Amr Diab – a multi award winning, globally recognised Egyptian musician, the best selling Arab musician of his times. I'm among his gazillions of fans. His Nour el Ain (Light of my eye) was rocking this island when I first landed up in the ME. His music has been part of the soundtrack of my time in Arablands :) playing all through the last 20 years as he has gone from strength to strength. Listen to him perform Nour el Ain for the award function in 1998, and find more of his music on his own site by clicking on his name above -
Known as Dimashq-ash-Sham in Arabic, shortened to Dimashq, one of the most ancient cities in the world. It has been continually settled for thousands of years, its origins lost in the mists of antiquity.
Hazy origins, but by the 1st millennium BCE, Damascus has risen to prominence. It’s mentioned both in Ancient Egypt and in the Bible. Control for it has been fought over many times. Now you hear it’s conceded to Rameses II, then you hear Aramaic tribes have taken over, or the Assyrians. But hang on, now the tribes have revolted and wrested it back, will they keep it? nope, they’ve gone and lost it to the neo-Babylonians!
Into the 4th BCE now, and early on Alex the Grrreat has poked his head around – comes, sees, conquers, vanishes! His generals are fighting for scraps after him. The balance of power teeters between the Ptolemaic and the Seleucid empires. For a couple of centuries - then Romans have kicked the Greeks out altogether.
The first centuries CE – the heyday of Rome: tad stability, support, and presto! Damascus has morphed to this strategic, happening metropolis where traders from Arabia, Palmyra, Petra and the long Silk Route rub shoulders. Rome falls, but Damascus goes on.
A new faith has risen meanwhile in the Hijaz in South East, and Damascus is conquered again, wrested from Byzantine control in the 7th CE. They are dismayed – Damascus is prime property! - they mount a counter-offensive, but the Arabs gain a decisive victory. Syria and Palestine, both profoundly Christian lands, are plucked out of Byzantium.
Damascus goes onto become the capital of the Muslim world, the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate. It doesn’t last long, the power centre shifts lightning fast - the moment of glory is always brief, a mere spark. But Damascus carries on, it always has.
Fast forward to 21st century, Damascus faces possibly the toughest times in its 12,000 years of history – will it be able to go on?
The Dice Player
A poem by world-renowned Arab poet Mahmoud Darwish, made into this animated calligraphic film, a prize winner at the Berlin Zebra Poetry Festival.
Did you know the Arab Diaspora spans the entire world? Some prominent personalities are of Arab origins - Steve Jobs is one for instance, Ralph Nader and Paul Anka are two more.
Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2017