Hadi at one year

“Nobody knew Hadi was this clever.”

This time last year, success for newly inaugurated president Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi was roughly defined as mere survival. Few knew much about the man many mocked as  “عبدربه مركوز.” He’d stood silently by Ali Abdullah Saleh as his Vice President for well over a decade, but it was easy for skeptics to joke that his accomplishments were largely limited to presiding over ribbon-cutting ceremonies as Saleh’s stand in.

12 months later, Hadi’s been able to hold his own, proving many pessimists wrong. Still, true leadership requires more than just (barely) holding Yemen together. Giving a positive review of Hadi’s first spate of reforms last Spring, one Yemeni political analyst added a key caveat, stressing that the president “has yet to prove that he’s the state builder that Yemen so desperately needs.” His words, arguably, are just as true today.

Full article reflecting on Hadi at one year for the Christian Science Monitor

و نفس المقالة بالغة العربية

Of mustaches and men

Around my senior year in college, I remember, as I was discussing my post-graduation plans with my father, I mentioned that I was getting more and more serious about moving back to the Middle East after graduation. He balked at the idea, though (at least ostensibly) not for the obvious reasons. Rather than citing more common concerns of safety and the like, he instead pointed to my lack of facial hair.

“You’ll never be able to pull it off,” he said, half-joking (but still, half-serious). “You’ll never be able to get any respect in that part of the world without a mustache.”

While its faded from ubiquity it once enjoyed among western elites, the mustache largely retains the prominence its long enjoyed in the Arab World. Brandished by men ranging from Gulf royals and Baathist autocrats to civil servants and cab drivers, the mustache is hard to avoid in the region.

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