The region that Global Parachute delineates as the Middle East includes the countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Gaza Strip, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, West Bank and Yemen.
The state of media throughout the Middle East has not been a free flow of information and opportunity for journalists. The chaotic climate for journalists in the Middle East have come in the form of death -- notably two prominent photographers Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros in April 2011 while covering the conflict in Libya -- injury, violence, prison, deportation, censorship and the economic climate faced by many news organizations that have downsized stripping resources and manpower on the ground.
On July 30, NATO warplanes attacked three television transmission towers in Libya. The goal apparently was to knock Libyan state television off the air because, NATO alleged, "it was being used as an integral component of the regime apparatus designed to systematically oppress and threaten civilians and to incite attacks against them." News reports in Iran continue to indicate that furloughed journalists are being summoned back to prison while new journalists continue to be convicted on manufactured charges. Reports of journalists' deteriorating physical and mental health are equally disturbing.
The Overseas Press Club Freedom of the Press Committee, which writes letters on behalf of journalists and a free press globally, wrote two letters recently to the government of Pakistan. One on July 6 expressing dismay over reports that Pakistani officials ordered the brutal murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad and an earlier letter calling the journalist's Murder a "stain" on Pakistan's democracy.
In March, four Western journalists were deported from Yemen, just as dissent was building against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Among those deported was former OPC Scholar, Haley Sweetland Edwards, who had lived in Yemen for the past two years filing reports for the Los Angeles Times and GlobalPost.com among other publications. The OPC Freedom of the Press Committee wrote to the government in Yemen stating that "it is a fruitless thing to try and stop the flow of information."
Despite this tough climate for journalists, it hasn't deterred people like Sebastian Meyer from seeking a story and making a life in the Middle East. Meyer is starting a long-term story this fall about Iraqi Kurdistan that he will turn into a book and multimedia project in addition to running the only photography agency in Iraq, Metrography. In a recent dispatch to the OPC, Meyer writes that when people ask him, “Why do you live in Iraq?” he responds, “How could I not?"
Arabic is the most widely spoken language in the Middle East, being official in all the Arab countries. It is also spoken in some adjacent areas in neighbouring Middle Eastern non-Arab countries. Persian is the second most popular. While it is confined to Iran and some border areas in neighboring countries, the country is one of the region's largest and most populous. English is commonly spoken as a second language, especially among the middle and upper classes, in countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, and the main language in some of the Emirates of the UAE. French is spoken in Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, and Tunisia.
For more on-the-ground information, click on a specific country. Please add to the growing resource in our database like where to stay, who to contact in an emergency and detailed reporting tips on each country.