About the Middle East

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Al-Bab

Directory of Middle Eastern links, including country guides, maps and news

Country Studies

The Library of Congress Country Studies include extensive information about all Middle Eastern countries, including historical overviews as well as information about government structure, economics, and demographics.

Specific countries can’t be bookmarked, so follow the link above and select the country of interest.

Ethnic and Religious Diversity in the Middle East

This is a short reading from the University of Notre Dame on the Ethnic and Religious Diversity in the Middle East. It includes a great map.

FAMiliarization: Facts and Figures

This collection of resources from the DLIFLC includes fact sheets about the history, culture, and language of countries around the world.

Global Connections: The Middle East

This collection of resources from PBS asks big questions about the history, culture, and politics of the Middle East. Includes lesson plans, timelines, articles, and videos.

Islam, The Middle East, and The West

This course will introduce you to the history of the Middle East from the rise of Islam to the twenty-first century.  The course will emphasize the encounters and exchanges between the Islamic world and the West.  It will be structured chronologically—each unit will focus on the emergence of a particular Middle Eastern society or empire during a specific time period.  By the end of the course, you will understand how Islam became a sophisticated and far-reaching civilization and how conflicts with the West shaped the development of the Middle East from the medieval period to the present day.

Mideast Politics

This online course from Saylor.org offers great readings about the Middle East divided into 16 units.

Movies About the Middle East

An annotated list of films about the Middle East, listed in reverse order of date of release.

POMEPS Briefings

The Project on Middle East Political Science Briefings are a collection of articles and essays by scholars on a specific topic related to the Middle East.

Primary Source: The Modern Middle East

This guide offers book, film, curriculum, and website resources for teaching and learning about the Modern Middle East. Many books and films listed in this guide are available from the Primary Source Library.

For the purposes of this guide, the Middle East is the Arab World, Iran, Israel, and Turkey.

Research Guide to the Middle East 

Cornell University Library’s guide conducting general research on the Middle East and North Africa.

The Rhyme of History: Lessons from the Great War (multimedia)

While 1914 may seem like ancient history, MacMillan reminds us that the world today has much in common with the world one century ago—where sectarian quarrels transformed into global conflicts.  For an unsettling parallel in time, MacMillan points to the modern Middle East and reminds us that even when history doesn’t repeat, it often rhymes.

This essay by historian Margaret MacMillan and published by the Brookings Institute is enhanced with graphics, videos, and interactives.

 

Saban Center for Middle East Studies

News about the Middle East.

The Middle East Channel (text)

Foreign Policy’s Middle East Channel is a vibrant and decidedly non-partisan site where real expertise and experience take priority over shouting, where the daily debate is informed by dispassionate analysis and original reporting all too often lacking from the stale and talking-point-laden commentary that sadly dominates most coverage of the region today. Its contributors range from academics to former policymakers, from journalists on the ground to established analysts — with an emphasis on introducing voices from Middle East itself. Most importantly, the Middle East Channel comes to you doctrine-free, open to political viewpoints of all kinds — but demanding honesty, civility, and genuine expertise.

Where is the Middle East?

This slide show from the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations uses maps to illustrate the lack of consensus among governments, international organizations, and scholars regarding how to define the Middle East or even whether to use that term. The instability of the concept “Middle East” points to the need to break down traditional area studies barriers.

You can also view this 8 minute screencast introducing the changing definitions and borders of the Middle East.

A Land Called Paradise (video)

This video is a nice portrayal of Islam in America.  Accompanying Power Point presentation and presentation notes.

Al Bawaba (text)

This news outlet offers Middle East news and Arab World headlines

Al Jazeera (text)

English version of the Arabic-language news network owned by the state of Qatar. Breaking news and features plus background material including profiles and global reactions.

Al-Ahram Weekly (text)

English language weekly serving the Arab world with a selection of commentary.

BBC News: Middle East (text)

News source about the Middle East.

CNN Middle East News (text)

CNN’s complete coverage on the Middle East.

CultureTalk: In English (video)

A collection of short videos featuring young people from the Middle East and the around the world speaking about their culture in English.

European Imperialism in the Middle East (audio)

In these two podcasts, guest and co-host Christopher Rose from UT’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies walks us through the beginnings of European imperialism in the Middle East and discusses the lingering effects of 20th century European imperialism in the region and the transition to independence.

The Global Arab Network (text)

Global Arab Network (GAN) is a comprehensive news and information service about the Arab world in English and Arabic.

Global Voices: Amira al-Hussaini (text)

Amira al-Hussaini, GLobal Voice’s regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, is not just an excellent blogger–she also harnesses the regional online community to help aggregate some of the best content produced by Middle Eastern writers.

History of the Modern Middle East (audio)

A collection of podcasts by Richard Bulliet, professor at Columbia University.  They cover the history of the Middle East from the 18th century until the present, examining the region ranging from Morocco to Iran and including the Ottoman Empire. They focus on transformations in the states of the region, external intervention, and the emergence of modern nation-states, as well as aspects of social, economic, cultural and intellectual history of the region.

