Russia has fair-weather friends and allies in the Middle East

by Rashmee

Posted on November 30, 2019


Former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami recently attempted to set everyone right on a crucial question: Is Russia the Middle East’s new hegemon? His answer was somewhat surprising. Russia is not the region’s new hegemon, he concluded. Never forget that its economy is the size of South Korea’s and its military capabilities significantly less that … Continue reading “Russia has fair-weather friends and allies in the Middle East”

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Read between the lines of Orwell’s essay Marrakech. It remains relevant

by Rashmee

Posted on June 25, 2019


The Arablit blog and its companion BULAQ podcast, both which cast a keen eye on the Arab world through the lens of literature, recently tackled a touchy subject. They looked at the reality of poorly portrayed Muslim and Arab characters in film, TV and literature. All too often, they are unbelievable and poorly-researched but did … Continue reading “Read between the lines of Orwell’s essay Marrakech. It remains relevant”

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The Long Arab Spring? A guide to Sudan and Algeria

by Rashmee

Posted on June 4, 2019


The gloves have come off in Sudan. Sudan’s  Transitional Military Council (TMC) has indicated it intends to be not particularly transitional. TMC head General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan  said in a statement broadcast on state television that they had decided to “stop negotiating with the Alliance for Freedom and Change and cancel what had been agreed … Continue reading “The Long Arab Spring? A guide to Sudan and Algeria”

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Kairouan has magic and mystery and it’s on the map

by Rashmee

Posted on November 18, 2018 / The Arab Weekly


KAIROUAN, Tunisia — Tunisians boast that Kairouan, a couple of hours south by car from Tunis, is Islam’s fourth holiest city, after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. Perhaps. Ethiopians say the same of Harar. Both Kairouan and Harar are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Both know Islam from its very first century. However, fourth holiest or not, Kairouan wins … Continue reading “Kairouan has magic and mystery and it’s on the map”

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How do Indians manage to keep their cool when it’s so hot over there?

by Rashmee

Posted on July 27, 2018


How do people who live in hot climates manage to keep their cool? No, really, I ask the question in all seriousness. As someone born and bred in a hot climate, I know that one just gets on with things however hot it gets. But I ask the question on behalf of fellow Londoners who … Continue reading “How do Indians manage to keep their cool when it’s so hot over there?”

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Le Sombre Fourth of July

by Rashmee

Posted on July 5, 2018


In Tunis, America’s 242nd birthday was seemingly as it always is. KFC and beer, bunting, and fairy lights on trees at the US Embassy. But there was a feverish gaiety about it all, a spreading sense that the world is changing faster than anyone could have imagined, and there is much to worry about. Everyone … Continue reading “Le Sombre Fourth of July”

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Tozeur, lush and bountiful oasis in southern Tunisia

by Rashmee

Posted on June 2, 2018


Tozeur is a lush and bountiful oasis dotted with “palmeries” as they call them here. These are farms – of date palms. The more ingenious grow a great deal else too – pomegranates, figs, peaches, bananas and various vegetables. The oasis is enormous – and rich – fed by hot springs and carefully tended like … Continue reading “Tozeur, lush and bountiful oasis in southern Tunisia”

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Tozeur in southern Tunisia wears its storied history fairly lightly

by Rashmee

Posted on June 1, 2018


    Aboul-Qacem Echebbi, the 20th century poet whose style is admired throughout the Arab world and is responsible for the current Tunisian anthem, belonged to Tozeur. So did Ibn Chabbat, the 13th century engineer who built this oasis-city’s sophisticated, still-functioning irrigation system. The city has commemorated both men in stone. For Echebbi, whose poetry … Continue reading “Tozeur in southern Tunisia wears its storied history fairly lightly”

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Tunisia: ‘Menu Ramadanesque’ and other delights

by Rashmee

Posted on May 31, 2018


Ahead of iftar, when the day’s fast ends during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the streets are deathly quiet. In the Tunis Medina (see photographs), there’s hardly anyone abroad. Those same venues will be heaving by 9 pm. In the supermarkets, they start making the zalabiya, the deep-fried syrup-soaked sweets that are faintly reminiscent … Continue reading “Tunisia: ‘Menu Ramadanesque’ and other delights”

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In Tamezret, Tunisia, a 2,000-year-old Berber kitchen in a mountain cave

by Rashmee

Posted on May 29, 2018


In Tamezret, a mostly abandoned mountain-top Berber village in southern Tunisia, we meet Monji Bouras, who runs Le Musee Berbere de Tamezret. Mr Bouras, an architect who left Tunis to return to his Berber home, started the museum 18 years ago out of a passion to preserve and tell the story of the Amazigh people. … Continue reading “In Tamezret, Tunisia, a 2,000-year-old Berber kitchen in a mountain cave”

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Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK