Sex and the Citadel : Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World by Shereen El Feki – Book Review


This is a non-fiction dive into the world of sex, religion and the law across many Arab countries, although focusing mostly on Egypt. Though, this makes it seem like it is a dry, academic work. Shereen El Feki is interested in people; their beliefs, their contradictions and generally the way they work together. El Feki grew up in Canada with Egyptian and Welsh heritage, and has worked in broadcasting and other fields, including serving as vice chair of the UN’s Global Commission on HIV and the Law. This gave her a unique way in to talk to people in the region about sex, and led to some very interesting insights.

I found that I skip-read the book – that is, that the bits I really enjoyed were the anecdotes and the interviews, but a lot of the history and context I didn’t engage with as much. I feel as though I’ve had a bit of an insight, however this is still a world that is a mile away from my own.

The session at MWF with El Feki and Anna Krien was fabulous. El Feki is an extremely interesting, passionate woman whose enthusiasm for the topic was obvious in the way she talked and engaged with both the panel and the audience.

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