Beach time (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
After a late and leisurely brunch at Angelina yesterday in Muscat, my friend and I took a serene sunset swim in the stunning Sultanate of Oman…
I love Beirut (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
I’ve been following the resignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the Saudi purge closely and with concern. I had the joy of living in Beirut for three years while teaching at the American University of Beirut, and I sincerely hope that things there get resolved quickly and peacefully. Stay strong, Lebanon!
Sufism in Central Asia (Photos: Emily O’Dell)
Since Islam in Uzbekistan has been trending in the news in the wake of the New York City terrorist attack, I thought I would share my new publication, “Subversives and Saints: Sufism and the State in Central Asia,” in the book Islam, Society and Politics in Central Asia
— a wonderful resource at a time when media coverage of the region is so lacking (and often dangerously wrong). This fall, I had the honor of being the expert guest speaker for the Commonwealth Club of California (America’s oldest and largest public policy forum) in Central Asia (Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, along with Azerbaijan) to share my expertise and experience on the Silk Road. I have had the rare opportunity (and pleasure!) to spend extended periods of time in all five Central Asian Republics plus Mongolia (even lived in Turkmenistan twice!). Seeing Islam in Central Asia trending in the media has brought back fond memories of my time living on the Silk Road — and of being a guest of honor in India at a conference on Sufism in India and Central Asia with Ambassadors from Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.
Rise and shine…
Starting my day off in the Sultanate of Oman with a smile — with much work to do, fun to be had, friends to see…
A special find (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
Over the years, we’ve uncovered some amazing finds at our ancient site in Sudan. We’ve found statues, column bases, hieroglyphs, mummies and so much more…
I have, of course, treasured every find I’ve encountered while excavating in Sudan and working at the Great Pyramids of Giza on a Brown University-Cairo University dig as Chief Epigrapher. But this little lion statue from Sudan holds a special place in my heart — can’t say why, exactly, but it just does. I adore it.
A secret from the sand (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
Exploring Yazd (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
I had the opportunity to admire the brilliant mosaics decorating the Jameh Mosque of Yazd this fall while a guest speaker for Harvard University in the Islamic Republic of Iran…
Eram Garden in Iran (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
Whenever I travel as a guest speaker to the Islamic Republic of Iran — as I did this fall for Harvard University — I like to whirl through Eram Garden, the template for paradise
Exploring Iran (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
Seriously come to the ruins of Persepolis in the Islamic Republic of Iran — my friendly gatekeeper friends await you!
Conjuring in Asia (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
Looking forward to sharing more about this image and research endeavor soon in my academic work, stay tuned…
Tomb of Cyrus the Great in Iran (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
Iranians gather every year on October 29th to celebrate the unofficial holiday of “Cyrus Day.” I was at his tomb last year just hours before the large gathering emerged and evolved into a protest. As a result, the authorities were fearing what might unfold there this year.
According to the powers that be, they foiled an online plan yesterday to organize an “illegal gathering” at the site
. All roads to leading to Pasargad were closed
Last night in Oman
I had the joy of seeing Gioachino Rossini’s L’Occasione fa il Ladro (Opportunity Makes a Thief) last night at the Royal Opera House in Muscat — great show (even wore some of my new Turkmen jewelry)! If you visit the Sultanate of Oman, definitely book a ticket to see a show at the Opera House or at least take a tour of it — it’s not to be missed!
Commonwealth Club of California on the Caspian
I was very happy and grateful to be the expert guest speaker in Central Asia for the Commonwealth Club of California, the oldest and largest public affairs forum in the United States. Some of the many notable speakers in the history of the Club have included U.S. presidents back to Teddy Roosevelt (too many to count), Hillary Clinton, Desmond Tutu, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Bill Gates, Mikhail Gorbachev, Kofi Annan, Robert F. Kennedy, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The mission of The Commonwealth Club of California is to be the leading national forum open to all for the impartial discussion of important public issues. Having spent significant periods of time in all five Central Asian Republics, I was elated to have the opportunity to share my expertise and experience in situ on the Silk Road in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan. Since I lived twice in Turkmenistan, I was especially delighted to share my experiences there with such an adventurous and enlightened group.
Caravanserai dinner on the Silk Road
Enjoying Esfahan (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
I was humbled and honored to be the expert guest speaker for Harvard University in the Islamic Republic of Iran this fall. Being with this adventurous and intelligent group brought back fond memories of my time teaching Near Eastern Studies at Harvard. It always brings me great pleasure to introduce Americans to Iranian literature, history, art, archaeology, culture, and film to increase understanding between our two nations. I’m looking forward to returning soon to Iran, inshallah…
Stanford in Dubai (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
I was honored to share my Iranian expertise and experience with adventurous folks from Stanford in Dubai on their way to travel through the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Exploring Iran (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
I had the opportunity to visit this beautiful and unique building — Gonbad-e Jabaliye — while an expert guest speaker for Harvard University in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The original purpose of this octagonal stone masterpiece in Kerman remains a mystery. I’m happy to share that I will now start posting photos more regularly (upon request!) from my far-flung travels from Mongolia to Rwanda and many places in between.
