Sinai Manuscripts Digital Library

Sinai Manuscripts Digital Library is a project of St. Catherine’s Monastery of the Sinai, in collaboration with the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library (EMEL) and the UCLA Library.

Located in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, St. Catherine’s Monastery is “one of the world’s oldest monasteries and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.” The site has been occupied by monks since the 4th century, but the monastery was formally established in 6th century the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. Thanks to its remote location, the Monastery has been able to preserve one of the world’s most important libraries holding 4,559 manuscripts dating from the 4th to the 19th century in 13 languages, covering a wide range of topics (Bible, liturgy, hagiography, patristics, spirituality, and history, classical poetic, scientific and philosophical texts). Widely recognized as “the world’s oldest continually operating library, the manuscript holdings of St. Catherine’s Monastery represent an unparalleled resource to study the history and literature of the Eastern Mediterranean from late antiquity until early modernity.”

Started in February 2018, the digitization of 1,172 Arabic and Syriac (400,000 pages) should be completed in March 2022. The second phase of the project will focus on digitizing Greek, Georgian, Slavonic and other languages 3,387 codices (1.1 million pages).

At the time of our visit, a total of 660 manuscripts in Arabic, Syriac, Greek, Aramaic, Turkish, Coptic and Latin were accessible via the following categories:

Within each category, holdings can be filtered by genre (the majority of the manuscripts fall into the liturgical and biblical texts genres), date (ranging from 501 to 1900), writing system (the large majority of manuscripts are written in Arabic and Syriac), script (Naskh being the most used calligraphy in this collection), codicological features (colophon, decorations, marginal notes, etc.), support (paper or parchment), form (all of them are codices), and names. Results are displayed either in list or gallery view:

Please note that access to digital versions of manuscripts is conditioned to the creation of a free account. Once logged in, you may open records and view the manuscripts in the custom-made viewer:

Records include bibliographical and codicological information on the codex as well as references. A good variety of reading options are available as shown below:

The Sinai Manuscripts Digital Library benefits from the contributions of worldwide digital imaging scientists and technicians, conservators, consulting scholars, librarians, program managers, and software designers. The first phase received funding from the Ahmanson Foundation, Arcadia, the Museum of the Bible Scholar’s Initiative, and the Steinmetz Family Foundation.

For more information about conservation, digitization standards and methods and rights to use images, please see the About page.

7iber / خبر

Launched in 2007 as a “citizen media platform”, 7iber became in 2009 a registered LLC (Limited Liability Company) in Jordan and grew into both a media organization and an online magazine. Over the years, 7iber received grants and funding from the European Endowment for Democracy (EED), The Netherlands Embassy in Amman, International Media Support (IMS), the Swiss Embassy in Amman, Hivos, the Open Society Foundation, Heinrich Boell Foundation, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), InterNews, and the Arab Partnership Participation Fund.

7iber advocates for “an open society that upholds values of accountability, rule of law, human rights, and pluralism, through in-depth multimedia journalism, critical analysis and public conversation.” To do so, they produce and publish original articles, provide a platform for public debate, organize talks, conduct “research on Internet governance and digital rights”, and offer training opportunities “on various aspects of online media.”

Excerpt from the “About” page, December 13, 2012.

Navigate 7iber

Content on 7iber can be discovered via the categories listed below:

7iber on Social Media

In addition to the main media platform, 7iber maintains a blog, where some of the content is archived, and publishes a Newsletter to which anyone can subscribe (by entering their email address at from the bottom of the main page). 7iber is also available on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Google+.

In sum

7iber produces and publishes original news content that will be interesting to anyone looking for un-official information, especially related to Human Rights or political pluralism in the Arab World. As would be the case on any online media platform, it is recommended to cross-check 7iber information and data with those published elsewhere.

The interface is available in Arabic only but some articles are accessible in English.

The Digital Orientalist

The Digital Orientalist is an online magazine focusing on digital humanities applied to the large field of “Oriental” studies. It was founded in 2013 by a McGill Institute of Islamic Studies alumn, L.W. Cornelis van Lit, who has been using “computer-supported-solutions” in his own research on post-classical Islamic philosophy for years.

