Ian Timberlake, AFP’s former Sudan bureau chief, would regularly call an old friend there for a chat. But not long after rival generals plunged the country into war in April, Mohammed suddenly went silent
For a Western journalist new to socially-conservative Saudi Arabia, football is a precious chance to see local life up close. AFP's Ian Timberlake found himself sharing spiced coffee and jokes with police officers at the Gulf Cup final, and was left "marvelling at how a football match had again brought me face to face with Saudis." "In reality, that was the main reason I had come to this match," he writes. "For me, this wasn’t really about football."
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