I came to the Middle East in 1998, as a young man, and never really left. I lived for years in Iraq and Syria, spent extensive time in Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and traveled to most countries around the region. My work as an academic, a project manager, a journalist, and a political advisor informed numerous publications, a selection of which — at the suggestion of a well-meaning reader — will gradually be gathered on this website.

Whatever I know about the region, I owe to the many beautiful friends I made here over time. I strove to live an ordinary life — seeking neither adventure nor privilege, but opportunities to meet people I have least in common with, and share with them as much as creatively possible. These encounters, often set in extraordinary circumstances, have been a bottomless source of personal enrichment. The mosaic that appears on this website, which is composed of pictures of friends, familiar places and meaningful objects, along with the occasional portrait capturing one of my professional roles, is there to say that this region made me. It is also there to suggest the immense pleasure it has been, through thick and thin, to let it teach and transform me.

Illustration: a picture with friends south of Tikrit, Iraq, around 2000.