July 2020 – The world’s best-known Arabic dictionary started off as a Nazi propaganda project and cost a young Jewish scholar her life. It’s time Hedwig Klein received the posthumous recognition she deserves.
June 2020 – Atheists are amongst the most marginalised and persecuted minorities in the Arab world. Despite the risks atheists face from the state and vigilantes, atheism has become more visible and vocal in recent years, leading to greater public understanding and tolerance.
January 2020 – For Western Muslims, Christmas is just outside their doorsteps. For some, Christmas even skips merrily in from the cold and crosses the threshold into their homes.
February 2019 – Salman Rushdie made a very unlikely target for the fury of conservative Muslims, which is why the opportunistic fatwa issued by a Khomeini in serious decline took the novelist and the world by surprise.
June 2018 – Baladi is one of those elusive Arabic words that can mean different things to different people at different times.
June 2018 – In much of the world, ‘Muslim’ is often used as a marker of ethnic origin rather than of religion. This must change.
June 2018 – Ramadan is the time of year when hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world abstain from food or drink. But one group of fasters suffers a special variety of thirst this time of year: Muslims who drink alcohol.
May 2018 – Arab audiences are not ready for the return to music of a pop superstar who became a Salafist extremist and allegedly took up arms against the Lebanese state.
December 2017 – A visit by an Israeli Jewish blogger to some of Islam’s holiest sites has stirred up controversy and anger. But should it have?
September 2017 – Syrian Rami Basisah and his violin have been through hell and high water together. His childhood dream of becoming a world-famous musician is about to come true. But the trauma of losing is country means he cannot enjoy his success.
August 2017 – “A lot of Syrians are indulging in a nostalgia that requires a lot of denial,” says Syrian-American author Alia Malek. “This is why I’m a student of history, not to live in a fantasy but to learn why and how we are where we are today.”
November 2016 – We need to reach a future in which the religious freedom of Muslims who wish to hear the call to prayer does not infringe upon the peace of mind of non-Muslims and non-practising Muslims.
September 2016 – Like the Berlin Wall and other political barriers, the Israeli wall has witnessed an explosion of protest art on its concrete canvas.
July 2016 – Despite having acquired some 21st-century trappings, Eid al-Fitr’s mix of religion and revelry is hundreds of years old.
May 2016 – The Middle Eastern practice of assigning a faith to every citizen and a separate court system for each religion promotes division and sectarianism.
April 2016 – By following two young girls on their voyage of discovery of Sunni and Shia Islam, a new documentary highlights the insanity of Islamic sectarianism.
March 2016 – Mizrahi Jews are reviving the Arabic music of their heritage and fusing it with new influences, which is proving popular with young Palestinians.
March 2016 – The surreal “lovejacking” of an EgyptAir flight adds a new dimension to the western image of the Arab man: the hopeless romantic and dedicated lover.
March 2016 – A new Palestinian film fictionalises the plight of female Palestinian prisoners of conscience in Israel: from hunger-striking to child birth.
February 2016 – The battle between Egyptian revolutionary and counterrevolutionary forces is being played out in caricature.
January 2016 – The changing depiction of women in Palestinian political art reflects the shifting perceptions of their role and position in society.
January 2016 – The Mogamma, that high temple of Egyptian bureaucracy, will be shut down. Welcome as it is, this will not solve the underlying problem of “el-routine”.
November 2015 – Counterintuitive as it may sound, ISIS is proof that the clash of civilisations is a myth. The reality is that interests clash, while cultures mix.
November 2015 – Untha is a rare Jerusalem-based label which reimagines traditional Palestinian fashions for the 21st century and pays tribute to Palestinian women.
November 2015 – Despite the racism contained in Tintin and other classic children’s tales, I believe that children should be exposed to them.
October 2015 – In light of the continuing legacy of Saddam Hussein’s rule and the US invasion of Iraq, is it appropriate to stage a comedy about the former despot?
October 2015 – In Syria, Amer and Raghda found liberation from political prison in love. But as refugees in Europe, their love became hostage to politics and guilts.
August 2015 – “Dance is resistance. It’s the most refined way for us, the Palestinian people, to express our cause… Dance is a form of liberation.”
July 2015 – The ban on eating and drinking in public in some Muslim countries is wrong. Piety cannot and must not be imposed by law.