Our name The Digital Orientalist, may raise an eyebrow. We are all fully aware of the contentious meaning of ‘Orientalism’ and its relation to colonialism. We are of the opinion that enough years have gone by to pick this name up again, to convey in one word the relation between our fields of studies. In this sense we mirror similar initiatives like The Digital Classicist, The Digital Medievalist, The Digital Humanist, etc.” Excerpt from the “About” page of The Digital Orientalist.

Today, The Digital Orientalist is run by an editorial team of twenty scholars, librarians, and students sharing their thoughts on digital tools, and practical experiences using them in the Humanities. The blog format allows visitors to access publications either by geographical areas or by topic. Areas covered are:

As for topics, they range from digitization to textual analysis, passing by archiving, data visualization, digital cartography, coding, etc.:

In sum, The Digital Orientalist provides not only informed insight on digital tools, but also practical guidance as to how using them to best support the study, teaching and research in “Oriental” studies. As such, it is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in Digital Humanities and Area Studies, in particular those cited above.

For news and updates, please see Twitter and Facebook:

Khamseen Islamic Art History Online

Khamseen: Islamic Art History Online is a brand new open-access platform making available Islamic art, architecture, and visual culture resources primarily to support the interactive learning and teaching of Islamic art history, and in particular educators “who face limited access to institutional and archival resources”, but also to “educate and inspire interested audiences outside of academia”.

This very promising platform was launched in October 2020 under the supervision of Christiane Gruber, Professor of Islamic art at the University of Michigan. The project received financial support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and is sponsored by the  Digital Islamic Studies Curriculum (DISC) at the University of Michigan.

At the time of our visit, Khamseen included a series of ten to fifteen minutes-long video presentations focusing on a variety of topics: Persian miniatures, Mosques architecture, textile in traditional Tentmaking, etc. To date, no less than twenty-five international Islamic art history specialists contributed to the the platform.

Additional resources included the following:

A selection of Teaching Resources for Islamic Art

An Audio and Video Recording Tools Guide

The recording of a 90-minutes Discussion of Online Resources for Teaching Islamic Art between Khamseen founder Christiane Gruber, Ruba Kan’an (Assistant Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture, University of Toronto), Michael Toler (Archnet Content Manager, Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT), and Matt Saba (Visual Resources Librarian for Islamic Architecture at the Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT)

Further developments of Khamseen will focus on: “(…) expand[ing] the range of subjects and materials to provide a rich repository of resources in the realm of digital Islamic humanities, [and] (…) expand[ing] the project’s accessibility and foster a global audience through closed captioning and providing content in multiple languages [seeking] to take the study of Islamic art out to the world, reaching a truly international level of engagement and learning thanks to the possibilities of integrated digital technologies.”

Interested people can find more information about the platform or follow future developments on social media: @khamseenislamicart (Instagram), @TeamKhamseen (Twitter), @KhamseenIslamicArt (Facebook).

KITAB : Knowledge, Information Technology, and the Arabic Book

Based at the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations at the Agha Khan University, in London U.K., KITAB is a project including both a searching tool for the textual exploration of the medieval Arabic written heritage, and an online discussion forum on Arabic texts. Since its creation in 2017, KITAB received funding from the Aga Khan University, the British Academy and the European Research Council.

Under the guidance of the principal investigator, Sarah Bowen Savant -cultural historian of the Middle East and Iran between 600-1500 A.D. and professor at AKU-ISMC- and the Advisory Board composed of eight international leading scholars in the fields of Islamic, Persian and Arabic studies, KITAB team of twenty-one scholars and computing specialists and five partners work relentlessly to develop new capabilities (i.e visualization tools, Optical Recognition Character, etc.)

The searching tool developed by KITAB team is able to detect proper names occurrences within a large corpus uncovering the complex relationships between medieval Arab authors and how ideas and knowledge circulated throughout the Arab World across time. The most recent developments have focused on the gathering of statistics on the reuse of ideas across the tradition including “the extent and precision of reuse.”

