Books and Magazines

KHAMSA’s recommendations from the realm of books and magazines.

Many contemporary journals have emerged in recent years to archive the cultures of the Arab world. Whether it be magazines dedicated to diaspora, books tracing the journeys of prominent Arab divas, or photographic books, the Arab world is celebrated through various literary formats.

Symbolizing a generation that does not wish to forget its Arab culture and origins, the book stands in stark contrast to the immediacy of the internet. It anchors the memories of a culture often relegated to the sidelines on paper. If you wish to learn more about the ancient and contemporary history of the Arab world and get to know the personalities that animate this multicultural region, here is a non-exhaustive selection of books and magazines that will satisfy your thirst for Arab culture.

١. La Place / مجلة لبالصة

Source: La Place

La Place is an annual Algerian feminist magazine founded and led by activist Saadia Gacem and editor Maya Ouabadi in March 2022. This magazine aims to preserve and recall the legacy of Algerian feminism while engaging in contemporary debates within Algerian society. The team, entirely composed of women, offers content that did not find a specific place in the Algerian literary or journalistic landscape. The magazine is written in Arabic and French.

Available here.

٢. Middle East Archive: Football Issue

Source: Hypebeast

Middle East Archive is a photography book that aims to represent and celebrate culture in the Middle East and North Africa region. Founded by Romaisa Baddar and copy-edited by the journalist Dalia Al Dujaili, this issue focuses on football culture in the Middle East and North Africa. More than a sport, this book shows that football is an integral part of the region’s daily life. This issue is motivated by a love of the game and a desire to showcase an underrepresented football culture in the MENA region. You will find photographs taken between late 1980s up to 2023, in several countries such as Algeria, Iran, Oman, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and more. Whether it’s in the streets, at home or in the stadium, all attest to the importance of football in the MENA region.

Available here.

٣. The Road to Nowhere

Source: The Road to Nowhere

The Road to Nowhere is a print magazine that aims to celebrate the impact of migration and diasporic creatives on the evolution of culture. Created by the journalist Dalia Al-Dujaili, The Road to Nowhere showcases new writing, art, photography and creativity about migration and diaspora. For the founder, diaspora creatives have the advantage of pluralism, which allows them to move into various cultures, languages and traditions.

“We understand the subtleties of time and place better than the rest, we move between languages and customs as fluidly as water, we can tap into networks and communities that intersect the homeland with our locales.”

– Dalia Al-Dujaili, Founder

Three issues have been published. Available here.

٤. DIVAS: From Oum Kalthoum to Dalida

Source: Grand Hotels Egypt

This book tells the story of the iconic feminine celebrities of the Arab world during the 20th century. These legendary divas, whose passion has been the symbol of an intense and unique artistic revolution in the Arab world, are all represented in this book, edited by L’Institut du Monde Arabe and the Skira edition.

Here we find the beginnings of Egyptian cinema, the prominent role of pioneering women in the Arab film industry, the journeys of female artists, as well as businesswomen like Baddia Massabni. Not to mention the great names of 20th-century Arab music such as Umm Kulthum, Warda al-Djazaïria, the Lebanese Fairuz, and the alluring Asmahan. An ode to Arab women who have left their mark on the history of art, dance, music, and cinema of the 20th century.

Available here.

٥. Qantara Magazine

Source: Direct-Editeurs

Qantara is a quarterly French-language magazine dedicated to Arab culture and published by L’Institut du Monde Arabe, in Paris. Established in 1991, Qantara derives its name from the Arabic word قنطرة, meaning “bridge,” “gateway,” or “arch.” This 82-page illustrated magazine’s mission is to introduce the cultural richness of the Arab and Mediterranean world.

Each quarter, its pages on arts, literature, and cinema provide insights into the cultural and artistic developments in the Arab world. In addition, the central feature covers a current or historical theme related to the Arab world. Other sections cover travel and Mediterranean cuisine.

Available here.

Selma Chougar is a French independent journalist of Algerian origin who writes for several magazines based in Paris, London, and Dubai. Culture and societal phenomena in the Arab world are her areas of expertise. She contributes to both French and English-language magazines.