Falconry: The UAE’s most sacred sport

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

Evelyn Naón Ibiza – Scents of the Silk Road

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

4 Things that may surprise you on a first trip to Egypt

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.

From rocks to agriculture – the ingenuity of the Omani Aflaj system

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

Misfat Al Abriyeen: A peaceful oasis in Oman’s Hajar Mountains

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

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. 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.