What is Mashallah News?
We are: a journalists’, bloggers’ and graphic designers’ collective. Mashallah is our platform of disOriented news.
We were born: in 2010, at the end of a long and hot summer.
We are based: in Beirut, the funky and decadent capital of Lebanon.
We come from: all over the Mediterranean sea and beyond. We were born and bred OR chose to live in the region.
We aim at: spreading a new outlook on countries from Morocco to Iran, everywhere the word Mashallah is used, thanks to our team of correspondents reporting from major cities in the region.
We are interested in: underground cultural scenes, social taboos, multilingualism, identity crises, organic wine, urban planning, body painting, humor, art and going beyond mental, cultural and national frontiers.
We are tired of: cultural propaganda, bribes, scape-goats, Lawrence of Arabia, CNN, ill-informed foreign correspondents, camels, Samuel Huntington, pollution, palm trees and flying carpets.
We believe in: describing cultural change, social issues and the unexpected, rather than repeating stereotypes and simpleminded images.
We are: a multilingual platform because we want to reach English, French and Arabic speaking audiences.
How did it begin?
Two of us were discussing media coverage of the region, which generally is very single-minded and has a narrow focus. We decided to create a new platform where all untold stories about life, society, culture and social initiatives could be shared. Through internet, we got in touch with journalists, photographers, graphic designers and translators from across the region. We’re now a growing number of people eager to portray the cities were they live. We share a feeling of being part of an urban setting that is not represented in mainstream media, and want to speak about how our cities are evolving so fast on urban, social, cultural levels. That’s really at the core why we wanted to create Mashallah News as a collaborative and regional platform.
Most interesting response to the site so far?
- Wow. We’ve gotten so many nice and encouraging responses, from people everywhere. To pick one, this is a tweet that came the other day, from @AJKhn: “Holy shit. Ho-lee shit. Best journalism I've seen in a long time from
Other favorite websites, blogs?
- http://www.jadaliyya.com/ who cover politics, society and current events in the region. They are extremely smart, always critical, well-researched and bring manage to academia to popular media in a great way.
- We also like http://www.theculturist.com/, http://www.khtt.net, and http://www.futuristika.org - these cover different aspects of culture in a great way.
- The people behind http://www.kabobfest.com are funny too.
Up and coming creatives from the Middle East everyone should know about? This list has no end!
- Iranian director Massoud Bakhshi, who presented his movie Tehran Has No More Pomegranates during our Mashallah News Day in Istanbul;
- poet Tala Abu Rahmeh based in Ramallah;
- photographers like Mher Krikorian from Lebanon,
- Ali Taptik from Turkey, the Rawiya collective with members like Newsha Tavakolian & Dalia Khamissy;
- Lebanese illustrator Karen Klink.
- On Mashallah Blog you can find lots of great work from artists that we like.
What does 'disOriented news' mean exactly? For us, it has a double meaning. The obvious thing is to do something different from the orientalist vision that has prevailed, and still is very powerful, in much of mainstream media. This is of course a Western - whatever this conception stands for - phenomena, but recurs across the board since so much media coverage comes from that part of the world. Then, ‘disOriented’ also means that we really focus on original, out of the box, topics. That we’re without a set orientation, a singular focus.
Opinions you might want to share on the "Arab Uprising" and the effects it will have on the creatives living in the region? We’re really living in amazing times. What’s been happening since late last year is an infusion of inspiration, courage, optimism and awareness. Of course, this inspires creative people across the region - there are numerous examples of this already.
- Street art commemorating the martyrs in Tunis (http://www.zoo-project.com/1/),
- revolutionary musical composition on the streets of Cairo (http://mashallahnews.com/?p=1640
- Egyptian street graphics traveling across borders (http://mashallahnews.com/?p=1889)
How do you get all the info you share? Mashallah News is still a young and fragile initiative: we work totally on a voluntary basis and with much love and devotion. So we need all the support we can get from readers and people who connect to our vision to spread the word about the platform. We’re also in need of new contributors for many cities. We want to get in touch with more people from places where we already have a quite strong basis - Istanbul, Cairo, Beirut - but also from places where there isn’t anyone writing for us yet. Muscat, Doha, Tripoli, Erbil, Dubai to name a few. Basically, anyone can contact us. Comments, ideas, contributions - we will reply !
artist Reza Abedini featured on Mashallah