Civil War Podcast

With a new episode roughly every month, this podcast provides a vital update on events on the ground in one of the world’s most confusing and hard-to-follow conflicts.



Sultanate.jpg15. Beyond the Route: Sultanate

Explorer D. Michael takes you on an audio tour on one of the region’s most beautiful and mysterious countries: Oman. From documenting intrepid trips to far-flung corners of the Sultanate to explaining the local culture, Sultanate is the ultimate guide for those seeking to understand and explore Oman.



If you found this useful, you might also like:

5 Instagram accounts that capture the culture of the Middle East

6 ways to experience the Middle East without leaving London

Mohammed bin Salman: 5 things you need to know about the most powerful man in Saudi Arabia


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