July 2015 – The late Omar Sharif was living, breathing, walking proof that there is nothing inherently irreconcilable between the Middle East and the West.
July 2015 – Despite outlandish conspiracy theories, a Ramadan TV drama about Egypt’s lost Jewish community is not a missive to Israel but an ode to pluralism.
June 2015 – The most delicious way to a society’s soul is through its stomach, believes the creator of Palestine on a Plate.
June 2015 – The Hagia Sophia must not become a mosque. If its status must change, it should become a space of tolerance, where both Christian and Muslim worship.
June 2015 – For a century, Café Riche was a microcosm of Cairo’s bewildering contradictions, and a “refuge from the pain of loneliness” for intellectuals.
May 2015 – The replacement of one snobbish justice minister in Egypt with another who believes judges are lords and masters shows how deep elitism runs.
May 2015 – Though halal sex may sound as logical as kosher bacon, it does make ts own sense. Some Muslims are utilising the concept to break the taboo around sex.
April 2015 – A mysterious ring in a dead Viking woman’s tomb shows how Northern Europeans came into contact with Muslims and Islam before even becoming Christian.
March 2015 – The selfie fad has reached epidemic proportions, but we don’t live in more narcissistic times. Selfie-absorption is as old as civilisation itself.
January 2015 – Revolutionary disappointment in Egypt has concealed the ongoing social revolution whose shifting sands are likely to result in a political earthquake.
January 2015 – Muhammad’s self-appointed defenders take offence on his behalf, but the prophet would’ve tolerated Charlie Hebdo and condemned the savage murders.
January 2015 – Filmmakers are moving away from the headline conflict to shed light on real life in Palestine as lived by actual Palestinians, both real and fictional.
January 2015 – The romantic myth that Arabs share “one heart and one spirit” led pan-Arabism to talk unity while walking the path of disunity.
December 2014 – If an Arab says he’ll kill you, don’t worry – he wants to buy you dinner. Whether Arabic dialects are a single language is politcal, not linguistic.
December 2014 – With ISIS’s destruction of Mosul’s heritage, it is no longer the “Pear of the North”. But it’s people will rise up and reclaim their ancient city.
December 2014 – The Islamic State’s (ISIS) destruction of Mosul’s ethnic diversity is more heart-breaking than the erasure of its architectural and cultural heritage.
June 2014 – ISIS really doesn’t get what restoring the caliphate means. Here’s how in six simple steps, from Caliphornian wine to cultural melting pots.
June 2014 – The power of Palestinian literature lies in its ability to make a word of difference, gradually shifting perceptions and, through them, reality.
May 2014 – With students caught between a book and a hard place in these austere times, they are resorting to new ranking tools to help decide where to study.
May 2014 – In Oh My Sweet Land, the kitchen acts as the stage where events in Syria are played out, people’s fates are sealed and political plots are cooked up.
March 2014 – In Egypt and other Arab countries, the atheism taboo has been broken. Atheists are rebelling against the status quo and demanding to be seen and heard.
March 2014 – The outside world primarily see Palestinians as two-dimensional heroes or villains. A new generation of artists and writers is adding a vital third dimension, the human.
November 2013 – In Israel-Palestine, a peace without the people has left two peoples without peace. That’s why I’m writing a book about these most intimate of enemies.
October 2013 – Despite the risks, more and more atheists are coming out of the closet in Egypt, emboldened by the revolution’s ethos of freedom and dignity.
اكتوبر 2013 – رغم عدم الإعتراف بهم، الملحدين ايضاً اولاد بلد ويجب على الدولة والمجتمع ان يعطوهم حقوقهم
October 2013 – Conversing about camel’s milk may not be the most useful Arabic to learn, but learning the language can open up the Arab world to Europeans.
October 2013 – Muslim and Christian bigots who don’t speak Arabic believe that “Allah” is only for Muslims. They are wrong: Allah is God and God is Allah.
July 2013 – Unlike eye colour and skin tone, religion is not hereditary. This reality must be reflected in Egyptian identity documents and personal status laws.
July 2013 – Can the skin-deep world of the Miss Israel beauty pageant help combat the ugly face of discrimination and prejudice against Palestinians in Israel?
May 2013 – Those who fear Muslim influence should raise a glass to the Sultan of Style when they freshen up, don the latest fashions or enjoy dining out.
