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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Compañeros,

I hate goodbyes as WS said, ‘Good night, good night. Parting is such sweet sorrow

That I shall say good night till it be morrow.’

Too many people to thank, too many things to say. Rest assured that all of you have touched my life in some and different ways and I thank you for that and for all the kindnesses I have been shown. I just hope I have given you all something in return.

ARAMCO and Saudi Arabia has been the mother of all experiences for me! I’ve learnt some new things and gained new perspectives on age old problems.

I leave you all with a smile and some songs. Print out this e-mail, go home and put your feet up and hopefully enjoy the music.

Perhaps when you hear these songs you’ll think of me...... I know I’ll be thinking of you!

HASTA LA VISTA HOMBRES!

John

Redemption Song – Bob Marley

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our mind.

More...

This song reminds me of Bahrain. The Ethiopian bar girls exploited like their forefathers and mothers. Slavery might be ‘officially’ abolished but it continues no matter how much we try to pretend it doesn’t. Marley told us what the white man did to Africa and they still haven’t apologized.

Nkosi Sikelei – South Africa

Nkosi, sikelel' iAfrika;
Malupakam'upondo lwayo;
Yiva imitandazo yetu
Usisikelele.

More

One of the most beautiful national anthems in the world. For all the South African nurses and doctors I’ve met in the Magic Kingdom, the new cheap skilled labor. They showed me that the oppressed and oppressor can find peace together. Perhaps a lesson the Palestinians and Israelis could learn?

Guantanamera – Compay Segundo

Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crece la palma

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Song of the Cuban Revolution. This version is by Compay who was in his 90s when he recorded this. A song of hope and happiness in this cruel world. A man who loves his land and people, who wants to give the good things he has in life and his good luck to the poor of the earth. Inspirational.

Nancy Spain – Christy Moore

No matter where I wander I'm still haunted
by your name
The portrait of your beauty stays the same
Standing by the ocean wondering where you've
gone, if you'll return again
Where is the ring I gave to Nancy Spain?

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Back across the oceans to Spain and Ireland. A lovely song from one of Ireland’s finest – Christy Moore. If you’ve ever left a lover behind you’ll understand this song. For all those we leave and still love.

Habibi de mis amores - Alabina & Gypsy Kings

Don’t know why exactly but this reminds me a bit of Barraq and Abulgasim! The Arabs came to Andalusia many many moons ago and civilized the Spanish. I have the feeling the pair of them want to return! ‘Hasta la vista hombres’ in Granada and Cordoba!

Four Green Fields – Dick Gaughan

"What did I have?" asked the fine old woman.
"What did I have?" this proud old woman did say.
"I had four green fields,
Each one was a jewel.
Till strangers came, and tried to take them from me.
I had fine, strong sons.
They fought to save my jewels.
They fought and they died.
And that is my grief," said she
.

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You’ll be hearing a few songs from Dick, the brilliant Scottish folk singer. This song is so powerful. The Green fields are Ireland and the strangers are the English. I dedicate this song to the people of another country they stole – the Palestinians.

With God on our side – Judy Collins

But now we got weapons
Of the chemical dust
If fire them we're forced to
Then fire them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God's on your side.

More

My time in the Magic Kingdom has been dominated by the invasion of Iraq and the ‘war on terror.’ This song is dedicated to three men who really know that God is on their side. We know this to be true because they told us so. They also have that distant look in their eyes, the look of true believers – stand up George Bush, Tony Blair and Osama Bin Laden!

Aita Semeak – Oskorri

Aita semeak tabernan daude

ama-alabak jokoan

Aita semeak tabernan daude

ama-alabak jokoan.

Berriz ikusi beharko dugu

behi gizena auzoan,

berriro ere ez da faltako

trapu zaharrik kakoan.

More

Papá y los chicos están en la taberna

Mamá y las chicas jugando,

Papá y los chicos están en la taberna

Mamá y las chicas jugando.

Pero soy jóven y tengo

el futuro en las manos,

no te nos morirás Euskal Herria

mientras yo esté con vida.

This song is from the Basque Country or as we call it – Euskadi. Those of you who can undertand Spanish can get a translation if you click on the link. Here is a little bit...

