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

Prelude

Overture

Theme 1

Movement I

Projects

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.

See all projects

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

February 6, 2019 Elias Muhanna / New Yorker

Karl Sharro’s Acid-Tinged Satire of the Middle East

Karl Sharro’s Acid-Tinged Satire of the Middle East

Sharro, who is Lebanese-Iraqi, lives in London, where, officially, he is an architect at a commercial firm called PLP. Unofficially, he is Karl reMarks, a Twitter comedian with a large following and an acid take on Middle Eastern politics. He was in town recently to promote his first book of humor, “And Then God Created the Middle East […]

February 3, 2019 Reuters / Arab News

In Mosul exhibition, Iraqi artists process brutal rule of Daesh

In Mosul exhibition, Iraqi artists process brutal rule of Daesh

A raven perched on the shoulder of a woman with flaming hair is Iraqi artist Marwan Fathi’s symbol for the terrible events he and his home city Mosul have had to endure. Three years under the oppressive and violent rule of Daesh and the military campaign which drove it out in 2017 left much of […]

January 30, 2019 Sam Brennan / ALM

Forgotten artisans of Beirut seek revival

Forgotten artisans of Beirut seek revival

Fifty years ago, the Armenian district of Lebanon’s capital was a commercial hub, with artisans making detailed carpets, meticulously designed furniture and elaborate jewelry. But the district of Bourj Hammoud is now in decline, with stores and factories closing due to poor government planning and a worsening economic situation. One of the few recent success stories […]

January 20, 2019 Middle East Eye

Using pencil and paper to preserve Alexandria

Using pencil and paper to preserve Alexandria

Mohamed Gohar is sitting at a table in an old cafe in downtown Alexandria, doing what he usually does when he has some free time: sketching. Not people or scenery, but Alexandria’s historic buildings. With a Turkish coffee next to his pad, the 35-year-old Egyptian architect says it’s more than just a hobby for him. “It all […]

January 16, 2019 Mina Aldroubi / The National

How an Armenian oil mogul forever linked Baghdad and Lisbon

How an Armenian oil mogul forever linked Baghdad and Lisbon

Baghdad and Lisbon are two cities that don’t appear to have much in common, but the paintings by Iraqi modernists now hanging off the walls of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Portugal have forged a lasting connection between the two cities. Thirty works by 18 of Iraq’s most distinguished artists, which have never been shown before, are now on display […]

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