Criminal Cows and Musical Metaphors

Review of two new documentary films on the Middle East.

The Wanted 18 film still

The Dream of Shahrazad and The Wanted 18 were both screened at this year's Human Rights Watch Film Festival, and offer two very different but inspired insights into the region. Only one of them, however, really succeeds. 

Al-Araby English, 31st March 2015 [Read more...]


Islamic State and the History of Iconoclasm

Why are we so distressed by the destruction of Assyrian antiquities in Mosul Museum when people's lives in so many parts of the region are being destroyed or taken on a daily basis? Iconoclasm has traumatised people throughout history because it is associated with the worst moments of blood-letting and conquest. What is particularly horrifying today is that ISIL has a separate enterprise to eradicated the past and any communities that are different from them.

Al Jazeera English, 1st February 2015 [Read more...]


Syrian Artists Express Horror of War at London Exhibition 

Review of "The Third Space", an exhibition of work by displaced Syrian artists at the British Council in London.

Khayata quilt photo

In his photographs, Khayata features people holding or wrapped in a colourful patchwork quilt. It is an ongoing project in which Syrian refugees and host communities in Lebanon contribute small pieces of material that Khayata stitches together to form an ever-growing quilt. In return for their contributions, they pose for a photograph.

Al-Araby English, 16th February 2015 [Read more...]


Politely Crumpled Suits: Prince Edward's Middle East Tour

Review of "Cairo to Constantinople: Early Photographs of the Middle East", Queen's Gallery, London.

Pyramids with royal party 1862Today's audience is both constantly exposed to visual images and attuned to the pitfalls of Orientalist representations which objectify and distance foreign peoples. It may be surprising, then, to find that these images are utterly compelling - not only for their obvious historical importance, but also because of their quality and sheer beauty.

Al-Araby English, 1st February 2015 [Read more...]


The Male Nude

Review of L'Homme Nu at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris and The Male Nude at the Wallace Collection in London:

While L'Homme Nu offers an alternative history of Western art by displaying depictions of the male instead of the female body, The Male Nude exhibition reminds today's spectators of what used to be one of the most esteemed and institutional forms of art.

The London Magazine, February/March 2014 [Read on London Magazine website...] or [Full article...]


The Allure of the Pearl, V&A Museum

Pearl Grand Jeté broochAt once dispelling myths about nature's formation of pearls and demonstrating the skills - indeed mortal dangers - involved in diving for and trading them, "Pearls", on exhibition at the V&A museum, presents the sophisticated taste and craftsmanship that went into setting and displaying them through a spectacular array of jewellery and clothing dating back to antiquity.

The London Magazine, December 2013/January 2014 [Read on London Magazine website...] or [Full article...


A Collective Undertaking, British Museum

Review of the "Hajj" exhibition at the British Museum, London.

Ivory sundial and Qibla pointer, made by Bayram b. Ilyas. Turkey, 1582-3 The current 'Hajj' exhibition at the British Museum has been praised by Brian Sewell as 'an exhibition of profound cultural importance' and criticised by Mehdi Hasan as a 'whitewash'. It is both, as it happens, though the former finally outweighs the latter.

The London Magazine, April/May 2012 [Read more...]



Book Review: James Barr's A Line in the Sand

A Line in the Sand, by James Barr (Simon & Schuster, 464pp).

While Woodrow Wilson expressed a new zeitgeist with his criticism of European colonialism and his support for the self-determination of peoples all over the world after the First World War, the British and French remained hell-bent on moving into the Middle East.

New Statesman, 10th October 2011 [Read more...]


Essay & Memoir: My Visit to a Feudal Outpost in Mount Lebanon

MoukhtaraWalid Jumblatt, the Druze leader and head of the Progressive Socialist Party is one of the most politically canny and charismatic politicians in Lebanon today. He represents a fascinating form of feudalism that persists in a modern, democratic country.

Granta online, 24th February 2010 [Read more...]


Promised land?

Book review of It's Easier to Reach Heaven than the End of the Street, by Emma Williams (Bloomsbury, 448pp).

New Statesman, 20th November 2006 [Read more...]


Out of Africa

Book review of Assassinating Shakespeare: Confessions of a Bard in the Bush, by Thomas Goltz (Saqi Books, 256pp).

New Statesman, 7th August 2006 [Read more...]


The Arab world

Book review of Arabs, by Mark Allen (Continuum, 145pp).

The Observer, 2nd July 2006 [Read more...]


They're all doomed

Book review of Wish I Was Here, by Jackie Kay (Picador, 198pp).

The Observer, 28th May 2006 [Read more...]


Perestroika blues

Book review of The Dream Life of Sukhanov, by Olga Grushin (Viking, 354pp).

The Observer, 28th May 2006 [Read more...]


Lost fragments

Book review of The Prince, by Houshang Golshiri (Harvill, 128pp).

New Statesman, 9th January 2006 [Read more...]


Shandy but not bitter

Film feature about Michael Winterbottom's A Cock and Bull Story.

New Statesman, 14th November 2005 [Read more...]


Ancient Persia comes alive in British exhibition

Arts feature on the British Museum's exhibition The Forgotten Empire: The World of Ancient Persia.

The Daily Star, 3rd October 2005 [Read more...]


The Turkic people's journey

Arts feature on The Royal Academy of Art's exhibition Turks: A Journey of a Thousand Years, 600-1600.

The Daily Star, 2nd March 2005 [Read more...]


Refusing to cast a stone

Book review of A Certain Woman, by Hala el Badry (AUC Press, 216pp).

The Daily Star, The Review, 10th April 2004 [Read more...]


Palestinian and Israeli film-makers pair up for a journey along Route 181

Film feature about Route 181, a six-hour documentary film by Michel Khleifi and Eyal Sivan.

The Daily Star, 25th March 2004 [Read more...]


Fighting drug addiction with dramaturgy

Arts feature on a production of 12 Angry Men by a theatre company of recovering drug addicts.

The Daily Star, 22nd January 2004 [Read more...]


Israeli-Palestinian orchestra bridges chasms of misunderstanding

Arts feature about the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra at the BBC Proms in London's Royal Albert Hall.

The Daily Star, 6th September 2003 [Read more...]