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

Upcoming Events:

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.

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

August 10, 2019 Tom Westcott / Middle East Eye

Kissing in Babylon: The ancient site giving young Iraqis their freedom

Kissing in Babylon: The ancient site giving young Iraqis their freedom

The heavily graffitied walls of Saddam Hussein’s summer palace echo with the sound of dance beats thumping from speedboat river-tours. Sprawling beneath the complex, built in 1991, lie the remains of ancient Babylon. Founded almost 4,000 years ago on the banks of the River Euphrates, it sits alongside Saddam’s recreation of one of its ancient edifices. […]

July 30, 2019 Sam Brennan / ALM

‘Broken Wings’ carry Khalil Gibran home to Lebanon

‘Broken Wings’ carry Khalil Gibran home to Lebanon

Speaking about the new musical about the life of legendary Lebanese writer Khalil Gibran, Lebanese-British playwright Nadim Naaman told Al-Monitor, “Lebanon is extremely proud of him and extremely vocal about how he is one of their own. But what they aren’t so good at is looking at him in a new light.” In the musical he co-wrote, “Broken Wings,” Naaman wanted to show Middle […]

July 12, 2019 Zeina Shahla / Raseef 22

The Syrian desert truffle: a gift of the sky

The Syrian desert truffle: a gift of the sky

“Kama for 500, Kama for 500″ in loud lilting voices the vendors of Souq Al-Wadi, in the centre of Deir Ezzor, in the east of Syria try to sell this popular seasonal produce- known locally as Kama or desert truffle. This season has been particularly good “the country has not seen such abundance in decades” […]

July 4, 2019 Alasdair Soussi / The National

Half a million images that tell the Middle East’s true tales

Half a million images that tell the Middle East’s true tales

Last year, Beirut’s Arab Image Foundation took receipt of a surprise package that was left on its doorstep. The delivery turned out to be a collection of classic photographs. “We didn’t even know who brought it,” says Marc Mouarkech, co-director of the AIF. “But, for us, it was a very important collection because it documented all the […]

July 3, 2019 Sam Brennan / ALM

Baalbek: symbol of power or living city?

Baalbek: symbol of power or living city?

“The expression of power and of sacred practice into the physical and mercurial form of these glorious temples [in Baalbek] … is too big and too heavy to be human,” Vali Mahlouji, curator of the iconoclastic exhibition “Baalbek: Archives of an Eternity,” told Al-Monitor. “As grand as [Baalbek’s temples] are, they suppress 7,000 years before it […]

June 28, 2019 Giuseppe Mancini / ALM

Nostalgia for 19th-century Pera meets modernity in Istanbul exhibit

Nostalgia for 19th-century Pera meets modernity in Istanbul exhibit

Most residents would jump for joy if a parking lot and a hideous office building at the historical heart of their city were slated to be replaced by a cultural center designed by a celebrated architect. They would be even happier if private donors had agreed to pick up the tab to the tune of some $150 million, sparing the pocketbooks of the […]

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