The New Arab's top 10 stories from 2021

Header - The New Arabs Top 10 stories of 2021
4 min read
29 December, 2021
2021 will largely go down as a year in recovery, major political and societal events have nonetheless rattled the status quo in MENA and beyond. Culture and film made a comeback too. The New Arab takes stock of the most captivating stories from 2021

As 2021 draws to a close, we've taken the opportunity to look back at some of our favourite stories from the past twelve months. Now in our 7th year of publication, The New Arab’s nuanced coverage of ‘the biggest stories from the MENA region and beyond’ deepens with each article published and the outgoing year is no exception. Below are some of our top picks from the year. 

1. "Sheikh Jarrah: A new generation of activists lead the fight for Palestinian rights"

In May, the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem was propelled into the international spotlight as the newest frontline of Palestinian resistance. A generation of young Palestinian activists took to the streets and social media to defy the forced displacement and dispossession of Palestinians from their generational homes by Israeli forces.

Sheikh Jarrah: A new generation of activists lead the fight for Palestinian rights
 

2. "Beijing is breaking its own laws in its treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang"

The plight of the Uyghur people in China remains underreported by the global press corps, a reality worsened by Beijing’s legislative smokescreen. This year in Xinjiang Uyghur cultural erasure grows closer as the Chinese establishment accelerates its genocide. For those lucky enough to escape, Uyghurs must endure the trauma of lost loved ones, with many now facing a life of displacement and destitution.

Beijing is breaking its own laws in its treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang
 

3. "How Sudan's civil disobedience campaign is raging against the coup"

After a military coup in late October ignited a wave of demonstrations across Sudan, four million defiant protesters marched across Khartoum and major cities demanding full civilian rule. Even in the face of an internet blackout and violent state repression, the civil disobedience movement is now stronger than ever.

How Sudan's civil disobedience campaign is raging against the coup
 

4. "Dune: An accomplished escape into the realm of cinematic Arab subversion"

Undeniably touted as one of the films of the year, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune garnered critical acclaim for its gripping application of CGI and searing scriptwriting. Nonetheless, for the more culturally attuned, such features were overshadowed by the lack of MENA casting in a film which displays clear aesthetic and historical references to Islamic and Arab civilisation.

Dune: An accomplished escape into the realm of cinematic Arab appropriation
 

5. "How the Taliban turned social media into a weapon"

Historically averse to the internet, the Taliban have now opted to wield its power to their advantage, embracing social media as an effective and strategic public relations tool. With mounting uncertainty around a free and independent press in Afghanistan, social media now plays a central role in unveiling the country's future.

How the Taliban turned social media into a weapon
 

6. "As Lebanon continues to collapse, its Armenian community disappears"

Crippled by a multitude of crises, Lebanon’s fate teeters on the edge. For one of Lebanon’s oldest and historically vulnerable communities, this mass precarity has spurred many Armenians to return to their homeland, where they must now grow accustomed to a life in the margins, stuck in cultural limbo.

As Lebanon continues to collapse, its Armenian community disappears
 

7. "Rehabilitating Assad: The struggle for influence in Syria's endgame"

Bashar al-Assad's regime seems to have survived ten years of devastating civil war. With the region coming to terms with his rule, Syria may become the latest arena for competing geopolitical and economic influence, and the newest battleground for the decades-old rivalry between Arab states and Iran.

Rehabilitating Assad: The struggle for influence in Syria's endgame
 

8. "How digital activism is putting the global spotlight on Palestine"

Palestinian activism has taken on an unprecedented scale in the digital sphere, amplifying on-the-ground demonstrations through citizen journalism and cyber-activism from influential figures. The Israeli state and tech giants have used censorship to try to silence Palestinian voices, but activists continue to find innovative ways to bring international attention to their cause.

How digital activism is putting the global spotlight on Palestine
 

9. "Over the mountains, across the oceans: How Yemenis became the most prominent Arab community in the UK"

In the interest of posterity, The New Arab’s special series “Arabs in the UK” has helped shed light upon some of the lesser-known journeys, histories, and assemblages of Arabs in the British Isles. Examining the arrival and settlement of the Yemeni community in Sheffield and South Shields, we learn about their perseverance to succeed and struggle for acceptance amid shifting attitudes.

Over the mountains, across the oceans: How Yemenis became the most prominent Arab community in the UK
 

10. "5 must-read books that represent the modern-day Muslim experience"

Rising incidents of Islamophobia, encouraged by punitive policy, has contributed to an general atmosphere of hostility towards Muslims around the world. As part of The New Arab’s weekly “Book Club”, we’ve compiled a list of books that exemplify the modern-day Muslim experience, to help understand and engage with these challenges and provide an outlet for broader societal interrogation. 

5 must-read books that represent the modern-day Muslim experience