New Media

  • Zureiqat of Sowt

    Text: Ali Suleiman

    Sowt, a new audio social networking platform based out of Jordan, was founded by three Zureiqat siblings. I sat down with Hazem Zureiqat (Founder & CEO) to learn more on this start-up and the power of voice. A graduate of MIT and Macalester College, Hazem's area of expertise lies in transportation engineering, planning, and economics. He has previously worked with the Greater Amman Municipality and also serves as a transportation consultant at Engicon, a multidisciplinary engineering consulting firm in Amman.

    AS | Can you please tell us how the idea for Sowt came about?

    HZ | The idea came about in February 2012. My sister, who works in media and journalism, thought about developing an audio platform for citizen journalists to cover the events unfolding in the region. The initial idea was for people to record news on-the-go, add a text description, a photo, and their location — something which would add credibility to the news they were reporting, and to share that post with the world. The idea then evolved into one that is more encompassing and not just limited to citizen journalism.

    AS | So was the idea to give Sowt an Arabic identity there from the outset?

    HZ | Yes. Sowt’s Arab identity is reflected in that the platform was inspired by the events taking place in the Arab world and that our initial target market was the Arab world. Of course, the identity is also reflected in the name (the Arabic word for ‘voice’). We looked at different spellings of the word and selected the one we’re using today.

    AS | So after you got the idea down how did you go about establishing yourselves?

    HZ | We decided to make the platform available on both mobile and web. Although everything is going mobile, web remains important, especially for consumption purposes. We also decided to make the interface available in English and Arabic from day one.

    We worked with a development company here in Jordan first, and we’re now moving development activities in-house. We also wanted to do everything ‘by the book’; we registered the company, did a patentability search, applied for a patent in the US (which is currently pending), and we registered our trademarks.

    We worked on the concept and what features we wanted to incorporate. We determined the general look and feel, and we designed the brand and user interface. The beta version was launched (by invitation) at the end of December 2012. The public version came out at the end of March 2013. During this time period, we would get feedback from our testers and adjust the platform based on it. But the basic premise of the app remained the same: you record a short audio clip [42 seconds long], you can attach a picture, share your location, and share it automatically on your Facebook and Twitter feeds.

    AS | Why 42 seconds?

    HZ | We wanted something between half a minute and a minute. We didn’t want anything too short because we wanted people to post substantive content and have serious discussions. So we just picked a unique number for people to remember. This number is also mentioned in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.”

    AS | There are many audio platforms out there, so what differentiates yours?

    HZ | First off, it is important to understand Sowt’s positioning in the online audio space. You have streaming services such as radio, Spotify, music apps, etc. Then you have content distribution platforms like SoundCloud, where a band, for example, can share their music, or a university can post a lecture to distribute content. These platforms offer a one-way communication (although they may include some commenting features). Sowt is a social audio platform.

    Social audio is about having people talk (literally) to one another. This space is fairly new. There are a couple of relatively big players out there, but there isn’t a single dominant player on the global scale. People are still experimenting, and there isn’t one successful working model.

    What sets us apart from other social audio platforms is first our geographical advantage: Sowt is the first in the Arab world. This is significant, because voice is very language and culture-specific, so the barriers to entry from that perspective are not so low. We also believe that we have a superior platform; we’ve gotten extremely positive feedback on the quality and user interface. Furthermore, Sowt focuses very much on interaction among users, and we are patenting some of the features that relate to that.

    AS | The target users were citizen journalists, and then you expanded it. Do you have specific target users now?

    HZ | It’s hard to initially define a target market in the traditional sense. We’re keeping it open to see how people come and use it. That said, we have several use cases in mind that we are pushing for and promoting.

    AS | This seems to deal with a larger aspiration. Can we say Sowt has a certain philosophy and mission in what it’s doing, beyond business?

    HZ | Absolutely. The three of us (the founding shareholders) are all quite active in the public sphere, and we’ve realised how much can be lost when people communicate using text. Our vision when creating Sowt was to raise the level of the discussion, to elevate the online discourse by introducing voice. Voice is more personal and effective, and it is the least prone to misunderstanding. We’re not necessarily looking for content that would go viral but, rather, for people to engage in substantive discussions online that would eventually have a positive impact offline.

