The Middle East: A Guide to the Chaos


In the ruins, regional and global powers fight a complex battle over power, land, religion and influence. VGs guide is an overview of the chaos.

By using charts, maps and text we try to answer these questions: Who is friends with whom? Which religions dominate where? Which countries and non-governmental groups are relevant? What are the differences and similarities of Sunni and Shiite Muslims?


As we covered the uprisings in the Middle East in 2011 and beyond journalistically, it was clear that the complexity of the many and multilayered conflicts in the region was difficult to explain to the readers. In the Middle East today, there are so many alliances and connections that is challenging to highlight in the daily coverage. We often got questions about the political power dynamics behind the conflicts. As people read more about the human cost and consequences of the conflicts, we saw that people also wanted deeper knowledge and understanding.

The Guide to the Chaos in the Middle East is a result of an effort to help the readers forward. We wanted to explain connections, alliances and power dynamics by maps, charts, and lists.


This project is about collection already existing information into a more comprehensible presentation of those facts. We used several sources:

Slate, Dr. M. Izady, Gulf 2000-project, Columbia University, The Norwegian news agency NTB, and the Norwegian encyclopedia “Store norske leksikon”.


We worked on this project on a low intensity level at the beginning, as we were collecting as much information as possible over time. When we decided to go for the project, one writing journalist and one/two designer journalists worked for two week to finish it.


The project was well recieved among our readers, with high engagement and reading time.


The content was the main obstacle. To explain such a complex issue is very difficult.

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