Refugee Yoga in Beirut (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
If you enjoyed my new NPR essay for On Being, “Performing ‘Our Town’ in Oman,”
you might also like my previous On Being essay “Refugee Yoga in Beirut.”
Performing Our Town in Oman
I am so grateful that NPR’s stellar program On Being has published my latest essay — “Performing Our Town in Oman.”
Thank you for any help in sharing the piece/peace via Facebook/Twitter/email. Here is a link as well to my previous On Being piece, “Refugee Yoga in Beirut.”
Waking up this week-end in Dubai (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
I’ve been overwhelmed (in a good way) this summer and fall with speaking engagements, fellowships, upcoming publications, and travel — so I’m looking forward to sharing all of my photos from the road soon when I catch up to myself!
With my gorilla family in Uganda (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
Gorillas in the mist — and me! Here is a photo of me with my gorilla family this week in Uganda. I have so much to share from these past few months. My recent adventurous travels have carried me to Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Mongolia, Rwanda, Uganda, Congo, Burundi, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the United Arab Emirates — so I’m a bit behind on sharing snapshots from the road. Stay tuned though, as I will soon be sharing unique glimpses of everything from yurt life in Mongolia to gorilla babies in Uganda. Never a dull moment!
It was a delight to speak today at Cambridge University on Omani literature at the Gender and Identity in the Gulf: Cultural Constructions and Representations Conference of the Gulf Research Centre. Many thanks to the organizers who made it all possible!
Celebrating Anubis (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
Happy birthday to the sweet heartbeat at my feet! I enjoyed a quiet day at home yesterday in the Sultanate of Oman celebrating Anubis’ birth and fourteen years of growing old together! Lots of snuggles and treats!
My old man (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
This week in Mongolia (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
And the award for cutest Mongolian baby wrestler goes to…this little guy! A delight to celebrate Naadam in Mongolia!
Performing Our Town in Oman (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
This spring in the Sultanate of Oman, the seemingly impossible happened – a cast of expats and Omanis put on the first performance of Our Town in the Middle East. While directing this intrepid cast of mostly university students and teachers and performing the central role of Emily Webb, I was forced to contemplate the relevance of the play’s timeless themes, and the significance of performing this American classic on the Arabian Peninsula.
Grover’s Corners in Muscat (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
The actors in our staging of Our Town in Oman this spring hailed from towns around the globe — the Sultanate of Oman, the United States, Somalia, India, Great Britain, Holland, Ukraine, and beyond. To represent this diversity, I posted color photographs of “our towns” on the walls of the performance space like postcards, to bring together our far-flung geographies – from the desert dunes of Oman to the bombed-out buildings of Donestsk – as we tried to bring this masterpiece to life in Muscat. Stay tuned for more on this historic theatrical event that we staged in the Arabian Gulf…
Bringing this dramatic class to life in Oman (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
Infinity pool at Atana Musandam (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
If you visit Musandam to enjoy the northern fjords of the Sultanate of Oman, I recommend staying at Atana Musandam or Atana Khasab. I enjoyed a stay at Atana Musandam, but journeyed just a few minutes down the road one night at sunset to dine at Atana Khasab with a phenomenal panoramic view of the Musandam shorline. Atana Musandam is a brand new hotel — and definitely the nicest one in the area. The entire property is intended to resemble a traditional Omani village — from the falaj irrigation system to the colorfully painted wooden beams of the restaurant. The tranquil atmosphere of the hotel makes it the ideal place to unwind and rejuvenate — either in the infinity pool or on your own private balcony. If you have a family, however, I would recommend Atana Khasab for the larger pool and distinct family feel. Atana means “come to us” in Arabic — and that’s just what you should do if you find yourself visiting the northern tip of the Sultanate of Oman.
Atana Khasab (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
Strolling in Ulaanbaatar (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
I passed by this lovely blue yurt (ger) near my home today on my way to get bimimbop — Ulaanbaatar’s awesome!
Peace from Oman (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
I enjoyed swimming & snorkeling through the majestic fjords of Musandam in northern Oman — turquoise tranquility!
I see you (Photo: Emily O’Dell)
I was drawn to this dolphin weaving through the fjords of Musandam, its arch a mini-mountain rising from the water…