BEIRUT, Lebanon â The Palestinian poet and filmmaker Hind Shoufani moved to Dubai for the same reasons that have attracted millions of other expatriates to the glitzy emirate. In 2009, after decades in the storied and mercurial Arab capital cities of Damascus and Beirut and a sojourn in New York, she wanted to live somewhere stable and cosmopolitan where she also could earn a living. Five years later, sheâs won a devoted following for the Poeticians, a Dubai spoken-word literary performance collective she founded. The group has created a vibrant subculture of writers, all of them expats.
Not just a white elephant, after all HIS may not be the last laugh, but Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum is certainly laughing loudly. Four years ago his…
The trouble isn’t that Manhattan is changing. The trouble lies in what exactly it’s starting to become.
”Egypt is the only nation-state in the Arab world; the rest are just tribes with flags.” Thus declared Tahsin Bashir, well-known Egyptian diplomat, asserting the countries’ supremacy. He served in the 1960s under Nasser and subsequently Sadat and Mubarak, yet his view is one that is remarkably still shared by many folks reflecting a sense of superiority and dominance vis-à-vis the rest of the Arab world. Perhaps motivated by a dire present there is a need to constantly remind oneself that Egypt is the only country in the region that matters. In turn it follows that Cairo is the center of the Arab world, its shining light, a beacon of hope and progress in a sea of backwardness (provinciality, artificiality, the list is long). Not surprisingly a popular saying in Egypt “Masr Om Al Dunya” (Cairo — Masr denotes both the country and the city — is the mother of the world) evokes a Cairo-centric worldview that permeates its citizens psyche, or as historian Nasser Rabbat would argue an assertion of Egyptian “cosmo-centrism” (Rabbat, 2005).
Figure 1: Cairo, “Mother of the World.” As it appeared in 1984
And this is not just restricted to Egypt or Cairo. Indeed many observers from Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, those ancient centers of Arab/Moslem civilization, have similar views. And they are always, invariably, expressed in relation to the countries/cities in the Gulf region, whose perceived rise and dominance is chalked up to a mere blimp, an aberration because of oil, perpetuated through the rise of a nouveau riche populace lacking class, sophistication and the taste for the finer things in life. It will go away, so it is hoped, and the real centers will re-emerge again.
Urban Trends exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum, NYC.
Multimedia Entry on Dubai.
A multimedia section from “Mapping Dubai,” a research project undertaken by Yasser Elsheshtawy, is currently featured in the BMW Guggenheim Lab exhibition in New York. “Participatory City: 100 Urban Trends” is on view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim …
US exhibition includes UAEU project showing everyday life unfolding on a street corner
These videos were commissioned as part of Participatory City: 100 Urban Trends from the BMW Guggenheim Lab, on view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum from October 11, 2013 - Jan 5, 2014. Learn more at http://www.guggenheim.org/100urbantrends.