Book Signing and Talk: Diana Darke

Yunus Emre Institute in London, in collaboration with Hurst Publishers, hosts a talk and book signing by Diana Darke, on her fascinating book, Stealing from the Saracens: How Islamic Architecture Shaped Europe, on Thursday 31st March 2022 at 7 pm. The event moderated by noted architect Samie Iqbal Kayani will start with a talk by the author and the Middle East Cultural Expert Diana Darke and will be followed by a Q&A session and book signing.

Join us at Yunus Emre Institute in London as the author, Diana Darke, leads the audience through an unrevealed history of architectural ‘borrowing’ by tracing the origins of European architecture. Following the event, traditional Turkish refreshments will be served. Following the event, traditional Turkish refreshments will be served.


Against a backdrop of Islamophobia, Europeans are increasingly airbrushing from history their cultural debt to the Muslim world. But this Islamic legacy lives on in some of Europe’s most recognisable buildings, from Notre-Dame Cathedral to the Houses of Parliament. Fully illustrated and footnoted, the book unearths the Arab and Islamic roots of Europe’s architectural heritage, tracing ideas and styles from vibrant Middle Eastern centres like Damascus, Baghdad and Cairo, via Muslim Spain, Venice and Sicily into Europe. The author, Diana Darke, describes how medieval crusaders, pilgrims, and merchants encountered Arab Muslim culture on their way to the Holy Land; and explores more recent artistic interaction between Ottoman and Western cultures, including Sir Christopher Wren’s inspirations in the ‘Saracen’ style of Gothic architecture. Recovering this long yet overlooked history of architectural ‘borrowing’, Stealing from the Saracens is a rich tale of cultural exchange.
The book can be purchased for 25% off during the event or from Hurst Publishers’ website using the code SARACENS25 at the checkout.


About the Speaker

Diana Darke is a Middle East cultural expert with a special focus on Syria. With degrees in Arabic from Oxford University, and in Islamic Art & Architecture from SOAS, London, she has spent over 30 years specialising in the region, working for both government and commercial sectors. Among her publications are the highly acclaimed My House in Damascus: An Inside View of the Syrian Crisis (2016), The Merchant of Syria (2018) and The Last Sanctuary in Aleppo (2019). Her most recent book, Stealing from the Saracens: How Islamic Architecture Shaped Europe, received three Book of the Year 2020 awards. Her next book, The Ottomans and Their Cultural Legacy will be published in October 2022. Frequently invited to speak at international events and media such as the BBC, PBS, TRT, Al-Jazeera and France24, her work on Syria has been published by the BBC website, The Sunday Times, The Guardian and The Financial Times. She is a Non-resident Scholar at Washington’s think-tank MEI (the Middle East Institute).

About the Moderator

Samie Iqbal Kayani is the director at IK Architecture Ltd and a PhD candidate at the University of Liverpool’s Centre for the Study of Architecture and Cultural Heritage. He has worked on numerous culturally significant projects in the UK and abroad, including restoring the last historic structure inside the Grand Mosque of Makkah and recently designing plans for the only Grade I listed mosque in the UK. He is also Aziz Foundation Scholar for creating future leaders in communities.

This talk forms part of the Arts & Culture Lecture Series organised by Yunus Emre Institute in London since 2017. 





Event: Book Signing & Talk | Stealing from the Saracens: How Islamic Architecture Shaped Europe

Guest Speaker: Diana Darke

Moderator: Samie Iqbal Kayani

Date: Thursday 31st March 2022

Time: 7 PM (UK time)

Venue: 10 Maple Street, London, W1T 5HA

Registration is essential via Eventbrite.

This event will be streamed live on the Yunus Emre Institute in London Facebook and YouTube accounts

For more information on the event please visit our website: or email at