Backgammon

A board game played in smoky cafes from Beirut to Baghdad. Backgammon’s earliest ancestor is five thousand years old and was unearthed in southern Iraq. Modern-day descendants teach players survival skills beyond the game: although luck is involved, strategy wins out in the long run. ‘Backgammon’ covers the state of play in the countries spanning the Fertile Crescent: Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq.



Mona Alami
Written by :
on : Thursday, 24 Jul, 2014

Business as Usual in Lebanon

Writer Michael Karam vacations every summer in his mountain house. He sits in his garden overlooking the verdant Bekfaya region typing his latest commentary on Lebanese politics and economic issues. But for creative people such as Karam, filing an article—which involves just a simple “click” in most countries—is no mean feat. His work is hindered by electricity cuts, his reliance on an unpredictable generator and an excruciatingly slow Internet connection. While Lebanon’s c...

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Hannah Lucinda Smith
Written by :
on : Thursday, 10 Jul, 2014

Dancing in Kirkuk

On a baking hot Monday afternoon just before the start of Ramadan, a group of teenagers filed into a dilapidated sports hall in Kirkuk. There was no air-conditioning and no watercooler, and the sweat dripped down their faces as they started to dance. But they beamed ecstatic smiles despite the heat and their exhaustion. “Whoever believes in Mohammed will be watching!” shouted Hassan Qadr by way of tough-love encouragement. The dancers barely needed reminding of that. The gro...

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Antonia Roupell
Written by :
on : Tuesday, 1 Jul, 2014

Nowhere to Call Home

“We are invisible here,” says Abu Leila, a Syrian refugee, as he stood in front of the ashes of his former camp. Like countless others, he and his family have fled the war ...

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Emma Pearson and Katie Welsford
on : Tuesday, 24 Jun, 2014

A Matter of Business in Syria

In a small, cramped room in the suburbs of Amman, a Homsi family of four gathers around two posters stuck to the white wall. The posters show downtown Homs—aerial photographs...

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Mona Alami
Written by :
on : Tuesday, 17 Jun, 2014

Exporting Lebanon’s Nightlife

In the early hours of the morning, glamorously dressed women climb on top of a table in one of Lebanon’s most fashionable nightclubs, dancing to the beat of the music streami...

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Hannah Lucinda Smith
Written by :
on : Wednesday, 11 Jun, 2014

The Flower Seller of Aleppo

“Flowers, I love flowers!” exclaims Krikor. “I used to skip school so I could go and pick flowers. Everyone in Aleppo knew me by my nickname—I was Krikor, the flowe...

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Nuri Kino
Written by :
on : Thursday, 5 Jun, 2014

Why All This Hatred?

Beirut—We are queuing at Starbucks. Documentary filmmaker Elyas Salameh asks me what I’d like and I ask him the same. To answer his question would have meant accepting his ...

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Antonia Roupell
Written by :
on : Thursday, 29 May, 2014

Fixed Poll, Mixed Support

Beirut—On May 28, tens of thousands of Syrians currently living in Lebanon went to vote in the upcoming Syrian presidential election. The unprecedented turnout that followed ...

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James Denselow
Written by :
on : Tuesday, 27 May, 2014

Today’s Friends, Tomorrow’s Enemies?

The Syrian government’s capture of Homs, the so-called ‘capital of the revolution,’ and Bashar Al-Assad’s inevitable victory in the upcoming presidential “election” app...

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Emma Pearson and Katie Welsford
on : Monday, 19 May, 2014

Shaking Off Donor Fatigue

When it comes to Syria, the numbers are painful. Every day, the tolls rise—of the wounded, the tortured, the displaced, the detained, the missing and the dead. But number...

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