Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson

Foreign correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is based in Cairo and covers the Arab world for NPR from the Middle East to North Africa. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning programs including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

In 2006, Nelson opened the NPR Kabul Bureau. During the following three and a half years, she gave listeners an in-depth sense of life inside Afghanistan, from the increase in suicides among women in a tribal society that sees them as second class citizens, to the growing interference of Iran and Pakistan in Afghan affairs and the impact of Western policies in the region. For her coverage of Afghanistan, she won a Peabody award, Overseas Press Club award and Gracie in 2010.

Nelson came to NPR in 2006, after spending more than two decades as a newspaper reporter. She served as Knight Ridder's Middle East Bureau Chief from 2002 to 2005 where she specialized in covering Iran. As a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Nelson was sent on extended assignment to Iran and Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Nelson spent three years as an editor and reporter for Newsday and was part of the team that won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for covering the crash of TWA flight 800. She also spent time at the the Orange County Register covering Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

A graduate of the University of Maryland, Nelson speaks Farsi, Dari, and German. She is married to long-time reporter Erik Nelson and they have a son.




Sat May 28, 2011
Middle East

Egypt Border Opening Brings Relief To Palestinians

Egypt reopened its border with the Gaza Strip on Saturday, ending a four-year-old blockade. The move brought badly needed relief to the Palestinian territory's people, but it could deepen Egypt's rift with Israel.


Mon May 23, 2011
Middle East

Saudis Impatient For King's Promised Reforms

Saudi King Abdullah months ago promised changes in what analysts say was a bid to quiet growing frustrations in the desert kingdom. But now, much of the king's words are ringing hollow with many Saudis who say they see little change.


Sat May 21, 2011
Middle East

Egypt, Uncensored: New TV Station Tackles Injustice In this image from a show called Hashtag, the host discusses the Twitter hashtag #FreeTarekShalaby, which began after Shalaby, an Egyptian activist, was arrested during protests outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo. He was later released." href="/post/egypt-uncensored-new-tv-station-tackles-injustice" class="noexit lightbox">
The newly founded Egyptian news channel 25TV broadcasts on their website, In this image from a show called Hashtag, the host discusses the Twitter hashtag #FreeTarekShalaby, which began after Shalaby, an Egyptian activist, was arrested during protests outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo. He was later released.

The revolution in Egypt can be seen now on the country's satellite television network in the form of a 24-hour news and entertainment channel. 25TV's programming is not always polished, but it is honest and uncensored — at least most of the time.

Its approach to coverage is unique in a country where the government has strictly controlled the news for decades. In fact, staffers joke that their goal is to do all the stories that Egyptian state television won't touch.

And while Egyptian television hosts are usually quite suave, 25TV's Seif Khirfan is not.

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Thu May 19, 2011
Middle East

Poverty Hides Amid Saudi Arabia's Oil Wealth

As an oil exporter, Saudi Arabia is one of the richest countries in the world. And with an economy that is continuing to grow, its reputation among many people in the Arab world is that of a nation of extravagance and, sometimes, excess.

But when you look beyond the luxury SUVs, upscale malls and glittery high rises in the desert kingdom, a far different view of Saudi life emerges — one laced with poverty and unemployment, affecting millions of people. It's a problem many Saudis are reluctant to acknowledge.

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Sun May 8, 2011
Middle East

Voters Disenchanted In Upcoming Saudi Election

Registration is underway in Saudi Arabia for a national election this September to fill seats on nearly 300 municipal councils.

It's only the third time in the kingdom's history that a nationwide vote is taking place. And it comes at a time when citizens in other Arab countries are rising up to demand democratic reforms.

In Saudi Arabia, only men can vote and only men can serve on the councils.

Few people are signing up to vote, and some Saudis are dismissing the upcoming elections as a gimmick.

The Last Election

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