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Thomas Graham

I’m a British journalist and writer. I have lived and reported from across Latin America and the Iberian …

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Skills: Reporter, Feature Writer
Specialisms: Travel, Science, Politics, Film, Features, Culture, Art

Victoria Stunt

Victoria Stunt is a freelance journalist based in Medellin, Colombia. She works in print and radio, and has …

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Skills: Reporter, Feature Writer, Broadcaster
Specialisms: Travel, Technology, Politics, Journalism, Features

Sri Muppidi

Sri Muppidi was a Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist and reported on business, tech and policy.

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James Waddell

Freelance writer and early modernist. Winner of Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize and Art Fund Writing Competition. Words …

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Skills: Editor
Specialisms: Social Media, News

Latest Articles

Edible insects and lab-grown meat are on the menu

ALTHOUGH TWO billion people around the world regularly eat insects, consumers in the West have historically shunned them as a food source. But concerns about the environmental impact of food production are putting insects on the menu: they are rich in protein and more sustainable to produce than meats such as beef or pork.
By Amy Hawkins
The Economist

Who is the world’s best banker?

W most impressive banker on the planet? Judged by their swagger and $20m-40m paypackets, the bosses of Wall Street’s big firms are contenders; yet several run firms that have delivered weak returns, been bailed out and left a toxic trail of scandals. Measured by sheer clout, the heads of China’s state lenders are in the running. The boss of Agricultural Bank of China keeps an eye on a mere 23,000 branches and half a million staff. But he is an instrument of the Communist Party. Measured by the
By Martin F.R.
The Economist

The meaning of RCEP, the world’s biggest trade agreement

THE PROCESS has been as agonising as the name is clunky. But the 15 Asian countries that on November 15th signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in a virtual ceremony in Hanoi can at least congratulate themselves on breaking some records. RCEP is the world’s largest plurilateral trade agreement. It would have been bigger still had India not withdrawn a year ago. After eight years of what Malaysia’s trade minister, Mohamed Azmin Ali, called “negotiating with blood, sweat an
By Martin F.R.
The Economist

Could the vaccine help ailing emerging-market shares?

Editor’s note: Some of our covid-19 coverage is free for readers of The Economist Today, our daily newsletter. For more stories and our pandemic tracker, see our hub A official once remarked to Buttonwood that his country’s economy does best when the rest of the world does well—but not too well. India’s exports benefit from global growth. But when the world economy gains too much momentum, interest rates and oil prices can rise uncomfortably high, hobbling a country that is a net importer of bo
By Martin F.R.
The Economist

Egyptian women speak up about sex crimes

When Nadeen Ashraf was walking through a wealthy part of Cairo last month, she was not surprised to hear sexual comments aimed her way. Most women in Egypt have experienced sexual harassment or violence. But her catcaller was surprised when the 22-year-old philosophy student jumped into the taxi he was driving. “I had an hour-long conversation with him,” she recalls. “It was so foreign to him that this was sexual harassment.”
By Amy Hawkins
The Economist

Calls to boycott the Beijing winter Olympics are growing stronger

ON A RAINY day in central London in April 2008, Laurence Lee, then a presenter for Al Jazeera, a broadcaster, told viewers that that year’s Olympics in Beijing would be “the most heavily politicised Olympics since Moscow in 1980.” Mr Lee was reporting from the London stretch of the global torch relay, at which pro-Tibet protesters clashed with police as they tried to draw attention to human-rights abuses in China.
By Amy Hawkins
The Economist

Gender equality in Europe is still a long way off

ELIZABETH ANDREWS, a Welsh political activist of the early 20th century, was a champion of working-class women in the coal-mining valleys of South Wales, campaigning for better health services, housing and childcare. In 1957, after decades fighting for women’s rights, she published a collection of autobiographical essays entitled “A Woman’s Work is Never Done”.
By Amy Hawkins
The Economist

