x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Karama: a journalist's account of the Arab Spring

The British journalist Johnny West provides a readable addition to the small library of Arab Spring-lit that has sprung up following Mohammed Bouazizi's first act of the uprisings.

Karama!
Johnny West
Heron Books
Dh59

The British journalist Johnny West first set foot in the Middle East in 1985, driven by a sense of adventure and a college scholarship, when Hosni Mubarak was already in power in Egypt and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was preparing for government in Tunisia.

West's career path - after several years service as a Middle East correspondent for Reuters, he was once an internet entrepreneur and is now a UN adviser on oil - would make him a regular visitor to the region in the years after that first trip. The recent unravelling revolutions in both countries would provide a reason to return.

Karama! (dignity, honour or self-respect) is West's readable and hurriedly released addition to the small library of Arab Spring-lit that has sprung up following Mohammed Bouazizi's first act of the uprisings.

Appropriately, West begins with Bouazizi's self-immolation and divides his pages into three broadly equal parts (Libya is the other country here). He is an engaging if somewhat populist and always partial host. This a "Berlin Wall moment" in the Arab world, he declares. What happened after those walls tumbled is, however, not his concern.