Discover Stories

Our stories increase cross-cultural understanding by broadening knowledge of the people, cultures, histories and geography of the Arab and Muslim worlds and their global connections.


The Quest for Blue

The Quest for Blue

Rare in nature and difficult to extract from minerals, blue eluded artisans for centuries until Egyptians invented the world’s first synthetic pigment. Formulas for blues from cobalt and indigo followed, and the results have delighted our eyes and evoked the sacred, the royal, the opulent and the mysterious ever since. And the quest is not over.
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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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Shanidar Cave Yields New Signs of Neanderthal Emotions

Shanidar Cave Yields New Signs of Neanderthal Emotions

Traces of flowers in a Neanderthal grave found 45 years ago in northern Iraq led to a theory that even the earliest humans may have expressed emotions in ritual. In 2016 archeologists returned: Could new finds lend support to the theory, or not?
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Spice Migrations: Pepper

Spice Migrations: Pepper

It is the most common spice on tables around the world today, and for centuries, growing and trading the round corns of Piper nigrum—black pepper—created wealth, from pepper’s monsoon-watered origins in India to all of Asia, East Africa and Mediterranean Europe.
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Hi Jolly – Uncle Sam’s Camel Captain

Hi Jolly – Uncle Sam’s Camel Captain

As a young man in Ottoman Turkey, Hadji Ali became an expert camel handler. In 1857 he accepted the US Army’s offer to assist its deployment of camels in the southwestern deserts, where his name was Americanized to “Hi Jolly.” His skills proved valuable, and yet he died penniless. Today his memory endures in legend as much as in fact—and on one miniature pyramid in Arizona.
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Flavors: Spicy Bean Soup

Flavors: Spicy Bean Soup

There were several meat dishes, so I asked if I could eat only non-meat ones. They were happy for that and charged very little—perhaps because the meat dishes were the centerpiece. This bean soup, harira, is often made with lamb, but this is a meatless version. I sometimes add peas or other veg to use them up. 
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Discover Video

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Iftar Potluck in Baltimore

  • 04:20
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El Seed Time-lapse Houston, Texas

  • 00:47
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How to make Harisa

  • 02:36
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Camels and Culture–A Celebration

  • 06:25
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A Meeting with Norman MacDonald

  • 05:36
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Migrant Cuisine of Marseille

  • 02:15
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How To Use an Astrolabe

  • 07:47

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