Letter from the West Bank (Guardian Weekly)

This is (probably) my last post of 2011. It’s been an eventful year – uprisings and revolutions in the Middle East have brought many frustrations – but also new opportunities. As well as writing purely about travel I have branched out into more in-depth features: trying to tell the stories behind the news. One of the stories I heard is that of  an old Bedouin sheikh who I met in the desert, near Jerusalem in Palestine. He hosted me overnight in his goat-hair tent, and recounted memories from his childhood over sweet tea and bitter coffee. When he dies, a whole way of life will die with him, as the Bedouin are being ‘resettled’  – not only in Palestine, but throughout much of the Middle East. Here, in 500 words, is his story.

Sheikh Ishmael Ali al-Rashayda © Gail Simmons

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Oxford City Guide (Daily Telegraph)

After spending the last few years writing (mostly) about the Middle East it was nice to be asked to write an online guide to somewhere a bit closer to home. In fact it is my home: Oxford. It was great to spend a few days revisiting places in the city I know so well, but as a tourist rather than as a resident. It felt like falling in love all over again. Here’s the result.

Bridge of Sighs, December 2010 © Gail Simmons