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The New Arab

Here are your Top 10 stories of 2018

Here's what you read in 2018 [TNA]

Date of publication: 31 December, 2018

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From Saudi Arabia's growing relationship with Israel, to a morality crackdown by Egyptian authorities, 2018 marked another tumultuous year for the Arab world.
2018 was another eventful year for the Middle East with the horrific murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a highly controversial US embassy move to Jerusalem, and Donald Trump's decision to end a historic nuclear deal with Iran.

In 2018, The New Arab kept abreast of these developments and more, covering everything from the work of brave Arab activists to the latest in Middle East music and art.

Here are ten stories that you most enjoyed in 2018. Happy New Year!


1) New CCTV footage of Khashoggi Saudi hit team published

The harrowing murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October uncovered the suffocating level of suppression in Saudi Arabia and the brutal rule of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Footage showing the alleged murder squad sent over from Saudi Arabia entering the consulate. It led journalists and investigators to uncover the identities of some of those suspects - some reportedly having close ties to the crown prince.

Khashoggi was one of Time Magazine's  Person(s) of the Year in 2018, proving that even in death, Jamal will continue to be a guiding light for Arab journalists.


2) Egyptian actress to face trial for wearing revealing dress

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi's regime continued its morality crackdown in 2018, which saw Egyptian actress Rania Youssef face legal trouble for wearing a see-through embroidered gauze dress, deemed "obscene" by authorities. 

Meanwhile, women's rights activist Amal Fathi was detained for highlighting rampant sexual harassment in Egypt.



3) Video of Israeli settlement's Saudi construction materials goes viral


One sharp-eyed observer spotted Saudi building materials being used at the construction of an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.

It was a sign of the growing ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which has led to anger across the region...


4) Bahrain backs anti-Hizballah tunnel operation in rare public defence of Israel

Bahrain was another Gulf state to move closer to Israel in 2018. Manama's rare public defence of Israeli military operations against Hizballah hinted at Manama's regional priorities.


5) Saudi dissident sues Israeli spyware firm over Khashoggi killing

Concerns were also raised over Gulf states - such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE's - alleged use of Israeli spyware to snoop on dissidents. 

Saudi activist Omar Abdulaziz filed a lawsuit against an Israeli surveillance company claiming its software was used to target him and eventually track down Jamal Khashoggi.


6) Qatar frees itself of OPEC

Qatar made the surprise announcement this year that it was leaving the Saudi-dominated OPEC oil cartel. It followed the 2017 blockade of Qatar by its neighbours, intended to economically and politically strangle Doha.

More than a year later, the Saudi-led blockade did not fulfill its aim of isolating Qatar. Instead Doha showed remarkable signs of political resilience and economic growth in 2018.

Gulf analyst Giorgio Cafiero wrote that the decision by Qatar to free itself from OPEC membership is a message to Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and other opponents in the region that Doha will go its own way in the world.


7) Killer toys: How the Islamic State group revolutionised warfare

Earlier this year, Nick Waters wrote for The New Arab about a revolutionary new method of war being used by the Islamic State group. Propaganda videos were released by IS showing weaponised drones targeting Syrian and Iraqi military hardware and troops.

IS' adoption of asymmetric warfare coincided with the group's collapse on the battlefield, but this investigation highlighted new dangers from the group. The recent grounding of flights at London Gatwick, after a drone was suspected of flying over the airport, also highlighted the threats these toys could pose to civilian life in the future.



8) Goodbye welfare state? Abu Dhabi cutting benefits for Emiratis who refuse work

Emiratis have enjoyed generous government pay-offs and public services for decades, but a decline in oil prices have put pressures on the state. The UAE announced in December it will cut benefits to "long-term" unemployed Emiratis in a bid to improve public finances.

Military spending, though, has continued to sky-rocket, while Abu Dhabi has tightened the screws on activists calling for government accountability.



9) Sock and awe: 10 years ago this shoe-throwing Iraqi journalist made history

Ten years ago in December, an Iraqi journalist made a passionate protest against the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, by throwing his shoes at President George W Bush.

Muntadhar al-Zaidi became a cult hero across the Arab World. Read our exclusive interview with the journalist here.


10) Israeli missile attack wounds three soldiers at arms depot near Damascus

Syria continued to make headlines in 2018, with the Syrian regime launching new offensives on the rebel hold-outs of Daraa and Eastern Ghouta - which included the use of chemical weapons and indiscriminate bombing - posing a huge blow to the opposition.

Israel, meanwhile, continued to strike Iranian-linked targets inside Syria at will. Syrian air defences' mistake downing of a Russian aircraft in September led to the brief suspension of Israeli air strikes following Moscow's anger.

On Christmas Day, Israeli military intervention in Syria resumed again with positions around Damascus targeted.

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