Culture

The Future’s Golden Fiber

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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The Middle East on a Plate

The Middle East on a Plate

His roadside discovery of a discarded Lebanese license plate kindled the author’s 30-year passion for license plates from the Middle East and North Africa. Along the way, he often found pleasant and humorous stories, as well as bright artifacts of the diversity of daily life.
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Tinariwen's Sahara Blues

Tinariwen's Sahara Blues

Coming out of the struggles of post colonial desert Africa, Tuareg band Tinariwen adapted blues rock ‘n‘ roll guitars to North African traditions. The result has been nearly four decades of a sound that has inspired an entire genre of “desert blues,” in which themes of loss, home, hope and unity transcend language for audiences around the world.
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Texting Cuneiform

Texting Cuneiform

The world’s first palm-sized tablets were made of clay, and they had enough surface for only a few wedge-shaped impressions of a reed stylus. That was how students in Sumer—all boys—learned to write cuneiform. Those who did well could upgrade to bigger clay and go into accounting, law or literature.
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Washington’s Museum of Palestine

Washington’s Museum of Palestine

What started as a traveling exhibit of history, culture and art opened this year as one of the newest museums in Washington, dc, in a former residence in the Adams Morgan neighborhood.
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