Follow Us

Follow on Twitter    Follow on Facebook    YouTube Channel    Vimeo Channel    SoundCloud Channel    iPhone App    iPhone App

Family Farming in the Near East and North Africa

[Graph by FOA via this working paper] [Graph by FOA via this working paper]

[The following working paper was authored by Ray Bush. It was published in December 2016 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FOA) of the United Nations and the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth of the United Nations Development Programme. Click here to download the full report.]

Family Farming in the Near East & North Africa

Working Paper no. 151, December 2016

By Ray Bush, University of Leeds, UK


The United Nations International Year of Family Farming 2014 came at an important time for the region of the Near East and North Africa (NENA). This is because the political turmoil and uprisings that have structured politics and social policy in the region since 2010 (and as we will also see, from before this year too) demanded ‘bread, freedom, social justice’ (Aish, horreya, ‘adala igtema’yyia). This slogan of protesters was heard in varied forms across the region. While most attention focused on urban rebellions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, where Western military intervention accelerated the removal from power of Muammar al-Gaddafi and the subsequent continued chaos, rural dissent and protest was also present across the region. Protests by small farmers across NENA had been very evident since the food price hikes of 2008 that had intensified rural malnutrition, poverty and inequality (Bush 2010). But the causes of protest had been long in the making and can be traced back to the onset of economic liberalisation in the mid-1980s, if not earlier. NENA is the world’s largest food importer, relying on world markets for more than 50 per cent of its food. Price rises, particularly for wheat and rice, have given a stronger rationale to the strategic importance of boosting local production. The need to reduce the impact of the vagaries of volatile international markets for grain is—rhetorically at least—central to all countries in the region. Yet the strategy to reduce that dependence is shaped by intense local and international political pressures. The largely non-food-producing countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have intensified their search for land to purchase outside their national boundaries, while others, such as Egypt, have suggested the need to reinvigorate historical practices of land reclamation. All countries in the region are intent on increasing incentives to agribusiness investors.

This paper begins by exploring what the term ‘family farming’ means, and how appropriate it is in the NENA region. It will explore more generally the role of farming and agriculture in the broader political economy of the region. It highlights a preoccupation among policymakers in the region, and also elsewhere, with a very restrictive definition of food security. In questioning the dominant narrative of food security and the role of family farming in it, the paper will promote instead a view that requires new politics and social policy that listens to the needs of farmers and their struggles for food sovereignty. The paper establishes the distinctive features of the region, what might be generalised and what might not be so common between countries with contrasting patterns of development. The paper explores the role and impact that farmers have had on the social relations of production in a range of countries and the position that agriculture has played in national and regional development. It will also draw on the responses of farmers to recent upheavals and set out a series of recommendations that might bolster rural development broadly defined, including the life chances and contributions made to national development by farmers in the region. It might be useful if recommendations could be divided between, on the one hand, those that seem already to be part of the government strategy and analysis of local farming problems and, on the other, a more idealised set of prescriptive reforms that would put farmers at the heart of policy. Farmers at the centre of rural development policy might help to ensure that their voices are heard and opinions acted on in the promotion of their farming and livelihood interests. Whether that is at all possible is a political issue and one that at the moment seems a long way away.

A cautionary note is present, although not always explicitly stated, and relates to most of the data used in the discussion and to characterise the regional political economy. This is that “data on the Arab world is scanty and generally of poor quality” (Kadri 2014, 24). The most reliable data remain (mostly) the micro anthropological or ethnographic studies that explore particular regions or communities and from which perhaps some extrapolation may be made, but with care. For example, World Bank data on unemployment have been extraordinarily speculative, and the rigours and standards of rural data collection by the international financial institutions (IFIs) are often questionable at best. This is for a number of reasons, not least because available data may be dependent on underfunded, poor capacity and sometimes disinterested national governments  (El Nour 2012; Lowder et al. 2014). All data on the rural NENA need to be interrogated carefully.  All data are laden with value and, in relation to farming, farmers and agricultural strategy, are also shaped by particular interpretations and views of modernity.



The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO 2013, 5) defines family farming as activity including all family-based agricultural activities that are “a means of organising agricultural, forestry, fisheries, pastoral and aquaculture production which is managed and operated by a family and predominantly reliant on family labor, including both women’s and men’s. The family and the farm are linked, co-evolve and combine economic, environmental, social and cultural functions.”

