Sabrina Mahfouz once sat in a Whitehall interview room and was interrogated about everything from her political leanings to her private life. It was ostensibly a job interview, but implicit in their demands was the unspoken question: as a woman of Middle Eastern heritage, could she really be trusted?


Years later, Sabrina found herself confronting the meaning behind this interrogation and how it was specifically informed by the British Empire’s historical dominance in the Middle East. In her latest book, part polemic, part intimate memoir, she investigates this history through the Middle Eastern coastlines and waterways that were so vital to the Empire’s hold. Interwoven with her own personal experiences, Sabrina combines history, politics, myth and poetry in a devastating examination of this unacknowledged part of Britain’s colonial past. 


Join Sabrina Mafhouz for a timely conversation around Britain’s relationship with the Middle East.

About The Speaker

Headshot of Sabrina Mahfouz

Sabrina Mahfouz

Sabrina Mahfouz is a writer and performer, raised in London and Cairo. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and resident writer at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Her most recent theatre show was A History of Water in the Middle East (Royal Court). Her edited collections include The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write (Saqi Books, 2017) and Smashing It: Working Class Artists on Life, Art and Making It Happen (The Westbourne Press, 2019). Her non-fiction debut is These Bodies of Water (Tinder Press, 2022).