May 2013 – A shop called Hitler in Egypt raises some uncomfortable questions about Arab perceptions of the Nazi dictator.
May 2013 – If we can have gay and interfaith marriages in the West, then why not polygamous ones?
May 2013- The curious case of Arab men reportedly deported for being “too handsome” demonstrates that the beautiful can also be the victims of discrimination.
April 2013 – Multiculturalism is enriching and as easy as child’s play. But as the winds of intolerance blow harder, it may become a liability for my son and his generation.
March 2013 – In telling the story of Egypt’s vanished Jewish community, a new documentary sheds light on a forgotten chapter of history.
December 2012 – My time in Israel and Palestine, where everything is politics, has taught me that it is the human that is holy, not the land.
December 2012 – Can art help the Palestinian struggle or is it a preoccupation those living under occupation can ill-afford?
September 2012 – Israeli novelist Amos Oz believes that Jewish civilisation is founded on dissent and non-conformity, but how true is this?
September 2012 – The spread of print media in the 19th century played a profound role in shaping modern Egyptian nationalism and its quest for full independence.
September 2012 – As a clash of idiocies erupts over the depiction of Muhammad in an obscure Islamophobic film, it’s time for a sober look at the man behind the prophet.
August 2012 – Many Muslims believe that fasting is good for their health, but is science on their side?
August 2012 – Even for a non-believing Egyptian, Ramadan in Jerusalem – where the three Abrahamic faiths coincide and oft collide – is a fascinating experience.
اغسطس 2012 – يعتقد ساسون سومخ، الشاعر والكاتب وصديق الأديب المصري الراحل نجيب محفوظ، ان الأدب يتسامى على السياسة
August 2012 – Sasson Somekh, critic and friend of the late Egyptian Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz, believes literature transcends politics and can bridge cultures.
July 2012 – Living behind the ‘Zion Curtain’ reveals how alike Israelis and Palestinians are and how ordinary people must build common ground on this shared land.
June 2012 – The world’s largest Arabic-language press archive is located in Israel. Should Arabs use it or boycott it?
May 2012 – The polarised debate over Arab women overlooks the fact that men can be victims of the patriarchy too and their identity is a cultural battlefield.
March 2012 – Bestselling Israeli historian Shlomo Sand identity politics, political despair, why Lieberman is right… and drowning sorrows with Mahmoud Darwish.
March 2012 – Arab men who do not fit the traditional ideal of manhood are often regarded as inferior, and this stereotype holds back the emancipation of women.
March 2012 – The reopening of a landmark East Jerusalem cinema could provide local Palestinians with a much-needed dose of ‘reel’ freedom. Read in Arabic
October 2011 – Jailing Egyptians for insulting religion and the military goes against the revolution’s spirit, and violates people’s secular and sacred rights.
October 2011 – Although alcohol is ‘haraam’, Muslim societies have rarely managed to stay on the wagon, and vital parts of their culture have developed under the influence.
September 2011 – As a rare Egyptian in Jerusalem, I have felt something akin to being a B-list celebrity.
September 2011 – Although designed to instil loyalty to the regime, Egyptian schools have been breeding grounds for rebellion and revolt.
August 2011 – Ramadan is when Muslims fast and feast, but the holy month has something to offer those of other faiths, or none.
August 2011 – Zahi Hawass may liken himself to Indiana Jones, but the minister of antiquities is one artifact of the old regime Egyptians want to live without.
July 2011 – Egyptian atheists and religious sceptics are a minority that exists in reality but not in official statistics.
March 2011 – Egyptians will no longer tolerate paying for the state-run newspapers that peddled Hosni Mubarak’s propaganda.
February 2011 – Egyptians’ lavish burial spaces offer comfort to relatives – while 1.5 million less fortunate Cairenes live among the dead.
January 2011 – Egypt’s ‘baksheesh’ culture helps poor people get by and maintains relative social peace, but it encourages subservience.
December 2010 – Animal rights activists are calling for global vegetarianism, but the Middle East is not ready to sacrifice its meat-eating lifestyle.
November 2010 – Some in the west are more likely to believe in elves in Middle Earth than in Arab men in the Middle East who are secular and do not oppress women.
August 2010 – Love is a universal theme in music, but there are good reasons for the Arab world’s preoccupation with romance.
August 2010 – Malta’s complex heritage is living proof that cultures mash more than civilisations clash.