This working definition is important if the caveats and context for understanding  family farming remain integral to the analysis of the changing constituency and role that family farming is experiencing. In establishing the definition for the International Year of Family Farming, the FAO (2013, 6) also stressed the importance of understanding “family farming structures, activities and functions” that are impacted by “the diversity of national and regional contexts; agro-ecological conditions and territorial characteristics; available infrastructures; policy environment; access to markets; access to land and natural resources; access to technology and extension services, access to finance; demographic, economic and, socio-cultural conditions; availability of specialized education”.

The tendency, as we will see, is that the political and economic structures and processes, particularly of conflict and war, and also economic liberalisation and patterns of rural dispossession, have preoccupied policymaking circles. This has led to the neglect of the deleterious impacts on family farmers—notably, increased patterns of social differentiation and rural (under)development. Where “enabling policies to foster key changes” (FAO 2013) have been taken in NENA, they have tended to undermine local rural conditions of existence for poor people in rural areas in particular—farmers, landless people and female-headed households—and, therefore, challenged rural well-being under the guise of modernisation and food security.

The term family farming may be used as a ‘catch all’ expression, but it can only be used analytically if it is systematically unpacked. Probably the most important caveat when talking about family farming is the size implication: clearly there are family farmers who are able to generate enormous agricultural surpluses, and those who are only able to eke out an existence that may barely keep the family alive. Would the term small, medium and large farmer be more appropriate to use? Although the issue of size is crucial, it is also necessary to define these measures of size (small, medium etc.) in the particular historical and social context of the case study under consideration. We might, rather, refer to farmers, the term peasant carrying many negative connotations used by urban-based planners and policymakers that they, peasants, whether with historically specific medium or large landholdings are ‘backward’. In some contexts, it may also be important to consider the role that ethnic or tribal (loosely defined) affiliation plays in securing continued access to land. Ethnic and tribal or family affiliations may play an enhanced role or may become a lens through which land access or conflict over fragmentation of holdings is viewed. These forms of conflict are usually most dramatic where access to land and rural resources is most acute, as in Yemen, Sudan and parts of Upper Egypt.

This paper tries, where possible, to locate family farmers and farming in the context of particular policy changes and the historical transformations that have transpired in NENA country cases. In particular, we want to stress the need to examine family farming in the historical circumstances of the case under consideration. These circumstances of local and national agricultural policy, of differential incorporation into local and international markets, will need to be set against the range of local landholdings and soil fertility as well as water availability. But the forms of production also need to be documented, as do the social relations that underpin production—family size and age profile—as well as the gender dynamics of production, including agro-pastoralism.

This short paper cannot do everything. What emerges is an indication of a possible research agenda. Farming in general, and family farming in particular, is only one dimension of agriculture and, more importantly, rural development. And this is not only an element of government or international agency policy, as many farmers are able to try to strategise beyond the reach of bureaucracy and programmes developed in local capitals or overseas.  We need to understand that policy always impacts unevenly, and usually not as intended, and part of the work of researchers is to understand why and how this takes place. It is important to generate new and more nuanced knowledge of rural NENA and to ensure that family farmers are integral to this process of knowledge generation, rather than tagged on after policy has emerged. We might try to help establish what is generalisable in the region and what is, instead, historically specific to each country case.


Concern with definitions is not just a pedantic theoretical point. The categories that are used help understand the processes of farming and policy that have been employed in the region. They also help explain the levels of political and social conflict that may arise, and how policy might be used to embolden or undermine the efficacy of family farming. They may also help explore the extent to which farming has been impacted by contact with or transformation from the global economy, under pressures of trade liberalisation, quality controls and tariffs. For example, what kind of future does family farming have in the context of presently hegemonic views of modernisation that seek to downplay the continuing significance of the countryside as opposed to patterns of rapid (jobless) urbanisation? According to one of the most influential 20th century historians, “The most dramatic and far-reaching social change  of the second half of this century [the 20th century], and the one which cuts us off for ever from the world of the past is the death of the peasantry” (Hobsbawn, 1994, 289).