The KITAB corpus of Arabic texts produced between the eighth century and the fifteenth century A.D. largely comes from the Open Islamicate Texts Initiative, another collaborative project of Sarah Bowen Savant, Maxim Romanov and Matthew Thomas Miller. KITAB corpus is continually growing  in order “to increase both the number and the diversity of texts.”

Anyone can use KITAB corpus and searching tool. The Our Pilot page provides a brief overview of the data and tools created by KITAB. One of the goals of the project is to “bring all of [their] data and sources into the public domain and with the field to take best advantage of what digital technology now allows […] to see and to discover.”

For regular updates on the project you can check the Blog, the What’s New page, and Professor Savant’s Twitter account.

Kashkul / كشكول

Kashkul is a collective composed of Iraqi, Kurdish and American students, artists, and researchers based at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS). The group aims at collecting, preserving, translating when necessary, and making available to the general public literary, artistic, and archival materials produced in Iraq. A partnership with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) allows Kashkul to publish their collections through the International Digital Ephemera Project (IDEP).

Directed by Dr. Elizabeth Campbell, Professor of Middle East History at Daemen College in Amherst, New York, and Dr. Marie LaBrosse, an independent writer, translator and poet, who both used to work at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS), Kashkul also includes six scholars focusing on the numerous projects. In 2017-2018 and 2018-2019, the collective welcomed two artists-in-residence: Kurdish painter and sculptor Ismail Khayat and Mexican poet David Shook.


Past and current Kashkul projects include:

  • Crux “aims to understand how devotion becomes violent and how violent devotion can become peaceful.” Crux relies on case studies of specific areas and creates “in-depth profiles of Islamic thought leaders who are influential within these communities.”
  • Talabani Tekiye studies the theology and religious practice of the Talabani Tekiye and Mosque of Kirkuk, a bastion of liberal Islam, “and how, over generations, people have maintained their openness.”
  • Mosul Lives is meant to provide “a picture of daily life in Mosul, before the Islamic State, and the American presence of 2003.” This projects is based on extensive interviews.
  • Handmade “documents traditional crafts and practices in Iraq and its Kurdish regions and the stories of those who continue them, preserving the cultural heritage of daily life.”
  • Film, Music and Art Archives aims at collecting and preserving “contemporary culture in Iraq and its Kurdish regions.” The database features a personal library for each artist including scans of their works, translation, subtitles, etc.
  • Arrival‘s goal is the publication of an anthology of Kurdish poetry in translation. Currently, the project focuses on selecting, translating, analyzing and comparing “critical literary contributions from every century of Kurdish poetry.”
  • The Abu Ghraib Collection includes “letters, objects, and books made by a political prisoner in Abu Ghraib under Saddam Hussein” showing “how prisoners maintained hope, connection and the ability to express their ideas.”
  • The Referendum collection focuses on “how people and their political parties campaigned, expressed opinions, and voted.”
  • The Stone Man was a collaboration between artist-in-residence Ismail Khayat and student artists  that resulted in a retrospective of Khayat’s work as well as a sculpture garden (The Stone Garden) located on the AUIS campus.
  • Kashkulistan is a manuscripts, and artifacts collecting, cataloguing and digitization project lead in collaboration with regional archives, collectors and scholars.


If you want to learn more about Kashkul and be informed of their activities, you may follow them on Instagram: @kash_kul

Amaliah

Launched in 2016 by Nafisa Bakkar, a 27th years-old entrepreneur based in London, U.K., Amaliah is an online media-platform aiming to serve as an amplifier for Muslim women’s voices. Rich of contributions from over 300 women living all around the World, Amaliah allows for different feminine experiences within Muslim communities to be made pubic and widely accessible. Amaliah is committed to inclusion trying to take a broad-range of perspectives into consideration when addressing issues.

Over the years, Amaliah and its founder received a lot of attention from main-stream media: they were featured in Forbes, The Telegraph, CNN, and The Guardian -to name only a few- increasing the platform’s visibility and leading to a digital footprint of over 3.2 million every month.

