62 episodes

Babel will take you beyond the headlines to discuss what’s really happening in the Middle East and North Africa. It features regional experts who explain what’s going on, provide context on pivotal developments, and highlight trends you may have missed. Jon Alterman, senior vice president, Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy, and director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts the podcast along with his two colleagues, Will Todman, associate fellow, and Amber Atteridge, associate director. This podcast is made possible through the generous support of the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates. All views, positions, and conclusions expressed here should be understood to be solely of those of the speaker(s).

Babel: Translating the Middle East Center for Strategic and International Studies

    • Government

Babel will take you beyond the headlines to discuss what’s really happening in the Middle East and North Africa. It features regional experts who explain what’s going on, provide context on pivotal developments, and highlight trends you may have missed. Jon Alterman, senior vice president, Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy, and director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts the podcast along with his two colleagues, Will Todman, associate fellow, and Amber Atteridge, associate director. This podcast is made possible through the generous support of the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates. All views, positions, and conclusions expressed here should be understood to be solely of those of the speaker(s).

    The Arab Spring Ten Years On

    The Arab Spring Ten Years On

    In our latest episode of Babel, Jon Alterman was joined by Issandr El Amrani, regional director for the Middle East/North Africa region at the Open Society Foundation. Issandr talked to Jon about how political trends across the Middle East have unfolded in the ten years since the Arab Spring. He also gives his thoughts on what trends people should be watching going forward. Then, Jon, Natasha Hall, and Danny Sharp explore the Arab Spring's legacy ten years on.

    Oz Katerji, "Betrayed by Their Leaders, Failed by the West, Arabs Still Want Democracy," Foreign Policy, December 17, 2020.

    Issandr El Amrani, "In Translation: Sisi's Road to Presidency for Life," The Arabist, May 17, 2018.

    Issandr El Amrani, "Morocco's Second Spring," The Guardian, April 17, 2012.

    Episode Transcript, "The Arab Spring Ten Years On," CSIS, January 12, 2021.

    • 35 min
    A Mezze: Drivers of Change

    A Mezze: Drivers of Change

    As more and more women across the Middle East enter the auto industry, the fuel for change is being driven in unexpected directions.

    • 2 min
    Rising Temperatures in the Middle East

    Rising Temperatures in the Middle East

    Jon Alterman talks with Elfatih Eltahir, professor of hydrology and climate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, about climate change and rising temperatures across the Middle East. Professor Eltahir explains what 'wet bulb' temperature means, and why governments should plan future cities away from the coast in order to cope with extreme heat. Then, Jon, Will Todman, and McKinley Knoop discuss climate change mitigation efforts in the Middle East.

    Suchul Kang, Jeremy Pal, Elfatih Eltahir, "Future Heat Stress During Muslim Pilgrimage (Hajj) Projected to Exceed 'Extreme Danger' Levels," Geophysical Research Letters, June 25, 2019.

    Elfatih Eltahir, short educational videos, Eltahir Research Group.


    Jeremy S. Pal and Elfatih Eltahir, “Future temperature in southwest Asia projected to exceed a threshold for human adaptability," Nature Climate Change, October 26, 2015.

    Jon Alterman and Michael Dziuban, Clear Gold, CSIS, December 2010.

    Episode Transcript, "Rising Temperatures in the Middle East," CSIS, December 29, 2020.

    • 27 min
    A Mezze: Secondhand in Demand

    A Mezze: Secondhand in Demand

    Egyptian vendors are reselling leftover and expired foods to Egypt's poor at heavily discounted prices.

    • 2 min
    Satire and Comedy in the Arab World

    Satire and Comedy in the Arab World

    This week on Babel, Jon Alterman is joined by Karl Sharro, an architect, satirist, and commentator on the Middle East who blogs and tweets as @KarlreMarks. Karl talks about how he developed his style of comedy and the role satire has played in the Arab World. Then, Natasha, Will, and Jon talk about what satire can tell us about the Middle East.

    Karl Sharro, "Explaining Lebanon's Problems in One Minute," Karl Sharro Youtube, October 2, 2020.

    Ahmed Albasheer, "Muhasasa," Albasheer Show Youtube, November 20, 2019.

    Al-Rahel Al-Kabir, "Madad Baghdadi," Al-Rahel Al-Kabir Youtube, August 20, 2014.

    Karl Sharro, "Study confirms Lebanon is indeed the centre of the universe," Karl reMarks, April 5, 2013.

    Episode Transcript: "Satire and Comedy in the Arab World," CSIS, December 15, 2020.

    • 32 min
    A Mezze: Delivering the Goods

    A Mezze: Delivering the Goods

    Across the Middle East, ride sharing apps are helping address the region's addressing problems.

    • 2 min

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