Whatever weight you give to this statement, family farming (peasants) remains very much in evidence globally—perhaps as many as 500 million, of which 3 per cent may be in NENA (Lowder et al. 2014, 1). And this at a time when regional policymakers and the IFI advisors persistently promote an idea of ‘progress’ that asserts that all societies have an industrial future (Shanin 1997), where dependence on family farmers to feed NENA is expected to diminish, replaced by industrial food production and agribusiness (inter alia Algethami 2013). Family farming offers a dimension to the debate that has been characterised more generally in relation to agricultural modernisation in the global South as one of ‘agrarian questions’ (Bernstein 2004; 2006). These questions relate broadly to issues of accumulation, production and politics. Does agriculture in the region have the capacity to generate food and non-food output that exceeds an amount necessary for self-provisioning? And if it does, which obstacles prevent this potential from being realised? And what policy would be needed to ensure a more equal distribution and consumption of food in NENA? How can issues of extensive malnutrition be addressed alongside high levels of obesity? In Egypt, for example, more than 30 per cent of children are stunted because of dietary constraints, yet 35 per cent of adults are obese, and there are even higher figures for stunting among children in Yemen (57.7 per cent), Sudan (37.9 per cent) and Somalia (42.1 per cent) (FAO 2013, 23).

Asking agrarian questions establishes the importance of investigating the extent to which capitalist production has become generalised, and how family farming may mediate the impact of markets, traders and pressures of local monopoly, entrepreneurs and global demands. Is there widespread wage labour? Has generalised commodification of subsistence meant the need for family farmers to engage (only) in the market? And if so, what are the conditions of existence for those who cannot so engage? Are family farmers thus caught in a limbo between dependence on the market for farming and subsistence yet unable to generate access to it because of resource limitations or other restrictions? Bernstein (inter alia 2014) has described such farmers as ‘classes of labour’ reproduced through scarce and oppressive wage labour. Here, ‘classes of labour’ suggests a move away from terms such as workers, peasants, traders and family farmers too, as indicative and illustrative of contemporary ‘fragmentation of classes of labour’. This fragmentation is synonymous with what elsewhere has been referred to more descriptively as a global pattern of ‘deagrarianisation’ (Bryceson 1999). This refers to an increase in the proportion of rural income that accrues from non-farm income and pluriactivity (van der Ploeg 2013) and downward pressure on farm size. It also refers to intensification of the labour process for those who work on both their own land and as wage labourers for others.

In contrast to this position, the persistent and distinctive character of family farming is demonstrated in the ways farmers and their families and different members of rural communities combat (or acquiesce to) a fundamental dilemma. This is the struggle for “autonomy and progress in a context characterised by multiple patterns of dependency and associated processes of exploitation and marginalisation” (van der Ploeg 2008, xiv). In trying to fathom why, despite their omnipresence, the persistence and distinctive significance of small farm households and peasants are continuously downplayed or redefined, van der Ploeg has stressed “that there is a critical role for peasants in modern societies and that there are millions who have no alternative to such an existence”. The attempts to marginalise the role of family farming emerge in the contemporary period because of ‘globalisation’ in its many different forms, which tends to “destroy the peasantry along with the values that it carries and produces” (ibid.).

The contemporary world food system is structured by patterns of conflict that are shaping and reshaping the ways in which family farming is disintegrating and being re-integrated into it. The importance of understanding family farming in the context of the emerging food regime helps to locate food production as an element of international food systems, governed by rules and regulations shaped by the geopolitically dominant states of Europe and the USA (Friedmann and McMichael 1989; McMichael 2013a). It is especially important to assess processes of struggle among and between farmers and government in the NENA context, as the debates about the ‘Arab uprising’ have only seldom focused on the missing voices of poor people in rural areas (Ayeb and Bush 2014). A distinctive research focus on the role and efficacy of family farming in NENA will require an examination at the level of politics. Is there evidence for large-scale peasant movements independently or in alliance with workers and other social forces to pressure for social justice and economic transformation? (Bernstein 2010; Akram-Lodhi and Kay 2010, 255–256).




