19 June 2019
This is our magazine’s last editorial note and it comes to you with a combined sense of sadness and pride. Sadness because – like all good things – it is coming to an end, and pride because it comes with a strong sense of achievement for a small, specialist magazine that has endured so long and fulfilled so much over its impressive lifetime.
The current series of The Middle East in London started with an overhaul and redesign soon after I took over as the Director of the LMEI. The February-March 2011 issue brought a new look, form and structure to the magazine after it had already been established as a unique outreach resource by my predecessors (Robert Springborg and Sarah Stewart, the Director and Deputy Director of the LMEI, respectively, and Sahar Taghdisi-Rad and Anabel Inge, the magazine’s Coordinating Editors). A signature publication of the Institute, from the start it mirrored the breadth of the Institute’s life and transformation.
I will be stepping down from the directorship of the LMEI in late summer after nearly ten years and will be retiring from SOAS after almost twenty years of service in total. This gives SOAS an opportunity to assess the Institute’s future and possibly bring it inhouse to mirror SOAS’s other regional institutes. After casting it with a new remit and scope, a new head of LMEI will take over. The future of the magazine can be revisited at that stage with the priorities and constraints facing the new Institute in mind.
To commemorate the richness and diversity of the magazine, this issue is a special, retrospective one: a selection of past contributions has been republished in one hopefully memorable single volume. Given the breadth of choice – both in quantity and quality – making a selection was no easy task and one imbued with both pleasure and pain: pleasure given the depth and breadth of available material, and pain in having to be harsh in limiting choice to one piece per issue (while six or seven others were equally good contenders). Each piece has been reprinted as in original without any alterations.
The magazine’s endurance and evolution over the years owes an enormous debt to so many supporters and well-wishers. A satisfying project of this nature is, however, above all the story of a common journey enriched by so many companions onboard – past and present.
The Editorial Board, who gave their wisdom and experience both widened the span and scope of the magazine and made light of a foreboding task for me as the Director of the Institute with limited resources dedicated to keeping the magazine afloat; writers and issue editors whose labour of love produced the rich content; readers whose continued encouragement kept us going; and last but not least, the brilliant staff – Louise Hosking, Vincenzo Paci, Valentina Zanardi and Aki Elborzi – whose team spirit and perfectionism was second to none.
Each issue has owed its increasing attraction and appeal to Megan Wang (Editor) and Shahla Geramipour (Designer). Their dedication, creativity and professionalism are etched into every page of the magazine from cover to end.
I hope what you have in hand is an apt reminder of this story and one whose sweet memories will last for years to come. A good cause to celebrate with this rich – retrospective – issue.