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

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 […]

June 27, 2019 Naima Morrelli / Middle East Eye

The comic artist who fled Syria and found himself

The comic artist who fled Syria and found himself

Syrian comic book writer Hamid Sulaiman says that there are two questions that he is always asked and that he still has a hard time answering. The first is what he does for a living. Usually he goes with “graphic novelist” or “painter”. The second is where he lives. “I have two homes,” he says, “and I […]

June 26, 2019 Mohamed el-Shamaa / Arab News

The incredible story of Egypt’s Museum of Islamic Art

The incredible story of Egypt’s Museum of Islamic Art

With more than 100,000 antiquities from India, China, Iran, Arabia, Syria, Egypt, North Africa and Andalusia, the Museum of Islamic Art in Egypt is the largest institution of its kind in world. The museum, located in the Bab Al-Khalk area in the heart of Cairo, is also the largest educational institute in the world in […]

June 26, 2019 Associated Press

Young women defy gender stereotype to become chefs

Young women defy gender stereotype to become chefs

Professional kitchens are normally considered a man’s domain. But necessity compelled these women to break gender norms – something they do with gusto. Soma Khalil makes a mean kebab. “It is never shameful for a woman to work outside. I work here as a kebab chef and we are able to work here for 12 […]

June 23, 2019 Samar Kadi / Arab Weekly

Street art revitalising Beirut with colours and shapes

Street art revitalising Beirut with colours and shapes

The giant “eternal mural” of Lebanese diva Sabah that decorates a once-bland building in Beirut’s crowded Hamra neighbourhood is among many expressions of street art that has developed in recent years from being tagging by militias during Lebanon’s civil war to a recognised and appreciated art. Graffiti related to war and politics filled public spaces […]

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