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.
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.
Famously dubbed the Paris of the East, Beirut is a city of contradictions: It’s the city where you’ll see people on the street bearing nose jobs and flashy cars (usually paid for on finance), passing by buildings pocked with bullet holes left behind by the civil war and tangled electricity cables from the generators keeping … Continue reading 24 Hours in Beirut
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.
We were deeply saddened yesterday to learn of the passing of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, the Head of State and visionary leader of the Sultanate of Oman. After almost 50 years as Sultan, Qaboos leaves behind a legacy of economic and social development, regional peace-making, and an Omani culture with kindness and tolerance at its heart. Oman’s new Sultan Haitham bin Tariq was sworn into power in Muscat on Saturday. Here are five things you need to know about the new Sultan of Oman...
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.
Halah Al Hamrani is a Saudi martial arts instructor and owner of the FLAG (Fight Like a Girl) Boxing gym in Jeddah. A pioneer in the emerging Saudi women’s fitness industry, Halah teaches women to challenge themselves and push their limits. Women in Saudi Arabia have typically been discouraged from sports, but as the country starts … Continue reading Halah Hamrani: The Saudi boxing instructor teaching women to ‘Fight Like a Girl’
It’s hard to imagine a society that prohibits the participation and viewing of sports based on gender. Unfortunately, this is the case in Iran. There was a brief period in 2006 when then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that women would be allowed to attend football matches, until Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei intervened and reinstated the ban. … Continue reading The Iranian women’s movement is seeing a slow revolution
Bassem Youssef, a heart surgeon living with his wife and baby daughter in Cairo, was one of millions of Egyptians whose lives were changed forever by the Arab Spring. His story, however, is unique. Nicknamed ‘the Jon Stewart of Egypt’, Bassem shot to fame for uploading political satire videos to YouTube from his laundry room, … Continue reading Revolution for Dummies: The Egyptian heart surgeon exiled for making jokes