Search archive

Platform for discussion001

What do we need to know about the MENA region today?

Rayya Badran
1 June 2011

Sitting in the sweltering sun of Sharjah on a large rolled carpet on the open esplanade facing the museum, I express to an acquaintance, my uneasiness and inability to respond to the question. We need MENA (I had continually mistaken it for MENASA, unconsciously adding yet another region to the equation, another source of anxious unknowing). Having travelled in and around the aforementioned region more than I have, his response is intuitively political, to the point: 'Why don't they ask their troops?' Nothing prepared me for the array of answers I got from friends and acquaintances as I uttered the apprehensive question, perhaps as an attempt to relieve myself of this responsibility. The responsibility of accurate answerability.

To articulate an incisive and substantial response to what should or ought to be unpacked is always an uneasy position, and yet it is appealing to work through. How to organise the things we have experienced from it, what we believe we know of it and what we read about it. MENA is a space of dissonance and confounding narratives. Nothing is ever as it seems, as it is told, as we want it to be.

On the aeroplane flying me to Cairo that evening, as I looked at the city's sea of flickering lights, I asked myself the question that had been so obsessively occupying my mind: 'What do I need to know?' My answer was and is still there, incessantly looping a sense of unfulfilled desire to know more. What have I got to share and with whom? When an articulate answer will present itself, very little will be known.

Rayya Badran

Rayya Badran is a writer and translator based in Beirut. She earned her MA in Aural and Visual Cultures from Goldsmiths College, London in 2008. Her writing primarily centres on art with a special interest in sonic practices and music. She has published articles and texts in local and international publications such as Bidoun, Ibraaz, Artforum, and Art Papers, and frequently collaborates with artists on an array of projects. She is currently an instructor at the American University of Beirut and at the Académie Libanaise de Beaux-Arts where she teaches sound studies.

of 36

Back to platform responses

What is a platform?

A platform is a space for speaking in public. It is an opportunity to express ideas and thoughts. It also suggests the formal declaration of a stance or position on any given subject.

Unique to Ibraaz is a 'platform', a question put to writers, thinkers and artists about an issue relevant to the MENA region. This platform is sent to respondents both within and beyond the MENA region and contributions will be archived every 12 months.