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INSIGHT: Egypt and Flaws in the Modern Personality Cult

Anti-Morsi protesters hold a poster depicting the head of Egypt's armed forces, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in Cairo's Tahrir Square July 3, 2013. (Reuters)

Once, when Hosni Mubarak still led Egypt, I met a man in his mid-20s on a dusty, congested street near Tahrir Square. When he extended his hand to shake mine for the first time, I noticed a small black cross tattooed on his inner wrist, a discreet but potent reminder of his membership in More »

INSIGHT: Women and Sports in Saudi Arabia

Last summer, I wrote about two young women from Saudi Arabia, Wojdan Shaherkani and Sarah Attar, who were the first Saudi women ever to compete in the Olympics. They had to endure criticism from conservatives at home and lots of discussion about what they would wear to compete, but they served as a powerful More »

SYRIA WITNESS: When Snipers Leave, Students Return to Classes

Sami of Qusayr, by his own account an English lecturer, gave up teaching at his university to support Syria’s revolution. When government forces began to vacate local schools they had seized he agreed to resume teaching, not to university students but to 11th-graders. Read his story below. Middle East Voices’ “Syria Witness” series features personal More »

INSIGHT: Women in the Workforce in the Arab World

A great debate has been raging over whether the so-called Arab Spring has been good or bad for the women of the region. Some argue that the rise of Islamist governments in places like Egypt and Tunisia has led to a stark reversal of women’s rights. Others believe that the vibrant social and political More »

QUICKTAKE: Using Art to Reveal Love, Hate in Syria Conflict

A graduate of the Faculty of Fine Arts at Damascus University, Tammam Azzam, abandoned a successful decade as a promising painter to escape the dangers of the Syrian war. He settled into a small apartment in Dubai with a computer and some PhotoShop software to embark on a new artistic mission: to vividly convey More »

QUICKTAKE: Losing World Heritage in Syria’s Civil War

In Syria, much of the heaviest fighting between government forces and rebels seeking to topple the regime of President Bashar al-Assad occurs on terrain with landmarks of immeasurable historical value . Videos and the global media report revolutionary brigades seeking shelter in medieval castles, flames destroying Aleppo’s shops dating back to medieval times (pictured More »

INSIGHT: Youth, Change, and the Future of Saudi Arabia

Saudi watchers have for years debated the stability of the kingdom. In the 1960s, with internecine rivalries dividing the royal family and the kingdom struggling to pay its debts, some American diplomats predicted that the House of Saud wouldn’t last but a few more years. When extremists took control of the Grand Mosque in More »

INSIGHT: Tunisia’s Post-Revolution Blues

At least Tunisia is not as bad as Egypt – that is the hardly comforting good news coming out of the country where the Arab Spring began more than two years ago. The bad news is that Tunisia has come up far short of the lofty expectations set by Tunisians and outsiders in January More »

‘Harlem Shaking’ It Up Across the Middle East

Just when the Gangnam Style craze began to fizzle, and we thought that the world would be spared another viral dance phenomenon, enter the Harlem Shake.   It began as a 2012 heavy bass instrumental music track produced by Baauer, the stage name of American music producer Harry Rodrigues,  uploaded to YouTube in August 2012.  More »

INSIGHT: Crucial Year Ahead for Jordan Reforms

Jordanians elected a new parliament last month in the first vote since the Arab uprisings broke out. With little enthusiasm for the insufficient political reforms initiated by the government thus far, voter turnout was low. And, unsurprisingly, the result is a new parliament that is similar to the widely unpopular one it is replacing. Jordan More »

VOICES: Tunisia and Lebanon – a Tale of Two Assassinations

For some in Tunisia, the degree of resemblance between the assassination of Tunisian liberal opposition leader Chokri Belaid on February 6, 2013, and the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri on February 14, 2005, is disconcerting. With the anniversary of Hariri’s death upon us, Tunisian politicians grappling with a solution to the More »

QUICKTAKE: 3 Things Obama Could Do to Better US Image

With fresh anti-American sentiment growing in some parts of the Middle East and North Africa, Economist Intelligence Unit expert Robert Powell offers some thoughts on what President Barack Obama could do to counter the trend. Powell spoke with VOA’s Susan Yackee. Yackee: What does President Obama need to do to improve his image in the More »

INSIGHT: Tunisia Assassination Highlights Stability Threat

The assassination of prominent Tunisian secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid highlights the growing threat of militancy in the country. This threat has the potential to deepen the divide between the secular and Islamist factions within Tunisia and delay the transition to a permanent government. Meanwhile, the Islamist-led interim government in Tunis is attempting to More »

VOICES: Youth Will Define Yemen’s Future

Positive civil and political youth activism has been the most rewarding result of the Yemeni uprising of 2011. Individual activism, youth initiatives and the participation of youth in new political parties have introduced fresh approaches and perspectives to Yemen’s civil and political arenas. This youth involvement is already changing the landscape in Yemen. For example, in More »

VOICES: President Morsi’s Finger & Human Dignity in Egypt

When declaring a state of emergency in the canal cities in response to clashes in Port Said last week, President Mohamed Morsi finally showed Egyptians his “bad cop” side after months of “good cop” rhetoric filled with invocations of “hugs” and “love.” What quickly became viral from the announcement was the clip of the More »

INSIGHT: Will the Saudi Model Survive?

When the plane of deposed Tunisian dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali touched down in Jeddah in January 2011, the Saudi monarchy’s worst nightmare re-emerged. Ben Ali was a close personal friend of then Saudi strongman, the late Saudi Crown Prince and longtime Interior Minister Naif bin Abdulaziz al-Saud. For the Saudi monarchs, seeing two More »

INSIGHT: Bolstering Education and Science in the Arab World

A decade ago, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) shone a spotlight on the sorry state of education in the Arab world with its inaugural Arab Human Development Report in 2002, and its 2003 follow-on report, “Building a Knowledge Society.” The reports’ statistics still shock: in one year, Spain translates the same number of More »

INSIGHT: Women of the Arab Spring, Beyond Objects and Subjects

The Arab Spring introduced us to the strength and determination of the many Arab women who took to the streets and the Internet to call for change in their governments and societies. Gone were the stereotypes of oppression and passivity. In their place were voices and faces of hope, courage and indomitable spirit, calling More »

QUICKTAKE: Three Big Issues Facing a New Israeli Government

With Israel’s new Knesset polarized and, in broad strokes, almost evenly divided between right and center-left following recent parliamentary elections, it remains to be seen what type of government will emerge to lead the country into the near future – or whether a government can be formed at all. A final tally of the vote More »

INSIGHT: Women in Politics in Saudi Arabia

Just days ago, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah made history when he named thirty women to the kingdom’s Shura Council, an appointed advisory body that cannot enact legislation but is still the closest institution to a parliament in that country. He also amended the Shura Council’s law to ensure that women would make up no less than More »