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

April 10, 2019 Adnan Abu Zeed / ALM

Can Baghdad’s Rasheed Street save its name, glory?

Can Baghdad’s Rasheed Street save its name, glory?

Adjacent to the Tigris River, Rasheed Street has been called “the memory of Baghdad” by Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. But efforts to revive the once bustling street — or even to maintain its name — may prove to be an arduous task. The Iraqi government has worked doggedly to restore the old glory of Baghdad, […]

April 10, 2019 Nimet Kirac / ALM

Turkey’s Orange Blossom Carnival blooms despite economic, political woes

Turkey’s Orange Blossom Carnival blooms despite economic, political woes

The entire city center of Adana in the south of Turkey turned into a giant celebration space last weekend, when the seventh edition of the Orange Blossom Carnival attracted 1.5 million carnivalgoers who wore colorful costumes, danced, tasted local specialties and enjoyed the Mediterranean sun. This is Turkey’s first and only major street carnival, which attracted more than […]

April 10, 2019 Associated Press

A Lebanese drink infused with tradition

A Lebanese drink infused with tradition

Every part of Lebanon’s national drink, arak, is infused with tradition — from distilling the aniseed-tinged liquor to the ritual of mixing it at the table, when the transparent liquid suddenly turns milky white as water is added. Arak is a staple of Sunday meals. With a sweet taste and high alcohol content — about […]

April 3, 2019 Faysal Soysal / Al Jazeera

Istanbul: Songs of the City

Istanbul: Songs of the City

“Music is an unrestricted culture. There’s no difference between Greek, Rum or Istanbul music. They’ve all blended,” says Ivi Dermanci. Dermanci is referring to Rebetiko, a musical style created by ethnic Greeks in the last years of the Ottoman Empire.  When Istanbul was at the heart of the Ottoman Empire, it was one of the […]

April 1, 2019 Jonny Keen / Atlas Obscura

3 Brothers From Baghdad and Their Book of Inventions

3 Brothers From Baghdad and Their Book of Inventions

IMAGINE LEAFING THROUGH AN OLD book and discovering some blueprints, in the form of a clearly labeled diagram. They depict a rudimentary face covering, attached to a pipe with a set of bellows at the end. And there’s a simple but effective flap valve there to ensure that the mask is only supplied with fresh air. […]

March 28, 2019 India Stoughton / National

Lebanese designer Nour Hage on the subtleties of men’s fashion

Lebanese designer Nour Hage on the subtleties of men’s fashion

Fashion design often operates, quite deliberately, at two extremes: it either presents itself as completely apolitical or exists to make a statement. Nour Hage, a Lebanese designer who resides in London, treads a more nuanced path, one with a strong social message. Inspired by Arab culture and targeting young Arabs and South Asians who take pride […]

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