Mohammad bin Salman is the prince of PR

the spectator, march 10, 2018

Beware despots bearing gifts 

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Saving Reason for Islam

the nation, september 6, 2017

Sari Nusseibeh's career shows how difficult it can be. 

Reading Darwin in Arabic, by Marwa Elshakry

the new york review of books, june 4, 2015

An authoritative exploration of evolutionist thought in the Arab world, and the ground it has now lost to the forces of fear and obscurantism. 

Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East, by Eugene Rogan

The guardian, april 28, 2015

The Oxford professor puts the people of the Middle East at the heart of their own story, in contrast to earlier accounts that concentrated on the foreigners. 

Timbuktu, by Abdurrahmane Sissako

the new york review of books, february 22, 2015

Abrurrahmane Sissako's beautiful, Oscar-nominated film is a song against the jihadists. 

Mecca: the Sacred City, by Ziauddin Sardar

the guardian, november 20, 2014

The Pilrgimage is now an adjunct to the retail' - the House of Saud will not like this thoughtful new history of Islam's citadel. 

Francis Bedford’s Middle East photographs

The guardian, november 8, 2014

When the Prince of Wales was sent away on a trip to the Middle East to prevent him behaving badly, Francis Bedford went with him – the pictures he took captured famous sites unchanged for thousands of years. 


Baghdad, by Justin Marozzi

The Guardian, June 11 2014

'Once Paradise ... now turned to desert.' This splendid history, which takes in invasions and incest, tries to get to the unchanging essence of the Iraqi capital.


Lawrence in Arabia, by Scott Anderson

The Guardian, March 14 2014

A natural leader with a glorious irreverence. But Scott Anderson's book also explores how TE Lawrence - and three of his contemporaries - contributed to the making of the modern Middle East

Faisal I of Iraq, by Ali Allawi

The financial times, January 31 2014

The Hashemites are the Bourbons of the Middle East; history could not be written without them. Here is the first full-length biography of perhaps the most influential of them all.

In the Supreme Shrine

The New York Review of Books, April 26 2012

The pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj, is the supreme expression of global Islam. Here is my review of a blockbuster British Museum exhibition on the subject. 


The Shiites Under Occupation

The New York Review of Books, March 14 2003

In 2003, I crossed the Iranian border into Iraq and witnessed the birth of today's Shia state. 


Granta, July 2013

The looting of the Baghdad's famous museum was one of the most notorious events in the American invasion of Iraq. Here is the inside story of what happened.