Daddy’s in the tavern with the boys

Mammy and the girls are playing.

But I am young and

Have the future in my hands

You won’t die Euskal Herria

As long as I am alive.

I knew it was time to go home when my daughter sent me a voice message in Basque. In the two years since I’ve been away she’s learnt another language. Anyone fighting for independence will understand this song.

Compañera – Silvio Rodriquez

La canción es la amiga. (The song is the friend)

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Silvio is one my heroes. A brilliant musician and song writer. He could have been rich and world famous yet he has stuck by Cuba and Fidel all his career. His music is for the people of the world. I hope you enjoy it. This song reminds me of my ‘Compañera.’

Woke Up This Morning – Alabama 3

When you woke up this morning everything you had was
gone. By half past ten your head was going ding-dong.
Ringing like a bell from your head down to your toes,
like a voice telling you there was something you should
know. Last night you were flying but today you're so low
- ain't it times like these that make you wonder if
you'll ever know the meaning of things as they appear to
the others; wives, mothers, fathers, sisters and
brothers. Don't you wish you didn't function, wish you
didn't think beyond the next paycheck and the next little
drink' Well you do so make up your mind to go on, 'cos
when you woke up this morning everything you had was gone.

More

A great blues song which will always remind me of Euro ‘trash’ Village. Wednesday night, all alone again, feeling sorry for myself. The Sopranos cheer me up. It’s not only missiles and McDonalds that come out of the states!

Wolfe Tones – Men Behind the Wire

Armored cars and tanks and guns
Came to take away our sons
But every man must stand behind
The men behind the wire

Through the little streets of Belfast
In the dark of early morn
British soldiers came marauding
Wrecking little homes with scorn

Heedless of the crying children
Dragging fathers from their beds
Beating sons while helpless mothers
Watched the blood poor from their heads

More

Apparently the British soldiers in Basra are more humanitarian then their American comrades because of their experience in Ireland. Give them time! This is what they really did in Ireland and they are doing the same in Iraq and Afghanistan. This song is dedicated to the new ‘men behind the wire’ in Guantanamo Bay.

Victor Jara of Chile – Dick Gaughan

Victor Jara of Chile
Lived like a shooting star
He fought for the people of Chile
With his songs and his guitar
His hands were gentle, his hands were strong
 
Victor Jara was a peasant
He worked from a few years old
He sat upon his father's plow
And watched the earth unfold
His hands were gentle, his hands were strong
 
Now when the neighbors had a wedding
Or one of their children died
His mother sang all night for them
With Victor by her side
His hands were gentle, his hands were strong
 
He grew up to be a fighter
Against the people's wrongs
He listened to their grief and joy
And turned them into songs
His hands were gentle, his hands were strong
 
He sang about the copper miners
And those who worked the land
He sang about the factory workers
And they knew he was their man
His hands were gentle, his hands were strong
 
He campaigned for Allende
Working night and day
He sang "Take hold of your brothers hand
You know the future begins today"
His hands were gentle, his hands were strong
 
Then the generals seized Chile
They arrested Victor then
They caged him in a stadium
With five-thousand frightened men
His hands were gentle, his hands were strong
 
Victor stood in the stadium
His voice was brave and strong
And he sang for his fellow prisoners
Till the guards cut short his song
His hands were gentle, his hands were strong
 
They broke the bones in both his hands
They beat him on the head
They tore him with electric shocks
And then they shot him dead
His hands were gentle, his hands were strong

Another September 11th but in 1973. The CIA organized and helped finance Pinochet’s coup. Thousands of Chileans were tortured and murdered, victims of Nixon, Kissinger and US foreign policy. Victor Jara was one of them. I met some Chilean refugees at the end of the 1970s and I’ll never forget their stories of struggle. VENCEREMOS SNR. BUSH! (We will win!)

Ain’t Got No Home – Woody Guthrie

I ain't got no home, I'm just a-roamin' 'round,
Just a wandrin' worker, I go from town to town.
And the police make it hard wherever I may go
And I ain't got no home in this world anymore.

