I would like to make clear what my blogs will be about. I have spent many years researching the Middle East within various contexts; gender, nation, media, culture and politics. I have spent many years working within various broadcasters; both Middle Eastern and European/International news organisations. I am a research student aiming to gain a doctorate within the subject of middle eastern identity within Arab entertainment. During both my academic and professional experience what I have often seen are two positions on the Middle East; the European/American perspective alongside the Arab perspective. In many respects commentary on this topic has often lead to a negative analysis of the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA). Reading and watching reporting of the region often leaves me feeling both a little depressed and frustrated. Depressed by a region which is constantly faced with conflict and revolutions is covered in the press to an extent as being negative. Frustrated by many Arab writers/journalists who articulate an argument based on anger – often presenting an emotional and heated debate rather than presenting a calm and informed position. Usually it is bad news that makes the headlines! By bad news I mean terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism and civil unrest/disobedience/war and conflict. It is rare that there is positive news from the region which dominate news coverage. I do not aim to provide positive news; I aim to critique the news that is out there and offer a different commentary and shed light to an alternative perspective. I aim to present other information that is usually absent within international news in the “Western” media. I also aim to critique some of the journalists and activists that write actively in the Middle East who offer nothing but a subjective position borne of frustration and anger at a system that is assumed to be some how based on draconian ideals.
I am both Middle Eastern and British. My parents are from the Middle East and I was born in the United Kingdom. My parents raised me as a Christian, I am an agnostic. I have always viewed the Middle East with curiosity and to an extent envy. Envy because of it’s rich ancient history, it’s religious diversity and cultural heritage. The road of silk and spice which ran through the Middle East reaching central Asia and the far east was one of the oldest trading routes in the world; encouraging economic trade and travel. When I see Damascus in flames it breaks my heart knowing that one of the oldest remaining markets in the world is being destroyed. When I see Palestinian suffering I ask myself why? Why is this allowed, supported and encouraged?! Some of us remember South Africa and apartheid; there was an international outcry at the human suffering that was being watched by millions all around the world and yet, Palestinian suffering is somehow justified. When I see the Arab Spring which has killed many and the once autocratic or even secular leaders have been toppled and replaced by Islamist leaders I shudder. When I hear of the human rights violations and the gender inequalities in the Gulf Corporation Council countries I cringe and wonder why such oil rich countries are making billions of US$’s and their violations are being ignored for the sake of the political economy.
These are a few of the themes I will address in my blog. I may also provide film reviews and critical criticism of events and reporting.
I would like to encourage academics, intellectuals and critical thinkers to read my posts. I would like anyone who has any interest in the Middle East within a political and cultural context to read my posts.
My intention is not to attract conspiracy theorists or religious fundamentalists.
I hope to have some interesting responses to my notes and posts.
Finally, I hope that who ever reads my posts is not offended or upset by the views expressed.