Hotel Zaatari: A Short Film That Brings the Human Back to the Refugee

Uncategorized, Writing

Hotel Zaatari is a short film written and directed by two Jordanian filmmakers, Mais Salman and Zaid Baqaeen. The film shows four Syrians from the Syrian city of Daraa near the Jordan-Syria borders who settled in the world’s largest Syrian refugee Camp, Zaatari. With beautiful cinematography and poignant, poetic narration, we are introduced to 13-year-old Ali, 64-year-old Abo Abdo, 52-year-old Hayat, and nine-year-old Sarah. In 17 minutes, the word refugee is stripped of all the politics, the numbers, economics, and pity and the human is re-seen.

According to the film’s website, “the film aims to raise awareness and change perceptions towards the displaced Syrians, and shed light on their plights, fears, hopes and dreams. Challenging the notion of ‘the other’, the film hopes to express and reveal the core of what it is to be human, and what it is to be humane.”

Hotel Zaatari is not only a film but an initiative. Forty limited edition prints from Zaatari are sold to fund programs in the camp in association with Save the Children International.

Watch the film and visit the website.

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Zakiya Kurdi Paints Women From Around the World Using Sand and Seashells

Uncategorized, Writing

Syrian journalist, scriptwriter, and now artist Zakiya Kurdi was watching TV one day when a report about an African artist who paints using sand came on. She was taken by the art form and began exploring and experimenting with it. Her first painting took several months to be finished. The process is quite lengthy; Kurdi begins by drawing with charcoal and colors the sand before using it in her pieces. Her portraits show women from different parts of the world. Although each is unique, what they share in common is that they all had a great effect on Kurdi, begging her to draw them.

Der Drachenprinz cover by Louiza Fröbe

“Der Drachenprinz” Welcomes Refugee Children to Germany

Uncategorized, Writing

In the last year, Germany has welcomed a great number of refugees. In addition to safe shelter and food many, especially children, need the emotional support to make sense of their new environment. This is where picture books like “Der Drachenprinz” (The Prince and the Dragon) by author Louiza Fröbe come in.

Every child arriving in Germany since September 15 of this year received a copy of the picture book. Through bright illustrations and the two young characters of the book, Lisa and Yasin, young refugee children and their families are introduced to everyday life in Germany from going to the supermarket to the transportation system and the German language. The book also offers German readers young and old insight into some cultural differences and how to welcome refugees in their communities, as modeled by Lisa and her mother.

This project is in partnership with the Bundesagentur für Arbeit, who distributed the books to the children, and Deutsche Welle, which produced the audiobook in nine different languages: Arabic, Dari, Farsi, French, Kurmanci, Pashto, Sorani and Turkish.

For more information visit the Drachenprinz website, where you can also hear the audiobook in the different languages!

Qomrah 2 logo

Qomrah 2 Call for Ideas: Your Chance to Create the Media You Want to See

Uncategorized, Writing

Yesterday, September 30 2016, was the award ceremony for the first season of Qomrah, Ahmad Alshugairi‘s new Ramadan show, which strives to create meaningful media through a competition of short videos anyone around the world can participate in. Some of the winning videos from season one covered themes such as hope, child refugees and autism. These are just a few of the themes that fit the categories of the first season.

This year, the chance to participate-and with that, the chance to win- is open to an even wider audience. Starting today, October 1st and until the end of this month, anyone with an idea for a video can send the details and if the team likes the idea, it will then be posted on the website for the second phase, where filmmakers can choose from the ideas suggested and be financed by Qomrah to create the video. If your idea wins, you have the chance to win up to 500,000 Saudi riyals.

The idea can be about anything from a work of art, to a social experiment or volunteer work and the categories include health and fitness, history, self-development, philosophy, technology and more.

So what are you waiting for? Think of something you’re passionate about and think it’s important for more people to know about and submit!

For more information: Watch the Qomrah 2 promo video and visit the Qomrah website and you can also watch the videos from season 1.

The Lonely Canary

Literary, Translations, Uncategorized

photo (4)

In a big house, there once lived a lonely canary in a cage. The canary would sing every morning and delight the owners with his beautiful voice but when evening came, the canary felt lonely. One morning he woke up and found another canary with him in the cage. They became friends right away and were always together. They ate together, drank together and even sang together. The canary was so happy because he was no longer lonely.

