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Posts Tagged ‘middle east’

Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Visitors play music and talk together in a Cairo, Egypt, bookshop where the new “scream room” is found.

There’s a rather unusual bookstore in Cairo: one that offers customers a room where, if they feel the need to scream, they can just let it rip. No charge for ten minutes.

“Visitors to a bookshop in Cairo are being invited into a dark, soundproof room to scream at the top of their lungs in an effort to relieve their frustrations and escape from the stresses of daily life.

“The new ‘scream room’ is tucked away in the ‘The World’s Door’ bookshop and is also equipped with a full drum kit allowing customers to let go of their worries …

“Owner AbdelRahman Saad offers each visitor ten minutes inside the private scream room, free of charge. He believes it is the first room of its kind in the Middle East.

” ‘I entered it at a time when I was really stressed and came out much more relaxed,’ said frequent visitor Mohamed el-Debbaby. ‘What’s even better is that I was able to find solutions to the problem I was facing.” More here.

(Reporting by Reuters Television; Writing by Adela Suliman; Editing by Patrick Johnston/Jeremy Gaunt)

Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Mohamed el-Debbaby, a dentist, screams in a soundproof room inside a bookshop in Cairo in an effort to escape from the stresses of daily life.

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What would it be like to live in an earth dome? The California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture (Cal-Earth) can help you check out the concept for a day or a weekend or the 12-15 weeks it will take to teach you to build a dome home. Maybe you’d rather settle for building just a “rocket stove mass heater.” Cal-Earth can teach you to do that, too. Hesperia, California, is the place. (Although Cal-Earth’s mailing address is Claremont, near Suzanne’s alma mater.)

From the website: “Superadobe technology was designed and developed by architect Nader Khalili and Cal-Earth Institute, and engineered by P.J. Vittore. Superadobe is a patented system (U.S. patent #5,934,027) freely put at the service of humanity and the environment.”

The television station KCET has more. Reporter Kim Stringfellow says, “As a humanitarian, architect and teacher, Khalili developed the Superadobe building technique incorporating a tubular sandbagging system filled with locally sourced earth that are reinforced with a barbed wire technology and stabilized lime, cement, or asphalt that is locally produced. Dwellings can be used temporarily or may be stabilized, waterproofed, and finished with plaster to create a permanent building. Originally from Iran, Khalili’s structures and building techniques are inspired and informed by centuries of earth building found throughout the Middle East and North Africa. He also is known for his Geltaftan Earth-and-Fire construction system which as also known as Ceramic Houses. ”

Tell me this is not a hobbit house.

Photo: Geoff Lawton 

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In a recent NY Times article, art critic Holland Cotter expressed skepticism that a show of new artists lumped together as “Arab” could work. (Some artists declined to participate for the same  reason.)  The artists in the New Museum exhibit are from “Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates, not to mention Europe and the United States.”

But in the end, he was thrilled with the opportunity to see the new works.

“It’s a big show, intricately pieced together on all five floors of the museum, and starts on the street-level facade with a large-scale photograph of an ultra-plush Abu Dhabi hotel. The image was installed by the cosmopolitan collective called GCC, made up of eight artists scattered from Dubai to London and New York who make it their business to focus on the preposterous wealth concentrated in a few hands in a few oil-rich countries on the Persian Gulf.”

Cotter goes on to describe many of the pieces in detail, here, and concludes with some advice for visitors.

“To appreciate this show fully, a little homework can’t hurt. But really all you need to do is be willing to linger, read labels and let not-knowing be a form of bliss. In return, you’ll get wonderful artists, deep ideas, fabulous stories and the chance, still too seldom offered by our museums, to be a global citizen. Don’t pass it up.”

The show will be up until September 28.

Photo: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

“Here and Elsewhere” show at the New Museum

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When wars are not going on in the Palestinian territories, people try to live normal lives.

Megan Kelly writes at Global Envision that “in recent years, business development and entrepreneurship programs surfaced … and suddenly there was an influx of people trying to start their own business …

“However, many of the programs put in place lacked follow-through. Entrepreneurs were left to sink or swim on their own. ‘It was like walking them to a cliff,’ explains Samin Malik, coordinator of Women’s Empowerment Programs at Tomorrow’s Youth Organization based in Nablus. So TYO took a different approach …

“TYO’s Women’s Incubation Services for Entrepreneurs (WISE) brought back six businesses that had developed a foundation from their initial women’s entrepreneurship program—Fostering Women Entrepreneurs in Nablus—and recruited nine additional female entrepreneurs by running advertisements in local newspapers, radio, and on Facebook. The requirements were simple—businesses had to have a foundation or business plan already completed, and had to be based in the northern West Bank.