More

You might get the impression that I am anti-American. Well I’m not. Some of my best friends........ This song is by a great American. I dedicate this to all the wandering contractors who do most of the work in ARAMCO. (Apparently!) and of course the understanding and professional managers at HAKA ;-)

Shoals of Herring – Euan McCall

left the home grounds in the month of June
And to canny Shiels we soon was bearing
With a hundred cran of the silver darlings
That we'd taken from the shoals of herring

More

Some personal songs now. This is one I play at parties or when I feel nostalgic. The ‘canny shields’ in the song is a place where we used to visit when we were children. In my Geordie dialect ‘canny’ means nice – as in ‘you are all canny lads!’

Fog on the Tyne - Lindisfarne

'Cause the fog on the Tyne is all mine, all mine,

The fog on the Tyne is all mine,

The fog on the Tyne is all mine, all mine,

The fog on the Tyne is all mine.

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I was born on the banks of this river.

Fly me to the Moon –Sinatra

I saw the ‘Chairman’ twice in concert with my father. Incomparable. Swing it!

Jamie Foyers – Dick Gaughan

Faur distant, faur distant, lies Foyers the brave

Nae tombstone memorial shall hallow his grave

For his bones they lie scattered on the rude soil o Spain

An young Jamie Foyers in battle wis slain

He's gane frae the shipyaird that stauns on the Clyde

His haimmer lies idle, his tools laid aside

Tae the wide Ebro river young Foyers has gane

Tae fight by the side o the people o Spain

Thair wisnae his equal at wark or at play

He wis strang in the Union till his dying day

He wis grand at the fitbaa, at the dance he wis braw

Young Jamie Foyers wis the flouer o thaim aal

More & translation into English from Scottish

Spanish Civil War 1936. Thousands of working class young people from Liverpool, Newcastle, Dublin, Glasgow, Europe and the States went to ‘stand by the people of Spain’ and made the ultimate sacrifice for their fellow human beings and a much better world. The fight goes on!

The World Turned Upside Down – Leon Rosselson
In 1649 to St. George's Hill
A ragged band they called the Diggers came to show the people's will.
They defied the landlords; they defined the laws.
They were the dispossessed reclaiming what was theirs.

We come in peace they said to dig and sow.
We come to work the lands in common and to make the waste ground grow.
This earth divided we will make whole
So it will be a common treasury for all.

The sin of property we do disdain.
No man has any right to buy and sell the earth for private gain.
By theft and murder they took the land;
Now everywhere the walls spring up at their command

They make the laws to chain us well;
The clergy dazzle us with heaven or they damn us into hell.
We will not worship the God they serve,
The God of greed who feeds the rich while poor folks starve

We work we eat together; we need no swords.
We will not bow to the masters or pay rent to the lords.
Still we are free though we are poor.
You Diggers all stand up for glory; Stand up now.

>From the men of property the orders came;
They sent the hired men and troopers to wipe out the Digger's claim;
Tear down their cottages; Destroy their corn.
They were dispersed but still the vision lingers on.

You poor take courage; You rich take care.
This earth was made a common treasury for everyone to share.
All things in common; All people one.
We come in peace. The orders came to cut them down.

I used to play this song at concerts in my other life in London. England isn’t just about tea at 4 in the afternoon with the Queen and the relief of Khartoum! Don’t forget The English Civil war. Cromwell and the Roundheads beat the Royalists and cut off King Charles’s head. Meanwhile the people occupied the land and held everything in common. They were massacred but the seeds of a better life were sown. The real people’s history of England Abulgasim!

More on the diggers

Between the Wars – Billy Bragg

I was a miner
I was a docker
I was a railway man
Between the wars
I raised a family
In times of austerity
With sweat at the foundry
Between the wars

More

Peace is just the breathing space between the next war.......

Sheik of Araby – Fats Waller

This jazz great used to play for Al Capone.

Ain’t Misbehavin – Fats Waller

no one to walk with
all by myself
no one to talk with
but i'm happy on the shelf
ain't misbehavin'
savin' all my love for you

i know for certain the one i love
i'm through with flirtin'
it's you that i'm dreamin' of
ain't misbehavin'
savin' all my love for you

like Jack Horner
in the corner
don't go nowhere
what do i care?
your kisses are worth waiting for
believe me ...

i don't stay out late
i don't care to go
i'm home about 8
just me and my radio
Ain't Misbehavin'
savin' all my love for you ...

