Marcel Kurpershoek is a senior research fellow at New York University Abu Dhabi. He is a specialist in the oral traditions and poetry of Arabia and has written the five-volume Oral Poetry and Narratives from Central Arabia (1994-2005), as well as several books on Middle Eastern historical and cultural topics. Formerly a diplomat for the Netherlands, he served as ambassador to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Poland, and as special envoy to Syria until 2015.