Naguib Mahfouz, RIP
Do yourself a favor and read him. If you want a window on Arab culture, forget the posturing politicians (who mostly actually work in English and French), and the American pundits who interpret the Arab world to us without knowing Arabic or having lived in the Arab world (sort of as though Aljazeera’s correspondent who reported on Washington, DC, government affairs did not know English and had never visited the United States; believe me, it would not happen.)
I suggest you start with Midaq Alley, set in a fast-changing lower middle class neighborhood of Cairo during the British occupation of World War II. If you ever wondered what the Egyptians were thinking as Montgomery duelled Rommel, here is the most painless way possible to find out. The characters alone, and they are characters, are worth the price of admission.