On December 2 2019, the 48th anniversary of the founding of the United Arab Emirates is celebrated. For that reason, today I want to tell you about one of the most important and sacred patriotic symbols for Emiratis: falconry, a sport using birds that has been elevated to the category of Intangible Cultural Heritage by … Continue reading Falconry: The UAE’s most sacred sport
When you think of the Silk Roads, the ancient trading routes between East and West, what do you picture? For me, it’s a romanticised – and probably slightly orientalist – vision of camel caravans carrying spices and frankincense from exotic corners of Arabia to be traded in the markets of the Mediterranean. It’s the migration … Continue reading Evelyn Naón Ibiza – Scents of the Silk Road
Egypt is one of the most thoroughly mythologised countries in the world. In a way this is perhaps only natural given that its history extends back to one of the most impressive and awe-inspiring early civilisations of the human age. Nevertheless, particularly in some western cultures, the idea of what Egypt is, or even what it looks like, has been twisted somewhat by everything from conspiratorial TV shows to animated online video games.
These 13 English-language Middle East blogs and websites are essential reading for anyone interested in Middle East politics and culture.
If you’re based in London, there are plenty of Middle East-focused events going on throughout November to keep you busy! Top picks: Levison Wood’s speaking tour on 11th – I caught his talk in Manchester and it was fascinating. Don’t miss his brand new book, Arabia! Jon Snow’s talk at UCL on 14th comes at a … Continue reading The Middle East in London: November events calendar
Known as the “Lost City”, the “Pink City” and even the “Rose Red City”, Petra is a stunningly beautiful ancient city and UNESCO world heritage site nestled into the desert canyons of southern Jordan. The dusty pink rock facade and magical surrounding desert landscapes are famous for being among the Seven Wonders of the world. If … Continue reading 5 reasons to visit Petra
By Katie Holland As Ghada Samman’s headstrong heroine Zain discovers, winning her right to live as a free, independent woman entails answering to her own moral compass, fending off constant unsolicited judgement and, naturally, finding her way around a revolver. In this story of a young woman’s bold and noble quest for freedom, Samman weaves … Continue reading Farewell, Damascus: On the Road to Freedom
By Tone Delin Indrelid I can’t help but wonder what it must have been like in an inland Omani village, before tourists and resident expats arrived on weekend day trips, before all the comforts and amenities of modern society were available. At a time where some seem to think we can simply take whatever we … Continue reading From rocks to agriculture – the ingenuity of the Omani Aflaj system
Nestled in the foothills of Oman’s Hajar mountain range overlooking a steep valley is the village of Misfat Al Abriyeen. 1,000 meters above sea level, this tiny, traditional village built into the rocky mountain is an agricultural sweet spot and a lush oasis of calm in a region characterised by hot, dry desert. It’s truly … Continue reading Misfat Al Abriyeen: A peaceful oasis in Oman’s Hajar Mountains
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. The following list of podcasts are essential listening if you're interested in the region - they 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.