The level of noise about the Arab world is increasing. Security and energy are major concerns. Wars and globalisation are pushing the Arabs and Westerners into closer contact. Understanding the Arabs has never been more important, never so critical to our dealings with the Arab world where the personal often matters most. Yet, few books have tried to bring out this personal factor, to describe the people behind the events and strategic trends, to say what they are like and why. This book recognises the Arabs' diversity and then reaches beyond to identify the core themes which give the Arab world its distinctive personality and sense of community. These themes - family, religion, Arabism and power - track an experience very different to our own. They illuminate the Arabs values and aspirations, the dilemmas they face in a time of change. Mark Allen's brilliant analysis comes of 35 years' study of the Arab world, 'being both friend and enemy'. His insight into faith, culture and attitudes to power explains much about the contradictions, the restlessness and the tension we now see in the region.