Blog archive: All

  • 21st September 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A ceremony where American journalist Seymour Hersh was due to be presented with an award for an error-strewn article about a chemical attack in Syria has been cancelled. [See update here] Three weeks ago Hersh was named as this year's winner of the Sam Adams Award "for integrity and...
  • 16th September 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Journeys through Arab lands have generated a large body of literature over the centuries, some written by western Orientalists and some by Arabs themselves. A remarkable new addition in the latter category is The Travels of Ibn Fudayl, due to be published for the first time in English next...
  • 15th September 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The London conference on Qatar, which has caused much hullabaloo over the last couple of weeks, took place yesterday – attended by numerous video cameras and a rather sparse audience of around 150 people, many of whom had badges saying "staff" or "press". The controversial event had been...
  • 13th September 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Despite having assistance from two PR firms – one headed by an American who used to organise events at the White House – the controversial and much-heralded "Qatar opposition" conference due to be held in London tomorrow is looking rather shambolic. After sending out vaguely-worded...
  • 11th September 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The controversial and much-heralded "Qatari opposition" conference due to be held in London on Thursday will be attended by "hundreds of world-renowned political figures, policy makers, academics, commentators and Qataris", according to a press release. However, the venue, conference programme...
  • 9th September 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Qatar, which is reportedly paying a public relations firm $50,000 month to "improve ties with the Jewish community worldwide", has accused the UAE of employing "Zionists" to organise an anti-Qatar conference. A news item published in Arabic by the Qatari-owned al-Jazeera on Thursday began...
  • 8th September 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Saudi/Emirati squabble with Qatar which began in May with a fake news item on a hacked website has continued in the form of a virtual reality game which almost nobody outside the Gulf views as seriously as the protagonists themselves.  The latest round of cat-fighting relates to a...
  • 7th September 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Seymour Hersh, the American journalist who wrote an error-strewn article about the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Syria, is this year's winner of an annual prize for truth-telling. He is due to be presented with the Sam Adams Award for Integrity on September 22 during a...
  • 6th September 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    In 2012, as armed conflict raged in Syria, the Assad regime gave assurances it would never use chemical weapons against its own people, "no matter what the internal developments in this crisis are". Speaking at a news conference, foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi insisted the country...
  • 5th September 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A public relations firm which became notorious for assisting dodgy regimes – including several in the Middle East – has finally got its comeuppance. London-based Bell Pottinger has been expelled from the PRCA (the trade body for "respectable" PR firms) for bringing the industry into...
  • 31st August 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Writing about conflicts in the Middle East for the New York Times yesterday, columnist Thomas Friedman talked of "the power that is lost to a society like Syria or Iraq that needs an iron fist to make its many into one, and when that fist is removed, how the society fractures into small shards"....
  • 29th August 2017
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    On August 8 Muhammad Fadli, a fashion photographer from Singapore, arrived in Abu Dhabi for a photo shoot, accompanied by his friend, Nur Ibrahim. The next day they were arrested in the food court of a shopping mall for the allegedly indecent act of "wearing women's clothes in public". Both...

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