“Candidates who responded to ads underwent two rounds of interviews, designed not only to determine the entrepreneur’s eligibility for the program, but also to assess her strengths and needs moving forward. Partnering with the Small Enterprise Center, TYO sent their final 15 candidates to one-on-one coaching early in the process in order to set their women up for targeted support and success. Additionally, the year-long incubation project will provide marketing, access to capital, and financial-growth trainings, as well as business English and social-media training facilitated by last year’s Palestinian TechWomen delegation. …

“By serving as a support system to the businesswomen, Samin and Inas Badawi—a local Palestinian—provide examples of female-to-female support that is uncommon in Nablus, and try to foster the same sense of encouragement between the women they work with.”

More.

Photograph: Ammar Awad/Reuters/File
Palestinian women sit together at a newly opened upscale Italian cafe in the West Bank city of Ramallah in July 2012. Tomorrow’s Youth Organization serves as a support system to Palestinian businesswomen, encouraging new enterprises.

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Last night I went to a jazz benefit for the nonprofit Kids4Peace Boston, which sponsors a summer camp and other events for children of three faiths — Christian, Muslim, and Jewish. The children are from both the United States and Jerusalem and are 11 to 12. Read more about the program here.

The fundraising event was held in the Grand Circle Gallery in Boston, which features magnificent travel posters and travel photography from the 1930s and 1940s. The entertainment was provided by Indian vocalist Annette Philip and her jazz quartet. Very impressive.

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I like reading about street art and what motivates the creative outbursts. I have blogged on this before (Slinkachu, Banksy).

The Art Newspaper recently did quite a long feature on street art inspired by (and inspiring) the Arab Spring.

Anny Shaw and Gareth Harris interview “Hans Ulrich Obrist of London’s Serpentine Gallery, who is chairing a discussion on art patronage in the Middle East as part of a summit at the British Museum and the Royal College of Art (12-13 January).”

” ‘What is interesting to see in Egypt, and in all these countries, is that artists are not only going out into the city, they also become agents of change in society. … If you think about it in terms of the Russian Revolution and Mayakovsky saying “the streets are our brushes, the squares our palettes,” it’s about art going beyond the museum and blurring the boundaries between art and life.’

“Obrist also notes that there is a long-standing tradition, particularly in Egypt, of contemporary artists using the street to mount performances or install works. Indeed, several contemporary Egyptian artists, including Susan Hefuna and Hassan Khan, have used the city as a site for their work, both before and in response to the uprising. …

“As Anthony Downey, the director of contemporary art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London, editor of ibraaz.org and a speaker at the summit says, the region has ‘antecedents in graffiti-based pro­tests,’ citing those against the Shah of Iran before his flight from Tehran in 1979 and the graffiti and posters used in Beirut during the civil war in Lebanon.”

What a hoot that this art has been taken up by auction houses like Sotheby’s! But on the whole it’s good for the artists. I know what a great moment it was when the favela artists from Brazil were able to sell their work in the movie Waste Land.

Read more here.

 

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Gene Sharp (founder of the Albert Einstein Institution and the go-to guy on nonviolent revolution) is proof that one and one and 50 make a million. Sharp is one man, but his writings have had a powerful influence on many of the players in the 2011 Arab Spring and democracy movements elsewhere.

Today I went with Jane’s family to see a movie about Sharp at the Boston Film Festival. (Jane’s cousin, Ruaridh Arrow, directed it.) It’s a remarkable film. There were interviews with organizers of nonviolent change in Serbia, Ukraine, Egypt, Syria, and beyond. The documentary was interspersed with news footage and video from recent uprisings around the world. A key message is that change takes strategic planning (you can’t wing it) and is a kind of armed resistance, only people are armed with ideas for undermining the pillars that support an oppressive regime. In addition to conducting research on the subject of nonviolence, Sharp has offered a list of 198 techniques that effect change.

After a standing ovation, a frail Gene Sharp, 83, his assistant, Jamila Raqib, and nonviolent-change trainer Col. Robert Helvey, retired, came up on the stage with the director and took audience questions. Raqib was asked about the funding for the Albert Einstein Institution, which operates out of a small space in East Boston. She said that likely funders back off because the ideas do relate to overthrowing a government. The institution is struggling.

I wish you could have been there to hear a young woman stand up and say that she is Egyptian and took  part in the January uprising. She said the overthrow of the government was easy but the rebuilding is hard. She wanted to know if any studies had been done comparing the transitions to democracy of other uprisings. When Sharp said that studies had yet to be done, I couldn’t help thinking what a good use of new funding such research might be. The film itself was funded by large and small donations from around the world through Kickstarter, which I blogged about here. Perhaps it can kickstart nonviolent change elsewhere.

Update: Gene Sharp died at his home in East Boston on January 28, 2018. He was 90.

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