‘The Frightened Ones’: An emotionally shattering take on Syrian life

‘The Frightened Ones’: An emotionally shattering take on Syrian life
“The Frightened Ones” is by author Dima Wannous. (Supplied)
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Updated 21 September 2020

‘The Frightened Ones’: An emotionally shattering take on Syrian life

‘The Frightened Ones’: An emotionally shattering take on Syrian life

CHICAGO: Author Dima Wannous’s “The Frightened Ones,” masterfully translated by Elisabeth Jaquette in 2020,  was a finalist for the 2018 International Prize for Arabic. The novel takes readers on a haunting journey through history, time and protagonist Suleima’s mind as she navigates war and trauma in Syria. From the waiting room of her psychiatrist’s office to the streets of Damascus, readers get a glimpse into the mind of a young woman who has trouble differentiating reality from fantasies as political turmoil and the collective suffering of a nation fills page after heartbreaking page.  

From the Ain Al-Kirish neighborhood, Suleima attempts to understand her life, the one where her father has passed away, her brother has disappeared and her mother has aged overnight. She regularly sees her psychiatrist, Kamil, and that is where she meets Naseem. After being together for years, he emigrates to Germany without her and hands her an unfinished manuscript. As Suleima reads the manuscript, she can no longer tell her life and the narrator’s apart. They seem to be on the same path and share an uncertain future.  

But Suleima isn’t the only one dealing with a traumatic past, so are those around her. The nation has suffered and continues to suffer at the hands of militiamen, spying and informing on neighbors, and the military intelligence directorate, who have left parents childless and children parentless. The paranoia that infiltrates Suleima’s entire being is the same paranoia that seeps through the streets and into its residents. 

Wannous’s tale is emotionally shattering as she writes of her character, “my emotions were held hostage by events in Syria.” Within its borders, families and neighbors turn against one another. Memories upon memories, both good and bad, have begun to bleed into one another as those who have the means to flee do and those who cannot bring themselves to leave are drowning in sadness as “fear ruins the imagination.” It is a powerful novel of human relationships and inhumane politics. The tremors of past traumas never stop reverberating through the pages as people are forced to live life as the frightened ones.


Global pop group Now United shoots new music video in Abu Dhabi

Nour Ardakani (right), a 19-year-old singer from Lebanon, became the band’s 16th and first Arab member. Instagram
Nour Ardakani (right), a 19-year-old singer from Lebanon, became the band’s 16th and first Arab member. Instagram
Updated 16 January 2021

Global pop group Now United shoots new music video in Abu Dhabi

Nour Ardakani (right), a 19-year-old singer from Lebanon, became the band’s 16th and first Arab member. Instagram

DUBAI: Global pop group Now United has filmed its music video for “Lean on Me” at Abu Dhabi’s five-star Emirates Palace hotel.

The video starts with a sweeping view of the hotel, before showing band members performing choreographed dance moves in its plush corridors and outside terrace.

The band, made up of 16 members from as many countries, has spent the past few months in the UAE, following the search to find its newest member from the Middle East.

Nour Ardakani, a 19-year-old singer from Lebanon, became the band’s 16th — and first Arab — member.

She was handpicked by Simon Fuller, who founded The Spice Girls and created the “American Idol” TV show.

Since Ardakani’s arrival, the group has been busy recording new music and shooting videos in various locations around the UAE.

The video for its track “Habibi,” released in November to officially welcome Ardakani into the band, was shot partly in Dubai’s historic Al-Fahidi district, and in her native Lebanon.

This is not the first time that an artist or group has turned to the Arab world for inspiring cityscapes.

Cardi B’s breakout single as a rapper, “Bodak Yellow,” was filmed in the UAE. The video, set in Dubai, topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for three consecutive weeks, and received nominations for best rap performance and best rap song at the Grammys.

In 2018, US-Moroccan rapper French Montana went back to his roots for his “Famous” music video, shot in the Moroccan city of Chefchaouen, where he grew up.

British recording artist M.I.A also shot her 2012 music video for “Bad Girls” in Morocco. The video, filmed in the city of Ouarzazate, won the VMA for best cinematography and best direction, and was nominated for a Grammy.