Middle East

For the majority of the world the Middle East can be condensed into several streotypes; the oil giants, the strict Islamic orthodoxy, the continued conflict, Israel and Palestine, Saudia Arabia and Iran. The stereotypes do exist within the Middle East and are much discussed by academics and journalists alike. However, beyond these narrow preconceptions there exists a far greater economic and political diversity.

The Middle East is the cradle of civilisation and, as such, the region has become a rich blend of religions, ancient civilisation and modern political ideologies. Within this region of the world coexist the world’s leading Islamic powers (including the holiest sites in Islam), the world’s only Jewish state and the origins of Christianity. Cities like Baghdad, Jerusalem and Damascus have been at the centre of global politics ever since the notion of global politics emerged and their importance is as much to do with their symbolism as their strategic importance.

But whilst the ancient Middle East is crucial to our deeper understanding of the region, understanding the modern Middle East helps to understand the future of the region. Out of the oil wealth of the Arabian peninsula have emerged powerful nations and city states, such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar, have used this vast financial reserve to reshape the global economy. They have invested not only in great infrastructure projects at home that have made them centres of sport and culture but also in projects in Europe, America and Asia that have established an economic blueprint that covers the globe.

“This creed of the desert seemed inexpressible in words, and indeed in thought”.

T.E. Lawrence, (1888-1935) British Army Officer and Arabian Freedom Fighter

Middle East
Hondius, J., (1613-1616), Map of the Ottoman Empire, Gerardi Mercatoris – L’Atlas ou Méditations Cosmographiques de la Fabrique du Monde et Figure diceluy. Amsterdam

Saudi’s National Identity

Saudi’s National Identity

“I’m telling you, you can’t compare Saudi Arabia to other countries” – Al-Waleed bin Talal The ‘Modern’ Saudi Saudi Arabia has spent much of the 20th and 21st century asserting a unique form of national identity within the Middle East; one that argues that it is the leader of global Islam and, as such, the spiritual and… Continue Reading

Understanding the Al-Aqsa Mosque

Understanding the Al-Aqsa Mosque

Why does the Al-Aqsa Mosque Matter? The Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem has been at the centre of recent conflicts between Israeli forces and the Palestinian people. It is Islam’s third holiest site and this has made it’s use and governance one of the key points of controversy in a society already deeply divided. To understand… Continue Reading

The Influential Women of the Middle East

The Influential Women of the Middle East

The Middle East has long been seen as a man’s world; a world in which women often play a role as second class citizens, but even in this most patriarchal society there are women whose influence has spread far beyond the region’s borders. The issue of women in the Middle East is one of the… Continue Reading

The Coptic Winter Continues

The Coptic Winter Continues

In 2015, the Islamic State in Libya has centred their attentions on the fragile Egyptian Coptic community. 21 Christians were killed in a mass beheading by IS militants and this has triggered a new investigation into the position of Christians in the Middle East and the continuation of the Coptic Winter. Continue Reading

About Peter Banham

Peter earned his MA in Geopolitics, Territory & Security at Kings College London in 2015, following a BA in History and International Relations from Lancaster University. He has been the editor and a major contributor to A Little View of the World since 2012 where he has written on global affairs, international relations, development and world conflicts.