A California high school's use of an Arab mascot has drawn the ire of a rights group that says it is offensive, stereotyping Arabs as hook-nosed, bearded and angry. Coachella Valley High School sports teams are dubbed the "Arabs", which the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee complained in a letter to the school this month plays on harmful stereotypes.

A new book by Naomi Sakr, Transformations in Egyptian Journalism (I.B. Tauris, 2013), should be required reading for American public diplomacy specialists who want to engage Egyptians through the media. Bilingual Sakr, a media policy professor at the University of Westminster and director of its CAMRI Arab Media Centre, draws on new research and decades’ experience tracking Arab media trends to offer a readout on how Egyptian journalists and their employers have been struggling and coping yet also innovating since the 2011 revolution.

Saudi Arabia’s support to the Islamic world has been put under the spotlight by the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as the kingdom marks its 83rd National Day. Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said the occasion would celebrate “a time when the Kingdom is enjoying dignity and prosperity under the wise leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.”

In the past week, social media masses have swiftly begun to unleash their ire with user generated content poking fun at the big players in the Syrian conflict. Social media users were torn between those who mocked Assad for getting the cold shoulder treatment by Russian’s Putin, whilst others channeled their creativity to portray that Assad is a victim of a global conspiracy.

At some point, the post-revolutionary Arab states will emerge from the self-destructive madness that has them so tightly in its grip. While Egypt, Syria, Libya, and Tunisia deal with varying degrees of instability, the future should be kept in sight. The key to an improved future in the region is less political than it is economic. Democracy is a worthy goal, but it will be reached only slowly. The shriveled economies of many Arab states (they are not all oil-rich) were the most significant factors behind the uprisings of 2011.

This year’s Malmo Arab Festival in Sweden will screen more than 100 Arab films in a bid to facilitate cross-cultural exchange, it is set to run from September 2-8. Directed by Mohammed Keblawi, the festival will showcase films from countries around the region including Palestine, Qatar, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The festival will also honor a number of Arab actors and industry experts for their contributions to the world of Arab cinema, television and theatre.

August 14, 2013

As the Egyptian military consolidates control by murdering pro-Muslim Brotherhood protesters and declaring a state of emergency, we may be witnessing the most dangerous potential for Arab radicalization since the two Palestinian intifadas. Despite the resignation Wednesday of Mohamed ElBaradei, the vice president, in opposition to the Egyptian junta's action, the discomfiting fact is that most of Egypt's liberal "democrats"--along with the United States--have never looked more hypocritical.

Sour Lips by Omar El-Khairy is a play that dramatises the story of Amina Arraf, a fictional Syrian character created by Tom MacMaster in a blog he dubbed A Gay Girl in Damascus. Emerging in the hype surrounding the Arab Spring, the blog bore an activist façade and was part of a buzzing blogsphere discussing a transition to democracy and progressiveness in the region.