    Nevertheless, and given how we started Sowt as an all-encompassing platform, we are seeing uses that we had not anticipated. People began recording poetry and popular songs in their voice, quickly making the hashtag #bisowti (in my voice) one of the most popular on Sowt. When we see such uses becoming popular, we learn and adapt the platform accordingly.

    AS | Sowt can be integrated with Facebook or Twitter, so that’s also a way of increasing your user base.

    HZ | You can integrate to Facebook and Twitter such that you can post it and anyone can click and listen to it without the need to register or sign up. It’s a balance between being usable and trying to encourage people to sign up. We have now opted to have people access Sowt and listen without the need to sign up. Sowt is not a plugin to Facebook or Twitter. We built a separate platform rather than building on these existing ones.

    AS | Given access to smart phones is available across various classes and communities, can we say Sowt is in a way bringing people of different socio-economic backgrounds closer together?

    HZ | Definitely. We even have some features in the pipeline that would allow people without a smartphone to use Sowt. Our tagline is “Get your voice back”. We are essentially giving a voice to those who normally don’t have one. But our aim is to bring people with different views on a topic together to have a discussion. I think more of it as a dialogue on topics and ideas rather than bringing together people from different classes.

    AS | Can you tell me about the importance of voice as a medium?

    HZ | Voice has unique advantage over text or video. Some may see it as inferior to video, but in many ways, it is not. Voice is simple and intuitive; you don’t need to worry about arranging where to record, what to dress, or how you look. You just [hit] record and speak. Voice is effective. In fact, it is quite effective in triggering emotions in the brain, and there is research that backs this. Voice, unlike text or video, is also something you can consume in parallel while doing other activities—while driving, walking, or shopping. Voice also has advantages in specific uses. We say we want people to discuss and debate issues; we don’t need video for that.

    AS | Is it possible to have a type of “audio bias” misunderstanding where the audio alone does not provide enough context for the listener? For example, in a recording of a demonstration.

    HZ | In some cases, there may be a disadvantage when you don’t see the motion, but that may also be a good thing, as it gives the listener the chance to use his or her imagination. Often all you need is a sound and picture. One thing should be clear: We don’t want to replace video services or Twitter. Each has its own uses. If anything, we complement – [rather than] compete with – these services; we allow you to add voice to your tweets and to your Facebook posts.

    AS | Any cut-off topics or censorship? How do you guarantee safety of users in political discussions?

    HZ | We had a few cases where we had to deactivate user accounts because of inappropriate (mostly pornographic) content. Currently, we monitor content manually; our Community Manager listens to every single post. In terms of political views, we certainly do not censor. We allow anyone to say whatever they want. Some users may want to be anonymous, and that’s fine, as long as they’re okay with using their voice, for now. Voice filters may be added down the road.

    AS | What about funding?

    HZ | We’ve been bootstrapping since our launch, and we are now raising our first round of funding with regional investors.

    AS | So you don’t sell information to third parties?

    HZ | Not if it compromises our users’ privacy or violates the terms to which they had agreed. We will certainly use the data we have for advertising purposes.

    AS | When you set out on this project, what were the key challenges you faced?

    HZ | Getting engaged users, not just registered users. We want people to put out content. It’s a new concept and we’re not replicating an existing service saying “this is better.” It’s a new thing. As much as I believe in Sowt, at the end of the day, it is built on a hypothesis that voice is important and more effective. Text made the leap into social media from SMS, for example, to a space where you interact with people. Audio never made that leap. We believe that because audio has these unique characteristics, it is worth making that leap into the social networking space. So we and our users are experimenting to see how Sowt can best be utilised.

    We’ve had other challenges [of course]. You have an ecosystem [in the region] that is not as mature as, say, Silicon Valley. Many investors are not familiar with the social networking space and want to invest in products and services that have a more guaranteed revenue stream in the short term.

    AS | So to engage users and reach out, how are you going about doing that?

    HZ | Through targeted campaigns that have a specific theme and purpose. We’re working with partners to test various use cases, and we’re using Jordan as a testing ground. This, of course, is in addition to other online and offline marketing channels.

    AS | Any specific lessons learned throughout the process?

    HZ | We’re still learning. This is certainly not a walk in the park, and given my background in transportation engineering and planning, it’s a totally different ball game! I’ve learned not to buy into the hype that comes with being an entrepreneur. That can lead to wasting so much time that would have been better used working on one’s product.