History of the Ottoman Empire (audio)

The Ottoman Empire has long captured the public imagination in a way that few other royal houses and empires have managed to do. From the days when its armies threatened the gates of Vienna, its long-rumored decline as the “sick man of Europe,” and the Taksim demonstrations of 2013 when Turkish Prime Minsiter Erdoğan was accused of “neo-Ottomanism,” the legacy that the Empire left is long and vast. But who were the Ottomans? Why were they so successful?  And why have they lasted so long in the public’s imagination?

Listen to these two podcasts from 15 Minute History

  • History of the Ottoman Empire, part 1
  • History of the Ottoman Empire, part 2

IRIN Middle East (text)

Humanitarian news and analysis, a service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Mahir Zeynalov: Diary of a Skeptic (text)

This is the blog of a Turkish report for Today’s Zaman newspaper based in Istanbul, Turkey. He regularly posts analysis based on his own reporting.

Middle East and Islamic History in Maps (images)

A collection of maps posted by Dr. Steve Tamari at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

Meedan Current Events (text)

An Arabic-English forum using machine translation with expert corrections.

Middle East Research and Information Project (text)

Since 1996, MERIP has maintained one of the most informative websites on Middle East politics, culture and society.

Middle East Studies Center Lecture Series (audio)

The Middle East Studies Center Lecture Series podcast features audio recordings from the series.

Mosaic: World News From The Middle East (video)

Mosaic is a Peabody Award-winning daily compilation of television news reports from the Middle East, including Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, the Palestinian Authority, Iraq and Iran.

New York Times: Middle East (text)

Current news about the Middle East from the New York Times.

NPR: Middle East (text)

Current news about the Middle East from NPR.

Photos from Rania Matar (images)

This photograph collection features images from the Middle East, taken by Lebanese photographer Rania Matar.

POMEPS Conversations (text)

“POMEPS Conversations” is a series of short video conversations between POMEPS Director Marc Lynch and prominent scholars in the field. Conversations range over a wide range of topics: issues specific to political science, the politics of particular countries in which scholars have expertise, a recently published book. Conversations are recorded and posted roughly once a week, and are featured on ForeignPolicy.com’s The Middle East Channel home page. We hope that this will become a useful and important archive of the constantly evolving field of political science and the Middle East.

Primary Source: Websites and Blogs (text)

A collection of websites and blogs about the modern Middle East

Sada (text)

Sada offers original, bilingual analysis of political change and reform trends in the Arab world from leading thinkers and new voices in the region.

The Media Line (text)

The Media Line is a unique non-profit news organization established to enhance and balance media coverage in the Middle East, promote independent reporting in the region, and break down barriers to understanding in the Arab and Israeli journalism communities.

The Middle East and the Arab World (audio)

A collection of podcasts about Arab relations throughout the Middle East, posted by Georgetown University

The Middle East Channel (text)

Foreign Policy’s Middle East Channel is a vibrant and decidedly non-partisan site where real expertise and experience take priority over shouting, where the daily debate is informed by dispassionate analysis and original reporting all too often lacking from the stale and talking-point-laden commentary that sadly dominates most coverage of the region today. Its contributors range from academics to former policymakers, from journalists on the ground to established analysts — with an emphasis on introducing voices from Middle East itself. Most importantly, the Middle East Channel comes to you doctrine-free, open to political viewpoints of all kinds — but demanding honesty, civility, and genuine expertise.

The Wael Abbas Daily (text)

This blog offers an aggregation of traditional media, blogs, NGO sites, tweets, videos and more.  It is written by Wael Abbas, an Egyptian blogger.

UN News Centre: Middle East (text)

News about the Middle East from the United Nations.

The Washington Post: Middle East (text)

Current news about the Middle East from the The Washington Post.

Wide Angle: The Middle East (text)

Wide Angle is a reporting initiative started in 2001 as a “response to the lack on in-depth international views coverage in the United States.” The Middle East Wide Angle broadcasts contain short video podcasts from producers and journalists from Israel and Palestine, Turkey, and Egypt reporting on important “events, issues, or trends through the eyes of the people who are living it day to day.” The ultimate goal is to present “global stories on a human scale,” and offer “Americans uncommon and invaluable insight into today’s interconnected world.”

Arab Culture through Literature and Film

Arab Culture through Literature and Film is a five unit high school curriculum that provides students with knowledge and tools to analyze and understand the Arab world. The materials utilize a student-centered pedagogical approach that promotes critical thinking and respect and encourages engaged global citizenship. Through this curriculum, students will recognize shared themes across the region and gain a sense of the rich diversity inherent to the multidimensional cultures of the Arab world. Students will study life and culture in the Arab world and engage with primary sources including films, short stories, and poems. Exposing students to Arab voices and putting human faces on the Arab world will increase understanding and tolerance in the American classroom.

psu logo edited Arabs in Hollywood

This lesson uses Jack Shaheen’s documentary, Reel Bad Arab, to explore the how Arabs have been portrayed in American cinema.

