Congratulations dear Omar Sabbagh! I had the pleasure to read your Dubai Novella and write a back book cover blurb.
Hakim, a Pakistani taxi driver whizzing through the streets. Patrick, a Ugandan security guard with aspirations of becoming a writer. Farida, a Moroccan beautician hoping for a fresh start. Saeed, a respected Emirati journalist just back from London.
Taking place across the last few days of Ramadan, Minutes from the Miracle City is a unique retelling of the virtuoso project that is Dubai.
Note: Here is the detailed version of my blurb: Omar Sabbagh’s Miracle City is a delightful kaleidoscopic tale of contemporary Dubai through the struggles and identity crises of migrants and locals’ characters living at the crossroads of tradition, postmodernity, and glocalization. A feast for the reader’s eye and soul!
مداخلتي منذ قليل في برنامج شبابيك (التلفزيون العربي، لندن) عن حقوق المرأة في الخليج وأسباب هروب فتيات و نساء إلى الخارج. خلاصة القول: لقد عملت هذه الدول في السنوات الأخيرة على سد الفجوة بين الجنسين (التمكين السياسي والتعليم والصحة) ولكن يجب اصلاح عدة قوانين (الأحوال الشخصية، الوصاية…) وتفكيك الذهنية الأبوية
Alaraby TV (London – UK), Chababik program, 19-02-2019 Full Interview HERE
For those interested in food and education: this article introduces its readers to an interdisciplinary approach in teaching and learning about cultures of Southwestern Asia and North Africa at the American University in Dubai. Selected as one of the United Arab Emirates Innovation Week’s officially registered activities in 2015, this activity combines anthropology of food, sciences of religions, and irenology and is a major application of the peace education pedagogy I have been developing since 2004. The article also presents the preliminary results of qualitative research on the local food cultures’ experiences of more than 500 students from different backgrounds who are enrolled in diverse Middle Eastern studies courses. In my classrooms, students were exposed to—and they told—stories of families, migrations, assimilation, resistance, hybridity, war, and peace and dealt with issues ranging from cultural appropriation to food security and food as an identity marker and the religious significance and representation of food. Class activities such as live food production (e.g., “Hummus Laboratory”), food storytelling sessions, and food diplomacy activities contributed to their learning of local cultures and building peace. Students reported having acquired visceral experiences of foreignness and familiarization, global identity formation, and intercultural dialogue.
The International Conference “A Century of Migration, Displacement and Diaspora: Demographic Shifts in the Arab World 1917-2017” convened in Limassol-Cyprus (November 30- December 3, 2017) and was hosted by the Bethlehem-based Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture in collaboration with the Christian Academic Forum for Citizenship in the Arab World (CAFCAW).
The first session on Lebanon and Syria introduced the audience to the refugee crisis in Lebanon, and forced migration and international law with a special focus on the Syrian refugee crisis. The second session on Sweden was about the identity and mission of expatriate/diaspora Churches from the Middle East, and the work with asylum seekers and newly settled persons in the Church of Sweden’s Parishes in 2015 and 2016. The third session, dedicated to Germany and Austria, tackled the issues of border discourses, asylum and neo-colonial modernity and Arab refugees in Europe (the German case), Palestinian refugees from Lebanon in Germany – narratives, realities, perspectives: the case of Berlin in the 1980s, a study of failed integration and its consequences -, and Middle Eastern communities in Austria after 2015. The fourth session was about Egypt with a focus on Coptic migrants – immigration and diversity of discourses, followed by “The Parrot” film screening produced by Deema Azar on stories of displacement in 1948 Palestine. The fifth session on the Gulf included the following topics: Art, Peace and Migration in Dubai – the title of my paper -; and Economic migration in the Arabian Gulf: The religious and socio-cultural impact off the Expatriate Church in a multi-national community. The sixth session was about the presentation of the findings of the latest poll regarding the migration of Palestinians from the West Bank. The seventh session was about migration viewed from Europe and the US, and the Humanitarian Corridors project. The last session was dedicated to a Youth Forum on Migration.
Scholars, researchers and activists sparked multilayered debates on current migration situations, dynamics and perceptions in Southwestern Asia, North Africa, Europe and North America. Panel discussions broke away from the norm and shook up the audience. Stories of empowerment, empathy and cooperation were shared, as well as stories of discrimination, exploitation and marginalization. Certainly, the conference organizers succeeded in facilitating meaningful interchanges of varied viewpoints and brought the participants to a place where they felt confident in expressing their opinions while recognizing the fact that there was still so much that needed to be done.