Entries by Sami Moubayed

The veil in Turkey: Wrapped Up and Delivered

The constitutional amendment passed recently which allows young girls to wear head scarves at university has hit Turkish society like an earthquake. Turkish women, after all, were given the right to vote, own property, run for political office – and the freedom to choose whether or not to wear a veil – shortly after the […]

Celebrating Syrian Pioneers in 2008

  Back in the mid-1970s, the pioneer Syrian actor Nihad Quali quarreled with a drunk officer at a local pub. The officer gave him a harsh beating, which left him partially paralyzed. That was big news in Damascus. Unaware of how severe his condition was, Nihad put up with the unbearable pain and went to […]

Knowing too much

  I was recently in Paris, conducting research on the French Mandate in Syria. A wonderful European woman was serving as my translator, helping me sort the piles of documents on the years 1920-1946. I mentioned something related to the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, thinking that—from where I came from—everybody knew what Sykes-Picot was. I […]

Muqtada vs Nasrallah

German sociologist Max Weber introduced the word “charisma” into academic discourse, defining it in part as being a quality that sets an individual apart. Almost always, charismatic people posses exceptional communication and oratory skills. By pan-Arab standards, Hasan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah, fits this bill. He has captivated millions of Muslims with his […]

Unhappy are those who still need heroes

  I have always been interested in role models. Whenever I conduct a personal interview with famous Syrians, I always wrap up with one question, “Who are your inspirational figures; who are your role models in life?” A role model by definition can be a friend or a family member, a living celebrity, or a […]

Mouabyed exclusive with Recep Tayyip Erdogan

  Something changed forever after in Turkey on March 14, 2003, the day Recep Tayyip Erdoğan came to office in Ankara. Tall and charming, young, conservative, eloquent and charismatic, the new Prime Minister was a breath of fresh air for the Turkish public. Only 49 at the start of his tenure, the former Mayor of […]

Iraqi refugees on the road to Damascus

For the most part of nearly three decades, interaction between Syrians andIraqis was minimal, to say the least-restricted to political fugitives from each country residing in Baghdad and Damascus. Anyone who is someone in Iraq today was a resident of the Syrian capital-Nuri Al-Maliki, Jalal Talabani, Masoud Al-Barzani, and Ibrahim Al-Jaafari. But neither country had […]

Justice for King Farouk of Egypt

  With great interest I have been watching the TV series “King Farouk” this Ramadan, recounting the life of Farouk I, the last king of Egypt who was dethroned by a revolution carrying the Free Officers’ signature in 1952. For years we were taught to believe that Farouk was a “bad king” whose “carelessness” led […]

Moubayed speaks to the Lord Mayor of London Gavyn Arthur

  The Right Honorable Sir Gavyn Arthur became the 675th Lord Mayor of London in November 2002. It wasn’t easy living up to the expectations of a job that has been constantly occupied since 1189. One of his prime tasks was promoting financial services in the City, the hotbed of the UK financial industry.   […]

Damascus Needs More Lovers

There are 12 marriages per 1,000 citizens in Damascus. That is what official statistics say, and yet there is also a staggering 40% divorce rate in the Syrian capital. Meaning, out of the 1,000 people who get married, 400 of them get divorced. The divorce rate is much lower in Latakia (9%), Aleppo (8%), Hama […]