Jail, jihad and exploding kittens

A YEAR after his extradition from Britain, Omar Mahmoud Othman, better known as Abu Qatada, a burly preacher accused of being al-Qaeda’s man in Europe, relaxes in his plush sitting-room adorned with white lilies in the Jordanian capital, Amman. He is giggling at an Instagram picture of a kitten dressed in an explosive suicide belt. Then, with fellow jihadists, he guffaws at footage on a mobile phone of Theresa May, Britain’s Home Secretary, denouncing extremists and quoting from the Koran at the
By Nicolas Pelham
The Economist

Why no one is called Linda in Saudi Arabia

A , who lives in Algeria, could have chosen an Arabic name for his daughter. But he wanted one that reflected his Berber ethnicity. His choices were limited: Algeria keeps a list of around 300 approved Berber names, a way of holding the minority in check. Mr Labadi wanted none of them. So for almost four years he left his daughter officially nameless, as he fought in court for the name he preferred. In July he finally won and his daughter formally became Tanila, Berber for dove. Regimes in the
By Nicolas Pelham
The Economist

Why dissidents are gathering in Istanbul

REFUGEES, dissidents and émigrés from across the Arab world are flocking to the old imperial city which ruled their lands until 1918. In Mukhtar, a popular café in Istanbul’s “Little Syria”, outcasts from regimes that crushed the Arab spring sip coffee spiced with cardamom—and plot their comeback. They hail from Egypt, Syria, Yemen and other Arab countries where the Ottoman Turks once ruled. Some advocate peaceful means, others violent. “These tyrants will never hand over power peacefully,” says
By Nicolas Pelham
The Economist

Egyptians are upset by Britain’s disregard for a gift

FOR two millennia Europeans have prized ancient Egyptian obelisks. Roman emperors placed captured obelisks in temples in Rome. Pope Sixtus V unearthed one and placed it in St Peter’s Square, the Vatican’s forecourt. Ottoman sultans redesigned Istanbul around them. King Louis Philippe of France made one the centrepiece of the world’s most elegantly planned city. Not so the British. Muhammad Ali Pasha, the founder of modern Egypt, gave Britain a 3,500-year-old obelisk as a gift in 1819. But effor
By Nicolas Pelham
The Economist

Qatar, the Gulf emirate famed for openness, is silencing critics

F Qatar has promoted itself as a beacon of openness in a repressive region. It hosts Al Jazeera, a popular Arab satellite station that broadcasts opinions suppressed elsewhere in the Middle East. And it is a haven to those fleeing Arab despots. But its emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, is less tolerant of criticism directed at him. Last month he issued a decree threatening five years’ imprisonment or a fine of $27,000 for “anyone who broadcasts, publishes or republishes false or biased rumours, st
By Nicolas Pelham
The Economist

Arab states are embracing solar power

T after the ancient Egyptians dropped their solar deity, Ra, their descendants are rediscovering the power of the sun. In the southern desert, half an hour’s drive from Aswan, Egypt is putting the finishing touches to Benban, one of the world’s largest solar farms (pictured). Its 6m panels produce 1.5 gigawatts ( ) of energy, enough to power over 1m homes. “In a decade we’ll still need oil for plastics and other petrochemicals, but not for energy,” says Rabeaa Fattal, a Dubai-based investor in R
By Nicolas Pelham
The Economist

A growing number of Jews are voting for Arabs in Israel

T in Kfar Saba, a Jewish city near Tel Aviv, came from as far away as the Golan Heights in the north and Beersheva in the south. They crowded onto the terrace of a packed penthouse to hear a politician who promised to stop missiles from Gaza and counter hatred of Jews. With the crowd’s support, the politician continued, he could achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians via a two-state solution. None of that would have been unusual, except that the politician was Ayman Odeh (pictured), a
By Nicolas Pelham
The Economist

