On going back
Khartoum in the 70s was magical, tuhfa, my father would say. ‘They used to wash the streets clean at night, can you believe that?”
Flash-forward: you are now glancing out of the window of your grandfather’s 1991 Honda civic to the litter-filled dirt roads of Omdurman. Your father’s Sudan seems like a romantic lullaby, yet distant and foreign.
You hum to Wardi on the cassette. You know Wardi because you’ve payed attention growing up. You made sure to swallow all that was fed to you and vowed to keep it down. You were not to forget your roots. You were Sudanese before your were ever American, Mamma would say. Your stomach full of country, you nodded.
Continue reading on Qahwa Project
The empathy machine
The proliferation of social media and smart technology has helped not only raise awareness of refugee’s plight around the world but also to assist refugees by facilitating communication between family members as well as sending remittances. It has also proven to be an invaluable tool in helping refugees navigate their way through countries and to determine displaced population sizes. Recent technological advances have changed the way we view and experience videos and movies. But so-called “new technology” like Virtual Reality and Drones also plays a part in humanitarian issues. It is able to provide an important layer to humanitarian assistance; Virtual Reality and 360 movies, for example, are known as the “Empathy Machines,” as they are able to transform a mere 2D movie into an all-encompassing experience. The hope is that by doing so, policy makers and audiences are more aware of the often-lost nuances of displaced populations and focus not on providing more aid but more effective aid.
Continue reading on US-Middle East Youth Network
Walking through the narrow corridors of Al ‘Ula in northwestern Saudi Arabia is like traversing a maze, with ancient history at each turn. Once a bustling civilization, these 800 tightly packed mud-brick and stone houses — parts of which are more than 2,000 years old — are now abandoned ruins, decaying in the hot desert sun.
The walled city of Al ‘Ula was founded in 6th century BC, an oasis in the desert valley, with fertile soil and plenty of water. It was located along "Incense Road," the network of routes that facilitated the trading of spices, silk and other luxury items through Arabia, Egypt and India.
Continue reading on Atlas Obscura