(one never knows, do one?)

Dedicated to all the married guys in Saudi who manage to remember just why they came here! This song has possibly the wildest drum solo of all time. Crazy!

Tim Finnegan’s Wake – The Clancy Brothers

Tim Finnegan lived in Walkin' Street

A gentleman, Irish, mighty odd;

He had a brogue both rich and sweet

And to rise in the world he carried a hod.

Now Tim had a sort of the tipplin' way

With a love of the whiskey he was born

And to help him on with his work each day

He'd a "drop of the cray-thur" every morn.

cho Whack fol the darn O, dance to your partner

Whirl the floor, your trotters shake;

Wasn't it the truth I told you

Lots of fun at Finnegan's wake!

One mornin' Tim was feelin' full

His head was heavy which made him shake;

He fell from the ladder and broke his skull

And they carried him home his corpse to wake.

They rolled him up in a nice clean sheet

And laid him out upon the bed,

A gallon of whiskey at his feet

And a barrel of porter at his head.

cho:

His friends assembled at the wake

And Mrs. Finnegan called for lunch,

First they brought in tay and cake

Then pipes, tobacco and whiskey punch.

Biddy O'Brien began to bawl

"Such a nice clean corpse, did you ever see?

"O Tim, mavourneen, why did you die?"

Arragh, hold your gob said Paddy McGhee!

cho:

Then Maggie O'Connor took up the job

"O Biddy," says she, "You're wrong, I'm sure"

Biddy she gave her a belt in the gob

And left her sprawlin' on the floor.

And then the war did soon engage

'Twas woman to woman and man to man,

Shillelagh law was all the rage

And a row and a ruction soon began.

cho:

Then Mickey Maloney ducked his head

When a noggin of whiskey flew at him,

It missed, and falling on the bed

The liquor scattered over Tim!

The corpse revives! See how he raises!

Timothy rising from the bed,

Says,"Whirl your whiskey around like blazes

Thanum an Dhul! Do you thunk I'm dead

Whisky means, ‘water of life’ in Irish and it’s a mighty powerful drink. I swear this is a true story!

Wild Night - Van Morrison

And the inside juke-box

Roars out just like thunder.

And everything looks so complete...

The wild night is calling

The wild night is calling

Come on out and dance

Come on out and make romance....

This song captures a night out in Newcastle, or Barcelona or Vitoria. I’ll think of you all when I’m in the street in Spain enjoying ‘La Marcha.’

Worker’s Song – Dick Gaughan

Come all of you workers who toil night and day
By hand and by brain to earn your pay
Who for centuries long past for no more than your bread
Have bled for your countries and counted your dead

In the factories and mills, in the shipyards and mines
We've often been told to keep up with the times
For our skills are not needed, they've streamlined the job
And with sliderule and stopwatch our pride they have robbed

But when the sky darkens and the prospect is war
Who's given a gun and then pushed to the fore
And expected to die for the land of our birth
When we've never owned one handful of earth?

We're the first ones to starve the first ones to die
The first ones in line for that pie-in-the-sky
And always the last when the cream is shared out
For the worker is working when the fat cat's about

All of these things the worker has done
>From tilling the fields to carrying the gun
We've been yoked to the plough since time first began
And always expected to carry the can

With all due respect to ARAMCO this is what it’s like for the majority of the world. This is especially dedicated to Moneer and all the other Bangladeshi workers who slave away six days a week for a miserly SR300. And Fadaan – JUST SAY NO TO OUTSOURCING! Rest assured I have told Mr. Thomas & Venogopal before I left, that no matter what colour we are or what language we speak we are all workers at the end of the day, no matter how much they try and divide us with pay defentials.

