Trip to Najran: Reflections on Saudi Cultural Heritage Policies

Prof K and the South Arabian mystery

Photo taken in the ruins of the city of Al Ukhdood (ancient Najran) by Abdelkarim Qassem

One of the premises of the ‘Searching for Ancient Arabia’ research project is the cultural diversity of the Arabian Peninsula; one of the research hypotheses being that this pluralism—well evident in ancient history—was smothered by subsequent narratives and historical developments, but that it could be a great asset for the future development of the Gulf region, particularly in artistic and cultural terms. Continue reading

Making an exhibition with my students at the Paris School of International Affairs

This year (2014) I asked my students to write their papers as catalogue contributions to an exhibition I made in Paris to coincide with the end of the term.

Here one can find the links to their papers and images of the exhibition, which I made with the help of the Window, an art space in the center of Paris run by a good friend of mine and those that contributed to the crowd funding project I ran – especially my father!

Most of my students: from left to right Alexandre Nawath, Sarah Smail, Anna-Katharina Kraft, Emma Ghariani (hidden), Lily Matras, Kristina Keenan, Kata Pali, Leo Teste, Joice Barbaresco (partially hidden), Mariam Kandil, Lucile Gasber and Malika Touddimte

Most of my students: from left to right Alexandre Hawath, Sarah Smail, Anna-Katharina Kraft, Emma Ghariani (hidden), Lily Matras, Kristina Keenan, Kata Pali, Leo Teste, Joice Barbaresco (partially hidden), Mariam Kandil, Lucile Gasber and Malika Touddimte

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‘Searching for Ancient Arabia’ – further information about the research project

A workshop will be held for all those interested in participating in this research project at the Downtown Campus (off Hamdan Street) of NYU Abu Dhabi on Tuesday 25 February, from 18:00 to 20:30.

For details about the workshop and registration see the bottom of this page.

Introduction to the research subject

Stone Altar from Marib (5th - 4th Century BC) and Bronze Statuette of the warrior Ma'dikarib, South Arabia, 6th century BC
Stone Altar from Marib (5th – 4th Century BC) and Bronze Statuette of the warrior Ma’dikarib, South Arabia (6th century BC). These and all other photos and maps/diagrams on this page are reproduced from the book “Arabia and the Arabs from the Bronze Age to the Coming of Islam’ by Robert Hoyland, 2001. See below for ordering information

“Only a small proportion of the lore of the Arabs has come down to you. Had it reached you in its entirety, much scientific and literary knowledge would have been yours”

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Making Environments Hostile

A few days ago I got my certificate for Hostile Environment Awareness Training (HEAT) from the Carabinieri in Livorno. The Carabinieri are the Italian counterpart of the Gendarmerie, or Guardia Civil – the police force that depends from the Ministry of Defense. The training was given by the First Paratrooper Regiment (“Tuscania”), who engage in difficult operations abroad, like protecting VIPs in enemy territory or liberating hostages. They are strong, self-confident, good-looking and easy-going Italians, the real stuff, machos beyond posturing. Continue reading

Security through integration, not isolation

La Taverna du Liban Kabul

Afghan security in front of bombed restaurant in Kabul. Photo by Johannes Eisele for AFP/Getty Images

The news of the bombing of La Taverna du Liban, a Lebanese restaurant in Kabul, reached me while I was following a pre-deployment course for a EU mission in Libya. I think I knew Kamal, the owner of the restaurant, who died in the assault; if it was the same man who set up the restaurant somewhere in 2004-5 (and it seems so from this personal account), he was a hearty, generous man and I regret his death, especially for his children. Continue reading

Searching for Ancient Arabia

I’m about to start a FIND fellowship at New York University Abu Dhabi called ‘Searching for Ancient Arabia’ and I’m looking for artists, curators, critics and scholars to participate in this research project.Ancient Arabia 1

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Afghan Urban Housing Dilemma

Afghan housing dilemma

When we visited the mayor’s office during my last trip to Kabul, the deputy mayor, a great fan of Persian poetry, lamented the fact that all the houses currently being built in Kabul are of the ‘international’ (Western) type: a standalone house on a plot of land, surrounded by a bit of garden or walkways, with all windows facing outwards.

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Rich and Poor on the Outskirts of Kabul

Today we first went to visit the new city of Omid-e Sabz. It is located improbably far from the city center, about 10 minutes drive West of Darulaman Palace, and close to the southeastern rim of Dasht-e Barchi.

In a way it's lucky Kabul is surrounded by mountains, otherwise the city would never stop expanding.

In a way it’s lucky Kabul is surrounded by mountains, otherwise the city would never stop expanding.

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