Review: Book revisits the Mongol Empire that changed Eurasia forever

Updated 17 February 2019

Review: Book revisits the Mongol Empire that changed Eurasia forever

BEIRUT: They swarmed through deserts, steppes and mountains across Central Asia, killing, plundering, bringing fear and death to all who opposed them. Great cities fell: Aleppo, Baghdad, Damascus, Delhi, and Kabul. The Mongols changed the map of Eurasia forever.

Recently republished in paperback, Timothy May’s “The Mongol Empire” is part of a major series of books on the history of the Islamic world from the University of Edinburgh.

May provides a much-needed global perspective on Mongol rule, and its impact on Islam itself: Mongol converts represented a staggering increase in the number of Muslims in the world at the time, and their conquest only fueled the spread of the religion. Three further Islamic empires, meanwhile, would rise from the Mongol’s eventual disintegration. 

But unlike the Ottoman, Fatimid and Seljuk empires, the Mongols were not majority Muslim; indeed, one of the great strengths of the four great “Khanates” was the tolerance of religious freedom they extended to their subjects.

The greatest Khan, Temujin, was crowned Genghis Khan, Ruler of the Universe, in 1206. In his late thirties, he was a brilliant warrior and commanded a vast army famed and feared for its superb horsemanship and remarkable archery. Cunning and opportunistic, he allegedly proclaimed: “I am the punishment of God. If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.”

When he died in 1227, Genghis Khan ruled an empire the size of a continent, from China to Europe. History shows that it is easier to build an empire than preserve it, and the fate of his successors proved even the Mongol Khans were no exception.

The Mongols left virtually no written record of their empire, but their legacy lasts to this day. During their rule, they not only facilitated trade, offering merchants protection, status, and tax-exemption, but actively encouraged the use of the East-West trade routes later known as the fabled Silk Road, linking China, India, Europe and the Middle East. 

Art Jameel and Gulf Photo Plus announce the return of the popular photography event, GPP Slidefest, to Saudi Arabia

Updated 20 September 2019

Art Jameel and Gulf Photo Plus announce the return of the popular photography event, GPP Slidefest, to Saudi Arabia

  • GPP Slidefest provides a platform for photographers of all levels to learn, experiment and celebrate the art of photography
  • A special portfolio review session will allow photographers and artists to benefit from the experience of industry professionals

JEDDAH: Works by five local and regional-based photographers will be on show as part of the second Saudi edition of GPP Slidefest, a platform that aims to develop the Kingdom’s growing interest in photography as an art form.

Art Jameel, the heritage, education and arts organization, on Wednesday said that the event, to be held in partnership with Dubai-based Gulf Photo Plus, will allow emerging photographers in the region to collaborate, experiment and develop new techniques.

Projects by Saudi photographers Iman Al-Dabbagh and Abdulsalam Alamri, Kuwaiti photographers Huda Abdulmughni and Mohammed Al-Kouh, and GPP Co-Director and Dubai-based Tanzanian photographer Mohammed Somji will be on show at the event, which begins on Friday, Sept. 27.

GPP Slidefest was launched in 2017 as part of Photography Jameel’s annual program, which focuses on year-round learning and community development with workshops, portfolio reviews
 and talks.

In addition to GPP Slidefest, Art Jameel and Gulf Photo Plus have partnered to present a portfolio review session on Saturday, Sept. 28, which will allow photographers and artists to meet with industry professionals for one-on-one sessions to share their work and receive feedback, advice and exchange ideas.

Photographers Al-Dabbagh and Al-Kouh will provide feedback in both English and Arabic, while Lola Boatwright, managing director of Gulf Photo Plus, and Mohammed Somji, director of Seeing Things and co-director of Gulf Photo Plus, will provide feedback in English.

The portfolio review sessions will run from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. with individual sessions lasting 15 minutes. 

Interested photographers can meet with as many industry professionals as they like, and reviews will be scheduled on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Antonia Carver, director of Art Jameel, said the organization’s focus on photography began through its photography award, which “has organically transformed into a grassroots program of workshops, talks and events for photographers across Saudi Arabia.”

Somji said: “Slidefest brings together a myriad of compelling photography projects that help to start conversations, enlighten us about social issues in our region and inspire other photographers to work on stories that matter to them.

“Together with Art Jameel, we held our first international Slidefest in Jeddah one year ago, and have since taken the event to Cairo and Manama, making it a region-wide event. We are honored to return to Jeddah with our friends and partners Art Jameel.”

GPP Slidefest is free to the public and will begin on Sept. 27 in Beydoun Space at 8:30 p.m.