Culture

Mohammad-Reza Shajarian (centre) performing on stage with the Shahnaz Ensemble in Dubai in February 2011 (photo: AP)

Music and power in Iran

An instrument of propaganda and control

In her essay, Maria Koomen examines the important role played by music in the history of Iran, in particular since the Islamic revolution of 1979More

Sign and logo of the Hakawati bookshop in Amman (photo: Claudia Mende)

The Hakawati bookshop for children and young people in Amman

Huge appetite for exciting stories

Since opening ten years ago, the Hakawati bookshop in Amman has become an institution in the Jordanian capital. Nowhere else in the city offers such a wealth of books for children and young people. Claudia Mende took a look around this fascinating shopMore

The British-Pakistani author Nadeem Aslam at lit.cologne in Cologne (photo: picture-alliance/dpa)

Interview with Nadeem Aslam

Shadows of the past

"The Blind Man's Garden" is the fourth novel to be published by the British–Pakistani author Nadeem Aslam. In this book, he returns to the days, weeks and months immediately following 9/11 and relates them from the perspective of a Pakistani family that is subsequently drawn into the ensuing war in Afghanistan. Claudia Kramatschek spoke to Aslam about his new novelMore

A woman photographs one of Istanbul's new rainbow steps (photo: AFP/Getty Images)

Art and protest in Turkey

Poking fun at the sultan

For about a year now, Turkey has been experiencing one of its worst ever political crises. It is a situation that has given the country's art scene a chance to flourish and to exercise its creativity in protest. However, such activity often entails the risk of serious consequences. By Senada Sokollu in IstanbulMore

Mansoura Ez-Eldin (photo: Arian Fariborz)

Interview with the Egyptian author Mansoura Ez-Eldin

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"The current situation is untenable"

For the renowned Egyptian journalist and writer Mansoura Ez-Eldin, the revolution of 2011 provided literary fodder for essays, short stories and now a new novel. Arian Fariborz spoke with her in CairoMore

Portrait of the Turkish painter Osman Hamdi Bey with his daughter Nazli (photo: Cretanforever)

Turkish art in Germany

A reading Arab pulls in the crowds

His paintings fetch record sums in Turkey. Now the works of Osman Hamdi Bey are pulling in the crowds at Berlin's Alte Nationalgalerie, much to the delight of its young director. By Julia VossMore

Young people in Darband, northern Tehran (photo: Massoud Schirazi)

Iranian cinema

Shining a light on inner conflicts

"Darband" and "Sar be Mohr" are two new Iranian films that offer profound insights into the lives of young urban Iranians, highlighting their inner conflicts and the turmoil that is tearing many of them apart. Massoud Schirazi went to see both films in TeheranMore

Tammam Azzam's "Freedom Graffiti" (photo: The Ayyam Gallery)

Syrian painter and digital artist Tammam Azzam

"I, the Syrian"

"I, the Syrian" is the title of an exhibition by Tammam Azzam that was held in Beirut and London in early 2014. Selected works from his project now feature in various international art exhibits. Martina Sabra met and spoke with the Syrian painter and digital artist in BeirutMore

Bandista in concert at the SO36 in Berlin (photo: Ceyda Nurtsch)

The Turkish music collective Bandista

"Every resistance movement has its own voice"

The music collective Bandista combines ska, dub and ethno sounds with a left-wing political message. With their catchy melodies and rhythms, they have become an essential part of street protests in Turkey. By Ceyda NurtschMore

Arabic calligraphy (photo: Fotolia/Ivan Montero)

The Arab world

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Arabic: the last tie that binds

In terms of politics, economics, religion and culture, the paths of the Arab states diverge. The once proclaimed unity between them has been consigned to the history books. Only one thing still binds them together: the Arabic language. By Kersten KnippMore

Poster for the film "Ladder to Damascus" by Mohammad Malas

Mohammad Malas's film "Ladder to Damascus"

Between dream and disaster

In his new film, "Ladder to Damascus", the renowned Syrian filmmaker Mohammad Malas has succeeded in portraying the whole tragedy of the Syrian conflict without depicting any scenes of violence. By Charlotte BankMore

The Indonesian writer Andrea Hirata poses with the German translation of his book "The Rainbow Troops" (photo: picture-alliance/dpa)

Andrea Hirata's novel "The Rainbow Troops"

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One novel; two very different versions

Andrea Hirata's novel "The Rainbow Troops" is the first Indonesian novel to become an international bestseller. Interestingly, the version available outside Indonesia is very different to the one familiar to Indonesian readers. Bettina David explores whyMore

Ibrahim Nehme, editor-in-chief of "The Outpost" (photo: Ieva Saudargaite)gaite

The Lebanese magazine "The Outpost"

Road map to an uncensored world

The pan-Arab magazine "The Outpost" is produced on a quarterly basis in Beirut. Only one year after its establishment, it is already attracting international attention. Astrid Kaminski took a closer look at the magazine and spoke to its editor-in-chief, Ibrahim Nehme, about its successMore

Screenshot with the logo of the Syrian Writers Association

Syria's opposition writers

Fighting oppression and censorship

Syrian writers in exile have founded a new association. Their aim is to continue their country's rich literary tradition and to use the pen to fight for political and cultural change and freedom of speech in Syria. By Joseph CroitoruMore

Cover of the book "Contemporary Artists – Arab World" (source: Steidl-Verlag)

Book review: "Contemporary Artists – Arab World"

Perceptions of reality

The book "Contemporary Artists – Arab World" shows how different Arab artists have reacted to the upheaval in their countries. By Kersten KnippMore

Baran Kosari and Navid Mohammadzadeh in a still from the Iranian film "Asabani Nistam!" (I'm not angry!)

Interview with Iranian filmmaker Reza Dormishian

The rage of an entire generation on screen

The film "Asabani Nistam!" (I'm not angry!) was the only Iranian entry at this year's Berlinale film festival. On screen, young Iranians vent their anger and frustration at the day-to-day economic hardship and the general hopelessness of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's term as president. Igal Avidan spoke to the director and producer Reza DormishianMore

Ounsi el-Hage (photo: AFP/Getty Images)

Obituary: Lebanese poet Ounsi el-Hage

One of the founders of Arab surrealism

Last month, the Lebanese poet Ounsi el-Hage died at the age of 77. Alongside Adonis and Mahmoud Darwish, he was one of the pioneers of modern Arabic poetry. An obituary by Suleman TaufiqMore

Still from the documentary "Iranien" (photo: Berlinale)

Mehran Tamadon's documentary "Iranien"

A bold experiment

In Mehran Tamadon's new documentary, the director enters into a debate with four loyal supporters of the regime, who better him in every aspect of the discussion. Igal Avidan saw the film at the BerlinaleMore

Photo of a Nemashim theatre production entitled "Remembering the return to Haifa" (photo: Flickr.com)

Book review: Uri Shani's "Nemashim" theatre project

Creating a level playing field

In his book, the Israeli theatre director and drama teacher Uri Shani describes the ups and downs of an Arab–Hebrew community theatre project known as "Nemashim". Julie Schwannecke read the book and spoke with the authorMore

Young Palestinians with their skateboards on the new skater ramp in Qalqilya(photo: Laura Overmeyer)

The X-Games skaters in Palestine

If at first you don't succeed

The city of Qalqilya in the north-west of the West Bank is walled in on three sides by the Israeli separation barrier. A group of young local skaters called the "X-Games" is fighting for more space, freedom of movement and a way to break out of the stuffy, conservative atmosphere. Laura Overmeyer reports from QalqilyaMore

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