Farming Penguins

BBC Radio 4

I produced this programme for BBC Radio 4's On Your Farm slot, from Bluff Cove in the Falkland Islands, talking to Hattie & Kevin Kilmartin about how they combine sheep farming with penguin tours – including unexpected emotion when recalling the 1982 war.

2017

Exploding Penguins

BBC Radio 4

My Radio 4 documentary and BBC News piece on the tension facing conservationists in the Falkland Islands between conserving penguin habitats and the UK's international obligation to clear minefields left over from the 1982 war with Argentina.

2017

Rites of Flight: Falconry in Japan

Aramco World

He stands. The hubbub dies down. Those seated, awaiting their food, listen with respect as a speech dwelling on the importance of tradition flows past their ears. The words reach back across the centuries to highlight those who came before, then...

2016

The winemaker of Jordan

PrivatAir

In an undistinguished commercial district of Amman, off one of the narrow streets that winds between the Jordanian capital’s towering hills, I reach for the spittoon. But it’s too late. The Sauvignon Gris – light, fresh, delicious – has already...

2013

South America in the South Atlantic

BBC World Service

I wrote, presented and produced this stand-alone documentary for BBC World Service examining links of culture and identity between the Falkland Islands and South America. More details soon.

2017

LGBTQ Tel Aviv: why did a lone gunman shoot 13 people?

The Independent

At 10.20pm on Saturday 1 August 2009, a man walked along Nachmani Street, a residential road in central Tel Aviv. He went into the apartment block at number 28 and down a flight of steps to the basement flat, where a song by Blur was playing on...

2009

Postcard from Qena

The Independent

Qena lurks on the edge of things. This southern Egyptian city stands close enough to the tourist hotels of Luxor – 60-odd kilometres – that nobody stays, but far enough away that...

2013

The Jews of Arabia

BBC

Judaism may have originated in the Middle East but the Jews were long ago scattered far and wide - to the Gulf, among other places. Few now remain, except in Iran. But a century ago there was even a proposal to found a Jewish state at an oasis near...

2014

Qatar’s storytelling tradition

High Life

In the Place of Snakes, on the grassless plains west of the Qatari capital, Doha, businessman Hasan Al Khalifa tucks his feet underneath him and directs his eldest son, Abdullah, out to the paddocks behind the house. "Before, we had nothing,"...

2014

Remember Syria

Beacon

I remember Syria. Walking there was like swimming in an ocean. In Syria I became puny. I remember the vaulted chambers of the castle, that very old castle, shiplike on its hill in the summer heat, guarding the gap in the mountains that leads from the...

2014

The other side of Jerusalem

The Times

A travel piece from Jerusalem. Most visitors stay in the Israeli west of the Holy City. But stay in the occupied Palestinian east, and you find a different world.

2012

Ushuaia: no place for old people

Beacon

On the way to Antarctica I visited Ushuaia, a port town at the very southern tip of Argentina, and learned about frontier folk, ethnic cleansing, tax breaks for industry... it was a strange time.

2014

“Zurich? It’s not that conservative.”

The National

On the Münsterhof cobbles, drizzle pooled around a stone commemorating British statesman Winston Churchill’s call for a “United States of Europe”. Placid Zurich may be famous for banks and shopping, but its conservatism is...

2012

Hope floats up the Nile

Wanderlust

My account of a journey all the way up the Nile from Cairo to Aswan in 2013, in the short gap between the revolution and the clampdown, when tourism in Middle Egypt seemed like it might have a future.

2013

Dune roaming

The Independent

"Dubai?" The camel farmer plumps his cushions, shifts on to the other buttock and takes another sip of coffee. "Dubai is not Arab. There's nothing there." He pauses and a cool breath of evening wind brings us a whiff of the desert – subtle and...

2009

Back to the Ice

BBC Radio 4

My Radio 4 documentary and BBC News piece on Antarctica, following weather presenter Peter Gibbs on his journey back to the remote Halley research station, where he spent 2 years in the 1980s, examining new science & grappling with the cold and isolation.

2016

Why we travel

Beacon

A story of family and journeys across the generations, in an ancient place with a hundred centuries of ghosts. Travel writer Matthew Teller takes his kids to Feynan, in the stony deserts of southern Jordan.

2014

Palestine & Israel: food at first hand

The Times

A travel piece following a new joint Palestinian/Israeli initiative on a food tour on both sides of the 'Green Line' border between Israel and the West Bank.

2014

Cancerous capitalism in Croatia

Beacon

I wasn’t expecting to find such nerviness on a four-day getaway. Losinj (say it “losheen”) doesn’t hurry. This Croatian island, out on a limb at the unfashionable northern end of the Adriatic, is the definition of far-flung. Zagreb is a continent away...