The platform categorizes its multimedia content (text, video & audio) in seven main categories:

  • Identity relays stories of personal journeys to becoming a woman
  • Relationships is interested in romantic relationships, family relationships, and the relationship individuals have with themselves
  • Soul focuses on the spiritual side of things (tips, advice, and experiences helping to nourish and boost one’s faith or comfort one’s heart
  • Fashion shares fashion and inspiration from bloggers
  • Beauty & Makeup brings beauty and make-up advice
  • Lifestyle aims at inspiring, guiding and motivating with content inspired by one’s personal interests and daily activities
  • World focuses on current affairs, news stories across the globe and trending topics.

The Amaliah Podcast won the 2019 ‘Grassroots Production of the Year Award’ from the Audio Production Award, and was nominated for the 2020 British Podcast Awards in the ‘Best Sex & Relationships Podcast’ category. The Podcast discusses Muslim life, culture and politics in the U.K.

If some of you have ideas that they would like to share, Amaliah welcomes new contributions and contributors. So don’t hesitate to contact them at contribute@amaliah.com!

Last, in March 2020, Amaliah introduced a membership option giving access to a variety of exclusive events and content. You can check out the Support page to learn more!

ArabLit: Arabic Literature and Translation

ArabLit: Arabic Literature in Translation is a blog launched in 2009 by Marcia Lynx Qualey, a freelance journalist living in Cairo who holds a Master Degree in creative writing from the University of Minnesota. In addition to maintaining ArabLit M. Lynx Qualey writes about Arabic literature for a number of newspapers and journals:  The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Your Middle East, and AGNI  Online, a literary journal published by Boston University.

Over time, ArabLit became a good source of daily news and views on Arab and Arabic literature and translation. As described in an interview by Claire Jacobson (for Asymptot): “her [Qualey’s] coverage leaves no stone unturned, spanning a wide range of genres (from poetry to nonfiction, magical realism to science fiction) and countries (from Morocco to Iraq, Sudan to Syria).”

In 2017, ArabLit won the prestigious Literary Translation Initiative Award at the London Book Fair, and M. Lynx Qualey launched the BULAQ Podcast in collaboration with Ursula Lindsey, from The Arabist. BULAQ focuses on contemporary writing from and about the Middle East and North Africa, and on literature (what does it do? Why does it matter? How does it relates to society, history and politics?). BULAQ is co-produced by Sowt, a podcasting platform producing and distributing high-quality audio programs in Arabic based in Amman (Jordan) and launched in 2016.

In 2018, with support from fans and readers (53,208 followers in July 2020), Qualey was able to develop ArabLit by launching new initiatives:

  • the ArabLit Story Prize is awarded every year to the best short stories recently translated from Arabic to English by non-previously published translators
  • ArabKidLitNow! provides a “fresh view on contemporary Arabic children’s literature, in Arabic and in translation” is addressed to  publishers, translators, readers of Arabic, Arabic language learners, readers of English, teachers, librarians, booksellers, etc.
  • ArabLit Quarterly is a theme-based “magazine that brings together Arabic literature, essays, wordplay, art, music, and food in translation”
  • ArabLit Store offers items and publications for purchase.

In 2020, despite de COVID-19 crisis, M. Lynx Qualey was able to:

  • Launch the 5th and 6th issues of ArabLit Quarterly covering “The road” and “The crime” themes, and start working on the 7th and 8th issues that will focus on “Cats” and “Dreams”
  • Start a “lock-in literature” series for readers with limited access to books during the COVID-19 shutdowns
  • Run the #ArabicTranslationChallenge with Kevin Blankinship, assistant Professor of Asian and Near Eastern Languages at Brigham Young University.

Interested people can follow Marcia Lynx Qualey on Facebook, Instragam, Twitter, Youtube, SoundCloud, or by subscribing to the Tiny Newsletter. Last, in order to support further development, ArabLit is welcoming donations.

