I spent most of the first week in my new job as British Ambassador to Libya in Skhirat, Morocco. It was a good chance to meet and get to know the members of the Libyan Political Dialogue. Before arriving in Tunis I concentrated on trying to get an understanding of Libya. If you want to get under the skin of a country, you have to develop an understanding of the … For the Libyan People
Dear Jordan, Our love affair has lasted for four years. But I’m afraid it’s time to break up. I have to leave. It’s going to be hard to do. As Juliet said to Romeo: “parting is such sweet sorrow”. We will be really sad, but it’s time to move on. Of course I knew from the start that you’d had many relationships before. People reminded me of the “historical relationship” … Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
In the charming Jordanian film Captain Abu Raed, a young boy from East Amman tells his friends that people like us don’t get good jobs. In the end, he becomes a commercial pilot with Royal Jordanian. The point is that getting a job shouldn’t depend on where you are from or what your connections are. If you are smart and work hard, you can achieve your ambition. This is true … The Jobs Challenge
The headlines have been full of conflict and argument about extremism and fanaticism. Yet there is a paradox in the debate. On the one hand “We Are All Charlie” and “We Are All Moath”. But on the other there is a perception of conflict between “The West” and Islam. Language which emphasises “jihad” or “crusade” suggests that there is a religious battle. But that diverts the debate away from the … Our Common Agenda
These days everyone seems to be in a hurry. Having a “busy schedule” has almost become a badge of honour of modern life. Employees rush from one meeting to the next; parents try to cram in lots of activities for their children; we hardly have time to stop and appreciate the world around us. It wasn’t meant to be like this. New gadgets and gizmos were supposed to save time … Time to Stand and Stare
Diplomacy is an old profession. Over two thousand years ago Greek city states used to send envoys to negotiate war, peace and trade. But surely with new technology, governments don’t need intermediaries? They can use the internet, videoconferencing and Skype to talk to each other. And with multiple news websites, instant reporting and people uploading their own videos onto Youtube, capitals don’t need diplomats to tell them what’s happening. And … Who Needs Diplomats?
Last week I visited Tunisia for a conference. The preparations for last weekend’s Presidential elections were in full swing. As the taxi driver who drove me from the airport said: “We are proud to be Tunisians: top of the Arab Spring Class of 2011.” Sunday’s vote was indeed the first freely contested Presidential election in Tunisia’s history. As with the Parliamentary elections held last month, they have been peaceful and … Tunisia: Top of the Class?
Walking down from the Citadel to the centre of Amman a few weeks ago, we saw three boys sitting by the steps. I was showing some guests around, tourists from Britain. The boys were about 7 – 8 years old and were eating crisps and drinking juice, watching people climbing and descending the stairs that lace that part of Amman. As we walked past them, one of the boys threw … Trashy Stories
Life would be dull if we all agreed with each other. Fortunately, differences of opinion are inevitable. They are also healthy. Whether disagreement revolves around what to watch on TV or where to eat, an open discussion will often lead to a better choice being made. The same applies to policy issues. An exchange of views on the options, say for the energy sector, means that people can evaluate all … Aramram: Challenge and Controversy
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the world’s most prestigious awards. This year it was won by a Pakistani schoolgirl who fought for the right to learn. At 17 Malala Yousafzai was the youngest person ever to win the prize. She was told about it during a chemistry class at Edgbaston High School in Birmingham in the UK. Malala became a household name after being shot in the head … Learning for Life