Is the Middle East now calmer than the West?

It isn’t easy getting around the Gulf these days. The blockade on Qatar means no direct flights from most of its neighbors, so I spend hours of layover looking at the great mountain ranges of Muscat from the antiseptic tedium of my transfer terminal. My main reason for coming to the region is to speak in Doha for the newly revived ‘Doha Debates’. After my speech, a more than usually aggressive interviewer demands to know why Britain and other European countries have not taken in more Syrian migrants. The Emir’s sister and others are in the audience and I cannot pass up the opportunity to poke my hosts in the eye. I ask how many Syrians have been made citizens by Qatar. There is a terrible silence, followed by some giggling and a small amount of applause which is afterwards said to have come from the foreigners in the audience.

Share