P1011132-4.jpgHaving grown up on an island that some archaeologists believe to have been the biblical location of the Garden of Eden, I feel that there are thematic similarities between my own life, and that of my literary/religious counterparts. Like Adam and Eve, I have had to leave my home. Fortunately though, this is where this similarity ends, as I can return home for holidays and even eat apples without admonishment. Joking aside, I feel that growing up in the Middle East has substantially affected my outlook on life. Expatriated and displaced, questions of identity and culture are important to me.

After spending many of my formative years in Bahrain, I completed a BA in journalism, film & broadcasting. Following this I trained as an English teacher in Prague and then spent 9 months working in Sudan. My motivation for this was to work whilst attempting to learn Arabic. (Surprisingly the majority of expats who grow up in the Arabian Gulf never get taught/learn the language – monstrous I know). After an arduous yet entirely enjoyable time in Sudan I earned a scholarship to do a two years Master’s degree in Arab World Studies. The course involved a year of intensive Arabic study and a year of convential research training in Arab politics and culture. During the language portion of the course I was fortunate to spend 4 months at Damascus University, where I spent some time studying Arabic, and a lot of time eating falafel. I have recently been awarded my PhD in the study of political repression in Bahrain.

I am currently a teaching fellow at Tubingen  University in Germany, where I lecture on Gulf Politics. I have also taught on the Middle East Politics Module at Durham, and have written a number of articles, chapters, and pieces on Bahrain, including in the Independent, the New Statesman, and CNN. I am also co-editor of Bahrain’s Uprising: Resistance Repression in the Gulf. (Zed Books, 2015).



  1. liveandbebywabod

    I’ve just come across your blog and twitter account and can see that you’ve grown up in Bahrain as an expat, from your name, I have a string feeling you may originally be Welsh? If I am wrong, then I’m so sorry for contacting you! If by any chance I am right, I was wondering if you would mind me getting in contact? I am welsh myself, and hoping to move to Bahrain this summer, advice, words of wisdom, would all be most welcomed! Hope this sin’t too random!


  2. Pete Lewis


    Great to find your writing on Bahrain. I’m also originally from Wales and was in Bahrain from about age nine to eighteen (1985-93ish). Anyway, I live in the US now and have written a few pieces over the years about expat culture and Bahraini politics and self-published a few (maga)zines that dealt with this subject matter. What era were you there? Just thought I’d write to say hello and keep up the good work. Here’s a piece, I wrote back in 2004 about my time in Bahrain. http://foulweather.blogspot.com/2011/03/confessions-of-guilty-expat.html



    • marcowenjones

      Hi Pete,

      Great to hear from. I actually remember reading that blog you wrote a couple of years ago. I think it was in 2011 when Fahad recommended it on Twitter. It wis brilliant. I keep meaning to write more about my experiences there but my blog has turned into more of an academic outlet – that’s not to say I won’t do it of course.

      I think you hit the nail on the head with your descriptions of Bahrain. It’s refreshing to have such an honest appraisal, and one that is so well written. Did you have it published elsewhere?

      I moved to Bahrain in about 1988, and was schooled there until about 2001. As you can tell from my name, I’m also from Wales. Dad is from Baglan – between Neath and Port Talbot.Thought it was funny you mentioned Mumbles, as I go there most summers. Going there at the beginning of September actually.

  3. Pete Lewis


    Thanks and I’m glad some people got to read it. I have written various versions for a few smaller publications out here, along with some stories about being an expat kid during the first Gulf War. I’m currently working on a book length version. Sort of a coming of age, political awakening memoir tied in with the politics of the country. I shall be checking in with your work frequently.

    All the best,


  4. Al-khalij Al-Farsi

    Its called PERSIAN GULF. Stop trying to erase Iranian history you filth. How could you ever get a PHd i dont know.

  5. Abdulla Al Khalifa

    The top of the blog says Persian Gulf. You calling him filth and insulting his intelligence and PHD comes off as insecure.

    I enjoy your writing Marc and I’m glad you attempt to source many things like on the oil article. I just hope you remain objective.

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