2014

A pilgrim’s progress

The Independent

She shimmied right here. Or it might have been there. Or – down a bit, over a bit – ooh yes, just there. Summoning up the ghost of the ancient world’s most erotic dancer atop a windblown Jordanian mountain demands imagination, but once...

2009

FOOC – Antarctic geopolitics

BBC Radio 4 & World Service

FOOC > "From Our Own Correspondent" (BBC radio). Antarctic geopolitics: why are so many different nations jockeying for position on the ice, building bases and welcoming tourists?

2014

Mind games up a mountain

The Independent

Last Saturday was a giorno festivo, a public holiday, according to the timetables of Autopostale Ticino, the network of post-buses operating in Italian-speaking Switzerland. And on giorni festivi a Sunday service operates. But this crucial nugget...

2005

Grand canyons of Jordan

The Independent

Do you want to go to Shag ar-Reesh?" What an offer. "Shag: canyon. Reesh: feathers. The Canyon of the Feathers. It's that way." Chris - wiry, enthusiastic, English - pointed over my shoulder into the cool blackness beyond the terrace railing, where the...

2005

The Reluctant Mystic

Beacon

An extraordinary meeting in the Syrian city of Aleppo in 2007, long before the war.

2014

Easy Rider on the Med

The Independent

I sat waiting, focused ahead. The cross-traffic started thinning out. I gave a twist with my right hand, just a touch, till I felt the bite. The lights changed to green. I gave it a bit more. The automatic clutch caught, and I was rolling...

2008

The great Kuwaiti cat-meat scandal

BBC

In 1930s Kuwait, an accusation that a restaurant was serving cat meat might easily have ended badly for the owner. But in one case British diplomats decided it was a matter for the Crown - and rode to the rescue of the unlucky man, writes Matthew Teller...

2015

Crossing a mountain border

Beacon

A journey of 100 metres, to and fro across a small bridge that divides the town of Ponte Tresa - half in Italy, half in Switzerland - to try and feel what marks our differences.

2014

The sheikh who listened to Nazi radio

BBC

Early in World War Two, just after the fall of France, Britain's agent in the Gulf sheikhdom of Sharjah noticed an alarming rise in support for Nazi Germany. Slipping on a disguise he quickly found out who was responsible, reports Matthew Teller...

2015

Shakespear of Arabia

BBC

Britain's ties with Saudi Arabia stem from the exploits of a dashing diplomat, Capt William Shakespear - an explorer and pioneering photographer. If he hadn't met an early death while photographing a desert battle scene, asks Matthew Teller, would we...

2015

Lorimer: the diplomat’s portable handbook

BBC

If knowledge is power, then the British government's secret gazetteer of the Gulf, known simply as "Lorimer" after its author, epitomises the scale of imperial ambition. Intended to be a portable handbook, it was anything but, writes Matthew Teller...

2014

The singing sailor of Oman & other musical oddities

BBC

Teenagers were dreaming of fame and fortune as a musician long before downloads, CDs or even vinyl. The Singing Sailor of Oman is one young man whose dream came true in the 1930s, as his fusion of Arabic and Indian musical styles became a hit...

2014

Monsieur Romieu – a man of talents

BBC

At a time of international conflict two centuries ago, did Britain assassinate an enemy agent while the world was looking the other way? Matthew Teller delves into a story of intrigue and possible skulduggery in Persia.

2014

The pearl fishers of Arabia

BBC

Less than a century ago, oil had yet to be discovered in Arabia. The region was poor and one of its main sources of income - pearl fishing - was about to be killed by cheap competition and the intransigence of colonial administrators...

2014

The diplomat who said no to Saudi oil

BBC

In 1932, amid a global economic slump, the impoverished Saudis came to London looking for a loan. They also had an offer: would Britain like to try drilling for oil? A disdainful Foreign Office mandarin gave the fateful reply...

2014

“Love to Patrick”

BBC

Office etiquette is such a minefield. Is it better to stick to the rules, or bend them? How chatty should emails to your boss be? Back in 1929, writes Matthew Teller, one British Indian diplomat took his breezily informal approach a bit too far.

2014

Telegraph Island – ‘round the bend’

BBC

Telegraph Island in Oman: the hardship posting to end all hardship postings. To get there, writes Matthew Teller, British officers went round the bend – literally, and perhaps sometimes metaphorically too.

2014

Tales from the India Office

BBC

A transgender singer hits stardom in Baghdad. Officials scramble to impose order after a Kuwaiti restaurant is found to be selling cat meat. Gulf royals on an official visit to London are left marooned in a drab south London suburb because of a shortage...

