New Levant Initiative – Revitalizing the shared Levantine identity

Welcome to the New Levant Initiative

The New Levant Initiative exists to recapture and reinvigorate the unique Levantine identity, shed a light on the roots of enlightenment and culture, and create momentum for the New Levant – one that is empowered with its cultural and historical achievements.

Learn more about us

What is the Levant?

The Levant means ‘where the sun rises’: the eastern Mediterranean Levant is a geographical word, free from associations with race or religion. It is defined not by frontiers but by the sea.

Author: Philip Mansel
Was Salonica a Levantine City?

Learn more about our history

NLI Inaugural Conference Recap

The conference reflected on the Levantine identity, as captured throughout history, art, architecture, music and cuisine, as well as the history of cosmopolitanism and commerce that enabled this vibrant culture to thrive. Panelists who share Levantine heritage examined its influence on their careers and lives as well as gave testimony to the uniqueness of the Levantine identity.

The program was followed by an evening concert performance with the original composition, Levantine Symphony N°1, by Ibrahim Maalouf.

See the full event recap

Levantine Symphony No. 1

Composed by Ibraham Maalouf

The New Levant Initiative was honored to present distinguished trumpeter and composer Ibrahim Maalouf in the world premiere of his impassioned composition, Levantine Symphony N°1.

Learn more about the symphony



Theme 1

Movement I


NLI is proud to support projects and institutions that bring about initiatives, tools, and experiences to further educate the public about Levantine arts, culture, and history.

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Featured Project: Levant Carta

NLI supports the Humanities Research Center (HRC) at Rice University and their sustainable, multi-tiered, and data-driven Levant Carta initiative. The Levant Carta is dedicated to the production of a cartographic platform that will bring together scholarly networks and enable the production of temporally accurate and illustrated maps of Levantine cities. For this initiative, the HRC will interconnect a series of activities, meant to act as bridges across disciplines, schools, and universities both in the US and abroad.

The Levant in the News

November 1, 2018 Orhan Pamuk / New York Times

‘I Like Your Photographs Because They Are Beautiful’: Remembering Ara Guler

‘I Like Your Photographs Because They Are Beautiful’: Remembering Ara Guler

Ara Guler, who died on Oct. 17, was the greatest photographer of modern Istanbul. He was born in 1928 in an Armenian family in Istanbul. Ara began taking photographs of the city in 1950, images that captured the lives of individuals alongside the city’s monumental Ottoman architecture, its majestic mosques and magnificent fountains. I was […]

October 24, 2018 Ahmed Fouad / Al-Monitor

Middle East pins Oscar hopes on young directors

Middle East pins Oscar hopes on young directors

Middle Eastern countries from Egypt to Lebanon have lined up their candidates for the Academy Awards for best foreign language film, hoping that their young directors and cast of first-timers can bring home the coveted prize. “The young cineastes of the region have courage and innovation that makes them come up with unique ideas for successful […]

October 17, 2018 Sam Brennan / Al-Monitor

Exhibition at Tripoli’s International Fair explores time and collapse

Exhibition at Tripoli’s International Fair explores time and collapse

The Rachid Karami International Fair opened to the public last month, as part of a monthlong exhibition of contemporary art in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. The fair’s tragic history — which includes the interruption of its building by civil war — and the architectural venue’s artistic importance were central to the exhibition’s themes of collapse and historical cycles.

October 12, 2018 Tom Westcott / Middle East Eye

Syria’s last wooden-boat builders

Syria’s last wooden-boat builders

Outside a battered workshop calf-deep in wood-shavings, Farouk Bahlowan shapes a brass ship propeller, leaning close into the angle grinder to make the smallest adjustments. Every few minutes, he pauses to spin the metal, squinting to see where the propeller will eventually stop. When the blade scrawled with the number three stops exactly where it […]

October 2, 2018 Peter Holslin / Mada Masr

Egyptian audiovisual collective reimagines live performance

Egyptian audiovisual collective reimagines live performance

For a long time, many thought of the worlds of music and visual art as discrete fields — seen as industries unto themselves with distinct histories, audiences and quirks. Gallery spaces stood in contrast to nightclubs, and the interests of art collectors were seen as worlds away from the everyday music fan. That is not […]

September 28, 2018 Dominic Lutyens / FT

Lebanese designers tap into local crafts

Lebanese designers tap into local crafts

Lebanon’s designers have long faced adversity. They receive no government funding, there have been few platforms to showcase contemporary design, and the Lebanese population has shown little interest in it. One resource for designers has been the country’s strong crafts tradition, particularly in Tripoli, where handcrafted copper is a speciality. These skills were once passed […]

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