Water scarcity in the NENA drives the response to climate change and the regional government’s hydro-politics (Allen 2001). Population growth up to 2025 may lower per capita water availability by 30–70 per cent. This assumes there will be no additional access to renewal water, which is unlikely (Sowers 2014, 1). Hydro-politics relates to the government control of access to and use of water from the Nile, Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Dam projects in Turkey limited Iraq’s water supply in the 2000s, which were exacerbated by years of drought. Egypt and Turkey continue  to flex their military and geostrategic clout from controlling water access to their riparian neighbours. Development in riverine States, especially Ethiopia and Sudan, will increase demands on Nile water, as will any prospective peace in Syria and Iraq for guaranteed flows out of Turkey and Iran. This has direct implication for small farmers. Restrictions on water use in the OPT limits the growth of Palestinian family farming. The regional water constraint leads to calls to target more efficient use of water: drip as opposed to flood irrigation for farmers. It has also led to a view that moves towards regional food self-sufficiency can only be flawed: there is simply not enough water and too many people for such a strategy. Instead, economic diversification, which may not include greater agricultural production but will include moves away from dependence on oil revenues, may generate income for continued food purchase. Saudi Arabia’s strong fiscal balances as a result of its oil economy meant it had little problem spending $20 billion on food imports in 2010. High oil revenues facilitated a subsidy programme for household access to food that was never in doubt for the country. And similar huge fiscal balances in Gulf States ensure continued access to imported food, although Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular are keen to grab land in the region and beyond as a hedge against subordination to international food chains and to develop strong national agribusiness companies.

The conundrum for the majority of oil-producing States is that environmental limits to  the use of fossil fuels that may increasingly emerge in the global North—if developed countries take greater responsibility for their larger and longer history of pollution—will potentially reduce the economic growth levels in the NENA. Economic crisis for the oil States will jeopardise the stability of social contracts that form the basis of regional rentier politics. Although the region as a whole is a relatively low CO2 emitter, many of the region’s oil producers have generated highly carbon-intensive lifestyles. In fact, per capita emissions in many NENA countries are 60 per cent higher than the average among developing countries (Nakhooda et al. 2013, 1), while resource-poor Yemen and Djibouti have some of the world’s highest levels of poverty, as do resource-rich Sudan and South Sudan.

The NENA is often noted as the most water-scarce region in the world, and, as we have stressed, it imports more than half its food. Yet if the global volume of water available (rains, rivers, groundwater) is viewed alongside the total population, there is actually a high level of water availability: around 1,800 cubic metres/person/year. This is usually considered a good level of water availability, as an optimum level is 1,500 m3/p/year. The problem, of course, as with the debate about all resource availability, is the geographical/spatial distribution of water resources and the effective global, local, family and individual access to it (Ayeb 2002; 2012b). The largest amount of water used is for agriculture (Sowers et al. 2011; Chenoweth et al. 2011; Droogers et al. 2012). High dependence on rain-fed agriculture makes family farmers, under existing policy constraints, vulnerable to climate change. More than half of all arable land in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen is rain fed. In Sudan and Yemen up to 80 per cent of cereal production is rain fed. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlights that the region will become drier and hotter, with the possibility of rainfall decreasing by 10 per cent by 2050 (FAO 2013, 60–61). Increased water scarcity will result from a reduction in groundwater resources, which together with climate warming, under existing patterns of distribution and use, will lead to crop losses, especially for small farmers. One estimate is that agricultural output may fall by 21 per cent by 2080 and that losses may be as high as 40 per cent in Morocco and Algeria (Cline 2007).

Agricultural strategy (and development policy more broadly), rather than an absolute scarcity, has accelerated an environmental and water crisis made more acute by climate change. This is because of the oil–fuel–water–agriculture nexus: cheap regional energy  (the majority of which is used to drive air conditioning units rather than local development (Sowers 2014, 2)) quickened the use of new drilling techniques and capital intensification of farming to deliver increased export-led growth of mostly high-value, low-nutrition foodstuffs, rather than the production of local staples. Drilling deeper and deeper wells and accessing groundwater and aquifers while not giving these sources for irrigation time to recharge has mined the region’s scarcest resource and limited its social distribution.

As we have noted, crude notions of trade-based food security have been promoted by  the IFIs and agribusiness. Companies such as Citadel Capital, now known as Qalaa Holdings, Africa’s largest equity capital firm, based in Egypt, have also bought land throughout NENA, further challenging the possibility for policy that might support small farmers. Small farmers are repeatedly seen as inefficient, unable to benefit from economies of scale and access to capital for purchase of new machinery and technology (Dixon 2014). This strategy has additionally been linked to the economic reforms discussed above.

