The Middle East is a key region of interest because although increasing numbers of women are receiving a good standard of education, the region still lags behind on the core issue of economic equality. On a global scale, the latest figures from the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report show that although the gender gap in education is 93% closed, the gap in economic equality has closed by only 60%.
When I discovered that my language degree required me to spend a year's study in the Middle East, I couldn't work out how I felt. Was it excitement or apprehension? Becoming an international student means many things; poor exchange rates, unfamiliar culture and language barriers are to name but a few.
So why is the west failing to make democracy and women's rights central to aid and trade policies in the region? Why does the EU's aid package to the region - which is supposed to link funding to democratic reform - make no mention of women's rights among the benchmarks governments must meet to keep the money flowing?
Critics might accuse the majority of the Palestinian diaspora's work as being political, and by implication less worthy of praise. But Halaby embraces the label. "Semantics!" she says to The Majalla, "Don't be fooled: everything we do is political. Staying silent is political . . . Yes, my art is political."
The destruction of Syrian chemical weapons (CW) has started. In a breakthrough moment in Iran-US relations, the two Presidents talked on the phone and the foreign ministers sat down to discuss Iran's nuclear programme. Though the connection has received little comment in the western news media, these two welcome developments are deeply linked and close to inter-dependent.
News of the abduction of Libya's Prime Minister, Ali Zeidan, recently made the headlines around the world. The former human rights lawyer, who for decades fought against Qaddafi's regime from his exile in Geneva, was being held captive by a militia that supposedly is allied to his own government. How did such an absurd situation come about?
I have a scenario for you: imagine it if you can. There are crowds celebrating in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, a historic handshake, and a treaty or two. A new state has come into existence: it is called Palestine. Its neighbour Israel supported the establishment of the world's youngest nation, and all is rosy and nice...
While the US-Russian deal to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons is a welcome sign that diplomacy has a central part to play in this crisis, the retreat from early talk of military action also suggests a growing reluctance on the part of the US and UK to intervene directly in the Middle East. Whether this is a good or a bad thing, it is certainly something new.
If the US attacks Syria on its own, it won't be the first time in a solo operation after a British rejection. UK politicians have short memories when trumpeting the Special Relationship. Some may recall Bill Clinton's first foreign trip as President was to the UK to seek support for operations to end the bloodbath in Bosnia after four years of carnage and NATO/UN fence sitting.
As the drums of war beat once more for yet another strike on a Middle Eastern capital, one cannot help but be reminded of similar events exactly a decade ago that heralded the US invasion of Iraq. However, this time we have learnt from experience to ask the right questions and not to repeat the same mistakes... Haven't we?