Farewell, Damascus: On the Road to Freedom

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

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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

15 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. These 13 podcasts deconstruct Middle Eastern history, politics, culture and the economy to give you a … Continue reading 13 essential podcasts to help you understand the Middle East

‘Dancing on the heads of snakes’: Yemen after Ali Abdullah Saleh

Today marks the 7th anniversary of the beginning of the Yemeni uprising that unseated the country’s President, Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saleh craftily played tribes, Islamist groups and foreign governments off against one another throughout his 33-year rule and he continued to do so after he was ousted from power in 2011. But his most recent … Continue reading ‘Dancing on the heads of snakes’: Yemen after Ali Abdullah Saleh

Iran’s city of lies – Extraordinary stories of love, sex and death in Tehran

The Islamic Republic of Iran stumbled into 2018 making headlines around the world. Thousands of citizens have taken to the streets in recent weeks to protest the country’s staggering economy, corruption and rising prices. It is the first widespread opposition movement the Islamic Republic has seen since 2009, but this time, something’s different. In 2009, … Continue reading Iran’s city of lies – Extraordinary stories of love, sex and death in Tehran

Leena Al Ayoobi – The Bahraini artist recreating the image of women in the Gulf

Contrary to common stereotypes, there was a time when bright colours reigned in the Arabian Peninsula, before the black abaya became fashionable. Self-taught Bahraini artist Leena Al Ayoobi takes us back to these roots in her paintings, portraying beautifully the vibrancy of Arabic culture and highlighting the diversity and individuality of Arab women that is … Continue reading Leena Al Ayoobi – The Bahraini artist recreating the image of women in the Gulf