October 23, 2012
Posted: 706 GMT
Here's a look at our upcoming show:
The growing epidemic of obesity in the oil-rich Gulf nations is explored in November's 'Inside the Middle East'. Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE may be some of the wealthiest nations in the world, but they have also become some of the most obese.
Host Zain Verjee visits Dubai to discover how increasing numbers of Emiratis are turning to stomach stapling surgery to shed their pounds before travelling to Kuwait, where more than 50 percent of the population are overweight. Verjee talks to the Kuwaiti people and learns how fast food, scorching year-round heat and rapid modernisation have all contributed to making this tiny gulf state the second fattest country on Earth.
Staying in Kuwait, ‘Inside the Middle East’ heads to the Iraq border where a different, but equally massive, problem is being faced by the fragile desert ecosystem. More than two decades after Saddam Hussein’s retreating troops set fire to Kuwait’s oil fields, following the Gulf War, environmentalists are still trying to pick up the pieces.
The programme also meets young Kuwaiti artist Hussain Salameen who is uniquely fusing design and technology to build some of the region’s only chopper motorcycles.
October 3, 2012
Posted: 1149 GMT
This month on 'Inside the Middle East', host Leone Lakhani traveled to Morocco's culinary capital, Fes, for a lesson in how to cook homemade, authentic Moroccan food.
In Fes, Lakhani met Lahcen Beqqi, who guides Moroccan and international tourists around his souq and kitchen, sharing his secrets to shopping, chopping, and eating like a local. At just 32-years-old, Beqqi is already known as one of the top chefs in Morocco.
But what makes Moroccan cuisine so special?
It has to do with the nation's geographical and historical position as a crossroads for a number of different cultures and and traditions, according to Beqqi.
"Moroccan cuisine, it's a multicultural cuisine. It brings together a lot of cultures, a lot of influences, from Berbers, Arabs, Jewish, French, and Mediterranean," Beqqi told CNN. "It's not only food... it's history when you put on the table and see all of these influences. It's very interesting."
And very tasty.
On the latest 'Inside the Middle East', Beqqi gave Lakhani step-by-step instructions to cook lamb tajine. The following recipe is for a similar meal, reprinted with permission from Beqqi's "Lahcen’s Moroccan Recipes: A Collection of Easy and Light Variations on Some of the Finest Traditional Moroccan Recipes."
Lamb, Prune, and Date Tagine
This dish is a traditional Moroccan tagine. Because it is sweet and it includes dates, it is often served when a family has company over.
For 3 people
• 1⁄2 kilo of a shoulder of lamb, or beef, or one small chicken • 250 grams of dried prunes (around 30 prunes) • 6 dates (pitted) • one big red onion, sliced
• 200 grams of roasted almonds • 1 cinnamon stick • ginger • mrozia spice (ras l’hanoot) – if available • 1 pinch of saffron (pistils)
• salt (to taste) • pepper (to taste)
Wash the prunes and put them in one liter of water. Let them sit. Put olive oil and lamb into a big pot, or tagine. Cook on a high flame, turning the lamb on all sides. Add ginger, cinnamon, onion, ras l’hanoot and saffron. Turn down the flame to medium. Mix for one minute. Take the prunes out of the water and put them aside. Keep the water! Pour it into the pot with the lamb. Let the meat cook for 1 1⁄2 hours (or however long it takes to cook) on a low flame. Add salt and
8pepper. Add the prunes and dates in the last 15 minutes. Add the almonds when you serve the dish.
You can reach Beqqi through his website for more recipes or additional information.
Want to see more? Follow 'Inside the Middle East' on Facebook.
October 2, 2012
Posted: 1316 GMT
Swedish furniture giant IKEA apologized Monday for removing women from their catalogues distributed in their stores in Saudi Arabia.
The free Swedish newspaper Metro published an article showing side-by-side images from the IKEA catalogue – in the Saudi version, a woman has been airbrushed out of the photo.
In a statement, IKEA spokeswoman Ulrika Englesson Sandman said the company "regrets" the incidents and understands "why people are upset."
"It is not the local franchisee that has requested the retouch of the discussed pictures" Sandman said." The mistake happened during the work process occurring before presenting the draft catalogue for IKEA Saudi Arabia. We take full responsibility for the mistakes made."
Sweden has long been committed to gender equality and IKEA's marketing move sparked criticism at home that the company is breaching long held values regarding women's role in society.
Trade Minister Ewa Bjorling told the Metro newspaper "It's impossible to retouch women out of reality." Sweden's European Union Minister Birgitta Ohlsson, apparently branded the incident as "medieval" in Swedish tweet.
Saudi Arabia is a religiously conservative kingdom where women can't drive and need the permission of a male guardian to work or travel. When in public, women are required to cover their hair and wear a loose flowing robe called an abaya.
It is also common for Saudi censors to black out magazine pages showing women's arms and legs, essentially using a permanent marker to add an abaya to models.
The story sparked mixed reactions on social media ranging from outrage to lack of surprise...
September 30, 2012
Posted: 736 GMT
Want to see more? Follow the show on Facebook for all the latest from 'Inside the Middle East.'
September 20, 2012
Posted: 715 GMT
'Inside the Middle East' wrapped shooting in Morocco this week, and the team is now preparing the program's 104th episode, which airs on October 3rd.
Check with our colleagues at the CNN Press Room for more information and the air dates and times.
Here's a brief synopsis of the upcoming show:
Want to see behind-the-scenes pictures from our shoots? Become a fan of the show on Facebook.
September 6, 2012
Posted: 1108 GMT
She screamed in the face of all the men in her village "Don't talk behind my back, don't play with my honor."