July 2010 – Activists in Egypt should look to the hippy movement of the 1960s for a successful model in bringing about long-term social change.
July 2010 – Advocates of banning the face veil want to take away the only choice some women have – the choice to conform.
June 2010 – Being monolingual can be limiting, so why not learn another language and get a new perspective on the world?
May 2010 – Rima Fakih’s Miss USA win is welcomed by many Arab-Americans, but some neocons denounce it as a sinister Islamic plot.
May 2010 – Following the lead of Islamists, Egyptian Christians are trying to ban an award-winning novel because it ‘insults’ Christianity.
April 2010 – In multicultural families, deciding on where to raise your child is no easy matter and has profound implications for the future.
February 2010 – For a new generation of young Egyptian artists, music is not just about love.
January 2010 – Author and journalist Brian Whitaker diagnoses the Arab world’s problems.
January 2010 – A Saudi journalist is demanding that women be given the right to four husbands. Should equality mean monogamy or polygamy for all?
December 2009 – The British are famously reserved, but so are the Belgians. Let’s break the ice and make the public sphere more friendly.
November 2009 – Much as we’d like our children to hold the same things dear as we do, we should have enough faith in them to let them choose their own belief system.
November 2009 – Are Saudi Arabian beauty shows for goats as weird and outlandish as they seem?
November 2009 – Learning Arabic is tough but it can open you up to a whole new world of cultural experiences and opportunities, not to mention build understanding.
November 2009 – Preparations for a World Cup showdown are getting heated, but does the animosity between Algeria and Egypt run deeper?
November 2009 – As the singer prepares to visit Egypt, Christian and Muslim fundamentalists agree: Beyoncé is the root of all evil.
October 2009 – Egyptians are slowly overcoming their fear of authority, but old habits die hard.
October 2009 – New attempts to address the divide between Egypt’s Muslims and Christians must be supported, not undermined, by the state.
October 2009 – For many Egyptians, tip-based and street jobs are their only means of survival.
September 2009 – The ‘Chinese hymen’ may make pre-marital sex safer in a patriarchal society but a woman’s honour should not lie between her legs.
September 2009 – From fashion tips to adult breastfeeding – rulings by some clerics range from the eccentric to the downright bizarre.
September 2009 – Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosny’s bid to be the chief of the UN’s cultural wing has aroused suspicion among liberals and conservatives alike.
July 2009 – Egyptian outrage at the brutal murder of Marwa Sherbini, the ‘hijab martyr’ is understandable. But If Egyptians want better justice for Muslims in Europe, then they should demand more justice for non-Muslims at home.
July 2009 – Wacky conspiracy theories cause damage by drawing attention away from the real plots being hatched by our governments.
June 2009 – For Egyptian marriage offices, the search for profit has replaced the search for a perfect union.
June 2009 – Rather than encouraging people to make moral choices, religious groups in Egypt are imposing their values by law.
April 2009 – A new book lifts the veil off Israel’s Arab face and shows how, like the Palestinians, Middle Eastern Jews fell victim to political forces beyond their control.
رغم أن ساحة الحرب الإعلامية الإسرائيلية الفلسطينية تشوبها المرارة وهي متحصنة جيداً، إلا أن على الصحفيين مسؤولية المغامرة في الأرض الحرام بين الجانبين، حتى لو عنى ذلك الوقوع في خط مرمى النار
March 2009 – Pro-Israelis and pro-Palestinian need to join forces and find common ground in the no-man’s-land of the media battlefield. Read talk
April 2009 – An outward appearance of Islamism disguises the increasingly secular reality of some Arab and Muslim societies.
March 2009 – Rumours of deadly SMS messages are symptoms of a worrying trend in Egypt – the unstoppable rise of superstition.
December 2008 – In Egypt, getting married has young people all tied up in knots.
December 2008 – An Iraqi journalist expressed his contempt for President Bush in a manner familiar in the Arab world: by throwing his shoes.
September 2008 – Egyptian women have broken their silence on sexual harassment and are demanding the right to go out in public unpestered.
September 2008 – Belief in the sacredness of the holy land has long bedevilled the quest for peace. It’s time to challenge the ‘God veto’.
August 2008 – The world isn’t short on wacky theories about Egypt’s greatest monuments. The reality is less fun, but more illuminating.