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Digby Lidstone

Digby Lidstone
The Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra during a concert held in the General Assembly Hall at United Nations headquarters

The Gulf has a rich musical heritage – it needs an audience

When the Saudi National Orchestra made its New York debut in September, a centrepiece of the 80-member ensemble was a large green oil barrel.  While serving as a wry reference to the US-Saudi special relationship, it also made a serviceable drum. For an evening, the pounding rhythms of majrour, samri and liwa brought the traditional […]

orientalist art

Orientalist art defies fashions

A girl in a yellow dress pouts as she adjusts her headscarf in the mirror. It might be the portrait of a young TikToker preparing for an evening out were it not for her opulent Ottoman surroundings. A Look in the Mirror by the Turkish painter Osman Hamdi Bey (1842-1910) sold for €1 million ($1.05 […]

The Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World exhibition at Christie's in London. Its annual sale of Middle Eastern art is in early November

Collectors buy for love, but Arab art is big business too

One of the first things that strikes you about the modern and contemporary Arab art on display at Christie’s gallery in central London is its variety.  Cubist pieces from Baghdad hang alongside figurative Egyptian paintings, saffron-coloured tapestries next to abstract ink-on-paper drawings.   Dreams of the Detainee, a portrait in profile from 1961 by Cairo-born activist […]

Brand Qatar’s legacy once the last World Cup fan has gone home

Strolling down Lusail Boulevard on a warm December evening, foreign fans who have lingered on after the World Cup to enjoy some winter sun pause to chat with local vloggers about their lasting impressions of Qatar.  “Impressed” is a word they use frequently. “Hospitality” and “generosity” are mentioned often. One pedestrian describes with delight how […]

Qatar World Cup

All eyes on Doha as World Cup finally comes to town

Late autumn is typically a busy time in the Doha social calendar, as temperatures fall in Qatar and locals and wealthier expats return from cooler climes.  This year the atmosphere is different. In one respect, the city has never been busier, as an army of labourers puts the finishing touches to the stadiums, hotels, malls, […]

Solar energy Gulf

Revealed: Gulf climate targets – and the progress so far

The economies of the Middle East differ greatly in size and diversity – partly because of the distribution of oil and gas resources. Their impact on the climate varies accordingly.  Governments’ willingness and ability to tackle climate change also differs. Many oil-rich Gulf states are engaged in high-profile renewable energy projects, for example, yet their […]


Egypt’s Cop27 will see developing nations call for ‘climate justice’

Drought and famine haunt the Middle East. The Dead Sea has fallen to its lowest level in centuries. Starved of food and fresh water, desperate migrants criss-cross the Mediterranean, fomenting social unrest and violence. Within a few decades, a healthy global trade network has collapsed. Every major settlement has been abandoned or razed to the […]

Orascom's projects include the prestigious Grand Egyptian Museum but the company is still affected by currency fluctuations

Pyramid selling: Egypt wants to get tourism back on its feet

The Grand Egyptian Museum, a $1 billion mega-project close to the Giza pyramids, will open to the public next month. The opening, which coincides with the COP27 climate change conference in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, is an opportunity to focus attention on a tourism industry that has been blighted by terrorism, conflict and […]

Wataniya Petroleum

Egypt aims to double private sector to tackle economic woes

Weakened by the consequences of the war in Ukraine, Egypt has been forced to negotiate a new loan from the International Monetary Fund and wants to double the private sector’s share in its economy. By 2025 Egypt’s government wants the country’s private sector’s investment contribution to more than double to 65 percent from the current […]

Gold from the Sukari mine

The Golden Triangle: treasures of the Eastern Desert

In Ancient Egypt, real wealth was measured in grain. Temple granaries were the reserve banks of their day, with gold and silver seen as lesser commodities. “In my brother’s country, gold is as plentiful as dirt,” marvelled one foreign king in a begging letter to Pharaoh Amenhotep III. Even so, mining was a serious business. […]

Car, Automobile, Vehicle

Britain looks to the Gulf as recession looms

At the height of a long hot summer of discontent, the decision by PIF, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, to take a stake in Aston Martin came as welcome relief to British industry.  As inflation soars and recession looms in the UK, it is hoped the £78 million pledge not only signals a turnaround for […]

Gulf serves up locally farmed salmon – and better food security

From the old man who dredged up a djinn to the boy who netted an emerald, fishermen populate the folk stories of the Arab world. But the dhow fleets of the Gulf no longer provide a lifeline for local economies. By contrast, aquaculture – the farming of fish, shellfish and aquatic plants – has begun […]