Stand Up for Judas – Leon Rosselson

The Romans were the masters when Jesus walked the land
In Judea and in Galilee they ruled with an iron hand
And the poor were sick with hunger and the rich were clothed in splendour
And the rebels whipped and crucified hung rotting as a warning
And Jesus knew the answer
Said, Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, said, Love your enemies
But Judas was a Zealot and he wanted to be free
Resist, he said, The Romans' tyranny

By sword and gun and crucifix Christ's gospel has been spread
And 2.000 cruel years have shown the way that Jesus led
The heretics burned and tortured, and the butchering, bloody crusaders
The bombs and rockets sanctified that rain down death from heaven
They followed Jesus, they knew the answer
All non-believers must be believers or else be broken
So put no trust in Saviours, Judas said, For everyone
Must be to his or her own self - a sun

More

This is my belief. We need more Zealots!

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – Monty Python

For life is quite absurd
And death's the final word.
You must always face the curtain with a bow.
Forget about your sin.
Give the audience a grin.
Enjoy it. It's your last chance, anyhow.
So,...

Always look on the bright side of death,
[
whistle]
Just before you draw your terminal breath.
[
whistle]

Take a look here

But how can you live without a god? Easy – you have to always look on the bright side of life!

Hallelujah Chorus - Handel

On the other hand if there were a god how could it be a sin to be praised like this! MAGNIFICENT!

So long it’s been good to know you – Woody Guthrie

I've sung this song, but I'll sing it again,
Of the place that I lived on the wild windy plains,
In the month called April, county called Gray,
And here's what all of the people there say:

CHORUS:
"So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh.
This dusty old dust is a-gettin' my home,
And I got to be driftin' along."

More

Adios ;-)

The Parting Glass – The Clancy Brothers

Oh all the money that e'er I had, I spent it in good company
And all the harm that e'er I've done, alas, it was to none but me
And all I've done for want of wit to memory now I can't recall
So fill to me the parting glass, good night and joy be with you all

Oh all the comrades that e'er I've had, they are sorry for my going away
And all the sweethearts that e'er I've had, they would wish me one more day to stay
But since it falls unto my lot that I should rise and you should not
I'll gently rise and I'll softly call good night and joy be with you all

If I had money enough to spend and leisure time to sit awhile
There is a fair maid in this town, that sorely has my heart beguiled
Her rosy cheeks and ruby lips I own, she has my heart enthralled
So fill to me the parting glass, good night and joy be with you all

My dearest dear, the time draws near when here no longer can I stay
There's not a comrade I leave behind, but is grieving for my going away
But since it has so ordered been what is once past can't be recalled
Now fill to me the parting glass, good night and joy be with you all

If I had money for to spend, If I had time to waste away
There is a fair maid in this town, I feign would while her heart away
With her rosy cheeks and dimpled chin, my heart she has beguiled awa'
So fill to me the parting glass, good night and joy be with you a'

If I had money for to spend, I would spend it in her company
And all the harm that I have done, I hope it's pardoned I will be
And all I've done for want of it to memory I can't recall
So fill to me the parting glass, good night and joy be with you all

A man may drink and not be drunk, a man may fight and not be slain
A man may court a pretty girl and perhaps be welcomed back again
But since it has so ordered been by a time to rise and a time to fall
Come fill to me the parting glass, good night and joy be with you all


Sunday, June 06, 2004

Washington will prop up the House of Saud - for now
Saudi Arabia has descended into a cauldron of hatreds and divisions



Mai Yamani
Saturday June 5, 2004

The Guardian

Long before the latest violence erupted, Saudi Arabia's immaculately suited spokesmen were out on the stump, telling anyone who would listen that the situation in the country was completely under control. They're now doing it again - only this time nobody believes them.
All the signs suggest that in the face of mounting violence and international pressure, the House of Saud has sunk into terminal denial and paralysis. Convinced that their enemies are all around them, they are nevertheless unable to locate them. Even when gunmen are totally surrounded in a building, three of them succeed in escaping. Last year the aged King Fahd threatened militants with his "iron fist", but they have gone on killing regardless. While the princes have insisted reforms are in progress, they continue to fling reformists themselves into jail - and intimidate others into keeping quiet. The government maintains its oil installations are completely safe from attack - and yet high-level oil analysts insist the Saudi security forces which guard them are infiltrated by extremists.

Such contradictions suggest that very little is currently under control in the Saudi kingdom.

While expatriates consider whether to depart en masse, reports from the Gulf say that staff members of one of the more entrepreneurial princes have asked officials in Dubai to find them living space. They might well be re-locating in the near future.