The Arabist

Launched in Cairo (Egypt) in 2003 by Issandr El Amrani, a Moroccan-American writer and analyst, The Arabist is an independent blog covering “the domestic politics of Arab countries”. If the primary focus lies on Egypt, the blog also aims at exploring “broader issues in the Arab world, US policy in the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and cultural developments throughout the region”. The blog is maintained in collaboration with Ursula Lindsey, a journalist interested in “culture, education and politics in the Arab world”, and welcomes contributions from multiple contributors, journalists and/or academics specializing in the region. After a very prolific decade, The Arabist is now less frequently updated, but remains nevertheless a valuable and reliable source of information for scholars interested in contemporary Arab politics.

Screenshot of ‘The Arabist’ main page, June 30, 2020.

The main page is used for posting links relevant to the themes of the blog, and is updated every couple of months. The Podcast & Projects tab in the top-left menu leads to additional resources: podcasts, press articles in translation, a guide to Egyptian political, economic and social issues, and an Egyptian magazine’s archive.

Bulaq: The Arab World in Books is a podcast started in November 2017. Co-hosted by Ursula Lindsey and Marcia Lynx Qualey, book critic, editor, ghostwriter, and literary consultant and editor-in-chief of ArabLit, Bulaq looks at the Middle East and North Africa “through the lens of literature and at literature through the lens of current events”.

From 2009 to 2014, The Arabist Podcast focusing on Egyptian politics during the revolution and its aftermath was co-hosted by Issandr El Amrani and Ursula Lindsey.

The 80+ episodes of both podcasts can be listened to and/or downloaded from their respective pages.

The Sabry Guide was developed in 2012 by Bassem Sabry, an Egyptian political analyst who passed away prematurely in 2014, to provide an overview of the political, economic and social challenges facing post-Mubarak Egypt, with a a focus on the everyday problems encountered by the Egyptian population. Re-arranged for clarity, this guide will be of interest to scholars working on contemporary Egypt.

From 2011 to 2018, in partnership with the firm Industry Arabic, ‘The Arabist’ regularly published materials selected from the Arabic press In (English) Translation.

Last but not least, The Cairo magazine archive makes available the 30 issues of this “magazine for News, Business and Culture” published between March and November 2005.

Palestinian Journeys

Palestinian Journeys is a collaborative project of the Palestinian Museum and the Institute for Palestine Studies. The Palestinian Museum is an independent institution founded in 1997 by the Taawon Welfare Association with the goal of promoting a dynamic vision of Palestinian culture engaged with new perspectives on history, society and culture. The Institute for Palestine Studies is an independent not-for-profit research institution founded in 1963 to document Palestine and and publish ground-breaking scholarship on historical and contemporary Palestine.

Powered by by Visualizing Palestine, whose productions we already highlighted on this blog (here), the Palestinian Journeys platform is continuously populated with valuable content.

Palestinian Journeys main page

The platform is discoverable via two main entries accessible from the left-hand side of the screen: the “Timeline,” and the “Stories.

The Timeline, “an ever-growing encyclopedic collection of historical events, biographies, themed chronologies”. Originally  created by he Institute for Palestine Studies, it aims at highlighting historical, socioeconomic and cultural themes, relying on historical documents, and multimedia content. From within the timeline, various categories are available:

  1. Ottoman Rule
  2. Early Mandate Period
  3. Second Mandate Period
  4. The Palestine War and the Nakba
  5. Reverberation of 1948 Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict
  6. The Rise of the Palestinian Movement in the Wake of the 1967 Arab Defeat
  7. From a Sense of Victory to separate Peace and civil War
  8. Palestinian Defeat, Division and Survival
  9. The first Intifada and the beginning of Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations
  10. The Oslo process and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority
  11. The Aqsa Intifada and the end of an Era in Palestinian Politics
  12. A Palestinian Authority divided, Israeli Assaults on Gaza and Peace process Setbacks.

Stories

In addition, an “Inspire me” category allows visitors to discover the Palestinian Journeys through a selection of marking moments, events, and characters, and a search feature allows visitors to focus on a specific event or theme they are interested in.

Inspire me

A short description including source is available for each document, and sometimes related content is suggested:

The interface is bilingual English-Arabic.