Tunisia is an important illustration of how water policy linked to pressures of climate change was exacerbated during economic reform and the period of erstwhile dictator Ben Ali. Small farmers and agro-pastoralists were undermined by the promotion of private agricultural projects that accompanied economic reform after 1982. Economic liberalisation intensified competition over agricultural land, water and rural resources between the Sahel region of Tunisia (the north-east) and the rest of the country. This led to additional conflict between small and medium-sized farmers and agricultural private investors. Competition over water resources, minerals and wealth from agricultural products such as olive oil intensified. Farmers’ surplus was increasingly transferred to the northern Sahel for processing, where value added also accrued. Agriculture represents about 12 per cent of Tunisia’s GDP, and most of that production is located outside the Sahel region (Ayeb 2012a).

The transformation of Sidi Bouzid is illustrative of the processes of rural dispossession  and wealth transfer. Sidi Bouzid is a semi-arid area where the local population has practised semi-nomadic pastoralism and extensive rain-fed agriculture. This included sheep and camel farming together with olive, almond and cereal production. The region now captures a key contradiction, evident in other countries in NENA—namely, there is high agricultural production and a high rate of poverty, with 42.3 per cent of the population living on less than USD2 a day in 2011. This ‘green mirage’ (see the film of the same name by Habib Ayeb) is the result of a farming strategy that has excluded small farmers and that has instead reified an ideology of food security based on maximising local water resources and mining the soil. Tunisia’s Fifth Five-Year Plan (1977–1981) confirmed the end of collectivism and asserted an export-led role for agriculture intended to boost food security. Expansion of irrigated agriculture by investors from outside the region increased irrigated farmland from 2,000 hectares in 1958 to almost 50,000 in 2011 (Ayeb and Bush 2014). The increased entry of private investors from outside the region increased conflict. Private capital funded new irrigation techniques, electrification and plantation development. Increased displacement and dispossession of small farmers as a result of this strategy led to the reintroduction of the term ‘colon’ previously reserved for French settlers.

The impact of global warming and rising sea levels is debated alongside constraints of water availability (World Bank 2010; Sowers et al. 2010; Shetty 2006). We have already stressed the importance of noting the extent of resource availability and how that availability and distribution of resources is shaped by the balance of political and economic forces that benefit from the status quo. Drought in Eastern Syria between 2006 and 2010 destroyed an estimated 800,000 livelihoods, killing 85 per cent of livestock and leading to the abandonment of more than 150 villages (Minio-Paluello 2014). The heatwave in Russia in 2010 led to the banning  of wheat exports, which has been identified as a contributing factor to the uprisings in 2011. Unusually high temperatures in Egypt in May 2014 led to many deaths from heat exhaustion and dehydration and adversely impacted agricultural productivity. Exact data on this are unavailable. Rising sea levels might affect 43 port cities in the region: a 0.5 metre rise in Alexandria would displace more than 2 million Egyptians, with an immense financial cost  of at least USD35 billion.

There is considerable variation in the projections for rising sea levels. The projections are politically charged. Sea levels in the Nile Delta may rise between 50 and 200 cm by 2100. Climate prediction does indicate that there will be greater warming in the southern and eastern Mediterranean than the world as a whole (Sowers 2014). The regional climate change debate has focused on strategies for mitigation and adaptation. A recent report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) suggests that mitigation relates to mainly energy concerns and stresses the imperative for ‘collective action’ (Waterbury 2013), although this mostly seems to be the global North proposing that the global South forgets or downplays its developmental needs (Green 2012). Mitigation puts an emphasis on the need for equity in the way in which climate change impacts on the NENA and the global South more generally, yet the needs of the global South and family farmers within it are clearly uneven and socially as well as geographically differentiated. Yet climate finance has been almost entirely restricted to a limited number of large projects, with little reference to the impacts on family farming. The donor support for clean technology funds is more than USD701 million, of which 80 per cent is for mitigation and not adaptation needs of water conservation and food security:  Egypt and Morocco receive 80 per cent of approved climate funds in the NENA, while eleven countries receive no funds at all (Nakhooda 2013, 1).