    Ali Suleiman graduated from the University of Waterloo's Civil Engineering programme (surprised?) in Canada, and holds a Project Management certificate from the University of Toronto. Of Palestinian and Turkish origin, he is fluent in Arabic and Turkish. His professional experience draws from work in Canada, Turkey, Jordan, Germany, and Saudi Arabia. Currently he works with an engineering firm in Jordan on industrial and renewable energy projects, and is an avid supporter of sustainable development. His interests include history, film, and music. At the moment Ali is completing his MBA studies in Germany.

  • The Zeinobia Chronicles

    Published in Kalimat, Issue 08 (buy this issue)

    By: Ayat Mneina

    Zeinobia, the alias of a young Cairo native, has grown to be one of the most recognised Egyptian bloggers and Twitter personalities of the Arab revolutions, author of the Egyptian Chronicles, her journalism background provides informed political commentary complete with videos, pictures, 140 character narratives, and articles on the daily – and often controversial – occurrences on the streets of Egypt.  With the passing of the two-year anniversary of the 25 January Uprising, she provides us with an insightful status update on how far Egypt has come and how much further it needs in order for the goals of the revolution to be realised. 

    AM | When did you start blogging? Were you inspired to blog in response to something happening in Egypt at the time?

    Z | I started blogging in 2004 about my own interests like music and film, but a year later, I switched my focus to politics. [The year] 2005 is considered to be the start of blogging in Egypt, I [called] it the blogging mania. This was a very special year for politics in Egypt where political reforms were taking place and social movements like Kefaya (enough) were being born. There was also a lot of debate around blogging and whether or not it posed a danger to national security. My grandfather was a journalist and I was raised in a house where political debates regularly took place. From an early age I had access to newspapers of opposition at home. This gave me perspective on what was, and currently is, happening in Egypt. I am familiar with the names of the actors in the political arena. I am familiar with the history of the press in Egypt and the changes that were brought on by different regimes. I used my blog as a citizen journalist to report what was happening in my country.

    AM | Blogging and the use of social media were largely underestimated by the regimes toppled during the revolution Do you believe that blogging has the power to influence society?    

    Z | Most definitely. In fact, one of the most important aspects of blogging and the role of women in the blogosphere took place during 2006-2008 in Egypt. The only medium that broke the silence and spoke about sexual harassment in Egypt as a growing social epidemic was the blogosphere. Bloggers were the ones who started the campaigns against sexual harassment; they provided the media with videos and proof of specific incidents. As a journalist I know how heavily we rely on citizen journalists as sources. Blogging has served as a direct link between media and the people. 

    AM | What did you think about what was (and is) happening in Egypt before, during, and after the uprising?

    Z | There were ups and downs during the uprising but I was very optimistic, I had high hopes.  Young Egyptians – my generation – were romantic, revolutionary dreamers that were not aware of what was taking place backstage, in terms of politics like the Muslim Brotherhood and their deals with the Mubarak regime, with the military, and so on. I don’t want to say that we were innocent but we trusted everybody. We didn’t know that things were a lot more complicated than they appeared.

    Now in 2013, we are witnessing countless assaults on freedom of expression. Journalists and television hosts are being served with lawsuits for allegedly insulting the president, which is occurring at a rate higher than any other president or ruler in the history of Egypt. YouTube was blocked for an entire month, not to mention the extreme polarisation that has formed amongst Egyptians. I understand that transitional periods are difficult and that other countries have been through worse, but I do not recognise Egypt in the kind of polarisation, the kind of hatred, violence, and poor economic conditions [which are] present today. It hurts to hear people on the street complaining that they didn’t suffer like this under Mubarak’s regime; how can I give people hope after what they’ve been through these two years? 

    AM | In your opinion, what were the goals of the revolution?

    Z | At that time, we had very simple goals: bread, human dignity, social justice, and freedom.  Unfortunately after two years, all four goals seem to be lost in the agenda of the political elite and their failure to understand that they are not running a country that shares their goals. [There] have [been] failures in the economy, social justice, and of course, human dignity. The amount of recent oppression used against protestors by police is unbelievable. So, it’s very depressing. We had four main goals and none were achieved effectively. The only thing I believe we have somehow achieved is that people are no longer afraid to speak up. People criticise the president [and] the government without any fear. They protest. The revolution broke a taboo for everyday Egyptians.

