About this site

The basics

Arabist.net was launched in Cairo in November 2003, by Issandr El Amrani, partly as response to the the lack of interest in the domestic politics of Arab countries in much Western media. It focuses on Egypt but tries to follow broader issues in the Arab world, US policy in the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian in the Middle East, and cultural developments throughout the region.

Arabist.net went on to welcome additional contributors and cover the tumultuous 2004-2006 period of political upheaval in Egypt, and the reversal of that small opening thereafter. Each contributor is solely responsible for the views he/she expresses.

This website is a labor of love and makes very little revenue from Google ads. It has no institutional support and its contributors are (well, relatively) poor journalists. Please contribute to keep this site going.

Getting in touch

For any questions, suggestions, recommended links, contributions or anything else please use this contact form. Please do not contact me via Facebook, I almost never check it.

To send me documents, use this dropbox.

Press queries: I am available for interviews on a limited basis, and — for television — most of the time only for a fee. I am a professional freelance journalist and political analyst, I do not have the institutional support or time to contribute content to commercial print, web, tv or radio outlets without compensation. But if I like your show or publication, I'll do my best to help you. 

Research / student queries: Specific questions will get answered. Do not contact me to get a broad introduction to a general topic ("Egyptian politics" or "blogging in the Arab world") — do your homework first. And do not contact me asking me to send you my contact list, the result of 10 years of hard work. Also, read this post. But if you are smart, passionate and well-informed, and have a well-defined project, I can promise you many long geeky and obtuse conversations.

Advertisers: I am happy to consider all types of advertisements. Please use the contact form to get in touch and discuss rates and placement.

Arabist.net currently receives about 3,000-5,000 unique visits per day (or 100-150k  per month) for an average of 17,000 page views per day (all this of course excluding robots). Alexa.com ranks the site at 59,954 worldwide. (All of this data updated 5 March 2011.)

Hosting, CMS and online services

This website is powered by Squarespace, which provides both hosting services and the content management system. Previously it was a self-hosted Wordpress site, and before that a Blosxom site.  While Wordpress isgreat software, hosting was often problematic. I highly recommend Squarespace for very rapid, easy-to-maintain sites and a very intuitive CMS. 

I use the following online services in the everyday running of this site:

  • Apple's MobileMe service and Google Apps for mail, syncing between machines, and some file hosting Flickr for pics
  • Pinboard for bookmarking 
  • Twitter for sharing links and general time-wasting and Iftt to feed the blog to Twitter
  • Feedburner to manage RSS feeds
  • Instapaper to send long articles to my iPhone for later reading


I use Apple computers at home and on the road — currently an MacBook Pro 13" (with a bunch of other machines in the house), running the very latest version of OS X. And, increasingly often, an iPhone. I have used only Apple computers for the past decade. Not only do they look nice, but OS X provides a far stabler and virus-free environment than any version of Windows I've used, and there's great independent software for the Mac.

Original photography on this site is either shot with a Nikon D200, a Sony NEX-5 or an iPhone 4S. Nikon's semi-pro cameras are excellent, and the Sony NEX-5 is a very fun, lightweight, and fully featured exchangeable-lens camera — I highly recommend them. 

I have an iPad and a Kindle. I think dedicated eInk ebook readers are lighter, have longer lasting battery, and are easier on the eye than the iPad. But the iPad is awesome. Technologically, however, ebook readers still don't have the versatility of a normal paper book.

Desktop software

The following software is used to create this website and manage the ever-expanding amount of information I use in my work. I pay for almost all the software I use and prefer to support small independent programmers. 

  • Safari and Chrome to browse the web
  • Mac OS X apps to manage five email addresses, six calendars, hundreds of contacts
  • Byword and iA Writer  (and previously Bean or Writeroom) to write articles. I don't think you should use Word to write unless you need to design a complex document, and prefer using RTF files to DOC files.
  • Marsedit to blog (although much less often now since Squarespace has a very nice web interface and a great iPhone app)
  • YoruFukurou, to interface with Twitter  
  • Delibar or Webnote to manage bookmarks and interface with Pinboard
  • Reeder for RSS feeds (also iPhone app)
  • DevonThink Pro for archival and research purposes (fantastic and worth the money) and Yep for PDF management (also iPhone app)
  • TextWrangler for HTML editing and Swatch to pick nice web colors.
  • Alfred for clipboard history and all-round applauncher (can't live without this)
  • PixelMator for photo editing and Voila for screengrabs
  • 1Password for password management (also iPhone app)
  • Things to stay organized (also iPhone app)

Indispensable reference books

For Arabic-English translation, we rely on Hans Wehr 4th Edition and al-Mawrid dictionaries. 

I love the National Geographic Atlas of the Middle East, now in its second edition.

Google takes care of everything else.