But it would be wrong to predict any immediate collapse of the state. Despite a marked cooling in relations, Saudi Arabia remains the key ally of the US in the region. With continuing violence in Iraq, Washington's priority is to prevent Saudi Arabia descending into similar anarchy, even if it means propping up a regime it no longer likes or trusts. American demands for reform have quietened in the past few months, which may explain their muted response to the clampdown on Saudi liberals last March.

While oil prices remain exceptionally high and with a US presidential election in November, Saudi Arabia is the pump that cannot be allowed to run dry. Predictably, the kingdom is determined to remind the Bush administration of its central role in the world economy and politics, aware that if peace breaks out in neighbouring Iraq, it will lose some important leverage.

Already its influence in the Gulf has been badly shaken. The smaller states no longer need Saudi Arabia for protection and security, and no longer look to Riyadh for a lead on the international stage. Moreover, some have clearly replaced the Saudi state in Washington's affections, especially as they move ahead with political and economic reforms, outstripping the kingdom's own meagre efforts.

It is now known that a number of those Gulf rulers have been lining up to tell the Saudis that reform is their only chance of survival, and that it may already be too late. But even those princes who accept that notion - such as Crown Prince Abdullah - no longer appear to hold sway in the cabinet.

In any case, the Saudi state has become such a cauldron of hatreds and divisions - many now highlighted by the war in Iraq - that reforms favouring one group would almost certainly be rejected by another.

Regional rivalries have been sharply exacerbated. The Asir region is viewed by many as partly Yemeni. The Hijazis see themselves as a separate cultural and religious entity. After decades of exclusion from key jobs, the Shia in the oil-rich province are deeply ambivalent about their Saudi identity and feel newly empowered by Shia advances in Iraq.

Conceivably, they could begin to demand their own state. Some even talk about Shia political power as a disease that could spread into Saudi Arabia and engulf it. If Iraq were ever to sink into civil war, the Saudis themselves would be hard-pressed to hold their nation together.

To the Saudi royal family nothing is more troubling than the Shia questions. All Saudi Shia are followers of the Iraqi Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani - so they already look across the border for guidance. Bearded, turbaned and cloaked Shia clerics, now far more visible in Iraq, terrify the minority Saudi Wahhabis. From being the region's big losers over the last few decades, many Shia now feel they can redress the balance, settle old scores and control the oil wealth.

As they review their options, the Saudis have probably concluded that they can live with a Shia-dominated government in Iraq, but only if it contains prominent Sunni faces. All the same, relations won't be easy.

Shia ideology is in direct collision with the Sunni Wahhabi doctrine that underpins the Saudi state and frequently labels the Shia as "heretics".

For months, the Saudi government has trumpeted its "national dialogue" which brought together Ismaelis, Sufis, Shia and Salafis for unprecedented talks, chaired by Crown Prince Abdullah. But this is little more than window-dressing. The Wahhabi establishment has no appetite for the discussions and has made clear it is not in the reform business. For the first time, leading Saudi figures are talking privately of schism and the possibility of religious war.

So there are no comfortable options for the Saudi royal family. Announce a hurried series of reforms and the princes will be seen to have bowed to American pressure and will face the wrath of the clergy. Do nothing, and even the moderates will turn against them and into the arms of the extremists. Offer government posts to the Shia, curb the powers of the ubiquitous religious police - the Mutawa - and another backlash would follow.

Meanwhile, al-Qaida attacks with relative impunity. Some security experts believe that key installations like Ras Tanoura and Abqaiq, the world's largest oil processing complex, are vulnerable to attack. Questions about the competence and loyalty of elements within the security forces are denied by the authorities. Nevertheless, recent attacks have revealed intricate personal and tribal links between those forces and the violent jihadis.

Revolution may not be imminent, but the security situation seems bound to deteriorate, provoking fresh splits in the kingdom's complex political and religious architecture.

Without a clear plan of action, it's not surprising that the Saudi leadership has put its head in the sand.

· Dr Mai Yamani is an associate fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs and author of Cradle of Islam: the Hijazi Quest for an Arabian Identity, published next month by IB Tauris

myamani@riia.org

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