    AM | During the uprisings, citizens of the region took on incredible roles to contribute to the change they wished to see. These citizens have since returned to their jobs and daily lives and the revolutionary rhetoric seems to have shifted. The methods used, namely mass protests, no longer garner the same results. Have different approaches to incite positive change in Egypt developed?

    Z | Unfortunately, in Egypt the approach has grown increasingly violent. First of all, we have a new class of protestors. They are no longer the activists. Second, it’s not only in Tahrir Square, it has spread throughout the governorates including Port Said, Alexandria, Tanta, and Kafr El-Sheikh. These are protests led by frustrated, young Egyptians who have no jobs and no political representation and are expressing themselves violently. This violence is also two-way. For example, protestors in Port Said were attacked by police. In return, the protestors retaliated [with force] and continued to protest for another week.  

    Regular Egyptians, the working class, are growing tired of the protests. We need to find new methods but I don’t see any viable alternatives when politicians – including the government, the president, and the rest of the political spectrum – are one on side, and the people, including the protestors and working class, are on another. 

    AM | The constitution that was passed in the referendum held last December has caused a lot of controversy. What is your personal take on it? Where did it fail or succeed, if at all?

    Z | First of all, the constituent assembly that wrote the constitution doesn’t truly represent the Egyptian people; not regionally, ethnically, geographically, culturally, or religiously. It was led by the majority of the assembly, the Islamists. Second, I have a problem with many of the articles that are against the freedom of expression, the right to having free unions, the freedom of press and the changes in presidential powers. It is ironic that President Mohamed Morsi has more power than Hosni Mubarak ever did when it came to the constitution. Third, this constitution gives the army more rights than any other constitution since 1952. They now have right to make civilians stand in military trials–outrageous! As I mentioned earlier, this constitution fails to recognise the ethnic groups across Egypt whether in Aswan, Matruh, or Sinai; instead of embracing minorities they are completely ignored. The constitution also claims that all citizens are equal before the law without discrimination [Article 30], without specifying the grounds on which discrimination is prohibited. This leaves women vulnerable to discrimination based on gender. For these and several other reasons, I refuse to recognise this constitution. The irony of all ironies is that the amended constitution of 1971, [which was] used in 2011 after the uprising, is a thousand times better than this one.

    AM | Despite all of this, do you feel that there are opportunities for positive change to take place that will be beneficial to the Egyptian people as you understand it?

    Z | Personally, from what I see now, I am not very optimistic especially with the violence that has broken out in the past two weeks. I think that concessions from the government and the president must take place if we really want to see this revolution succeed. I fear that this phase of the revolution left to fester will only lead to violence. The political class needs to recede from the polarisation it has caused in the country.

    AM | Does this polarisation apply to the Egyptian youth? Have the youth remained united as they were during the uprisings or have divisive politics penetrated their united front?

    Z | You have angry youth that are united when it comes to revolutionary goals, but the reality is that they use these goals differently depending on their political ideals. However, they do not have any representation in the political class. The old generation dominates the politics and there is a gap between the young and the old.  

    AM | Given that transitions take time, what is one thing that needs to take place now to restore hope in the youth?

    Z | Hope can only be restored when the true goals of the revolution are protected and when the people of Egypt are united again. It is very sad to see the degree of division that we have reached compared to the 18 days of protests. Islamists stood with liberals and cleaned Tahrir square together, now they are at odds with each other. What is needed now is beyond leadership and fair representation; we need someone or something to reunite and restore Egyptian society.

    @Zeinobia •

    A Canadian-Libyan activist, Ayat Mneina is the co-founder of the Libyan Youth Movement (@ShababLibya). She has recently completed graduate studies at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. @amneina

  • Envy the Dead by Isa Swain

    Written, Directed, Produced and Edited by Isa Swain

    The vernacular of horror has been one of codes: a way of talking about things without talking about them. Usually addressing universal and human frailties, each sub-genre exploits, and more importantly romanticises, the conscious and subconscious impulses at the root of these frailties to such an extreme that what we're presented with is an obscene caricature of ourselves within a specific context. They  come loaded with their own conventions, rules or identifiers of a sort that don't need to be acknowledged but, when ignored, are usual conspicuously absent and beg to be rationalised. These conventions come together to form templates that can be picked up and placed over any given situation to hopefully create something equally refreshing and endearing in a cliché-ridden kind of way. No one is going to mind another mad scientist if they're written well.

