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On the art of Arab story telling: For a very long time, the Arabs have complacently considered themselves to be a people of poets, indeed, the people of poets. Poetry was the record of their lofty deeds, their claim to glory, their secret garden, their diwān (divan), in the several meanings suggested by the term. But since the first centuries of the Hijra, Arabic poetry has been judged untranslatable. All poetry is, to be sure, resistant to translation, but inRead more

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Recommended reading from feminist narratives in the Arab world: How long had she been living on the top floor of this empty building that stood by the side of the road? Lila couldn’t say. She didn’t question it; why count the days? It might have been before dawn today or yesterday at daybreak or perhaps three or four days ago that she was slinking around and had entered this freshly painted sunny place, as if mere chance had driven herRead more

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Recommended reading on universal spirituality in Arab literature: And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. – Khalil Gibran’s 1923 classic The Prophet Image:  Motorbike on Atlas motorway. Marrakech, Morocco.Read more

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Recommended fiction with more on Downtown Cairo and The Yacoubian Building: In 1934, Hagop Yacoubian, the millionaire and then doyen of the Armenian community in Egypt, decided to construct an apartment block that would bear his name. He chose for it the best site on Suleiman Basha and engaged a well-known Italian engineering firm to build it, and the firm came up with a beautiful design—ten lofty stories in the high classical European style, the balconies decorated with Greek facesRead more

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Recommended reading on Critical Thinking in Arab Storytelling: Ibyn Tufayl scrupulously practiced this art of writing. He certainly expressed a wisdom that should have remained hidden, but he did it in an indirect way, behind a veil, as he puts it – in such a way that only those who are equipped to understand it will be able to uncover its secrets. In a word, what he has revealed will remain a secret between him and his brothers: “But weRead more

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Recommended reading on Defining Arab Identity: “The history of the ‘Arab’ is a history of cultural encounters with others: in no particular order or chronology, the Greeks, Aristotle, Byzantines, Persians, Indians, Romans, Jews, Amazighs, Kurds, Africans, Turks, Chinese, Paganism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sufism, Aramaic, Hebrew, Napoleon, Europe, European colonialism, Empire, Marxism, socialism, capitalism, liberalism, Rock’ n’ Roll and much more; yet, it seems, all this common cultural universe, this cosmos of encountering has never stopped people from searching forRead more