Berlin’s Little Syria

By opening restaurants in the new countries where they have settled, Syrian refugees have recreated familiar spaces for eating and socializing.  The popularity of Syrian restaurants outside of Syria might in some ways ease the pain of exile especially as they offer comfort food served the way it was back in Syria. I was recently […]

Bab Al-Harah

While the civil war rages in Syria, the Old City of Damascus with its enticing courtyard houses and familiar Damascene characters remain popular in the Arab world. The Syrian TV series Bab Al-Harah (Neighborhood Gate) was one such Ramadan offering this year, but was less innovative or daring than The President’s Shadow, which I discussed […]

Ramadan TV

Every year during the month of Ramadan, dozens of new and exciting Arab TV serials are shown on the numerous satellite stations in the Arab speaking world.  They showcase the best and most innovative of Arab TV and bring back to the small screen favorite Arab actors. There were over twenty new series this year […]

Women in the Middle East Take a Stand

The 2016 edition of the Arab Human Development Report by the UNDP highlighted the challenges of reporting on young women in the region. The report’s authors encountered objections to their nuanced depiction of women in the region. Their examination of how young women, who were subject to prevailing norms, found ways to circumvent societal forces […]

Dream Factories in the Time of War

On Sunday, February 26, 2017, the Arab world held elections—anyone who had access to a cell phone and wanted to pay the extra fee to send an SMS could vote.  Arab Idol is one of the most watched programs for Arabic speakers around the world and anyone can vote. Over 100 million viewers watched the […]

The Wall and the Chicken

There is an ancient wall that surrounds the Old City of Damascus.  It remains largely intact which is a remarkable feat since it took its current shape from the Romans.  The Romans, master builders of the ancient world, constructed solid walls to defend cities and keep out the undesirables.  They also built them to last, […]