    This film has been a labour of love from the very beginning, with the idea that we were creating something unprecedented always at the heart. Horror, despite its ever-increasing commercial appeal, has always retained an identity or reputation as a genre that goes against convention, be it moral or otherwise. This film was produced around the notion that horror, perhaps more than any other cinematic genre, is grounded in its own conventions.

    The modern zombie, post Romero’s 1968 midnight movie classic ‘Night of the Living Dead’; has matured from a voodoo boogeyman to an exquisite vehicle for social satire. The zombie is you, the sheep in the fold. The countless motions you go through every day, driven by a momentum created solely by the fact that everyone is going through them with you; building communities, societies and cultures that rely on allegiances you rarely, if ever, must re-evaluate. Put simply the zombie is us when we aren’t thinking for ourselves and the horde nods to the malevolence of any culture that’s brought about, exists to exploit, or is maintained, by that tendency.

    The zombie speaks to us as a cultural metaphor as much as an intimate one. The first (American) zombies were often placed and encountered in and around shopping malls for very specific reasons. The filmmakers had something to say about their culture; one they saw, appropriately, as sick: a culture of materialism, an aspect of the American ethos, built around the consumer, that had become so distant from any culture of production that it had begun to feed on the consumers to sustain itself.

    There have been very few attempts to take any horror templates and place them over the landscapes and cultures of the Arab region, a place ripe for exploitation of this sort. This is what we've tried to do, along with satisfying the much more selfish desire to create the first Arab zombie film. To make this film unique and relevant we had to make it culturally specific. Using existing people, places and events as inspiration, the same costumed dramas played out every day in the region, and the Gulf [region] specifically, we looked around and asked, what are the most important elements of Arab culture? The elements that are so vital they can be used to control people and to lead them to abandon the personal responsibility of independent thought to affiliate.

    Isa Swain is a reliable yet infrequent contributor to Bahrain’s art scene, Isa has nonetheless collaborated and exhibited in a wide variety of media both on the island and abroad. Born and raised in England, his family returned to Bahrain in the early nineties. Since then, he has produced works of photography, digital video and film; sound, performance pieces and installations.

  • The Inevitable: Teaser for the first Jordanian horror feature film

    Kalimat friend and contributor Rawan Risheq stars in the first Jordanian horror feature film "The Inevitable." The film follows a young woman, Noor (Peeka Emna ben Rajeb) on her return home after studying abroad. She is fitting back in seemingly well, starting a new job, and rekindling old friendships, when her days begin to become too dreary with haunting memories.

  • The digital revolution is in film

    A digital revolution is transpiring in the film industry and nowhere more so than in the ARAB WORLD. Coinciding with the Arab Spring, there has been an explosion in Arab story-telling; as new technology such as crowd-funding platforms are empowering filmmakers to bypass traditional funding from hulking, ubiquitous corporate studios and leverage their social media support base. In what can only be described as the DEMOCRATISING OF FILMMAKING; stories that wouldn’t get a cursory glance from Hollywood studios now have a chance of being told. But how much do these platforms really empower filmmakers?

    Video Journalist Jad Salfiti was part of a team at the Doha Film Institute looking at how the Arab Film World is being turned upside down in their recent series – Film 3.0.  Spanning the film-making process from crowd-funding through to digital cinematography to Viral Marketing and finally digital distribution.

  • The Year of the Citizen Journalist

    Kalimat, Issue 05, Spring 2012

    By Sophie Chamas

    One of the many phenomena to emerge from the cracks and fissures that the ongoing Arab revolutions stomped into the socio-political geographies of their host countries has been the citizen-journalist.

    On an almost daily basis over the last year, “ordinary” men, women and children from Egypt to Yemen have braved human stampedes, police batons, tear gas and more to face army tanks with their camera phones, taking it upon themselves to document the colossal events unfolding around them. They have cut the informational umbilical chord that keeps us dependent on professional news agencies to tell our stories – agencies that filter our narratives, wring half the juice out of them, and remould them to fit with preconceived labels and tags, until we can no longer recognise ourselves, our countrymen, our cultures, or our causes in them.

