Leila Fadel

Leila Fadel is NPR's international correspondent based in Cairo.

Before joining NPR, she covered the Middle East for The Washington Post. In her role as Cairo Bureau Chief she reported on a wave of revolts and their aftermaths in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria.

Prior to her position as Cairo Bureau Chief for the Post, she covered the Iraq war for nearly five years with Knight Ridder, McClatchy Newspapers and later the Washington Post. Her foreign coverage of the devastating human toll of the Iraq war earned her the George. R. Polk award in 2007.

Leila Fadel is a Lebanese-American journalist who speaks conversational Arabic and was raised in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.

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Getting into the back of a black taxi is the quintessential London experience. Name any spot in Britain's capital and the driver knows exactly where to go and how to get there as fast as possible. This is "The Knowledge." Every cabbie must master it, and it takes years to learn.

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For generations, John Harris's family has arranged lavish funerals for Cockney East Enders. But London is changing, and Harris has been quick to adapt.

He watches the latest procession go by: Two regal white horses with plumes of feathers fastened to their foreheads, trot through an East End borough, drawing a gleaming white Victorian carriage. Inside is a coffin bedecked with flowers. Eight black, custom-made Jaguar limos follow. The conductors wear three-piece suits with coattails and top hats and carry canes.

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Shortly after the Egyptian government-sponsored National Council for Human Rights visited one of the country's most notorious prisons, known as "Scorpion," a video leaked.

In the video, one of the members nods happily as he tastes prison food served to him from large bowls.

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Architecture professor Soheir Zaki Hawas has dedicated her life to documenting the beautiful historic buildings in downtown Cairo and to trying to preserve them.

"Heritage is the memory of a city," Hawas says. "If I lose my memory for five minutes, I will not be able to introduce myself to tell you anything about anything."

She pulls her book off the coffee table in her living room; it took her years to document the buildings in downtown Cairo.

"I want to show you this page here," she says, flipping through the book. "This is a beautiful catalogue."

Arwa Alneami's latest art project is called the "Drop Zone," named after the vertical, free-fall amusement park ride.

Her work is made up of photographs and videos from a theme park in her hometown of Abha, in southern Saudi Arabia. The rules for women there have become so strict that the park has signs telling them they can't scream loudly on the rides.

"You should hear the voice of the ladies, they cannot scream," she says, and then imitates the stifled screams of the women clad entirely in black in her videos.

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In 2013, there were seven known militants from the village that Ahmed Abu Deraa comes from in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula. Today, that number has jumped to about 60, says Abu Deraa, an independent journalist who sometimes works for NPR. All of them are with Sinai Province, the local affiliate of the so-called Islamic State.

The Sinai's militants are all gathering under the ISIS umbrella, Abu Deraa says. But what they're fighting for isn't some grand regional cause.

Mahmoud Abou Zeid, known as the freelance photographer Shawkan, has been behind bars in Egypt for 705 days without charge. Today's hearing to either renew his time in jail or release him was postponed. His detention continues.

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On Saturday, a blast ripped through Cairo's Italian consulate, rocking the capital. And one of the first things Egyptian police did was briefly hold four foreign journalists — because they arrived too quickly.

It's not a surprise in the current atmosphere, where the foreign media is basically being painted as an enemy of the state in local press and in official statements.

Ahmed Kardous sets up an establishing shot. He trains the camera on the actors standing on a cliff overlooking a valley of greenery, and someone yells out, "Action."

Kardous is the director of photography for this Ramadan's breakout television show in Egypt. It's called Haret el-Yahood, or The Jewish Quarter.

The massive wave of people fleeing the Middle East and Africa face dangerous conditions to make the trip across the Mediterranean Sea, crowded onto rickety boats and overloaded ships. An estimated 2,000 migrants have died so far this year alone.

But, despite the danger, the burgeoning business of smuggling migrants has taken on some retail features.

Smugglers sending desperate migrants from Egypt to Europe are looking to make money — but they do offer discounts. Small children can go for free; migrants who organize a group can go free, as a sort of referral bonus.

It happens suddenly. One day, without warning, someone goes out to run an errand or go to class, and they don't come home.

Forced disappearances by Egypt's security forces aren't a new tactic in Egypt, but they're on the rise, human rights groups and activists say. And a cross section of activists, human rights defenders and journalists are being targeted.

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At the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the booming call to prayer competes with the racket of construction.

The Grand Mosque is the destination for the most sacred Muslim pilgrimage and it holds the Kaaba, the black cube of a building in the center of the mosque known to Muslims as the House of God.

But skyscraper hotels increasingly dominate the skyline, dwarfing the Great Mosque where worshippers gather, and angering those who seek to retain the city's history and traditional architecture.

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