The Medicis in the desert

When Muhammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, visited New York earlier this year, the face of Ahmed Mater, the kingdom’s most celebrated artist, was beamed onto an enormous billboard in Times Square. In recent years, he has been feted at exhibitions in London, New York and Venice. He dominates the Saudi art scene so thoroughly that his peers struggle for attention. “He’s the only artist anyone writes about,” says one Saudi curator. In 2017 Mater was appointed as artistic director of the
By Nicolas Pelham
The Economist

The blurred history of Orientalist art

Like many students of the Middle East, I am still haunted by Edward Said 41 years after he wrote “Orientalism”. The seminal book argued that Western academics, writers, artists and journalists had been agents of European soft power for over two centuries, constructing an image of the East that was exotic and therefore in need of taming. Orientalists’ art, literature, maps and artefacts reinforced the superior mindset of colonialists and whetted the appetite of Western governments to invade and p
By Nicolas Pelham
The Economist

The people who shaped Islamic civilisation

Coverage of violence and Islam often go hand in hand. So it comes as a relief to be reminded that historically, culturally and intellectually, Islam is less a nihilistic creed than a global civilisation. A new book by Chase Robinson, which includes 30 pen-portraits of significant figures in Islamic history, is an elegant digest of the many colourful, creative and technologically innovative manifestations that the Prophet Muhammad inspired from his seventh-century oases in the Arabian peninsula.
By Nicolas Pelham
The Economist

The gardener of Aden

It began two years ago with a few snips to a Damas bush. Before the week was out, Omar Slameh, who heads a provincial department of environmental management in eastern Yemen, had his 24 municipal gardeners clipping shrubs into pyramids, globes and hearts. Soon they were decorating ancient thoroughfares with six-foot-high teapots, incense burners and doves. By the year’s end they could produce entire Quranic verses in living greenery. Such feats of topiary would have dazzled any city. That they
By Nicolas Pelham
The Economist

Young prince in a hurry

THE Al Sauds once again hold court in Diriya, their ancestral capital that was laid waste by the Ottoman empire and is being lovingly restored as a national tourist attraction. This is where the Al Sauds forged their alliance in the 18th century with a Muslim revivalist preacher, Muhammad Ibn Abdel-Wahhab—a pact that to this day fuses the modern Saudi state with the puritanism of Wahhabi Islam. And this is where Muhammad bin Salman (pictured), the 30-year-old deputy crown prince who is the power
By Nicolas Pelham
The Economist

How Iran can respond to the killing of Qassem Suleimani

T rites of Qassem Suleimani surpassed that of Ruhollah Khomeini, the founding father of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in size, extent and fatalities. The casket bearing the slain commander of the Quds Force, the expeditionary arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ( ), was paraded through eight cities, three in Iraq and five in Iran, drawing crowds reckoned in the millions. In the last, his home city of Kerman, more than 50 mourners were crushed in the throng. General Suleimani, who co
By Nicolas Pelham
The Economist

The death of a former president tilts the balance of power in Iran

TEARS always came easily to the lachrymose ayatollah. But those at a gathering on December 13th seemed more heartfelt than most. He was reading from his own biography of Amir Kabir, the Shah’s chief minister in the mid-19th century, when the blubbing began. Kabir had tried to open the Persian Empire up to the West, he wept, only to be frustrated by the hand of a hardline assassin. “Something suggested he was thinking of his own failed attempts at reform,” says one of those present. With death a
By Nicolas Pelham
The Economist

Victory for Bashar al-Assad has meant more suffering for his people

T of food in Syria has risen so high that women boil weeds to eat. At bakeries in Damascus, the capital, men clamber over each other to get their hands on what little subsidised bread is available. Across the country, queues for petrol snake for miles. Large parts of some cities are rubble. The currency is worth so little that locals use it as cigarette paper. This was meant to have been a year of recovery for Bashar al-Assad. After nearly a decade of civil war, Syria’s dictator has all but def
By Nicolas Pelham
The Economist