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Lebanon Still Overshadowed by Oblivion As Port Blast Aftermath Enters Fourth Year

Art has played an influential role in making sense of the loss felt after the August 4 explosion. Tom Young’s “Strong Angels” and other paintings show a human dimension of the tragedy and its civilian heroes, who “join forces to lift the city’s grief,” writes Darine Houmani of Diffah Three (The New Arab). “Despite all its devastation, the August 4 explosion brought greater impetus to preserve our heritage and brought about a database of our historical buildings that hadn’t been done before,” states Mona Hallak, an architect, heritage activist, and director of the American University of Beirut’s Neighborhood Initiative, as cited in The New Arab. Several weighed in on the rebuilding efforts, including Lebanese architect Jad Tabet, who proposed “rehabilitation” rather than “reconstruction,” focusing on preserving the city’s existing social fabric and inhabitants alongside the architecture (for further reading on Jad Tabet and architectural heritage, see Al Jadid, Vol. 4, No, 25, Fall 1998; Vol. 5, No. 26, Winter 1999; and Vol. 24, No. 79, 2020). As art historian and gallery owner Andrée Sfeir-Semler says, “You need to nourish people with art and culture because that is what feeds their souls.”

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A Multifaceted Diaspora: New History Explores the Many Reasons for 20th Century Exodus of Egyptian Jewry

By 
Al Jadid Staff
 
Once home to as many as 75,000 Jews, today’s Egypt has a sparse population, with only nine Jewish Egyptians living in the country in 2021, according to the Jewish Virtual Library. Dr. Muhammad Abu al-Ghar’s new book, “The Jews of Egypt in the Twentieth Century: How They Lived and Why They Left” (Dar al-Shorouk, 2021, 476 pp) addresses the departure of Jews from the country from the early to mid-19th century to the present.

The State of Arab Journalism: Emile Menhem’s Dynamic Blend of Text and Visual Aesthetics Modernizes the Arab Newsroom

By 
Naomi Pham

Graphic design played a significant role in the evolution of Arab newsprint. Arab graphic design historians locate this art’s roots deep in the region’s visual heritage, drawing from its history of calligraphy, geometric compositions, motifs, and colors. However, the field itself is relatively new, emerging as a discipline only in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Graphic design now plays a widespread role in everyday life, whether in public architecture or the design of everyday items. 


Emile Menhem: Invigorating Arab Journalism Through Graphic Design
By Lara Balaa
Khatt Books, 2019

Jabbour Douaihy (1949-2021): His Literary Legacy a ‘Memory Lane’ of Lebanese Life

By 
Elie Chalala

Despite his battle against leukemia, Jabbour Douaihy's death at age 72 on July 23 came suddenly, a surprise to even some of his acquaintances. Douaihy wrote several novels throughout his life, and though he never intended this role, critics and friends regarded him as the narrator of Lebanese life. He wrote about aspects of Lebanese life that history books could only dream of capturing, detailing Lebanon throughout its various historical moments to its current state of dystopian ruin and collapse, a world seen vividly in his last novel, "Poison in the Air.”

Lebanese Government Brought to Reckoning on the Anniversary of Beirut Port Explosion

By 
Elie Chalala

Victims of the devastating Beirut port explosion have no answers or justice, even a full year after the disaster. According to Human Rights Watch, the August 2020 explosion at Beirut port’s hangar 12 decimated the significant sectors of the city, killing 218 people, injuring 7,000, and displacing 300,000. Despite protests from victims to find those responsible for the explosion, efforts to investigate have been thwarted repeatedly. Lebanon’s legal and political systems have allowed the officials responsible to avoid accountability, benefiting from a lack of judicial independence, immunity provided by existing laws, lack of respect for fair trial standards, and due process violations. As the Lebanese government continues to prove itself incapable of delivering justice, Human Rights Watch recently published a report covering evidence revealed in the 127-page report, “‘They Killed Us from the Inside’: An Investigation into the August 4 Beirut Blast” and calls for an international investigation.

Habermas vs. the Sheikh Zayed Book Award: An Intellectual or Soft Power Conflict!

By 
Michael Teague

Jürgen Habermas's decision to reject the Sheikh Zayed Book Award's "Cultural Personality of the Year" prize set off a heated debate in the Arab press. The most famous remaining representative of the second generation of the Frankfurt school, despite his considerable bibliography, Habermas was not well-known at the popular level in the Arab world. After his initial acceptance and then rejection of the Sheikh Zayed award, however, intellectuals in the employ of the United Arab Emirates criticized the German philosopher vociferously. 

Can a Nation Plagued by Mass Corruption, Decaying Institutions, and Rabid Sectarianism Deliver Justice For those Lost and Victimized by the August Explosion?

By 
Elie Chalala

One cannot miss the irony of the Lebanese officials allegedly responsible for what is possibly the third or fourth largest non-nuclear explosion in the world hiding behind “immunity” from a crime that claimed over 207 people and injured 6,000, while devastating large parts of the Lebanese capital. The Beirut Port explosion in August 2020 measured about one-twentieth the size of Hiroshima’s atomic bomb, according to the BBC. As its one-year anniversary approaches, many Lebanese are still struggling to hold accountable those responsible for the blast.

Important, Sometimes Controversial Iraqi Poet Saadi Youssef (1934 - 2021) Requests a ‘Funeral Without Mourners’

By 
Elie Chalala
 
The legendary and controversial Iraqi poet Saadi Youssef died at 87 in his Harefield home outside of London on June 12 from lung cancer. The poet, whose multitude of works encompassed poetry, prose, literary criticism, translation, and memoir, leaves decades’ worth of work penned in exile and translated into several languages, among them English, French, German, and Italian.

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