First Big Arabic-focused Bookshop Opens in Istanbul

ArabLit & ArabLit Quarterly

Last week, Syrian publishers helped open the first major Arabic-focused bookshop in Istanbul, a four-floor, multilingual and multigenre space:

An opening-day photo from the Safahat Facebook page. An opening-day photo from the Pages Facebook page.

The newly opened “Pages” Bookshop is located in the historic Fatih district, close to the Kariye Museum. According to a feature in Publishing Perspectives by Olivia Snaije, more than “2,000 titles will be available in Arabic, Turkish, English, and French in a 210 square-meter space spread over four floors.”

It also boasts a café.

The bookshop is the brainchild of Gulnar Hajo and Samer al-Kadri, founders Bright Fingers children’s publishing house.

Like an estimated 350,000 other Syrian refugees living in Istanbul, Hajo and al-Kadri left Syria with their two daughters, first setting up in Jordan and later moving to Istanbul in 2013. Al-Kadri told Publishing Perspectives that he saw the need to establish a bookshop where books in Arabic were readily available. He told

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Islamic calligraphy reflected the diversity and pluralism of the various cultures


Strive to write elegantly for this will ensure your means of livelihood.”
Caliph ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib (d.661)

Penned by the Moghul prince Dara Shikoh, Shah Jahan’s eldest son. Manuscript dated 1631-32, border 18th century. (Image: Aga Khan Museum)

Calligraphy, from the Greek kallos (beauty) and graphein (to write) is the art of beautiful writing. Although the development of sophisticated calligraphy as an art form is not unique to Islamic culture, it has been used to a much greater extent and in varied ways, and in all art forms and materials in Islamic cultures.

The practice of calligraphy, originating in China during the second millennium BC, spread to many regions including the Middle East. The art of transcribing the Qur’an in a beautiful script was considered a form of devotion and an act of piety. In contrast to painters, potters, and other artists, who generally remained anonymous, the calligraphers…

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British Library loans to Sultans of Deccan exhibition in New York

A superlative exhibition Sultans of Deccan India opened at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in April with an important accompanying catalogue (Haidar and Sardar 2015).  The arts of the Deccan (upland peninsular India) are among the rarest survivals from Muslim India and the exhibition concentrated on its greatest period, namely 1500-1700, so that the quality of the exhibits was uniformly high.  The three major sultanates emerged from the earlier Bahmanid kingdom around 1490 and survived until conquered by the Mughals in the 17th century, when most of their paintings and manuscripts seem to have perished. The British Library has an outstanding collection of this rare material and several of the key pieces from it were lent to the exhibition. – See more at:


Wael Shawky “Cabaret Crusades: The Path to Cairo”, 2012 Vídeo monocanal, color, so, 58 min Col·lecció MACBA. Fundació MACBA. Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw © Wael Shawky, 2015
Once again, the MACBA collaborates with the Loop Festival showing the work of Wael Shawky, Cabaret Crusades: The Path to Cairo, 2012, in the Tower room on 4, 5 and 6 June.
The work will be seen showed as part of the MACBA Collection exhibition: Desires and Necessities that opens on 18 June.


A project by LOOP Barcelona in collaboration with MACBA.

Why Is Mark Zuckerberg Reading Ibn Khaldun’s ‘al-Muqaddimah’?

A must read.

ArabLit & ArabLit Quarterly

If Facebook-mogul Mark Zuckerberg really is reading a book “every other week,” we’ll assume that he’s reading the abridged version of Franz Rosenthal’s translation of the great fourteenth-century scholar’s work:

the muqaddimah

Or — if he is taking on all three volumes — then one hopes he’s cancelled meetings for the fortnight.

Although there was initially great fanfare about the January 2015 launch of Zuckerberg’s book club, eliciting numerous comparisons to Oprah’s bestseller-making club, it was also rather quickly declared a dud.

Still, Zuckerberg has persisted. His choice of Ibn Khaldun as his 6/1 book seems to have — if nothing else — delighted a number of Tunisians, who hurried to post images of their hometown scholar to the thread.

According to Business Insider, Zuckerberg’s A Year of Books selections have thus far have been “mostly contemporary,” so Ibn Khaldun is a bit of a curveball. On Facebook, Zuckerberg wrote his view on the book:

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