Cultural Connection

“Art has to be the best way to build trust between countries.” —Issa Touma, Syrian photographer. ‘Cultural Connection’ provides updates on the Arab and Iranian arts scene from writers across the Middle East and the Western world.



Clarissa Pharr
Written by :
on : Sunday, 22 Jun, 2014

Istanbul’s Open-Air Studio

“Every time I go back, whole neighborhoods are different,” says Beyza Boyacioglu. Boyacioglu, a Turkish filmmaker trained at the School of Visual Arts in New York, was discussing the shifting landscapes of her home city of Istanbul from a New York sublet in Brooklyn, where she was accompanying the tour of her recent documentary film. The film, Toñita’s, was created by Boyacioglu and fellow filmmaker Sebastian Diaz. It deals with themes of cultural preservation amid a rapidly ch...

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Tam Hussein
Written by :
on : Saturday, 14 Jun, 2014

Syria Speaks

When the revolution broke out in Syria, most Western media welcomed it as a genuine revolt of the people against an oppressive dictatorship. More than three years on, that narrative has shifted. Instead of cheering on the opposition, some analysts and policymakers are now debating whether it would be more effective to negotiate with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, a known quantity, instead of the myriad opposition groups. This reassessment and the increasingly violent nature of the conflic...

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Goos Hofstee
Written by :
on : Saturday, 7 Jun, 2014

The Power of Words

Mohamed Aly Talibab—he predominantly uses the name “Aly” in honor of his late father—is commonly described as a twenty-two-year-old musician and rapper. Yet “rapp...

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Tafline Laylin
Written by :
on : Wednesday, 28 May, 2014

Wheeling and Dealing Ottoman Stools

As she prepared for her final university project, Hala Smadi was eager to do something that would encourage local youths to strive for a life beyond just hanging out in coffee ...

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Antonia Roupell
Written by :
on : Sunday, 25 May, 2014

Arab short films showcased in Beirut

Colorful posters for the five-day Arab Short Film Festival are currently dotted around Beirut’s streets. They serve as a reminder to passers-by that the city, come what may, is a...

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Ati Metwaly
Written by :
on : Saturday, 3 May, 2014

A Pre-Islamic Hero in Painting

Renowned Egyptian artist Mostafa El-Razzaz is showcasing decades of artistic achievement with his latest solo exhibition, Antara and Day Dreaming, which opened at Cairo's Picas...

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Goos Hofstee
Written by :
on : Thursday, 1 May, 2014

The Art of Syria’s War

Distressing pictures of Syria are everywhere these days: photos of children lost in war-torn streets, of men trying to protect their families, of women crying over the bodies o...

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Clarissa Pharr
Written by :
on : Thursday, 17 Apr, 2014

Arab Art’s Social Adjustment

Over the past few years, a sharper lens has been focused on the Arab world’s contemporary arts and culture sectors. But as they have continued to grow across the region they ...

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Mina Al-Droubi
Written by :
on : Tuesday, 25 Mar, 2014

Heritage in the Right Hands

When US forces captured Saddam Hussein’s intelligence building in 2003, they accidentally uncovered a great treasure: a collection of centuries-old copies of the Torah and th...

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Goos Hofstee
Written by :
on : Wednesday, 19 Mar, 2014

A Canvas to Egypt’s Imagination

When, in the beginning of 2011, Egypt was swept up in the momentum of the Arab Spring, the atmosphere was one of hope and optimism. During those heady days in Tahrir Square, fe...

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