Al Jazeera is your only source on the Middle East and North Africa? Let me help you. Take a seat.
Ever since a member of the Qatari royal family took charge of the network, coverage was getting a bit weird. Don’t get me wrong, Al Jazeera can do some fantastic coverage on various matters in the region, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [as someone who always looks for this, no they really don’t. You’re better off with Arab News for Israel/Palestine] They also did an amazing job in the initial coverage on the Egyptian revolution. It’s all good. The Stream is also a great show, but only gets 30 minutes a day, which sucks.
Anyways, it’s been getting shady. Especially when they canceled the showing of a documentary on Morocco’s pro-democracy movement for no apparent reason. That was the last straw for me.
So! Here’s a list of English sources on the Middle East and North Africa. Most of them are just publications.
- Jadaliyya: Amazing analysis from the top scholars and academics in every field pertaining to the Middle East and North Africa. Politics, culture, religion, gender studies—you name it. You can’t really be studying MENA politics without having read something from here.
- Al Akhbar: The English version of one of the most prominent newspapers in Lebanon. They cover all things in the region though. Mostly newsy, but there are quality op-ed pieces and weekly blogposts from prominent voices.
- Tunisia Live: They launched after the Tunisian Revolution and cover all things Tunisia. They also occasionally post pieces pertaining to other parts of the region, namely North Africa.
- Arabist: Yes, this is a blog, but an amazing blog. Even if all you’re checking out is the weekly link roundup, that’s enough news to keep you updated. Most of the posts are on Egypt, but there is a sprinkle of other countries.
- Magharebia: Okay, they’re funded by AFRICOM, yes. But they are one of the few sites that consistently publishes content on the Greater Maghreb (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, and the Western Sahara). It’s basic coverage, but if you come across a story that intrigues you, just do some more research.
- Ahram Online: The English version of the “first newspaper in the Middle East.” It’s based in Egypt and provides coverage throughout the region.
This is a very basic list, and I’ll probably add to it. Though, with these alone, I’m confident you’ll stay informed and up to date on the ever-changing stories and situations in the Middle East and North Africa. All of the above sources are based from the region and/or have writers and editors based or are from the region.
I’m going to add Arab News, yes it’s the Saudi national paper but they have really good coverage of Israel/Palestine (with great op-eds from people like Uri Avnery, Ramzy Baroud, etc.) and recently Syria. They will also have some great pieces on issues in Saudi, believe it or not, for example this article on women driving in Saudi.
- I’d say make Twitter account and search with keywords you are interested - and set follows. It’s most lively, many voices and perspectives and it’s just fun.
- Al Akhbar [Lebanon] - founder was a reputable journalist - but in late years turned pro-Iranian regime, pro-Hezbollah (for the sake of anti-American leaning). He died but sometimes it still spews out very strange pro-Iranian regime reports. (*Because it had some really distorting pieces I had to check what it is.)
- I just set up Google Alerts with keywords I’m interested in, and direct those alerts to Google Reader. That’s more easier than visiting all great/relevant sites (hundreds, including blogs). Though, updates from Google Alerts have time lag (like 24hrs, sometimes), and contains many dubious stuff too (but that’s the fun part too), and never thorough or complete.