Saudi Arabia and the Dangers of Cultural Reformation

Western absurdities and sinful projects. The Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) certainly had a colorful way of describing cinemas and concerts in a bulletin it issued on June 1st. The terrorist organization condemned Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for “opening the door wide for corruption and moral degradation” with his plan of … More Saudi Arabia and the Dangers of Cultural Reformation

Iran, Turkey and Trying to Make Friends with “Terrorists”

It is not uncommon for political enemies to end up becoming allies. Middle Eastern politics are at a historic juncture right now, with long-standing alliances being shaken up and new deals being brokered between fervent enemies. UN Security Council Resolution 2231 incorporates the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, informally known as the Iran nuclear deal, into international law, finally opening up … More Iran, Turkey and Trying to Make Friends with “Terrorists”

More than a Song: Domestic Violence Tackled in Elissa’s Ya Merayti

 Lebanese superstar Elissa’s most recent music video is also her most serious: “Ya Merayti” (“My Mirror”) features Elissa as a domestic abuse survivor. Shunning the romantic lovey-dovey storylines popular with Arab music videos the clip, shot on location in Serbia, brings to light a problem that is all too familiar for plenty of Arab women, yet, … More More than a Song: Domestic Violence Tackled in Elissa’s Ya Merayti

Ramadan Kareem! A look at Mosques Around the World

First of all, a very happy Ramadan (Ramadan Kareem) to the Muslim ummah! Ramadan is a very special time, one of contemplation, community, charity, celebration and, most of all, faith. It’s a time of sacrifice and solidarity, peace and perseverance; a time to ask forgiveness for one’s sins. In honor of the start of Ramadan, … More Ramadan Kareem! A look at Mosques Around the World

‘Happy’ Videos Take over the Middle East

Pharrell Williams’ song ‘Happy,’ which I love, is everywhere. The phenomenon of groups of people (often by city) filming themselves dancing to the song has spread around the world, and the world’s Muslims and Middle Easterners are not to be left out. Of course, much like that now-infamous ‘Mipsterz in America’ video that featured trendy … More ‘Happy’ Videos Take over the Middle East

Predictions and Resolutions for the Middle East: 2014

 2013 proved to be yet another turbulent and dramatic year for the nations of the Middle East. Protesters have continued to keep the area volatile; the Syrian Civil War has continued to shed blood and uproot its citizens and it appears, reflecting back on my past years’ resolutions for the Middle East, that none of … More Predictions and Resolutions for the Middle East: 2014

Film Review: Wadjda

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of heading down to the Angelika Film Center (my first time!) to see the film Wadjda, director Haifaa Mansour’s debut full-length feature film and the first feature film shot on location in Saudi Arabia. With superb acting and brilliantly shot scenes depicting Riyadh, as well as an inspirational plot … More Film Review: Wadjda