The canary thought there was another bird in the cage, but actually, the owners had hung a mirror in his cage. The friend he saw eating, drinking and singing with him was just his own reflection in the mirror.

ridzdesign, 30 faces 30 places lebanon irusa

Ramadan Memories Shared by 30 Faces from 30 Places

BarakaBits, Uncategorized, Writing

The Muslim community is rich with diversity. This diversity in culture and tradition can be seen in the different ways people celebrate the holy month of Ramadan around the world. This Ramadan, Islamic Relief USA delivered food packages to 30 countries. To capture the unique ways Ramadan is celebrated in each of these 30 countries, Islamic Relief worked with photographer Ridwan Adhami. During this Ramadan, Adhami took photos of Muslims in the United States who originate from these 30 countries. Every day of the month, Adhami shared with the world a new photo and memory of Ramadan from a new country.

The countries range in culture and location from Zimbabwe and Albania to South Africa and Somalia. Also among the countries are those in the Middle East and North Africa region:  Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Tunisia and Sudan. Here are some of the photos and memories shared:

30 faces, 30 places tunisia ridzdesign ramadan

Day 4: Ramadan in Tunisia

“We had a revolution, but before that for over 20 years, hijab was against the law, and mosques were closed for the vast majority of the day. So there’s still not a lot of mosque life. I felt it. It’s always been a fine line, people tip-toeing around what’s allowed.”

30 faces, 30 places palestine ridzdesign ramadan

Day 9: Ramadan in Palestine

“The kids go out in groups with the lanterns. And it was safe, you never worried about bombs. It was so peaceful. We would take the lanterns and knock on doors. We would say, ‘wahaweeya wahawee’ and they would open the door and give us candy. Every night in Ramadan I looked forward to it.”

Day 11 entry Ridzdesign Imam Magid

Day 11: Ramadan in Sudan

“There’s a very nice tradition in Sudan where the people in the neighborhood would bring the food every night outside on the street and break fast in the street, and they would not allow anyone passing by to pass without sitting and eating. There would be some people who would stand in the road and insist for people to get off their buses and stop the cars to join the iftar, and they would insist for you to not be driving after sunset.”

30 faces, 30 places Day 13 Ridz design Souheil lebanon

Day 13: Ramadan in Lebanon

“Ramadan has a great flavor…different from any other time of the year.”

30 faces, 30 places syria ridzdesign ramadan

Day 14: Ramadan in Syria

“Every family would send a child before maghrib time to the neighborhood shop to get fresh falafel, hummus, and atayef. The most important thing is the atayef.”

30 faces, 30 places iraq ridzdesign ramadan

Day 21: Ramadan in Iraq

“It’s as if you are going back to live those beautiful memories. Although we share so many traditions and customs, there is something very special for each town, for each city.”

To view more photos and read more memories from the series visit Ridwan Adhami’s Facebook page, Instagram and the Islamic Relief USA website.

 

This article was originally published on BarakaBits on July 7, 2016.

Translation of Abdel Bari Atwan Article Excerpt into English

Articles, Translations, Uncategorized

Screen shot 2016-06-04 at 5.53.57 PM

It is undisputed that the international community, and the Syrian people especially, look forward to a “new Syria”. The “old Syria” and the practices that took place there: the absence of democracy, the robbing of freedoms, corruption of the justice system and most, if not all, government institutions, encroaching autocracy, and dominance of the police state, will not, indeed must not, in anyway, be allowed to go on. But what is the Saudi perspective on this “new Syria” and if there really is a ready model that is based on the principles of democracy, pluralism, equality, and an independent and fair justice system, then how come we don’t see it implemented in the Arab world, starting with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia itself?

The term “new Syria” reminds us and others of the new Iraq, which has become one of the most corrupt nations in the world, torn by sectarian and ethnic fragmentation and the absence of a single national identity. In the past, we talked of an Iraq divided into three entities on sectarian and ethnic bases and now we’re talking about multiple Sunni and Shia identities as well as multiple Kurdish identities; the three states are nominated to become six, or even 12, states and entities.

It is no longer about Assad’s presence or absence, but about Syria’s and its fragmentation as an entity. This point is neglected by those involved in the Syrian crisis militarily or politically, for even “Plan A”, i.e. changing the regime, which was adopted by the powers supporting the armed resistance, has crumbled. After five years, this plan is no longer practical or on the table and everyone agrees on the Regime and its institutions staying. The conflict is about the president only in the media, but almost everyone has come to accept him in conversations behind closed doors, even if just temporarily.

Link to original Arabic article by Abdel Bari Atwan:http://www.raialyoum.com/?p=382414