Selected Articles

The Jinn of Oman

Pacific Standard | October 29, 2015

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On the edge of the Arabian Desert, one remote outpost encounters evil spirits with disturbing frequency.

Sick Beats and Sykes-Picot

Foreign Policy | June 5, 2015

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This Arabic-language, M.I.A.-inspired Israeli girl band from the Negev desert is looking to become the Arab world’s next pop superstar. History isn’t on its side.

Dubai, The World’s Most Science-Fictional City, Is The Perfect Place For A Comic Con

Slate / Roads & Kingdoms | May 1, 2015

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Dubai’s Comic Con draws 50,000 fans and cult figures like William Shatner and Gillian Anderson. But the real attraction is the futuristic city’s homegrown talent.

The Daredevil Evangelist Who Fell From The Sky

Narratively | April 15, 2015

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A self-taught escape artist from small town Wisconsin delivers death-defying skydives that double as warnings against humanity’s cavalier path toward hell.

Tailing Arabia’s Last Leopards: Conservation & Corruption in Western Yemen

Compass Cultura | February 16, 2015

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A shrinking population of less than 250 Arabian leopards struggle to survive along the isolated Yemen-Oman border. A small group of conservationists is trying to prove that the leopard’s habitat may extend into small pockets of Western Yemen as well, but with rampant environmental neglect and government corruption, the task is a difficult one. Journalist Gaar Adams joins a week-long expedition through Yemen’s majestic Haraz Mountains and Western Highlands — some of the most remote and unexplored natural environments on the planet — in a quest to find and protect the last of Arabia’s critically endangered big cats.

The Strangest Sport No One Knows

Slate / Roads & Kingdoms | July 11, 2014

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In the highlands near Mumbai, practitioners of Mallakhamb perform curious acrobatic feats using poles, ropes … and castor oil.

Eco-activists decry planned Oman border fence

Al Jazeera | May 4, 2014

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Designed to block spillover violence from Yemen, proposed fence could also decimate leopard population, critics say.

There Are Men From All Over South Asian Wrestling in the Dubai Desert

Vice | April 4, 2014

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Every Friday a diverse crowd gathers to witness pehlwani—a raucous form of wrestling from the Asian subcontinent that’s being kept alive in Dubai while it fades away in its homeland.

Will India Trade Whisky For Wine

Slate / Roads & Kingdoms | November 8, 2013

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The subcontinent’s vineyards are betting that Indians will finally trade their whiskey for wine.

Yemeni Tribesmen Are Capturing This Endangered Leopard For Money

The Atlantic | September 6, 2013

Murad Mohamed, a scrawny 27 year-old biology graduate, peers through a pair of dusty binoculars, searching for something few even know exists in Yemen: the Arabian leopard, one of the Middle East’s most iconic species—and one of the world’s most endangered animals…

Safe Space for Art Strikes a Chord in Sana’a

Al Jazeera | April 9, 2013

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Yemeni entrepreneur Taysir al-Sharki reaches into her self-designed purse embellished in sitarafabric – a pattern usually reserved for old women’s dresses – to pull out her ringing mobile phone.  But an old woman she is not. The 42-year-old Sharki greets the caller while pouring tea for the dozen artists gathered in her vast new art gallery in Yemen’s dusty capital.  The excited chatter of the young artists gathered in the Raufa Hassan Gallery stops as they see Sharki’s face drop. A Yemeni security official is the caller. Rumours have been swirling that her art gallery is actually an illicit nightclub, they say. Officers will be paying her a visit soon…

Pilgrim’s Progress

Rolling Stone (Middle East) | February 2013

(Photo Credit: Ziryab Al Ghabri)

Hagage Masaed winces slightly as he prepares to take a seat at a grimy rooftop café high above Yemen’s capital. The scant lighting – one string of dim, orb-shaped lanterns hung between two clotheslines – flickers for a moment before disappearing completely, and as he looks out across the mud-brick buildings of the Old City, the godfather of Yemeni rap watches the power fail in each of the adjacent blocks. He lowers himself onto a shabby sofa and it’s hard to tell whether the grimace is caused by pain in his ageing body or by the failing infrastructure in his adopted homeland…

Pommel Horses and Protestors

The Classical | August 23, 2012

Inside a stuffy, ramshackle warehouse on the northern outskirts of Yemen’s capital, a dozen male gymnasts line up at the end of a tattered vaulting runway. Wedged into a tight corner on the opposite side of the warehouse, the bright red steel of a high-tech Gymnova vaulting table donated by the Japanese Embassy in Sana’a to the barebones Yemen Gymnastics Federation stands in stark contrast to the corrugated metal and cracking cement of the building surrounding it…

Yemeni Idol

Foreign Policy | April 13, 2012

In the waning days of 2010, a bookish medical student stood with me on an unswept street in the heart of Yemen’s capital. I had just finished touring the medical NGO where he worked, and I recall chatting briefly with him about his upcoming exams and struggling to keep up with the archaic Arabic biology vocabulary that he peppered into our small talk. This nerdiness seemed especially striking later when he confessed — crammed with me in the backseat of a rusted-out Peugeot 405 shared taxi — that his parents had just kicked him out of their house for trying to start a rock band…