Top ten most-read articles on

Every year in December, the team at takes a look back at the articles that proved most popular with our readers. This year is no different. Here is a run-down of the stories that mattered most to you in 2021. Happy New Year to all our readers!

Almost two years on, the coronavirus pandemic continued to dominate lives and headlines around the world throughout 2021. It was also a year of important anniversaries: the tenth anniversary of the start of the Arab Spring and the Syrian civil war and the twentieth anniversary of 9/11. Throughout the year, has provided background information and in-depth analysis on a wide variety of key events and issues in the Islamic world, including the US withdrawal from Afhanistan and its tragic and chaotic aftermath, a coup in Sudan and a presidential power-grab in Tunisia, the election of a new president in Iran and a new prime minister in Israel, the Turkish lira in freefall, India's President Modi under pressure from farmers and refugees knocking on Europe's door. But these weren't the only topics of interest to our readers: here are the ten most-read articles on in 2021.

1.     Prostitution in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Open-minded, loving... and desperate 

How did the Islamic revolutionaries deal with prostitution and sex workers in Iran, and how does the business of sex work in Iran today? Have supply and demand changed four decades after the ayatollahs came to power? By Nasrin Bassiri

2.     The "India Love Project" on Instagram: Fighting hate with love  

Marrying for love is still quite a rare thing in India. Religion often gets in the way, as do caste and parental opinions. After the defamatory term "Love Jihad" started trending on Twitter, three journalists set up the "India Love Project" on Instagram to share stories of love that have transcended boundaries and discrimination of all kinds. By David Pfeifer

3.     Teenage pregnancies in Pakistan: What sex education is really about

Young people in many developing countries are not systematically taught about reproductive health and the psychology of intimacy. It is harmful to keep all things sexual shrouded in secrecy – as is evident in Pakistan, for example, where many girls are still married off in their teens. By Mahwish Gul

4.     Black Lives Matter in Egypt: The controversy surrounding racism – are Arabs racist?  

The Arab world suffers from a system in which people are intolerant of "the other". This racist environment contributes to the growth of hostility and antagonism towards anyone who differs from our sense of what is "normal" or "conventional". By Khaled al-Khamissi

5.     The Persian poetry of mathematics: From Omar Khayyam to Mirzakhani – Iran's beautiful minds 

Presenting a more nuanced vision of their common homeland, Iran, to Western imaginations, kindred spirits Omar Khayyam and Maryam Mirzakhani stand out against the twenty-first century backdrop of anti-Iranian sentiment and Islamophobia. By Hamid Dabashi

6.     Interview with Ask Project initiator Corey Gil-Shuster: Ask Israelis, ask Palestinians – beyond black and white

In 2012, fed up with people expressing clear-cut opinions on the rights and wrongs of the Middle East conflict, Canadian conflict researcher and long-time Israeli resident Corey Gil-Shuster grabbed his video camera and went out onto the streets in Israel and the Occupied Territories to ask ordinary people their views. The result: the Ask project. Inge Gunther met up with him for in Tel Aviv

7.     Coronavirus in the Middle East: Rumours of vaccine tourism in Dubai unfounded – for now

Despite media reports to the contrary, travel agents say there's no such thing as vaccine tourism in Dubai right now. Currently only residents and nationals may access vaccinations there. But, they add, that could change. By Cathrin Schaer & Gasia Ohanes

8.     Interview with art historian Wendy Shaw: What is art, when the primary sensory organ is the heart?

How can we truly appreciate the richness of cultures not our own? In her recent book "What is Islamic art? Between religion and perception", art historian Wendy Shaw explains the need to abandon our vision-centred perception of art and the aesthetic, embarking instead on a multi-sensory voyage of discovery. Interview by Lucy James

9.     Religion and media in Turkey: Reviving Sufism with Yunus Emre 

The TV series "Yunus Emre: The journey of love" was a massive hit in Turkey when it was first aired four years ago. But this popular television spectacle is not the only evidence of a renewed interest in Sufi spirituality in Turkey. Marian Brehmer reports from Istanbul

10.     German angst and the Sheikh Zayed Book Award: Habermas, philosopher of communication, rejects dialogue 

Philosopher Juergen Habermas was due to be awarded a major Arab prize in Abu Dhabi, but has turned it down following criticism. This decision torpedoes Arab efforts at a substantive cultural dialogue and exposes the West’s moral hubris, says Stefan Weidner