Expert Insights into the Middle East Today
When ‘An Afternoon with Frank Gardner’ was hosted by the Arabic and Middle Eastern Society at Streatham Campus on March 15, the number of students standing at the back of the hall was testament to the popularity of this respected journalist.
Frank studied Arab and Islamic Studies as an undergraduate at Exeter in the early 80s, joining the then nascent but fast-growing Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies. Today, he remains the only non-native speaker with permission to interview on the BBC in Arabic. He was awarded an honorary degree by Exeter in 2007.
Since the beginning of his journalistic career, Frank has worked to counter prejudices and stereotypes about the Middle East by presenting audiences with balanced, factually based arguments and endeavouring to show some of the more positive, cultural aspects of the region.
Over the course of an hour, Frank gave students an overview of his career journey after graduation, peppered with amusing anecdotes about his various travel exploits. He moved on to share insights into the geo-political situation in the Middle East on a country-by-country basis, outlining his outlook on the region today. The audience took full advantage of the opportunity to ask questions, quizzing Frank on contemporary issues such as the Syrian conflict and regional posturing between Saudi Arabia and Iran. ‘It's been a really good day’ commented Frank, ’The talk was lively thanks to the excellent questions from the audience’.
AMES President Tom Kent, BA Arabic with Turkish, was equally delighted with the event.
‘We were tremendously lucky to have Frank join us today and it was great to hear him talk about his experiences – it was extremely kind of him to travel down and take part. It’s a bit tricky to escape from the university bubble sometimes but this was a brilliant chance to think about all the interesting opportunities that open up after graduation. I think the final year students in particular, many of whom are in the process of completing their dissertations on subjects such as Islamic State and Iraq after the Gulf War, felt that Frank offered a wealth of practical insights and first-hand experience into subjects that have so far been limited to pages and screens. We’ve had some interesting talks and some great events this year but Frank undoubtedly topped it off’.
Date: 10 June 2016