After a distinguished 29-year British Council career which took him to Baghdad, Rome, Brussels, Ottawa and Rabat, Martin is an experienced cultural relations professional and theorist. Now retained by the Council as a senior adviser, he is also a Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Centre for Islamic Studies. He writes widely (he has just published There and Back by Candle-Light, an account of his experiences in Baghdad before and during the Gulf War of 1990); and he consults and writes on issues in education in the Middle East, cultural relations, cultural preservation, radicalisation and other related subjects. With an academic background in the Middle East (M Phil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies at St Antony’s College, Oxford), Martin is a seasoned thinker and contributor across a wide spectrum of activity. He blogs as Mercurius Maghrebensis.
Last weekend I was in Oporto, where I visited the quite extraordinarily opulent church of St Francis. It is a rococo creation of such self-indulgent extravagance – 500 kilograms of gold are said to have been used in the gilding, and the whole interior is a vast, wriggling omelette of gold leaf – that on … More The Five Martyrs of Morocco and the bloody Miramamolin