Worth buying

Our Women on the Ground: Essays by Arab Women Reporting from the Arab World - Various Authors, Christiane Amanpour, Zahra Hankir

When Marie Colvin was murder, many people in the world mourned Yet, not to diminish her importance it should be noted that she was a Western journalist reporting on the Middle East. There had been and still are, Middle Eastern journalist who have been killed or imprisoned for the same reasons that Colvin was targeted. They do not get the same attention in the Western media for a variety of reasons: skin color, political viewpoint, and, perhaps least offensive, limited to no publication in Western media. Hankir’s collection does much to rectify that.

Each essay in the collection is by a woman who reports from the Arab world and is Arab herself. The Introduction places the reporters in context – in the history of reporting in the Arab world as well as reporting as a woman in the Arab world. The essays range from personal to commentary to reflection.

“An Orange Bra in Riyadh” by Donna Abu-Nas is in many ways the stellar standout in a group of stellar essays. In part this is because it deals with the changes in Saudi Arabia and how she experienced them as a working journalist, but also because it mentions the murder of Khashoggi. It also ensures that you never take little freedoms for granted again.

There are a few essays that deal with the death of fellow journalists – be they friends, husbands, or mentors. And these are particularly touching and powerful. But “On a Belated Encounter with Gender” by Lina Attalah is especially moving for it focuses on the issues of deciding to become a journalist in a family that is traditional.

The book is divided into sections, and of the course, the Exile section which deals with Syria is important to read simply because of perspective, but the essays also show case aspects of life that did not normally make it into Western news, presenting a more nuanced view of the area.

This collection of essays is highly recommended.