"Yalla," a middle-eastern food popup restaurant in the Central District has chefs Taylor Cheney, left, and Pinar Ozhal, right, busy in the kitchen of The Atlantic restaurant, Monday, Oct. 3, 2016, in Seattle. The Middle Eastern pop-up focuses on conflict region food, with tonight emphasizing dishes from Kurdistan. (Photo by Ken Lambert for The Seattle Times.)

Seattle pop-up restaurant Yalla offers real deal in Middle Eastern cuisine

Yalla emphasizes Middle Eastern cuisine beyond the kebab.
Oct 7, 2016
Illustration by Mohammed Kloub

Yes, there is such a thing as a secular Muslim

Tons of Americans are nominally Christian, but don’t actually practice the religion. So why is it so hard for secular Muslims to pull off the same thing?
Mar 30, 2016
Peyton yawns and stretches as my sister Katie holds her during our first Skype conversation. (Screen grab by Janelle Retka)

Learning to bond between screens, across borders

As immigration and military deployment separate families across borders, many rely on social media to stay connected.
May 20, 2015
My sister Anna meeting some long lost relatives in Lebanon.  (Photo by Deric Gruen)

5 Arabic words I wish we had in English

As a second-generation nuss-nuss (“half n’ half”) Arab American who is Lebanese and German,  it was only in my adult life that I took a keen interest in my grandparents’ language. I took a standard Arabic course in Seattle, then traveled to Lebanon to learn the spoken language, only to be evacuated in the summer […]
Apr 22, 2015
(Photo from "Desert Dancer" Facebook)

‘Desert Dancer’ film’s Western bias denies audiences a more accurate view of Iran

Do "Desert Dancer" producers equate "positive" with depicting Iranians as Westerners?
Apr 17, 2015
Mursal Ismailzada, a student at the University of Washington who immigrated to the U.S. from Afghanistan as a child, lights a candle for Farkhunda. (Photo by Atia Musazay)

Seattle Afghan community remembers Farkhunda

Seattle Afghans gather at a vigil remember the brutal March 19 murder of Farkhunda, calling for justice in a case that has gripped the nation.
Mar 30, 2015
Two children play around Chaharshanbeh Suri bonfires, a Nowruz opening ceremony the author grew up with. (Photo by Lucinda Homa Gray)

Celebrating Nowruz from London to Seattle

Ancient Nowruz traditions celebrated around the world make a big splash in Seattle.
Mar 21, 2015
A belly dancing craze in the 1960's promoted the stereotypical, exoticized, sexualized images often associated with the dance. (Photo by Alex Stonehill)

Belly dance: appreciation or appropriation?

A Seattle dance instructor says anyone should be able to enjoy belly dance, regardless of it's origins.
Feb 3, 2015
A guard at the Red Security Building in Sulaimaniyah, Iraq, the headquarters of the Iraqi Intelligence Service under Saddam Hussein’s regime where many Kurds were imprisoned and tortured. (Photo by Alex Stonehill)

Why I’m resisting the urge to tune out news from Iraq

After years as a secular, stable, pro-American bastion, Iraq's Kurdish region is under serious threat and deserves our help.
Aug 29, 2014
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Struggling to talk about Israel? Start by listening

For young progressive Jews in the Northwest, talking about Israel with the older generation can be a minefield.
Aug 11, 2014
Ariana Authentic Afghan Cuisine's many offerings of beef, lamb and chicken kabob. (Courtesy of Ariana Authentic Afghan Cuisine)

Authentic Afghan cuisine spices up Kirkland

Newly opened Ariana Authentic Afghan Cuisine aims to bring the spirit of Afghan hospitality to diners in Kirkland
Mar 3, 2014
A girl in the Tripoli refugee camp that now houses thousands of Syrian refugees. (Photo by Justin Salhani)

Welcome sours for Syrian refugees

With their houses in ruins and former villages now ghost towns, more than 1.5 million Syrians have fled their homeland. Lebanon and other neighboring countries have opened their doors to these refugees, but violence and strife have followed them from Syria.
May 30, 2013
A young Syrian in Deraa, at a protest commemorating the massacre at Al-Houla last May, where over 100 women and children were allegedly killed by pro-government militias. (Photo by  Syrian Revolution Memory Project)

What the heck is happening in Syria?

After more than 2 years and tens of thousands of people killed, the civil war in Syria keeps dragging on. Is there any end in sight?
Apr 15, 2013
The final step to making baklava: pouring on the simple syrup. (Photo by Christof Dreyer)

Kitchen Stories: A Salvadoran Palestinian’s Baklava rocks Seattle

Too many weeks ago, I was invited to Janne Abullarade’s home for a super duper special treat: homemade baklava. Janne was born in El Salvador to Palestinian parents and has been living in Seattle for thirteen years, where she works as an AIDS researcher. But she’s also arguably the most famous un-official baklava maker in the […]
Dec 31, 2012
Manou'she jibneh wi zaatar aka pita with cheese, spices and mint. (Photo courtesy Mamnoon)

Mamnoon brings a fresh take on Middle Eastern food to Capitol Hill

Step off Melrose Street and into Mamnoon, and you could just as well be in the trendy Gemmayzeh neighborhood of Beirut as on Capitol Hill. Mamnoon brings a hipness and class to Seattle’s sometimes tired fine Lebanese/ Syrian dining scene. They’ve got a focus on the “mezze” small plate approach and, most importantly, bread fresh-out-the-oven. […]
Dec 18, 2012
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Waiting for Assad’s fall, record numbers of Syrians flee to Jordan

ZAATARI, Jordan–As the Syrian civil war and the fight to remove President Bashar Assad unfolds, more than half a million people have fled their homes during dangerously cold winter months. There are roughly 60,000 Syrians in the Zaatari, one of the largest refugee camps that sits just across the Jordanian border. According to a recent […]
Dec 11, 2012
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Family ties defy the Israeli-Palestinian divide in ‘The Other Son’

Babies accidentally switched at birth. From Mark Twain to the ABC Family Monday night lineup, it’s a familiar plot device – and a usually a pretty cheesy one. But French director Lorraine Levy successfully adopts this clichéd premise in her third feature film, The Other Son, which opens Friday at the Egyptian Theatre. Levy delivers a […]
Oct 25, 2012
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Karachi neighborhood shakes violent reputation to produce top Pakistani athletes

Lyari is the most notorious neighborhood in Pakistan’s largest and most chaotic city. But just like in poor urban areas in the US, young residents are looking toward sports as a way to escape from the violence and turn their neighborhood’s reputation around. Faris Kasim reports from Karachi on the real story behind Lyari’s bad […]
Oct 8, 2012
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used graphic of a bomb as he addressed the UN about the threat of nuclear weapons in Iran last week. (Photo from REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

Israeli politics get personal: dissident Miko Peled in Seattle this week

Israeli peace activist Miko Peled is in Seattle this week to give a presentation called “Beyond the Zionist Paradigm: New Hope for Israel/Palestine.” I saw him at the University Temple United Methodist Church last night, and he’ll speak again at the University of Washington’s Smith Hall on Thursday at 6:30pm in room 205. Peled was […]
Oct 2, 2012
TSA Body Scanner Images

The trouble with traveling while Arab

I waited too long to book a flight home to visit my family in Amman to be picky about my flights. The only option under $2000 was a four hour layover at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. The price and timing was fine. The racial profiling and accusation that I might be a terrorist was not.
Aug 9, 2012