Wrestling with Egypt

THE ARAB UPRISINGS, for all the ensuing violence, have left a legacy of bold and creative media ventures. Without them, the Middle East’s public space would be shaped in the image of failed regimes, whose answer to growing socioeconomic needs is mostly limited to repression and propaganda. In Egypt, the independent digital daily Mada Masr…

Myths and merits of crowdfunding

THE SOCIAL MEDIA AGE has brought growing popularity to the premise of crowdfunding: Mobilizing ordinary people, via digital tools, to financially and morally support personal initiatives. The model offers an alternative to more institutional options, which small-scale actors may find overly bureaucratic, competitive, or at odds with their vision. Moreover, high-performing crowdfunding campaigns often make…

Treading the Iraqi minefield

FOR OVER TWO DECADES, Loulouwa Al Rachid has carried out groundbreaking fieldwork in Iraq, mostly in highly adverse circumstances: the grinding authoritarianism and grueling economic sanctions of the 1990s; the build-up to and aftermath of the U.S. invasion of 2003; the ensuing civil war; all the way up to the recent struggle to reclaim territory…

The mechanics of Arab visual identity

A WELL-ROUNDED PHOTOGRAPHER, Ammar Abd Rabbo has covered, over the past 25 years, anything from catwalks to military parades, and back, from political leaders to ordinary citizens taking them on. Throughout his career, he has opted for provocative, uncompromising views: condemning the esthetics of misery rewarded by photography prizes; embracing unapologetically the Syrian uprising, which he…

Deciphering Syria

AS THE CONFLICT DEEPENED in Syria post-2011, Kheder Khaddour turned to reporting and research. His meticulous work quickly surfaced as offering some of the most valuable and durable insights, standing out in a flood of instant commentary. A scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center, he focuses on civil-military relations and social boundaries. Kheder, what…

Modern-day Socrates

A PARADOXICAL JOURNALIST AND RESEARCHER, Mongi Abdennabi articulates inspiring analysis that he never shares, other than through oral exchanges. A Tunisian intellectual who lived much of his adult life in Syria before moving to Egypt, he has traveled to and has friends in most Arab countries. Although he hardly writes himself, he has a keen…

The melody of the interview

THERE IS A MUSICALITY to all interviews, big and small. The tempo will change and the conversation may explore various tones, but a good discussion is one where the rhythm never really breaks, and phrases respond to each other harmoniously. Even a vivid debate, or a tough negotiation, can become a pleasant and fulfilling experience, when different people playing different tunes are brought into accord by some…

Reconciling conflicting narratives

LEBANON IS A COUNTRY POLARISED between conflicting narratives if there ever was one. Most often, Lebanese genuinely entertain perfectly incompatible views of any meaningful event, to the point of making it difficult to establish facts or forge an opinion of one’s own. As the International Crisis Group’s senior analyst in Lebanon, Sahar al-Atrache has been…

The art of editing

A GREAT PIECE OF WRITING is always a collaborative product. We seek inspiration from others and generally borrow more ideas than we are aware of. We improve our writing skills through critical feedback we take into account, iteratively. And a good text will always gain from a good editor. But that is a rare bird: many…