13 essential blogs and websites to help you understand the Middle East

The Middle East is one of the world’s most complex regions. Media reports struggle to get across the context and nuance needed to get a clear understanding of events on the ground. Meanwhile, books and academic works often seem stuck in time and can be rendered irrelevant overnight in the face of rapid developments.

These 13 English-language blogs and websites are essential reading for anyone interested in the Middle East or seeking to gain a nuanced understanding of the region:

 

Jad1. Jadaliyya

Jadaliyya is a unique source of insight and critical analysis that combines scholarship, advocacy, and local knowledge on the Middle East. Jadaliyya is committed to discussing the Arab world on its own terms, by focusing on the region’s living communities and dynamic societies.

Topics: culture, political economy, conflict, academia, migration, law

 

sekka2. Sekka Mag

Sekka is an online magazine dedicated to documenting stories of historical and contemporary life in the Gulf. It is the first online magazine and publication to be managed by Khaleejis and narrated primarily by the people of the Arabian Gulf.

Topics: lifestyle, arts, culture, GCC


Turban Times3. The Turban Times

The Turban Times is an online magazine focused on telling compelling, nuanced stories of the MENA region and its peoples. Its coverage aims to provide a fresh, balanced alternative to the dominating war and conflict-focused narratives, by sharing the stories, perspectives, and ideas that don’t usually reach the mainstream.

Topics: youth, minorities, activism, culture, human rights

 

sijal4. Sijal

Sijal is an interview-based open platform archiving influential and critical Khaleeji voices with a focus on contemporary regional issues. Their interviews are particularly good at placing academic arguments into the context of day to day life in the GCC.

Topics: culture, politics, social issues, GCC

 

Brownbook5. BrownBook

Brownbook is a bimonthly magazine that acts as an urban guide to the Middle East and North Africa. Its video content in particular gives life to some of the prominent artistic voices from the region.

Topics: interviews, architecture, art, cities

 

Afrah6. Afrah Nasser’s Blog

Afrah Nasser is a Yemeni journalist, activist and blogger telling the untold stories about Yemen’s hidden cultural icons and the plight of a population living under siege and suffering the stings of a devastating war. She is internationally respected for her insight into one of the most complex countries in the region.

Topics: Yemen, human rights, conflict

 

Arabist7. The Arabist

The Arabist was launched by Issandr El Amrani in 2003 in response to the lack of interest in the domestic politics of Arab countries in the Western media. It primarily focuses on Egypt but also follows broader issues in the Arab world, US policy in the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and cultural developments throughout the region.

Topics: Egypt, Arab politics, culture, books

 

Karl Remarks8. Karl reMarks

Karl reMarks is a Middle East political and cultural blog with occasional forays into satire. It is written by the legendary Karl Sharro, an architect, satirist and commentator on the Middle East.

Topics: politics, Lebanon, art, architecture, urbanism

 

blue abaya9. Blue Abaya

Blue Abaya is the blog of Finnish expatriate Laura Alho, documenting her travels and adventures in Saudi Arabia. She gives a truly unique insight into one of the most mysterious and misunderstood countries in the world.

Topics: Saudi Arabia, travel, lifestyle, culture, expat life

 

yalla iraq10. Yalla Iraq

Yalla Iraq was created by a group of young Iraqis who want to show the world a different side to their country to the violence and conflict that have dominated the headlines in recent years. Their video content in particular highlights the inspiring and positive stories of their country and its people.

Topics: Iraq, culture, news, women, sport, peace

 

Beyond the Route11. Beyond the Route

Beyond the Route and the associated ‘Sultanate’ podcast share the adventures of D Michael, an expatriate teacher living in Oman. The podcast focuses on adventure travel in the Sultanate, as well as offering an insight into local customs, culture and events in Oman.

Topics: adventure travel, Oman, culture

 

Egyptian Street12. Egyptian Streets

Egyptian Streets is an independent, young, and grassroots media organization aimed at providing readers with an alternate depiction of events that occur on Egyptian and Middle Eastern streets.

Topics: Egypt, culture, politics, society, arts, technology, travel

 

blog baladi13. Blog Baladi

Lebanon is one of the most diverse and fascinating countries in the region. Blog Baladi offers a local perspective on all things Lebanese. It puts a fun spin on Lebanese politics, social issues, lifestyle, food, nightlife, sports and technology.

Topics: Lebanon, politics, social issues, lifestyle, current affairs

 

If you found this useful, you might also like:

15 essential podcasts to help you understand the Middle East

5 Instagram accounts that capture the culture of the Middle East

5 reasons why you should learn Arabic

 

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