Here is my ongoing list of reputable Arabic programs for study outside of college classrooms (summer study, independent study). Please feel free to comment if you have experience with these or other programs that should be listed.
Egypt (Unfortunately, political unrest may render Egypt a poor choice for study abroad this year. Syria is not currently listed for the same reason. May Egyptians and Syrians be granted more political stability and civil rights.)
- Alexandria American Councils for International Education Arabic Overseas – This option provides intermediate level instruction. For U.S. or Canadian residents.
- American University of Beirut (AUB)
- Beirut ALPS Beirut
- Meknes AALIM
- California: Middlebury Language School – This option is best for beginner to advanced students who want to focus on Modern Standard Arabic.
- Maryland: Here is another option for beginner to advanced students who want to learn spoken Arabic alongside standard Arabic, and who are unable to study abroad in the summer.
- Texas: UT Austin provides another option for beginner to advanced students (qualified high school and college students) to study Arabic in the summer without traveling out of the United States.
- Wisconsin: Here is a program of which I would appreciate any news and reviews.
Resources for Arabic Language Teaching & Studying
Arabic Language Resources by Dialect ~ مصادر بالعربي
Photo of Magda Amer from BBC
Resources for Arabic Literature & Culture
Note: Manuscript photo from l-Jaami‘ l-Kbiir of Meknes, Morocco.
For more on the role of literature in Arab society see here.
For SciFi, see here.
For Moroccan literature in English, see here.
Note: Manuscript painting of a library in Basra
in Al-Maqamat by Al-Hariri (1054-1122),
copied and painted at al-Wasili in Baghdad (1236).
Manuscript held in Paris, BnF.
Image of Bayad playing his oud
Some of my favorite contemporary Moroccan artists:
See here for a concert of psalms sung in Arabic, performed by Lebanese Catholic nun Sister Marie Keyrouz.
Poetry and Oral Compositions
The oldest extant example of Arabic literature is poetry, composed and performed orally. Here is a 9th century poem in English translation.
See here for James Montgomery’s translations of “Horse, Hawk, and and Cheetah: Three Arabic Hunting Poems by Abu Nuwas” (from the early 9th c.)
Check out this post for spoken word of the present day.
The most influential example of Arabic literature is the Qur’an, the sacred text of Islam, and it too was recited orally. German scholar Angelika Neuwirth has written of the Qur’an as a “late antique text” that emphasizes knowledge. See here for more on the implications of her work.
Note: Qur’an Manuscript photo from l-Jaami‘ l-Kbiir of Meknes, Morocco.
In addition to poetry, aphorisms, and tales, oral culture can also include rumors that mold public discourses.
Broader than oral culture, public culture can include almost any art. Here are more resources on public culture in specific areas:
Moroccan Malhun (Sung) Poetry
(more to be added later).
I have read a lot about the glorious accomplishments of “the Arabs” or “the Muslims” in the distant past. Instead of focusing on some mythic golden age, this site includes any material culture that I find beautiful and noteworthy. So while some examples are historical, some are contemporary.
For some incredibly beautiful historic art and architecture photos and information on patterns, see here.
Photo by Radwa El Barouni, carving in Fes
One of my favorite pieces of art is a blue and white lamp from the sixteenth century. For some contemporary ceramics that I think are well worth checking out, see the work of Myriam Mourabit (Rabat, Morocco).
One of the most distinctive kinds of woodwork in the Arab World is mashrabiyya, latticed screens traditionally fitted together without any adhesive or hardware. Historically, they developed as a strategy for comfort and privacy so that urban families could enjoy fresh air from the outdoors without exposing themselves to public scrutiny. For contemporary woodwork, I can recommend Nadim (Cairo, Egypt).
(Photo by Ruth B.)
Painting / Drawing
One of the most valued arts throughout the Islamic world is calligraphy. See here for the highlights from a contemporary calligraphy exhibition in Malaysia. This site has featured the work of Moataz Nasr of Cairo here.
Preview: khyamiyya appliqué (Egypt), Tally Art (southern Egypt), embroidery in Palestine and Jordan…
Top-of-the-line Azza Fahmy jewelry (Egypt)
More kinds of material culture to follow…
Photo by Radwa El Barouni