The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers tells the encapsulating story of Mokhtar Alkhanshali, a Yemeni-American who travels to Yemen to start a social enterprise to reignite the ancient art of Yemeni coffee. There’s only one problem – when Mokhtar set out in 2014, Yemen was on the brink of civil war.
Yemen: The poorest country in the Middle East; The corner of the Arabian Peninsula widely ignored as the oil monarchies of the Gulf rose to riches and global prominence; And now, embroiled in a deadly civil war protracted by the interference of external powers, further destabilising an already war-torn region. Yemeni politics can be highly confusing for outsiders. These 10 books will help you understand this complex country and the ongoing conflict.
2020 is already off to a turbulent start, as the world reacts to the news of the death of Qasem Soleimani, the Major General in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps who was killed on Friday by a US missile attack on Baghdad International Airport. America and Iran have since traded threats, with President Trump even … Continue reading 5 spectacular cultural sites in Iran
Protests erupted in Lebanon last Thursday in response to a government announcement of austerity measures, including a tax on WhatsApp calls. While the WhatsApp tax has made headlines worldwide and is being widely reported as the cause of the uprising, public anger actually runs much deeper, and the current demonstrations are in fact the eruption of years of frustration with a corrupt and ineffective political elite. These protests – which have brought people together across class, regional and sectarian divides – could mark a new era in Lebanese, and perhaps regional politics.
“Music gives me power, it gives me hope. It moves hearts… Strings have more power than bullets, stronger than bullets” – Masoud Buisir, the Troubadour of the Libyan revolution. You wouldn’t necessarily expect this statement to come out of Libya, a country that has been torn apart by revolution, counter-revolution, extremism and warring factions since … Continue reading Stronger Than Bullets: Music on the Frontlines of Libya’s Revolution
As avid podcast listeners will know, the New York Times recently wrapped up its binge-worthy 10-part podcast series, Caliphate, which delves into the inner workings of the billion dollar operation that is/was the Islamic State. With thousands of 5-star reviews on iTunes, this dramatic podcast has hooked people by sharing unique, first-hand insights into what … Continue reading Caliphate: The addictive ISIS podcast that’s causing controversy
Famous for its bizarre natural life and dramatic scenery, the Yemeni island of Socotra is an almost other-worldly paradise in the Indian Ocean. But this isolated UNESCO World Heritage Site is under threat from extreme weather and a bloody conflict encroaching on its peaceful way of life. (image: Juan Herrero) Nicknamed ‘the Galapagos of the … Continue reading Socotra: Conflict and climate threaten Yemen’s “alien” island paradise
It’s no surprise the Middle East and North Africa are among the hottest regions on earth, but what many don’t realise is that rising temperatures and resource shortages caused by climate change could soon make the deserts of Arabia totally uninhabitable. According to scientists, the entire MENA region is susceptible to some of the severest … Continue reading Why the Middle East’s next great security threat will come from the environment
The Syrian conflict has preoccupied hearts, minds and newsfeeds around the world for the last 7 years. Stories about Syria are often met with feelings of heartbreak, despair and helplessness. With a such a devastating and politicised conflict, people often feel desperate to reach out and help those who most need it, but are often … Continue reading What a tiny island in the middle of the Irish Sea is doing to help Syria
A Netflix series focusing on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is taking the Middle East by storm. Fauda follows the activities of the mista’arvim, an elite Israeli special forces unit who are trained and immersed in Palestinian culture in order to carry out undercover operations. The show has been praised and criticised by both sides for its … Continue reading Fauda: The Israeli Netflix drama that’s got the Middle East talking