I’ve been off the blog for a while, mostly because I’ve been working a lot. I would like to direct you to an article I wrote on the music business in Lebanon and the wider Middle East (did somebody say ‘piracy’?) called Rockin’ the shop for this month’s issue of Executive Magazine, but unfortunately it is accessible online to subscribers only. I would also like to put a link to a timeline of Saudi political events I wrote last year (in French) for Les Chroniques Yéménites, the academic journal published by CEFAS (Centre français pour l’archéologie et les sciences sociales à Sanaa), called Chronologie politique de l’Arabie saoudite 2007, but unfortunately the latest issue is not online yet. Apart from these, I have been doing editing work for Hospitality News Magazine, a B2B hotel magazine as well as, incongruously, for Georgia Today (neither of which is particularly exciting work, but the money’s gotta come from somewhere…). But my main activity over the past six weeks has been translating a collection of academic essays on Iran, the Shia around the world, and the relationship between them. The original French volume is called ‘Les mondes chiites et l’Iran‘, edited by Sabrina Mervin and published in 2007 by IFPO (Institut français du Proche Orient) in Beirut. The English translation will be published by Saqi Books in London at some point later this year and under a title yet to be decided. Essays cover Shia communities and movements in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the GCC states and Senegal, apart from more obvious subjects such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq, as well as the transnational links and connections between the grand families of Ayatollahs and marja’s. Authors include, besides the editor, Olivier Roy, Laurence Louër, Joseph Alagha, Peter Harling and Hamid Yassin Nasser. The fourth part of the book, about internal Iranian theological debates, will not be included in the English translation. My next project, apart from journalistic work to keep me in food, drink and plane tickets, will be finishing (finally) my master’s thesis and writing up the related research report for CEFAS, which will be published in the next Chroniques Yéménites. I spent six weeks in Saudi Arabia in Fall/Winter 2007 interviewing a number of ‘liberal opposition figures’ to get a view on the influence and reception of the writings and ideas of Turki al-Hamad, a novelist, philosopher and ‘reformer’ who is seen as the figurehead of the ‘liberal movement’ in the kingdom. I have translated some of his essays for my thesis. The research report will probably be written in French and the thesis obligatorily in Dutch, which kind of limits the potential readership, I am afraid.
Meanwhile, so as to offer you at least something to read, check out this interesting article on the upcoming election of the next Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood by the well-informed Marc Lynch aka Abu Aardvark (incidentally proving that even UAE newspapers like The National do sometimes publish insightful articles).