Inside Doha: A City as Empty Canvas

doha1In a seminal work published in 1970, writer Alvin Toffler managed to capture the sense of a world of such immense change at the physical, economic, political and social level that all were afflicted in one way or another by what he termed “future shock“. In his book of the same name Toffler identified a key phenomenon of the times, the stress and alienation of modern Western living; realizing the omnipotent and ominous role of media in the psycho drama of “super-industrial” societies, he also coined the phrase “information overload”. Continue reading Inside Doha: A City as Empty Canvas

Why Doha isn’t about to give up the Brotherhood

It has become rather fashionable in some circles to predict the imminent demise of Qatar’s alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Brotherhood calques around the Arab world. I don’t see it happening, and here’s why: Continue reading Why Doha isn’t about to give up the Brotherhood

On Analysts’ Mea Culpa: The Brotherhood Is In This To Win

Many Egyptian social media activists and analysts opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood have taken a sharp line against Western analysts who appeared to be bigging up the Brotherhood during the latter period of the Mubarak years. You thought the Brotherhood were a cuddly bunch of moderate Islamists who would key to creating a new, more balanced, at-one-with-itself Egyptian political order after the brutality and stultification of Mubarak’s police state, they argue. Some of those analysts, of course, have continued to defend the Brotherhood in the post-Jan 25 political landscape, with a discourse that appears to complement the positive approach of the U.S. government, but the major part of the debate has focussed on the wider picture: did specialists misread the Islamist movement? Continue reading On Analysts’ Mea Culpa: The Brotherhood Is In This To Win

Islamists Empowered: Back to the Future

With the fall of Hosni Mubarak, victory in legislative elections and the presidential vote, and now the approval via referendum of a new constitution, Islamists have begun the work of putting their renaissance project into practice.

Unlike Salafism, which dreams of a recreation of the pre-colonial moment, political Islam has aimed more to repatch together the Islamic state but in an unambiguously modern, post-colonial context. The Brotherhood does not aim to return clerics to man a reestablished classical Sharia court system, rather it seeks to distribute the dominion of Sharia via parliament, legislation and an advisory role for clerics via Al-Azhar. Laymen play a key role in the process of Islamicization that they would not have had before the irruption of Western hegemony and modernity – something alien, for example, to Wahhabi Salafism which simply recognizes the sovereign powers of the temporal ruler in return for the clerics’ advisory role in policy and control of courts, mosques, education and their own coercive force (‘the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice’). Continue reading Islamists Empowered: Back to the Future

Analysis – Some Gulf rulers wary of U.S. shifts on Islamists, Iran

By Andrew Hammond and Rania El Gamal

DUBAI | Wed Sep 5, 2012 3:43pm BST

(Reuters) – The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and its ideological affiliates in the Arab Spring uprisings has stoked fears among Gulf Arab governments that the United States may one day abandon its traditional allies as it warms up to Islamists. Continue reading Analysis – Some Gulf rulers wary of U.S. shifts on Islamists, Iran

The Muslim Brotherhood and the Gulf

The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and the concomitant blow to the Egyptian security establishment has been the main take-away issue for governments around the Arab world from last year’s political upheaval. Egyptian security played a central role in coordinating with security agencies around the region and identifying enemies: the Brotherhood and its affiliates were among them, not least in the Gulf where the death of Nayef – the fat cat who masterminded the no-nonsense, no-dissent state – is a new challenge for the old order. Continue reading The Muslim Brotherhood and the Gulf

Who leads the (Wahhabized) Muslim mainstream?

The Imam Mohammed bin Saud Islamic University organised a conference this week titled “al-Salafiyya: manhaj shar’i wa matlab watani” (Salafism: Legal Path, National Demand) where recently appointed crown prince Nayef and the state’s official spokesman and advisor on religious affairs, the Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Shaikh, gave speeches praising al-Salafiyya, or Salafism. The use of that word was striking. The phrase refers to the al-salaf al-saleh, the pious early Muslims, companions of the Prophet and leaders of the Muslim community after his death and in that form it is often used in Saudi political and religious rhetoric. But the use of the abstract noun to indicate the school or trend of Sunni Islam promoted and championed by Saudi Arabia is unusual, at least with this force. Continue reading Who leads the (Wahhabized) Muslim mainstream?

Qatar hopes for returns after backing Libyan winners

Some media have got the emir of Qatar down as some kind of Haroun al-Rashid, with the massive patronage of the arts… whatever – we wrote this one up anyway, which makes reference to the Arab renaissance pretensions of the Qatari Project.

DUBAI/DOHA Aug 24 (Reuters) – Qatar was one of the first countries to back Libyan rebels seeking to overthrow its one-time friend Muammar Gaddafi and with his 42-year-old rule collapsing, the natural gas exporter hopes to reap the political and economic rewards. Continue reading Qatar hopes for returns after backing Libyan winners