2014

FOOC – Stateless in Kuwait

BBC Radio 4 & World Service

FOOC > "From Our Own Correspondent" (BBC radio). The hardships and injustices faced by the stateless 'bidoon' of Kuwait.

2013

Running for the Royal Cup

Aramco World

It’s early on a weekend morning, and the gates are closed. But someone, somewhere, must have given a signal, because the uniformed officials end their milling and move into place. One tilts his peaked cap to scratch his forehead. Another laces her...

2016

Now Playing: Jordan

Aramco World

Until 2008 Jordan had produced only one truly homegrown feature film. It was Egypt that blazed the trail for Arab cinema, followed by Morocco, Algeria and others. Cairo’s film industry in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s was prolific, and many productions from...

2015

The Happy Ones: the baboons of Saudi Arabia

Aramco World

“I was ten years old—I’ll never forget it.” Ahmed Boug gazes across a hazy desert view from the highlands above Taif, in western Saudi Arabia. “We’d set off for a camping vacation in Abha, up in the mountains. This was before there was even an asphalt...

2012

A Wadi Runs Through It

Aramco World

Down by the lake, Hussein Al-Doseri is beaming. "Before all this, there were no services here—no trails, no routes. Now it's easy." An athletic 30-something in a white T-shirt and wraparound sunglasses, Al-Doseri stretches his arms wide toward the...

2011

Finding the Essence

Aramco World

In west Beirut, Hamra Street’s fashion boutiques and upmarket coffee shops form a strip of commerce that points toward the landmark Murr Tower on the edge of downtown. A block or two north, past clusters of auto workshops and convenience stores, lies...

2010

Rx for Oryx

Aramco World

A fingernail moon hung over the table-flat desert as Salah al-Mahdhoury, my biologist guide, and I are served dates and fresh fruit by Shaykh Muhammad bin Thamna al-Harsusi, one of the leaders of the Harasis tribe of central Oman. We rest on...

2009

#amwriting


The Naked Diplomat

BBC World Service

I wrote and presented this documentary shadowing Tom Fletcher, Britain's ambassador in Lebanon, examining his impact, his innovative use of social media and his approach to 'naked diplomacy' – informal, open and accountable.

2015

The island where nothing makes sense

BBC Radio 4 & World Service

I produced this documentary on the conservation challenges facing Ascension Island, a tiny scrap of British territory marooned in the tropical mid-Atlantic, halfway between Brazil and Africa. Presented by Peter Gibbs.

2016

To climb a mountain

National Geographic Traveller

Even now, weeks later, I’m not sure why I cried. The tears were flowing before I reached the summit: I remember looking up into the blurry blue. I also remember, further back down the trail, when the old, familiar voices started to sing to me about...

2013

FOOC – Halley, Antarctica

Not broadcast

FOOC > "From Our Own Correspondent" (BBC radio). My six-week journey to visit Halley, the most remote of Britain's research stations in Antarctica.

2016

FOOC – Jordanian cinema

Not broadcast

FOOC > "From Our Own Correspondent" (BBC radio). The growth and social impact of independent cinema in Jordan.

2015

Broadcast bits and bobs

Radio and TV

I have been interviewed for BBC World News TV, Sky News, BBC Outside Source, World Radio Geneva, BBC Oxford, Radio New Zealand, and others.


Escape from the South Atlantic

BBC World Service

I produced this edition of the BBC World Service history programme Witness, talking to meteorologist Peter Gibbs about his journey back from Antarctica in 1982, when he was caught up in the outbreak of the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina.

2016

Walking with wolves in Sweden

High Life

A breeze moves the leaves of aspens in the night gloom. One branch holds another, creaking. Marcus Eldh, our guide in the vast forests of central Sweden, speaks like the air, in a whisper. “They are here. All around us.”

2013

FOOC – Dubai’s churches

BBC Radio 4 & BBC Arabic

FOOC > "From Our Own Correspondent" (BBC radio). Talking to Christians in Dubai, visiting churches and gauging attitudes towards Christianity.

2015

Crossing the White Desert

High Life

Trust my boots? What does he mean, trust my boots? Just look at that slope! It’s slippery. The rocks down there, the furious sea. The mountains are watching. There are people behind me. Why should I trust my boots? I don’t trust my boots! But the...

2014

FOOC – Has wealth made Qatar happy?

BBC Radio 4 & World Service

FOOC > "From Our Own Correspondent" (BBC radio). Reporting from Doha, on how sudden wealth hasn't necessarily been a wholly positive experience for Qatar and Qataris.

2014

FOOC – A historic Nile flight

BBC Radio 4

FOOC > "From Our Own Correspondent" (BBC radio). The 100th anniversary of the first flight along the River Nile – and an unexpected diplomatic connection.

