The Arab Gateway
Calling itself “an open doorway to the Islamic world,” Al-Bab aims to introduce non-Arabs to Arabs and their culture. You can explore country guides, current issues, arts and culture articles, a reference section, and topics ranging from traditional Arab history to the importance of oil. Be sure to check out the music section!
CIA World Factbook
An up-to-date resource giving political, demographic, and other information on every country. Note that information, especially on ethnicity, may vary between country profiles, so that one country considers its population “Arab”, another “Bedouin,” another “Emirati,” etc.
Department of State – Bureau of Near East Affairs
An up-to-date resource providing information on current events and regional topics, as well as the Middle East Digest, a collection of excerpts from the U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefings that are related to U.S. foreign policy interests in the Middle East.
National Geographic Xpeditions
You can search for lesson plans by region, grade level, keyword, etc. here; again, less content on the Middle East but good lessons on the spice trade and the Silk Road, water, and nomad cultures.
Saudi Aramco World
This magazine features articles on not only the Middle East, but topics related to Muslim societies more broadly. There are excellent photos and classroom connections in every issue. The magazine is searchable online—all past articles are indexed and available free of charge (as are print subscriptions for teachers). An additional valuable feature is the digital image archive.
Promises. Promises Film Project. Distributed by Cowboy Pictures. 2001.
PROMISES follows the journey of one of the filmmakers Israeli-American B.Z Goldberg. He travels to Palestinian communities and settlements in the West Bank-places he had never ventured before-and to the familiar neighborhoods of Jerusalem. He meets seven Palestinian and Israeli children between the ages of nine and thirteen. PROMISES explores the Middle East conflict through their eyes. The Promises film project has now produced an educators’ guide to help teachers use the film appropriately in the classroom.
Children of Heaven. Iran, 1999. Distributed by Miramax.
One of the gems of the Iranian cinematic renaissance, Majid Majidi’s film introduces us to a young boy, Ali, who loses his sister Zahra's only pair of school shoes. In order to stay out of trouble, the two come up with a plan to share Ali's shoes, but they must keep it a secret from their parents. This charming story shows us the hardship but also the love and strength of a poor Iranian family, as well as the contrast with the more Westernized wealthy elite.
Ashour, Radwa. Granada. Tr. By William Granara. Syracuse University Press, 2003.
This novel of Islamic Spain details the fate of a Muslim community after 1492. You may also enjoy a similar treatment by Tariq Ali in Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree.
Barks, Coleman. The Soul of Rumi. A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2001.
Start here to appreciate the beauty and tolerance of Rumi, the best-selling poet in America.
Shabbas, Audrey. A Medieval Banquet in the Alhambra Palace. Berkeley: AWAIR, 1994.
This excellent curriculum gets students to explore every aspect of life in Islamic Spain as well as its connections of trade and culture to the rest of the world. The culmination is the staging of a banquet complete with student-created food, clothing, decoration, music, art, games, and guests from history!