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

January 7, 2019 Adam Forrest / Independent

Google celebrates pioneering Turkish abstract artist

Google celebrates pioneering Turkish abstract artist

Google’s latest Doodle celebrates the life of Fahrelnissa Zeid, the renowned Turkish artist best known for blending Islamic and Byzantine traditions with influences from the West. Tate Modern, the British gallery that organised a major retrospective of the late painter in 2017, called her “one of the greatest female artists of the 20th century.” Ms Zeid created her own distinctive […]

January 6, 2019 Sophie Prideaux / National

Middle Eastern designers making a splash in Hollywood

Middle Eastern designers making a splash in Hollywood

The Middle East continues to establish itself as a global hub for emerging talent, and regional fashion designers made waves internationally in 2018. A host of A-list celebrities turned to creatives from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait and Bahrain to dress them for their red-carpet moments, while off-duty ­models showed their street-style prowess in […]

January 3, 2019 The Media Line / YnetNews

Comedy in the Middle East is an antidote to extremism

Comedy in the Middle East is an antidote to extremism

Comedians in the Middle East play an important role in combating all forms of extremism, a veteran Jordanian comedian has said, amid a widening controversy over streaming giant Netflix’s decision to yank an episode of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj in Saudi Arabia. “The biggest enemy of extremism and fundamentalism is comedy,” Nabil Sawalha, who […]

January 2, 2019 Ahmad Melhem / Al-Monitor

Palestinian oud trio combines poetry with music

Palestinian oud trio combines poetry with music

Le Trio Joubran, cited among the world’s best-known Palestinian musicians, maintain that the two essential components of Palestinian culture — the oud and the verses of great Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish — are central to their works. “The oud, the music and the poems of Mahmoud Darwish have become an integral part of the Palestinian culture. We feel that we are […]

December 30, 2018 Olivia Cuthbert / MEE

Contemporary calligraphers bring ancient scripts back to life

Contemporary calligraphers bring ancient scripts back to life

Slowly shaping each letter with a bamboo tool dipped in plant-based ink, calligrapher Joumana Medlej finds a meditative calm amid the chaos of modern life. “In this time of constant distraction, it reacquaints you with the practice of total focus,” she says, as she writes in ancient kufic calligraphy, named after the city of Kufah in […]

December 11, 2018 Giuseppe Mancini / Al-Monitor

Roman-era mosaics home at last in Turkey’s Zeugma

Roman-era mosaics home at last in Turkey’s Zeugma

“Every work of art is beautiful and meaningful in the place where it belongs.” In a statement that is also a political manifesto, Turkey’s Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy welcomed back 12 fragments of precious Roman-era mosaics on Dec. 8. at the Zeugma Mosaic Museum in the southeastern city of Gaziantep. They were illegally excavated in […]

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