2014

FOOC – Sweden’s wolves

BBC World Service

FOOC > "From Our Own Correspondent" (BBC radio). How hunters and conservationists in central Sweden are finding that – when it comes to the return of wolves – they don't always disagree.

2014

FOOC – Minya, Egypt

BBC Radio 4 & World Service

FOOC > "From Our Own Correspondent" (BBC radio). Social disquiet in the Upper Egyptian city of Minya, as tourism along the Nile starts to pick up.

2013

FOOC – Social media & reform in Oman

BBC Radio 4

FOOC > "From Our Own Correspondent" (BBC radio). Reporting from Muscat and Salalah in Oman, on the challenges to authority posed by the growth in social media.

2012

Excess Baggage

BBC Radio 4

I was a studio guest on the Radio 4 travel programme Excess Baggage, talking here to presenter Sandi Toksvig about plans to build a railway linking the Gulf states.

2009

FOOC – An oasis in Riyadh

BBC Radio 4

FOOC > "From Our Own Correspondent" (BBC radio). The social implications of a new environmental scheme in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

2012

FOOC – Libyans in Amman

BBC Radio 4 & World Service

FOOC > "From Our Own Correspondent" (BBC radio). Reporting from the Jordanian capital Amman on why the city is seeing an unexpected influx of arrivals from Libya.

2012

Traveller’s Tree

BBC Radio 4

I reported from Jordan for this edition of the Radio 4 travel programme Traveller's Tree, on a new homestay programme being developed there.

2009

Sandhurst and the Sheikhs

BBC Radio 4

My documentary for BBC radio on the longstanding links between Arab royals and Britain's Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, using archive, analysis and new interviews to examine the relationship.

2014

FOOC – Jerusalem tram

BBC Radio 4

FOOC > "From Our Own Correspondent" (BBC radio). Riding the controversial new light rail line through the divided city of Jerusalem.

2011

FOOC – Taif, Saudi Arabia

BBC Radio 4

FOOC > "From Our Own Correspondent" (BBC radio). The rose industry of Taif in Saudi Arabia – and a strange meeting in the airport.

2011

FOOC – Tahrir Square, Cairo

BBC World Service

FOOC > "From Our Own Correspondent" (BBC radio). The mood around Cairo's Tahrir Square in April 2011, in the midst of the revolutionary uprisings.

2011

The Rough Guide to Switzerland

Rough Guides

Beam yourself down into Neuchâtel, and for a while you might think you’ve landed up in France. The Neuchâtelois people are the most French-oriented in Switzerland, speaking a dialect of Swiss-French that is celebrated – by those for whom such a thing is...

4th edition, 2010

The Rough Guide to the Italian Lakes

Rough Guides

The westernmost of the major Italian lakes, lying wholly within Piemonte, Lake Orta appears an afterthought, a little croissant-shaped tarn that is closer to the Matterhorn than Milan. Perhaps that’s why it is relatively quiet, seeing a fraction of the...

4th edition, 2015

The Rough Guide to Jordan

Rough Guides

Consistently overlooked and underrated by travellers to the Middle East, the Jordanian capital Amman stands in marked contrast to its raucous neighbours, with none of the grand history of Damascus, not a whiff of Jerusalem’s tension and just...

6th edition, 2016

The Rough Guide to the Cotswolds

Rough Guides

When outsiders want to poke fun at the Cotswolds, they invariably aim first at Stow-on-the-Wold. Over the last ten years or so, a succession of journalists from the London papers – visiting chiefly to review one or other of the restaurants – have taken...

2nd edition, 2015

In Search of Sindbad

Gulf Life

Ali Juma Al-Araimi rubbed his chin. “No, I don’t know anything about Sindbad,” he said, and leaned on the heavy teak door of his workshop, masts of replica miniature dhows rising behind his shoulder. “But ask on the shore around sunset. People might know."

2008

Bloom Time

CNN Traveller

The honey-seller smiled, and lifted his ladle high. Golden honey streamed down and the warm air in his little shop filled with a mouthwatering aroma – in a mental flash I instantly recalled sunny fields of scented flowers and childhood treats...

2009

Going for gold, frankincense & myrrh

The Independent

Out in the desolate Baal Thayfer – the “Place of Camel Droppings” – Mabkhot Al Amiry hefts his blade, choosing where to make the first cut. A breath of wind breaks the silence, rattling the papery bark of the tree in front of us with a sound like…

2009

The Quiet Revolution

CNN Traveller

When he visited Abu Dhabi thirty years ago, travel writer Jonathan Raban wrote that the city “was like a hotel… everyone was in transit. Even the [locals] had been turned into guests, en route from a nomadic past to a sketchy future.” Today...

2008