Water Sheikhs and Dam Builders, Stories of People and Water in the Middle East

(Transaction Publishers, New Jersey, 2007)

In “Water Sheikhs and Dam Builders”, Francesca de Chatel discusses the problems and paradoxes of water resources in the Middle East and North Africa, exploring the past, present, and future of water in the region and exposing the roots of the current water crisis. The author provides a colorful and diverse portrait of a resource that is inextricably entwined with the history and future of the region and its peoples. Based on four years of research and travel from Iran to Libya and from Israel to Syria, the book combines lively character sketches, interviews, travel descriptions, historical anecdotes, and hard facts to reveal the complexity of this invaluable resource.

Water issues in the Middle East are very complex, highly technical and centralized. They are also very human. Many books deal with the former aspects, but very few deal with the latter. Francesca de Châtel’s book is one of them, and probably the best of them all.

– David Brooks, director of research, Friends of the Earth Canada, 2007

Anyone wishing to be brought up to date on the issue of water in the Middle East, in an original, rather succinct, and also very human way, should read this book.

– Arnon Soffer, professor of geography, University of Haifa, Middle Eastern Studies, 2008

The book is highly readable and challenging. [I]t should be read by all those with an interest in water and especially those from all disciplines searching for ways to adapt to water scarcity.

– W. M. Edmunds, University of Oxford, Journal of Islamic Studies, 2009