Are You Listening? Voices from the Middle East

This very popular anthology, produced by The Outreach Center, consists of short stories and excerpts from memoirs and novels written by indigenous authors and translated and adapted for the U.S. classroom.

Exploring Islamic Lands

In this lesson students explore what it’s like to be a teenager living today in an Islamic country in the Middle East. They will begin by gaining background information about the religion and the region from which it sprang by using the PBS series ISLAM: EMPIRE OF FAITH and other resources. Once students gain a historical understanding, they choose a particular modern day Middle Eastern country to explore in depth using resources such as the Library of Congress Web site and epals. In the end, they will create a personal narrative of what it’s like to live in that country.

psu logo edited Geography of the Modern Middle East and North Africa

Through this 50 minute lesson, students learn the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, where they lie on the map and how that might impact the citizens.

Global Connections: The Middle East

This collection of resources from PBS asks big questions about the history, culture, and politics of the Middle East. Includes lesson plans, timelines, articles, and videos.

psu logo edited Intro to the Modern Middle East

Many American children lack a basic understanding of the Middle East. The geography, cultures and customs of the region are often based on inappropriate misconceptions perpetuated by American society and media. The purpose of this unit is to clarify and outline a basic knowledge for students to build on through their further education in a variety of subject areas. This is intended to be a very basic unit to wrap up the sixth grade units on Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt.

Media Construction of the Middle East

These four teaching-ready units (which include teacher guides, student handouts, overviews, and assessments) presented by Ithaca College explore the representation of the Middle East in the Media.  The units include: (1) Introducing the Middle East; (2) Israel/Palestine: Histories in Conflict; (3) War in Iraq: Whose Voice, Whose Story?; (4) Militant Muslims and the US.

Middle East and North Africa Geography

This lesson plan gives students an overview of the region’s geographical past, while exposing students to the complexity and diversity of the region. It also ensures a basic geographical starting point for any unit plan about the region, or for any mini-unit delving into Middle Eastern current affairs.  Published by PBS

Middle East Map Game

This fun and interactive map game has students place countries of the Middle East and North Africa on a map.

Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean

This collection of 6 teaching modules features resources for teaching about the role of the Mediterranean as a commercial and cultural ecosystem in past eras, as well as lesson materials on the present and prospects for the future. Given the unique geography of the transitions currently underway in the Middle East (several geographically contiguous North African states) and the likelihood that interactions between Europe, northern Africa, Turkey, and the Arab world will constitute a vitally important sub-region of globalization going forward, new cross-Mediterranean tendrils of economic and civil society connectivity will be necessary to help anchor these transitions.

Resources for Teaching about the Middle East

A collection of resources organized by theme to support teaching about the Middle East.

Rethinking the Region: New Approaches to the 9-12 US Curriculum on the Middle East and North Africa

This curriculum was born out of an extensive analysis of textbooks used in US high schools to teach about the MENA region. The authors identified five themes and developed detailed, web-based teaching materials to offer robust alternatives to 9-12 teachers.  The themes are as follows:

  • Women & Gender
  • Plural Identities
  • Empire & Nation
  • Political & Social Movements
  • Arts & Technology

Teaching about Rights: Historical Context, Contemporary Challenges

Comprehensive curriculum materials produced by the University of Texas at Austin. This lesson covers the history of human rights around the world, including the Middle East and North Africa.

Teaching About War

A teachers guide on how to approach the subject of war in the classroom.

Teaching the Middle East: A Resource for Educators

Scholars from the University of Chicago developed this teacher resource to provide an overview of Middle Eastern cultures and their contributions to the world.

psu logo edited The Middle East and WWI

These 3 lessons is meant to be the finale of a larger unit on the Middle East

The first lesson gives students the opportunities to put themselves in the shoes of those people who were affected by the imperialism and colonialism of the great powers. Students decide how the region should be divided up, and who should get what based on the goals and ideals of the actual people who lived in the Middle East.

In the second lesson, students learn about the imperial history of the region, looking at the series of overlapping treaties and agreements after the First World War, and creating a comprehensive class map of the region as it was in 1925. Students will investigate the “why” of colonialism, and delve into the reasons the UK and France (but also Russia, Italy, the US, and Turkey) were so interested in the region.

In the third, culminating lesson the students will use the background given by the other two lessons as a lens to look at the Middle East today. What conflicts are there? What were the causes of the conflicts? In a class discussion, students will discuss the plausibility of the goal of “peace in the Middle East,” and will create their own maps of a “conflict-free” Middle East.

Unmasking the Middle East

In this lesson, students explore many of the countries in the Middle East, developing research-based posters and a “spider web” illustrating the relationships among the countries. They then write letters to fictional peers in Middle Eastern countries.