The Middle East has been heavily stereotyped and romanticised over the years. Stories of conflict, violence and religious extremism have bombarded the western media in recent decades, shaping a narrow view of the Middle East and its people. The following list contains 8 incredible places that shatter the traditional stereotypes and showcase the remarkable diversity of the Middle East.
Throughout its rich history of trade, migration and empire, the East African coast – from Eritrea in the north to Mozambique in the south – has developed a unique cultural, religious and demographic identity that makes it distinct from the rest of the African continent.
The food of Oman and Yemen is distinct to that of much of the Middle East, reflecting the area’s complex history of trade, migration and colonialism. Follow these 4 Yemeni and Omani foodies for recipes and culinary inspiration from the southern Arabian Peninsula.
Oman hit the headlines recently after the passing of the country’s ruler of 49 years, Sultan Qaboos Al Said, in January 2020. These three books constitute an essential reading list for anyone with an interest in Oman - whether academic, professional or otherwise. They include both non-fiction and fiction books covering useful information about the country’s fascinating history, complex politics, and the ever-evolving cultural dynamics that make the Sultanate so special.
Iran, once home to one of the most impressive and world-shaping empires in history, is today among the most culturally rich countries in the modern Middle East. The ancient ruins, spectacular architecture, cosmopolitan cities and stunning mosques dotted across Iran today are like a canvas of this country's unique and rich history. Here are a … Continue reading 5 spectacular cultural sites in Iran
To celebrate the 48th anniversary back in December 2019 of the founding of the United Arab Emirates, we decided to share 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 UNESCO. In preparing this post I … 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