    Like Clark Kent spontaneously ripping his suit off in a phone booth, the Arab citizen of this historic moment suddenly transforms into a documentarian while walking to university or buying groceries. With the click of a button, this citizen metamorphoses from a helpless and “passive” observer to a human conduit for information and perspective, generously lending his or her eyes and ears to the world, inviting us to re-witness events as they unfolded dangerously close to his or her body, without the imposing commentary of a news anchor or political analyst, without any disinfectant or a good scrub. This citizen-journalist brings us raw, messy, often confusing images and noises which overwhelm us as they did the amateur documentarian. With this “click”, the citizen reclaims his or her reflection, which has for so long been projected to the world by others who claim to understand the Arab people better than they understand themselves. As many Arabs have so bravely demonstrated over the last year, they no longer want to be spoken for. Instead, through their citizen-journalism, they invite the international community to engage in a conversation with each and every one of them directly, to speak to them without the mediation of a news agency, political scientist, or government.

    In response to this anarchic “citizen media”, non-profit organisations such as the Egypt-based Mosireen have emerged to encourage this increasingly popular form of grassroots reporting. Based in Downtown Cairo, Mosireen is a non-profit media centre founded by a collective of filmmakers, citizen-journalists and activists. They offer training, technical support and a media library to the public, and host film screenings and events. Not only are groups such as this continuously working to gather as much footage as they can to build an easily accessible archive of visual memories of the revolution, they are trying to maintain the momentum and increase the growth of this “citizen media”, providing Egyptians with editing facilities, camera and sound equipment for rent, and hosting training workshops.

    This “street news” can be thought of as post-modern in the sense that it calls into question the popular and often unchallenged assumption that news is truth – that what we see on CNN or BBC is an objective account of facts on the ground. These videos, coming at us from different angles with little more than a brief caption by way of a guiding narrative, offer up, in a way, anti-truths. Saturated with subjectivity, they highlight the nuance that becomes apparent when multiple perspectives are lined up side by side. Instead of telling the viewer, “this is what is happening”, the citizen-journalist proclaims, “this is what I see and hear” and it is up to the observer to make of it what he or she will, and to go in search of more visual puzzle pieces to build a bigger picture with.


    Lacking the clean, dry voice of the commentator, whose words normally help us “make sense” of a given image, neatly framing events for us, parading easily digestible analyses through our minds, these videos encouraged us to engage with their material on a different level. Watching news sterilised by disclaimers, with overarching narratives provided by commentators, and a constant oscillation between the “safe” newsroom and the “chaotic” location, it is hard to become actively involved. We sit back, sighing, cringing, tut-tut-tutting, protected from the exceptionally gruesome footage, awaiting explanations from so-called “experts”. With these citizen-made videos, however, all precautions taken for our comfort are thrown out of the proverbial window, and a given event is made to flood our senses as the camera trembles before a bloodied corpse, the filmmaker’s cries and sobs flood our ears, their panicked breathing invades our own chests, and our vision blurs with theirs as they run from police, army or crowd, still clutching their camera. We are transported to the scene, shown rather than told, and left confused, scared and shaken, like the amateur documentarian. Instead of being spoon-fed a medical-type explanation of happenings and underlying causes, we are given a small taste of what it’s like to be in the thick of an event, a brief injection of the urgency, panic, fear and hysteria being felt by the crowd, and then we are left on our own, to analyse and interpret for ourselves.

    To call this media grassroots does not imply that it enters our sensory stream unedited or unfiltered. Its value lies in its diffuse nature, in the lack of a central command from which these videos emanate or a megaphone that rings them all in with a unifying narrative. Bombarded with a variety of “street-level” perspectives, it is up to the audience to process the similarities and differences, to squint at and scrutinise the details, to build its own narrative. This citizen-media has shown us that there are multiple revolutionary stories to tell, and a variety of angles from which to perceive and understand the complex events that continue to unfold in the region. It not only invites the “ordinary citizen” to tell the world his or her story, but it encourages the audience to participate in narrating the revolutions by working through the plethora of images, sounds and written accounts circulating around the internet and on television screens, and to create with them the narrative constellations that tug most at its particular mind strings. 

    About Sophie Chamas: Sophie is a freelance writer and editor. Her work has been featured in Jadaliyya, Mashallah News and the Abu Dhabi Film Festival Magazine. She recently completed her Master’s in Near Eastern Studies at New York University.