Here’s a piece I wrote some time ago for about the wonderful people at Saqi Books, in Westbourne Grove. Long may they prosper.

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is fascinating and emphatically Saudi. It’s a protest movie, really, without protesting or being at all confrontational. While there were moments when it seemed to be getting too didactic, it never went too far, and besides, there’s a need to explain to the wider world how Saudi society works. I certainly can’t think of a better snapshot of early 21st century Saudi Arabia.

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Latest from Mecca

This is spectacular. It’s the pinnacle from one of the towering new minarets going up around the Ka’aba in Mecca as it is swung into position. Apparently the film was shot by one of the men working on the job who wanted to show his family back in India.

I like the sound: it sounds like a rocket taking off for the moon.

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Here’s a gorgeous illustration by Jennie Edwards for the piece I wrote in February’s Condé Nast Traveller: ‘A Letter From… Cairo’.

What’s amazing is just how much it takes me back to the day described in the piece, in spite of JE having no photos to go on. I’d gone off to visit one of the exclusive new gated communities now popping up around Cairo. We spent what felt like most of the day rumbling around in a 4 x 4, and while the ground was never as dramatically orange, nor was there a flashing neon sign for Utopia, there might as well have been.

For more on these places go to the website of one of the leading companies building them – SODIC – or look at the fascinating photo-essay Cairo Divided by Jack Shenker with photos by Jason Larkin.




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Middle East in London

Above: Khaled Jarrer, ‘Volleyball’, 2012

The number of London galleries dedicated to Middle Eastern art continues to grow. As well as the long-running (and consistently excellent) Rose Issa Projects, and the A. M. Qattan Foundation’s Mosaic Rooms, we now have the non-profit P21 Gallery, by Euston Station, focusing on work by Palestinian artists, and as of this month a London branch of Syria’s Ayyam Gallery.

The new Ayyam outpost has a show by Nadim Karam that runs until 9th March while P21 has a group show, ‘Moving Images On Palestine’, that runs until 16th March.



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