Blog archive: All

  • 25th August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    It's looking as if Lebanon will not have a new government until late next month – after the end of Ramadan. Ms Tee, blogging at B-side Beirut, outlines three current theories about the reasons for the delay: 1. Michel Aoun is making impossible demands 2. Saudi Arabia and Syria (the...
  • 24th August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    This morning I noted, with a hint of scepticism, the Yemeni government's claim that the bodies of 100 Houth rebels had been found on roadsides around Harf Sufyan. The official government news agency has now issued a statement saying the claim was untrue. A previous government...
  • 24th August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    This has been widely reported elsewhere, so I’ll just note it for the record.  The Yemeni government says the bodies of 100 Houthi rebels have been found on roadsides around Harf Sufyan. "It seems these are members who had attempted to escape from the fierce fighting in Sufyan...
  • 23rd August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Arabic has many expressions that you won’t find explained in a standard dictionary. This is not just a problem for foreigners: Moroccans talking to Saudis, or vice versa, can find themselves equally baffled. Abdullah Arif, a 23-year-old Saudi living in Dubai, has come up with a smart...
  • 23rd August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    An interesting hijab debate has broken out in the Emirates after Dubai Bank, apparently without consulting staff, ordered all female employees – Muslim and non-Muslim alike – to wear a headscarf and abaya. "Our bank is Islamic and must follow sharia in all respects, which will satisfy...
  • 23rd August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Not before time, the US embassy in Sana’a issued a statement yesterday expressing “deep concern” at the continuing conflict between the Yemeni millitary and the Houthi rebels. The statement continued: We call on both parties to return to the ceasefire that was established last year....
  • 23rd August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Not before time, the US embassy in Sana’a issued a statementyesterday expressing “deep concern” at the continuing conflict between the Yemeni millitary and the Houthi rebels. The statement continued: We call on both parties to return to the ceasefire that was established last year. In the...
  • 22nd August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    I can’t imagine why the Yemeni government’s news agency decided to publish this article, unless to show the disaffected citizens of Sana’a and Aden how fortunate they are. It’s an extraordinary description of life in Jawf province, just over 100 miles from the capital, which borders Saudi...
  • 22nd August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Endemic corruption is a problem that Arabs grumble about endlessly, though it rarely gets analysed in much detail. All credit, then, to the Syria Comment blog for tackling this touchy subjecthead-on. "Though Syria is no exception," it says, "one cannot but be struck by how...
  • 22nd August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Searching Arabic websites can be tricky if you don't have an Arabic keyboard. But now a new search engine called Linguos claims to have overcome that problem. You just type the words phonetically in the Roman alphabet. When Linguos is unsure what you mean it displays various...
  • 21st August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The latest issue of the Yemen Times gives a rare glimpse of daily life in the Saada war zone: In the countryside of Saada, there is no electricity or phone service and generators can be deadly. According to one resident of rural Dhahyan, her neighbours communicate by hand-written...
  • 21st August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    With a presidential “election” coming up in Tunisia in October, you might think Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s position looks secure. The 72-year-old dictator has been in power since 1987 and the last time he sought a popular mandate, in 2004, he secured an incredible 94.48% of the votes. But...

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