No-one is called Abdul: A Guide to Arab Names

This week’s blogpost will be a little short and somewhat out of the ordinary – it’s on the subject of Arabic names.  During the past two days I’ve encountered three journalistic examples of mutilation or incomprehension of Arab names.  I therefore propose, for your scrutiny, a look at how Arab names are put together, how they are taken apart, and how they are not taken apart. CAVEAT: Before we get any further into this, remember that – for whatever reason – there is still no agreed-on way of transliterating Arabic into English.  This is why we had القذافي written as … Continue reading No-one is called Abdul: A Guide to Arab Names

The Lessons of Nauru

The Pacific island of Nauru is among the most unknown countries in the world.  This is hardly surprising – it is the fourth-smallest territory in the world (ahead of only Tokelau, Gibraltar, Monaco, and the Vatican), and there are fewer ethnic Nauruans than there are Oxford undergraduates.  But, for a time, Nauru had the highest GDP per capita in the world, and the slow decline from the financial orgy of the 1970s and 80s to its current state as a virtual province of Australia contains some fairly frightful omens for the future of other such rentier states. Nauru is (or … Continue reading The Lessons of Nauru