Letter from the publisher
The Arab Weekly is a long- overdue publication. It is hard to accept that Arabs have not ventured into presenting their versions of the events in the Middle East and North Africa to the West. But yet it is a fact. A fact we are trying and hoping to change now.
MENA is a difficult region. Most of the world’s dominant religions started there. It is close enough to Europe to have many common values, but not close enough to agree about a lot of polemic issues. The people of the region have not made enough effort to present a decent image of themselves. Many tried hard to present an anti-Western image. The West for its part satisfied itself with a description that looks like a tourist impression rather than a true depiction of the realities of facts and events.
The polarisation on both sides persists. Colonisation, occupation, war and enmity became the norm, with a few exceptions. The West is too involved in the region to ignore the fluidity of dire events in MENA.
The region is in a true turmoil. Almost all MENA countries are involved in a war, a civil war, or a violent conflict. In the last 30 years, the rise of political Islam has changed the face of societies and politics in the region. Wars and armed conflicts have displaced millions of people, some locally but many to the West.
With the advent of the internet, cuts in budgets of Western media organisations, and the reduction in interest of the common man in the troubles of MENA region, fewer in-depth articles are published in the Western media about the region.
That changed recently with the sporadic events and attacks that stemmed a renewed interest in Islam, MENA and its people and politics. The sketchy understanding of the region led to disastrous involvement of Western powers in the conflicts of the region in the last decade. The people and the politicians of MENA did not do much to rectify the situation. In most cases, the West looked baffled at events and developments there. More interestingly, the policy making machine in the West is not fed with sufficient information and can be contradictory in dealing with similar symptoms in different parts of MENA.
Hence this publication. The Arab Weekly will strive to provide a better understanding of MENA, its people, its aspirations, as well as the region’s religious, sectarian, social, political and economic issues and conflicts. The West will be present in most of the process, by necessity and by choice. It needs to know what is going on from the region’s perspective. This may help to forge better policies and better practices.
The Arab Weekly is part of an ongoing media project that started in London back in 1977. Al Arab Daily, a sister publication, was established by the late Haj Ahmed El-Huni, a visionary media veteran, as the first pan-Arab daily. In 2000, we launched Middle East Online, the first bilingual news portal devoted to MENA. More recently, we published a cultural monthly, Al Jadeed, dedicated to Arab intellectuals. The Arab Weekly is a publication that targets the Western audience in Europe, the US and the expats in the Arab World. There is also a potential readership of Arabs and Muslims who were born in the West and do not master their parents’ mother tongues.
We accept that The Arab Weekly will not be an easy ride, neither for us nor for the audience. It is a challenge we are keen to take.