Cascades of breaking news stories flood front pages and social media feeds, cataclysmic events happen every day, entire industries have been formed around dissecting and understanding the news. With The Gateway, we'll go in-depth on developments submerged under the ocean of breaking news developments and explore issues poorly or under-reported on. From our offices in Amman, Jordan, we at Al Bawaba are breaking through the news.
Inside the Labor Camps of the Gulf, with Nick McGeehan
The cities of the Gulf region in the Middle East are often depicted as cutting-edge metropolises. Dubai in the UAE is home to the tallest building in the world, and it also has an indoor ski resort despite being in the desert. Abu Dhabi has its very own Louvre art museum. Doha in Qatar’s impressive skyline looks a mirage of steel sculptures reaching upwards in the middle of nowhere.
These images sell to the world the promise of the Gulf states as modern visionaries, bringing humanity into a new epoch of civilization.
But the picturesque skyscrapers or the region’s many artificially-made islands are virtually walled off from most of the countries’ inhabitants. Migrant workers make up a majority of these countries’ labor forces, and often form the bulk of their entire populations. But they are stuck living in packed labor camps or shantytowns, without access to clean water, hygiene, education, or healthcare. They are the ones who build these gleaming cities in the desert that inspire the world, and they are the ones who sustain life for the wealthy sub-strata of the countries’ people.
A recent report by The Guardian revealed that at least 6,500 migrant workers in Qatar had died from 2010-2020 while the country prepares to host the FIFA World Cup, most of them in circumstances the government did not explain.
So I’m seeking an explanation today from an expert on the situation of migrant workers in the Gulf. Nicholas McGeehan is a researcher and writer who has spent much of his professional life investigating the working conditions in the Gulf region of the Middle East, and he joins me in a discussion about the lived reality these people have, the economic forces throwing them towards the Middle East, and the political power that ensures their exploitation continues indefinitely.
Vaccine Apartheids and Palestine, with Yara Hawari
Israelis are beginning to enter post-COVID life thanks to their widespread vaccination, while Palestinians in the West Bank are facing renewed lockdown measures with no meaningful mass vaccination effort underway.
To get an overview of the current situation in Palestine and how its deprivation is representative of the global power divide, I’ll be speaking today with Yara Hawari. Dr. Hawari is a Senior Analyst at al-Shabaka, a center for Palestinian think tank, and is prolific writer on the politics of Israel and Palestine who has appeared in The Guardian, Al Jazeera, and Foreign Policy.
Meet the American Rabbi who Advises Gulf Monarchies
The formal diplomatic ties between Israel and Arab governments around the region are deepening. And even though Israeli-Arab diplomacy has existed through back channels for decades, the recent formalization of these connections has enabled a slew of political shifts to occur.
Rabbi Marc Schneier has on the forefront of these moves, advising some of these governments on their policy towards Israel and the American Jewish community. He’s been a special advisor to King Hamad of Bahrain, he led the first-ever Evangelical Christian mission to Azerbaijan, and continues to be in contact with officials front the UAE to help guide further interfaith efforts. As a political figure, he occupies a unique, if little known position in global politics. His presence in meetings and discussions allows governments to claim that they seek to be friendly to the Jewish people.
The first half of this discussion explores Rabbi Schneier’s beliefs regarding judaism, equality and civil rights. In the second half I challenge him on the tension I see between his beliefs that all people should be equal and deserve civil rights, and the governments he’s advising who evidently do not believe that. I also challenge him on whether he puts any pressure on these governments to improve their human rights record.
How Palestinian Activists Could Influence President Biden, with Fadi Quran
The year 2021 looks to be a big one for the status of Palestine and of Palestinians.
We have the end of Trump and his Middle East envoys that cut Palestinians out of talks, and a new Biden foreign policy doctrine that so far seems more malleable to Palestinian concerns, if only on paper.
To help get a grip of how all these changes will affect Palestinians, I’ll be speaking today with Fadi Quran, a prominent Palestinian activist.
Beware the Terrorologist, with Alexander Thurston
To be called a terrorist by one group is to be signaled as a kind of ultimate Other, a dark and essentially unknowable force that can only be crushed into oblivion. Deployments of the term has justified extralegal killings, torture, collective punishment, besiegements, and decimation of entire populations around the world while curtailing civil liberties of domestic populations at home.
But there’s a quiet force animating discussions on who is and is not a terrorist, which indirectly inform how it is used and popularly understood. Some entities appear simply immune to the term: there is no mainstream chorus of terrorism analysts genuinely insisting that the CIA is a terrorist organization even if its actions neatly fit within the same definition terrorist analysts rely on to label nascent jihadi organizations terrorists. Who is immune to the Terrorist label and its implications is thus just as important as who is subject to it.
To get a better understanding of the politics behind terrorism discourse, I’ll be speaking with Alexander Thurston, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati, where he focuses on the study of Islam and Northwest Africa. Thurston is the author of the 2018 book, Boko Haram: The History of an African Jihadist Movement and has written about the prevalence of experts who always seem to pop up whenever a new terror threat is identified. He calls these people 'terrorologists.’
The Gateway to Understanding Power in Media, with Ty Joplin
In May 2018, Al Bawaba launched The Gateway podcast to tell those ignored stories, demystify trends, and reveal the way power works in media. We’ve highlighted the virtually unknown immigration of Ethiopians to Yemen, talked at-length about how mercenaries and private arms manufacturers are changing warfare, and spoken about the growing power of surveillance capitalism.
Going into 2021, we’re going to continue telling these stories in each episode and hope you join us for them. If you enjoy The Gateway, subscribe to it, tell your friends about it, leave us a review on the platform you’re listening to us on. If you think there’s a story worth covering, let us know!
Customer ReviewsSee All
Keep it up, this is great. Niche stuff, good experts. I like it.