In 751AD Arabian and Chinese forces met in battle at a river called Talas in Central Asia. This was to mark the end of the eastward expansion of the Islamic Empire, and the westward expansion of the Chinese Empire. Discussing it on In Our Time were Hilde de Weerdt (Leiden University), Michael Höckelmann (King's College London) and Hugh Kennedy (SOAS, University of London).
The fourth and final episode of Tarek Osman's Making of the Modern Arab World covered the 10 years leading up to the events of the Arab Spring in 2011. Osman drew out three strands that he felt were important in that decade. One of these is the growing population of the Arab countries. Osman said he's 38, and in his lifetime the population of Egypt has doubled. Two thirds of the country is under the age of 25.
In the third episode of The Making of the Modern Arab World Tarek Osman looked at the rise of political Islam since the 1970s. He started by reminding us of the context for this, which he talked about more in the previous episode (post). As of about 1966 Nasser was both the leader of Egypt and the most prominent public face of Arab Nationalism.
After a fairly long hiatus over Christmas we've started listening to radio programmes with our Sunday morning breakfast again. This week we listened to the second episode of The Making of the Modern Arab World. From the brief descriptions on the BBC website the first three episodes are covering the three major strands of political ideology in the region, and the fourth one looks at the lead up to the Arab Spring.
The Making of the Modern Arab World is a new Radio 4 series about the causes and recent history of the current political situation in the Middle East. It's presented by Tarek Osman, an Egyptian author, along with several interviews with historians or the descendents of notable figures - his focus is on Egypt and Syria in particular. The first episode looks at the development and decline of Arab liberalism.
J got me to reserve this book out of the library a few weeks ago, he'd seen a mention of it somewhere & when he finished he said he thought I'd like to read it. It's an overview of the first 18 months or so after the start of the Arab Spring in late 2010/early 2011, as told by Jeremy Bowen who is a journalist with the BBC. The book is a combination of overviews of the political situation before, after & during the various revolutions and also of more personal anecdotes from Bowen as he travelled through the countries to report on the revolutions & their aftermath.