In contrast, adaptation to climate change is used to describe issues relating to the impact that occurs in the agricultural sector. Policy decisions will be shaped by welfare implications because more than a fifth of regional total employment is in agriculture, and “Political leaders may find themselves asking the poorest in their societies to bear the costs of adaptation” (Waterbury 2013, 8). Adaptation and vulnerability have become two ideologically charged terms. Vulnerability relates to the tendency to be impacted by crises where climate changes are mediated by current vulnerability (IPCC 2012, 5, cited in Mason et al. 2014, ix). A new wide-ranging report on climate security in the Jordan River Valley has highlighted the shortcomings in the literature and the limited analytical heft of debates on vulnerability and community and household adaptive capacity (Mason et al. 2014). The scales used to analyse vulnerability are often pitched only at a macro level, with little focus on community and propensity, and there is often an absence of discussion that links national strategies to deal with climate change with trans-boundary issues. This is a shortcoming that fails to consult or engage with small farmer strategies to deal with climate change, rising sea levels and soil salination and the deliverability of alternative farming strategies.

Second, the debates about vulnerability tend to be pitched at a level that assumes political neutrality, yet we have already seen how, in the NENA (and other?) contexts, debates about family farming, its limitations and opportunities are politically charged and, in the case of much of NENA, shaped by intense militarisation, violence and uncertainty linked to occupation. There is also little crossover between debates regarding vulnerability and the political economy of water scarcity (Mason et al. 2014, 7–9): scarcity here is often seen as an absolute concept, and not one that is shaped by differentiated use, renewal and transformation. It is also important to add that while the term vulnerability is much used in the debate regarding climate change, so too is the idea of resilience, the much-vaunted mantra that the dangers of everyday life need simply to be adapted to, that people can learn to live with the experiences of climate change and will benefit from so doing by developing new ways of managing (not radically transforming) their (often appalling)  life chances (Evans and Reid 2014; Duffield 2007).

As in other regions of the world, there is much to applaud in the coping and survival strategies of family farmers, such as changes to cropping and seed mixes, adjusting the planting calendar as rainfall appears late or is disrupted compared to previous years, promoting access to off-farm income, travelling further to reach different markets and moderating diet and so on. These are strategies that have different impacts on farmers of different land size and resource access and on women compared to men. Yet this ‘adaptability’ does little or nothing to reverse or counter the reasons why usually poorer family farmers are the first to experience crisis and why crises intensify rural poverty. Adaptability at best seems a strategy to take farmers back to pre-crisis levels of social organisation and production. Yet this is precisely the condition from which it was difficult to avoid entry into crisis.

It is now well known and documented that poor people are the first to suffer the impact of ‘natural’ disasters and hazards. Thus, when the term ‘adaptation’ is used, it is important to interrogate who in fact is being asked to adapt, and with what kind of consequences (Malm and Esmailian 2013). It is also important to consider what the historical antecedents are to the ways in which climate change affects family farmers. How has agricultural policy, or its absence, intensified the consequences of climate change? Adaptation in Egypt, for example, to rising sea levels seems to be mostly concerned with its impact on tourism and real estate development on the northern coast—and not with how family farmers need to be protected to reduce their displacement and to manage potential new patterns of cropping and employment.

Family farmers have in fact resisted the linked implications of the policies of economic reform and recent consequences of climate change. They have done this in the context of the Arab uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, and elsewhere too. Yet a recent UNDP report on the political economy of climate change is reluctant to engage critically with regional development strategies. Although the failures of policymakers to act decisively with regard to climate change and other issues is legendary in the NENA region, not least because of rentier politics and the frailty of social contracts between rulers and ruled, the UNDP report suggests “Radical departures are not warranted nor feasible” (Waterbury 2013, 8). This might be interpreted as a vote of confidence in the persistently authoritarian regimes in the region, rather than suggesting the need to explore new possibilities in the aftermath of the Arab uprisings.


[Click here to download the full working paper.]


About the Photography Page

The photography page aims to provide a space for reflection on photography in its various forms and uses in the Middle East. We showcase the work of photographers active in the region and cultivate critical thinking about photographic practices, representations, and history. The page publishes photo essays, articles, interviews, reviews and more. It also provides information on photographic archives, agencies, and institutions, exhibits, events, and publications.