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Vox Populi Roundup (September/October)

[Rainbow flag at Mashrou' Leila concert in Cairo. September 22, 2017. Image by Benno Schwinghammer, Picture-Alliance/dpa/AP Images, via Vice Media.] [Rainbow flag at Mashrou' Leila concert in Cairo. September 22, 2017. Image by Benno Schwinghammer, Picture-Alliance/dpa/AP Images, via Vice Media.]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on organic issues around the Middle East and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Vox Populi Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each month's roundup to by the first week of every month.]


UAE cuts sentences for Singaporeans jailed for cross-dressing: A pre-operative transgender woman and a man, both from Singapore, have been jailed in the United Arab Emirates for cross-dressing.

Saudi Arabian 'honesty' app takes internet by storm: Sarahah has so far drawn 85 million registered users, and rocketed to the top of the Apple app store.

This controversial Instagram star was arrested and abused for being 'too feminine' in Kuwait: The man, who goes by the name King Luxy on Instagram, was handcuffed and taken to the hotel where he was staying on his two-week trip to the Gulf state.

Saudi Arabia women hail end of driving ban: Campaigners in Saudi Arabia have hailed King Salman's decree allowing women to drive for the first time.

Syria’s World Cup soccer bid mesmerizes a divided nation badly in need of hope: As Syria’s soccer team stepped onto an Iranian pitch late Tuesday for an unprecedented shot at its first World Cup entry, the fans who packed cafes across the region could have been forgiven for keeping their hopes in check.

Egypt’s rainbow flags affair is more about dictatorship than sex: When the sight of a few people waving rainbow flags at a pop concert becomes an act of “moral terrorism”, when it plunges a country into hysteria and the government responds by arresting dozens of people on suspicion of being gay and orders the media to show them no sympathy, it’s time to ask why.

Istanbul's Hobbit House: recycled refuge where children are in charge: Hidden in the back streets of old Istanbul, the Hobbit House is no ordinary children’s centre. For a start, the children are in charge. Secondly, many are refugees from the war in Syria. Thirdly, the entire three-storey building has been renovated using recycled material.

Activists Aren't Backing Down After Egypt's Massive LGBTQ Crackdown: As queer Egyptians face arrest and police entrapment, activists there told us it's more important than ever to fight government disinformation and propaganda, any way they can.

Saudi label Rotana drops star-studded 'diss track' targeting Qatar, which backfires hilariously on social media: A Saudi record label has attempted to rile up support for the Riyadh-led boycott of neighbouring Qatar by releasing a "diss track" - and it has backfired stupendously on Twitter.

Egypt’s social media star makes waves with plain talk: Fatma Abdelsalam's video-blogging series on social media, titled “Kalam Badeehi” (“Common Sense Talk”), is attracting millions of viewers in Egypt.

Media in the Middle East: A new study shows how the Arab world gets and shares digital news: Two-thirds of respondents in the countries studied said they get news from social media every day.

Saudi Arabia arrests 46 for stirring divisions: state media: Saudi authorities said on [October 4th] they had arrested 22 people, including a Qatari national, for using social media to spread dissent. Another 24 people were detained in the northern Hail region for stirring tribal divisions, the state news agency SPA reported.

Lebanon's revival of Arab music traditions: In the mountains above Beirut, one organisation is breathing life back into a treasured period of Arab music history.

Saudi Tv surprises with Oum Kalthoum concert broadcast for the first time: A Saudi-led TV channel has aired a 45-minute concert of Egyptian singer Oum Kalthoum in a first for 30 years.


الشذوذ... كل الشذوذ هو إعلامنا!
زينب حاوي تنتقد صفحة «وينييه الدولة؟» الفايسبوكية ومنشورها «مشهد مرعب في جونيه +18» الذي يُهاجم المثلية الجنسية بأسلوب يتسم برهاب المثلية.

"كيف منحكي عنها؟" المثلية في العالم العربي
الدكتور سائد عطشان، الناشط في مجال حقوق الفلسطينيين وحقوق المثليين يطرح بعض المصطلحات والصيغ التي يمكن الاستعانة بها عند الحديث عن قضايا المثلية الجنسية باللغة العربية.

مآلات الشلل الأدبية
يكتب فوّاز حداد عن واقع  الشللية بالأدب والفن العربي وكيف تستظل بطغيان السلطة السياسية.

"شارع بودين".. الحيوات الغريبة للاجئ السوري
يصف  الكاتب السوري عبد الحكيم شباط  في روايته "شارع بودين" مجتمع الهجرة العربي في برلين ومعاناته وتناقضاته.

مصر: المشهد الثقافي والإعلامي في قبضة النظام الأمني
يُسيطر على  المشهد الثقافي المصري حالياً إجراءات قمعية كإغلاق مكتبات، ومصادرة أعمال أدبية وفكرية، وإلغاء ندوات، وحبس مثليي الجنس.

في الخط والفن العربي الحديث: للحديث بقية وشجون
يتناول بطرس المعري فن وتشكيلات الخط العربي ويشير للتيار الحروفي وانتاجاته التي ترضي السوق "اللا تشخيصية" أو تغري المستشرقين.

نجوم الدراما مستمرون بدعم المنتخب: «الفرحة سورية»
يدعم نجوم الدراما السورية من مذاهب سياسية متعددة جهود الفريق السوري للتأهل لمونديال روسيا 2018 وتم إطلاق أغنية سورية بعنوان «الفرحة سورية» لتواكب هذا الحدث.

"تونس مسرح حر": مهرجان للمشهد البديل
طلق مهرجان جديد بعنوان "تونس مسرح حر" الذي يكرّس فعالياته للمشهد الثقافي البديل في تونس  ما بين 12 و21 من تشرين الأول/ أكتوبر الجاري.

Political Economy Project

This page is co-produced with the Political Economy Project​The Political Economy Project (PEP) is an evolving focus of the Arab Studies Institute, with research, pedagogic, and advocacy objectives. Our founding workshop took place in April 2015 at the Arab Studies Institute in Virginia and was followed by several workshops, conferences, research projects, resource building efforts, and other activities. The workshop and preparations for it spawned an initial membership of more than sixty researchers and scholars of political economy from the Middle East and beyond. PEP’s evolving cluster of activities revolve around research, pedagogy, training, network-building, and advocacy. Our network grows through nominations by existing members. A cornerstone of PEP is to provide opportunities and training for students and emerging researchers both from the region and beyond. READ MORE HERE.

Political Economy Summer Institute

Each year, the Political Economy Project hosts the Political Economy Summer Institute. The goal of the Summer Institute is to foster and support critical scholarship on the political economy of the Middle East and beyond. It brings together faculty leaders and student participants for four days of immersive study. Faculty members lead sessions on themes such as state formation, imperialism, and labor, while students present their research and workshop their papers. To date the Political Economy Project has hosted two summer institutes at George Mason University in 2016 and 2017. More information can be found here.

Political Economy Book Prize

The Political Economy Project just closed the doors for our 2017 Middle East Political Economy Book Prize. The book prize aims to recognize and disseminate exceptional critical work on the political economy of the Middle East. While the book must have a political economy theme, we welcome nominations from across academic disciplines. Submissions will be read and judged by a committee drawn from PEP’s membership. Eligible texts must have been published in the year prior, and can be either Arabic or English language. The book must make an original contribution to critical political economy research. The author(s) of the winning book will receive a prize of US$1000 and will be invited to give a talk at a PEP affiliated University. The author(s) will also be interviewed by the Arab Studies Institute’s Audio Magazine, Status/الوضع. For more information, contact us at


JADMAG Issue 4.2 "What is Political Economy?" is out!