Culture

Could Phoenicians Have Crossed the Atlantic?

Could Phoenicians Have Crossed the Atlantic?

Two thousand years before Columbus and 1,500 before Erikson, the Phoenician maritime empire covered the Mediterranean and west to the Canary Islands. In 2019 a replica Phoenician ship set its sail to find out if they could have gone farther.

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Preserving Arabia’s Bedouin Poetry

Preserving Arabia’s Bedouin Poetry

Throughout central Saudi Arabia, Bedouin tribal histories and folklore lie largely in oral poetry known as Nabati. In 1989, diplomat and linguist Marcel Kurpershoek set out to meet poets and record their verses. It became a lifetime project that continues to illuminate roots of the Arabic language and Arabian Peninsula cultures.

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Pinisi Boats Sail into the Future

Pinisi Boats Sail into the Future

Masterpieces of a wooden-boat tradition from the center of the 5,200-kilometer-wide Indonesian archipelago, pinisi schooners are both unique and related to the Arab dhows and European sailing ships that preceded them on the waters that link the region’s thousands of islands. Using memory, 
not blueprints, pinisi shipwrights build each boat by hand.
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The Alhambras of Latin America

The Alhambras of Latin America

From the 1860s to the 1930s, architects throughout South America and the Caribbean took inspirations from the Islamic design heritage of southern Spain, where the most inspiring building of all proved to be the Alhambra palace.

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Jute, The Future’s Golden Fiber

Jute, The Future’s Golden Fiber

Jute grows in tropical wetlands worldwide but nowhere as organic and plentiful as the deltas of Bangladesh and India, where its golden-hued fibers are inspiring a new generation of biodegradable products from carpets to car seats, clothing to “bioplastic” grocery bags.
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Prince of Enchantment: The 'Ud

Prince of Enchantment: The 'Ud

Often regarded as the forerunner and name- sake of the European lute, the ‘ud (oud), is among the world’s oldest continuously played string instruments. In Arab and other musical traditions, its deeply resonant, emotionally evocative tones earned it, over the centuries, the sobriquet amir al-tararb.
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The Hidden Treasures of Nubia

The Hidden Treasures of Nubia

To the south of ancient Egypt, there was another civilization, at times a rival, at times a vassal, and always a source for coveted gold: Nubia, which rose to its peak of conquest 2,700 years ago when its king, Piye, sailed an army down the Nile.
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Gahwa Renaissance

Gahwa Renaissance

Preparing, serving and sipping gahwa—the Arabic word for coffee—is a ritual steeped in centuries of hospitality. In December in Abu Dhabi, the inaugural Gahwa Championships honored not only tradition but also innovation.

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Sepak Takraw Takes Flight

Sepak Takraw Takes Flight

Take the Malay word for kick and pair it with the Thai word for a hollow, woven ball and you have sepak takraw, the name of the acrobatic, lightning-fast Southeast Asian sport in which players use feet, legs, chest and head—no hands—to power a ball over a badminton-style net. (Think “kick volleyball.”) It’s been played across the region for more than three centuries, and recent decades have brought international agreements on rules that have led in turn to local and national leagues, tournaments in schools and capitals—all pushing sepak takraw onto an increasingly global sports stage. With more than two dozen countries now fielding national teams, the sport’s leading promoters have set their eyes on the Olympics.
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