Why is it that we view everything with so much negativity and suspicion?
For a long time, I have been frustrated by the negative popular opinions about the Middle East and its culture and politics. And then a couple of months ago, while surfing my Facebook, I came across this video about Iran on Vox. Although only 2 minutes long, the video gives an interesting perspective on how people in Iran are different than the image that Westerners often have of them. The video maker shows this difference by both separating the opinions of common people from those of the regime, and by following and corresponding with a number of Iranians on Facebook.
To his great “surprise”, the videomaker finds that these Iranians post about many of the same things as his Western friends on Facebook. They post about cats, funny songs, picnics… And not about war, misery, or hatred!
And then I thought to myself, WHY do we need to be reminded that people in Iran are just normal people? Why is there a need to show that there is more to a country, its culture and its people, than the violent images that we see on TV? Shouldn’t that be.. Obvious?
This is what sparked my interest in writing a blog that shows the positive and beautiful things in cultures that are currently portrayed negatively in (Western) media. I hope that this will inspire and bring attention to the things that cultures have in common, such as pop culture, fashion and delicious food, and shine a positive light on things that differ.
For example, did you know the following?
- Iran is famous for its women’s fashion designers
- Lebanon produces delicious wine
- Afghanistan’s new hip hangout spot is a fro-yo chain called “Cherry Berry”
- Syria exports yummy chocolate
- In Iran, the mayor of Tehran is “bringing art to the people” by exchanging ad billboards with Western and Iranian art works
- Lebanese fashion designer Reem Acra has been featured in the Wall Street Journal
- Egyptian Carmen Suleiman won the first season (2012) of Arab Idol
Cross-cultural understanding and appreciation is, at least in my opinion, the very base of living in a world without racism, suspicion or hatred. For that reason, I hope to bring back the humanity of a region with not only delicious food, but also amazing music, inspiring books, edgy fashion, funny movies and much much more!
Suggestions for blog posts are of course warmly welcomed.