In 2011, Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi (Arabic: سلطان سعود القاسمي) was lauded for his Twitter stream where he provided English translations of news and events of Arab Spring. A year earlier, the cultural commentator started the Barjeel Art Foundation, serving as a patron and promoter for artists from all over the Arab world: Syrian, Iraqi, Kuwaiti, Egyptian, Jordanian, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon. "I don't buy artworks that I think are pretty and aesthetically appealing," he says. "But I buy art that is politically meaningful." Arab Art Redefined: How art collector Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi is trying to change the narrative (2 minute slideshow with narration by Sultan Al-Qassemi on how he collects and shares art).
Shooting The Messengers
So, what guides a journalist's decisions in these unlovely places? The frequently repeated maxim that "no story is worth dying for" rings a little hollow. The awkward truth is that, in this field, personal bravery is simultaneously discouraged and rewarded.[more inside]
Since the end of March, the Wall Street Journal's new Middle East Real Time blog has written about Turkey's "unstoppable" export boom in soap operas, Saudi Arabia's "life after jihad" rehab program, the persistence of obviously fraudulent bomb detectors across Iraq, YouTube branding discussions among Syrian rebel factions, a rising media star Sunni cleric in Lebanon, a post-revolutionary Cairo arts festival, and attempts to overcome conservative objections and change the Saudi Thursday-Friday weekend to match the rest of the business world. Previous non-paywalled WSJ Real Time blogs include Korea, China, Canada, India, Brussels, Emerging Europe, Japan.
Brown Moses Blog curates and analyzes news regarding the Syrian uprising, the wider Arab Spring, and the UK phone hacking scandal. It is written by Something Awful forums moderator Brown Moses. Recent entries include discussion of the increasingly well armed Free Syrian Army, senior members of the Catholic Church criticizing pro-Assad clergy, and a look at the evidence of more sophisticated IEDs being used in Syria. [more inside]
The Digital Archaeological Atlas of the Holy Land is a comprehensive spatially-referenced database of current archaeological knowledge of all periods of Levantine history and prehistory. Spatial search is a good entry point, as are the Palestine Exploration Fund historic maps. You can also search by time period or dig into the many ancient Empires of the area. Or just look at everything in the database. The site is a work in progress, but a cool one powered by a consortium of over 30 professional archaeologists. May require Google Maps. via
Forty years on. After a quick buildup, the Six Day War started 40 years ago today and reshaped the Middle East. At the time, Israel's quick win looked like a triumph, but after 40 years the war is still being fought and it looks like it may have been a pyrrhic victory.
22 basic suggested readings on the Middle East from history professor and informed commenter on Middle Eastern affairs Juan Cole.