Why a new blog-journal by Middle East experts? Because Middle East studies specialists have a phenomenal amount of quality knowledge about the Arab and Islamic world: deep knowledge about the history of the region, detailed empirical knowledge of political and social trends, sophisticated theoretical insights into their meaning. Many are out there in the region, seeing things happen and talking to people over a sustained period of time. But they often have trouble getting that knowledge out into the public realm. Part of the problem is that there just aren't nearly enough of the right kind of outlets. Academic journals are not well suited to getting information and analysis out to a wide public, and many have yet to adapt to the internet era. Blogs are wonderful, but not everyone wants one or has the time to run one. The op-ed pages are a crapshoot. MERIP and the Arab Reform Bulletin can't do it all on their own. That means that debate is too often dominated by people with, shall we say, a less empirically rich or theoretically sophisticated understanding of the region.
Qahwa Sada aims to fix this market failure by providing a public forum for Middle East studies specialists to talk about what they know. The blog format offers unique opportunities to reach a savvy, engaged audience hungry for this kind of information and analysis.
As we saw with the MEMRI/Apple affair, there is a vaccuum that is begging to be filled with genuine journalism and analysis when it comes to information about the middle east. Qahwa Sada will hopefully provide an alternative, a new brand.