Middle East Eye’s picks of the year 2020


From left: A Turkish sanitation worker takes Covid-19 precautions in March; a port blast devastates Beirut in August; Qassem Soleimani, assassinated in January PHOTO/AFP/Reuters

MEE staff pick their favourite articles from the year of Covid-19

One story dominated not just the Middle East and North Africa, but the entire world during 2020: the Covid-19 pandemic.

The virus brought the planet to a shuddering halt. More than 1.7 million people worldwide have been killed by the virus so far and more than 77 million infected worldwide, according to the latest World Health Organisation figures.

Billions of people have been forced to live under “lockdown” conditions as governments have struggled to contain the spread of the disease, causing economic devastation, social upheaval and unprecedented restrictions on international travel. Its impact will reverberate for years t0 come.

In the Middle East, Iran was particularly hard hit by the illness. Thriving social movements and political transitions across Sudan, Lebanon and Iraq were thrown into turmoil, while economic and political crises were exacerbated. Countries heavily reliant on oil and gas exports, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have seen their revenues plummet with falling global demand. 

The pandemic further accentuated the consequences of other events in the region, such as the assassination of Iranian commander Qassem Solimani in January, which brought Iran and the US to the brink of war, and the devastating August blast in Beirut that flattened much of the city and triggered new heights of anger against the country’s political class. Throughout it all, art, culture and flashes of hope sought to counter the underlying gloom.

Below, Middle East Eye journalists have selected the stories and articles they felt mattered in 2020 – and the reasons why.

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