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Mainstream work on careers tends to be situated within an individualistic paradigm and against a North American/Western European context (although frequently unacknowledged). This paper throws new conceptual and contextual insights on the career concept through its exploration of careers in the Middle East. It draws on articles included in two special issues on career development in the Middle East published in Career Development International, and demonstrates how careers are intertwined with history, politics, organisational practices and structures as well as the individual self. Importantly it identifies the interconnectedness of the Middle East with the rest of the world and how this impacts on individual careers. Through this regional lens, the complexity and diversity of the career concept is brought into sharp focus.