Center News

Drumming Workshops for Beginning and Intermediate Students, 3rd-12th grades (Other workshops for adults possible)

Ten Saturday workshops from September through December were held at the Rotunda (4012 Walnut St., Philadelphia) by Lebanese-American Master Percussionist Joseph Tayoun. The workshops ran from 12:45-1:45 PM for beginners, and from 1:50-2:50 PM for intermediate, and focused on Middle Eastern rhythms and techniques. Future programs of this sort are likely. For more information, call Al-Bustan at (267) 809-3668. You can also send them email. Some scholarships are available. If you are interested in adult percussion workshops, let them know, as they are considering opening an adult section on Saturdays from 3-4 PM.


Arabic and Drama Workshops for 3rd-5th Graders

Ten Saturday workshops from September through December were held at the Rotunda (4012 Walnut St., Philadelphia) by Nehad Khader and Nahid Elgadi. The workshops ran from 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM, and focused on study of conversational and written Arabic, integrated with acting and writing an Arab fairy tale, ending with a performance-in-progress. For more information, call Al-Bustan at (267) 809-3668. You can also send them email. Some scholarships are available.

The Middle East Center congratulates NELC Professor Joseph E. Lowry on his promotion to Associate Professor. Professor Lowry is the author of Early Islamic Legal Theory: The Risala of Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafi'i, which was published in 2007 by Brill. His book presents a comprehensive reinterpretation of the Risala, the earliest preserved work of Islamic legal theory.

The Middle East Center would like to congratulate Professor Roger Allen, Chair of the Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations department, on being elected the President of the Middle East Studies Association. Professor Allen was elected at the 2008 MESA Conference in Washington, D.C., and will assume his role beginning in November 2009 and ending at the 2010 conference in San Diego, CA. This position has been held by such esteemed scholars as Barbara Stowasser, Philip S. Khoury and John Esposito. It is a very prestigious honor that brings us at the Middle East Center and the Penn community a special source of pride.

Al-Bustan's percussion instruction and music appreciation program, featuring Simon Shaheen

On November 19, 2008, the Middle East Center, in partnership with Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, co-sponsored a teacher's workshop with internationally renowned 'ud and violin virtuoso Simon Shaheen. The workshop was held from 1-3 PM at the Kimmel Center at 260 S. Broad St. This event was followed by a series of master workshops with several youth ensembles in January 2009. For more information on Al-Bustan's music program, click here to visit their website.

Professor Ian Lustick's article "Abandoning the Iron Wall:  Israel and the Middle Eastern Muck" which he published in Middle East Policy (September 2008) has generated considerable discussion in policy circles. His recent book, Exile and Return:  Predicaments of Palestinians and Jews, which he edited with Ann Lesch, has now been issued in paperback by the University of Pennsylvania Press.

PaCIE Conference - on Oct. 2-4, 2008, the Middle East Center co-sponsored the Pennsylvania Council for International Education (PaCIE) annual conference in State College PA.  The center's staff attended and participated in panels on the Globalizing the K-12 Classroom and Building an International Education.  PaCIE has provided vital professional development and networking opportunities to the state's international educators and has been a constant voice to advocate for international education in the Commonwealth for 40 years. For more information please visit

“City Year Training Day " at The Mastery Charter School-Shoemaker Campus

On September 23, 2008, the Middle East Center, in partnership with three other National Resource Centers at Penn (African Studies Center, Center for East Asian Studies, and South Asian Studies Center) offered a teacher's training day for 230 City Year staff members. The training focused on the significance of global education and its impact on solidarity. The training also provided members with resources to use in their own classrooms and after-school programs. This half-day program was partially funded by the Schol of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.

“The New Mediterranean" at Dickinson College

The Middle East Center continues to expand its circle of outreach partners in the state of Pennsylvania.  In April 2008, the Center co-sponsored Dickinson College’s Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues a day-long symposium on “The New Mediterranean.”  This special event addressed new ways of understanding diaspora identity, cultural, political boundaries and exchanges between Europe and North Africa through critical discussions and performances by writers, cultural critics, and musicians. The discussions concluded with an improvisational and participatory Culture Jam and concert by the world music and Afro-Nord group, Cafe Mira. Click here for more information.

World-renowned Arab Ethnomusicologist Dr. Ali Jihad Racy and Mideast Ensemble Perform

In March 2008 the Middle East Center's Outreach Program co-sponsored with its partner, Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, and Swarthmore College a free public concert featuring a collaboration between the world-renowned Arab ethnomusicologist Dr. Ali Jihad Racy and Philadelphia's own Middle East Ensemble, featuring Joseph Tayoun, Roger Mgrdichian, Adeeb Refela, Hafez El Ali, and William Tayoun at the Lang Performing Arts Center at Swarthmore College, in Media, Pennsylvania.

The concert, "Music and Memory: Legacy in a New World" featured a repertoire of traditional, folk, and popular Arab music as well as original compositions. It also incorporated improvisations on a variety of instruments, including the nay (reed flute), buzuq (long-necked lute), and 'ud (short-necked lute). This concert showcased the exquisite musicianship of Dr. Racy (on nay, buzuq, and ‘ud) and members of MidEast Ensemble: Joseph Tayoun (percussion), Roger Mgrdichian (‘ud), Adeeb Refela (violin), Hafez El Ali (percussion/vocals), and William Tayoun (percussion).

The Middle East Center and Al-Bustan will also co-sponsor a free Arab music demonstration workshop by Dr. Racy in West Philadelphia while in our great city.

Professional Development Training for Executives from Telecom Egypt

The Center’s outreach program was instrumental in arranging a unique professional development training for 30 executives from Telecom Egypt, to take place at the new international headquarters of COMCAST in downtown Philadelphia in February 2008.  The group is being sponsored by MEC's partner in the business community, the Global Interdependence Center, and will receive extensive training in best practices in business and personnel management from top managers and executives at COMCAST.  A reception will be held at the Pyramid Club following the training, and will feature Dr. Ashraf El Rabiey, Minister Plenipotentiary and Head of the Economic and Commercial Bureau of the Embassy of Egypt and other diplomatic and commercial representatives from the Middle East.  The reception is co-sponsored by the Center, the African Studies Center and the Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies at Penn.