Johnny West

Writer and founder of the OpenOil consultancy

Johnny West is a journalist, writer and serial social entrepreneur. His book Karama! Travels Through the Arab Spring, was the first book-length account to be published of the events now rocking the Middle East.

He recently founded OpenOil, a consultancy based on the idea that the oil industry can be managed better within real world constraints.

Born and raised in Bromley, he was a Classical scholar to Balliol College, Oxford, where he discovered Arabic. He joined Reuters in 1990 and was a correspondent in Europe and the Middle East. He left in 1996 to set up a news agency based on the Internet and was European Internet Journalist of the Year in 2000.

He spent three years in Afghanistan setting up a network of 30 local FM radio stations, only one of which has since been blown up by the Taliban, and then ran Internews Europe, a global journalism training organisation head-quartered in Paris. In 2007, he found, edited and translated The Devil You Don't Knowby Zuhair al-Jezairy, the first text by an Iraqi author describing 2003 and after to be translated into English.

West speaks French and Arabic fluently, has worked in Persian and Spanish and gets by in Hebrew and German.