With the head of her rapist in her hand, Nevin Yildirim, a 26-year-old mother of two, walked to the main square of her village and told everyone about her murder.
"Here is the head of the man who played with my honor." She said after throwing the head in the middle of the square.
After continually raping her for 8 months, Yildirim, who said she is pregnant with the rapist's child, decided to take matters into her own hands and shoot the man twice and cut off his head when he died.
She said, 35-year old Nurettin Gider, threatened her with a gun and said he would kill her children, ages 2 and 6, if she made any noise.
In small villages like hers, honor is held above all else, and women carry the burden of honor for their families.
She was arrested short after the incident and now is asking for an abortion. In Turkey, abortion is only allowed during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.
The story went viral on social media and local newspapers. Some called her murder a heroic act after they said laws and society failed her.
August 25, 2012
Posted: 1027 GMT
Over 8000 people live in the Palestinian town of Allar. A number, 15 year old Bashaer Othman says is manageable to govern.
Othman has probably spent the best summer of her life. She ran the town…Literally.
Othman became the youngest girl in the world to serve as a mayor, when she was chosen as part of an educational youth program for the position.
“The real challenge is when I become a minister, I will deal with all Palestinians, not only 8000 people” says Othman.
For this ambitious leader this position has made her “fall in love” with political and social work and even made her consider a major in international studies upon graduation.
“Palestinians need a true leader and I want to be part of this leadership.” She says.
Othman tells CNN, she has been attending meetings and giving speeches and even signing off on projects for her town.
No shying away for this girl. She has been working at the municipality for almost a month and half and is already making some changes.
She wants to start a local civil defense unit.
“When there’s a fire, people used to wait for firefighters to come from a nearby town. Am currently working on opening a fire department with 6 branches across my town.”
Out of 255 members at the Local Youth Council in Allar, 12 boys and girls were elected to work as members of the municipality and Othman was elected to become the mayor for 2 months.
In the little time that she has this young mayor is hoping to give back to her fellows. And her friends are hopeful she will start a change that will make their future better.
The dearest project to her heart is renovating the town’s library. She says “I think it all starts with education.”
Othman, a usual contender in poetry and reading competitions in her town, thinks youth can start by reading.
“The library has been sitting there for years. The books are old and no one wants to go there.”
Othman has all the support she needs from Allar’s regular mayor, Sufian Shadid, who handed the power to her for two months
The youngster says she meets with the mayor everyday for an hour and they go over the projects she is working on.
August 14, 2012
Posted: 2157 GMT
In a city like Dubai where radars are almost in every corner, getting an occasional speeding ticket is very common.
But a Bangladeshi woman living in the UAE has received more than 250 traffic fines in just 3 months.
According to this article in Dubai based, Gulf News, the fines accumulated over the past few months and reached $54,000 most of which were speeding tickets. Traffic violations usually cost between $163 and $272.
The police says the record was broken in the past by a Saudi man who had to pay more than $100,000 worth of traffic tickets.
In cases like this, the police department cancels the driver's license and the car's registry.
Violators are allowed to pay the fines in installments., but so far the woman has not come forward to pay her fines.
Dubai Police releases a list of the top 10 traffic violators every six months.
The second on the list wasn’t far off behind, a Syrian woman has received 288 fines ranking second with a bill worth just over $50,000.
Although two women topped the list, police says men are considered more serious violators than women.
The 500 or more radars spread across the city helped reduce the death rate of car accidents.
In 2008, 294 people died as a result of car accidents, but the number was lower last year.
According to Dubai Police, 134 people died as a result of car accidents in 2011. Police revealed that an approximate of 2.3 million traffic fines are issued per year in Dubai.
The list for the second quarter of 2012 showed that out of the ten top violators, five were Emaratis.
Speeding and not leaving enough space between cars are common violations on the streets in the UAE.
In 2008, 200 or so cars crashed into each other in what became one of the biggest car accidents in the history of the UAE.
Police at the time said fog and cars driving so close to each other resulted in the crash.
August 12, 2012
Posted: 854 GMT
Remember the story about the world's most expensive cupcake in Dubai?
Bloomsbury’s, a boutique cafe in Dubai, made headlines earlier this year for selling a chocolate cupcake – the 'Golden Phoenix' – for around $27,000.
Since the cupcake first made its debut, the store has reportedly only sold two. And now, the shop's owner has said that part of the proceeds on sales will be donated to the United Nations World Food Programme, according to local newspapers in the United Arab Emirates.
Here's the Abu Dhabi-based National newspaper on the cupcake:
"This unique partnership is evidence that behind the biggest talents and business ideas, you often find the bigger hearts," Hamouda told the National. "As I would put it, a golden heart behind every Golden Phoenix."
August 7, 2012
Posted: 1046 GMT
In Amman, Jordan, our team met the women of Jordan's national boxing team, the first female boxers in the Middle East. Nineteen-year-old Baraa Al-Absi is hoping her tenacity in the ring will lead to fighting on a bigger stage, like the Olympic Games. Except for one thing – Al-Absi is not technically allowed to box while wearing her headscarf, or hijab. Like many Muslims, Al-Absi wears the hijab for religious reasons. She’s not willing to take it off for anyone – even if it means quitting her team.
Welcome to the Inside the Middle East blog where CNN's journalists post news, views and video from across the region. This is also a place where you can start the discussion so please keep your comments coming. We highlight not only current news stories but also anecdotes and issues that don't always make the top of the headlines.
Read more about CNN's special reports policy
Watch the show
Inside the Middle East airs the first week of every month on the following days and times: