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The Middle East Before and After

  • Cecily Hilleary
From the Maghreb to the Hejaz, the Middle East has undergone more change in the last century than ever before: It has witnessed foreign rule and altered borders; independence and state formation; war and hunger; peace, prosperity and development. Today, the Middle East faces some of the biggest challenges yet, as citizens confront leaders, demanding an end to corruption and a greater voice in government. Throughout it all, the people of the region have shown remarkable tenacity and resilience and have fought to protect and preserve their history, faiths and cultural traditions--as this photo essay illustrates.
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Ancient Arabia: Qasr (Castle) Mard, Dumat Al-Jandal, in northwestern Saudi Arabia. Built before 272 CE, it commanded the ancient city of Adumato (L) 2007. Library of Congress (R) CC/Nora Ali.
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Ancient Arabia: Qasr (Castle) Mard, Dumat Al-Jandal, in northwestern Saudi Arabia. Built before 272 CE, it commanded the ancient city of Adumato (L) 2007. Library of Congress (R) CC/Nora Ali.

Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt, founded c. 970 by the Fatimid Caliphate, it is still a global center of Islamic studies (L) ca. 1867-1899, Maison Bonfils (Beirut. Library of Congress (R) 26 September 2011, CC/Poco a Poco.
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Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt, founded c. 970 by the Fatimid Caliphate, it is still a global center of Islamic studies (L) ca. 1867-1899, Maison Bonfils (Beirut. Library of Congress (R) 26 September 2011, CC/Poco a Poco.

Threatened history: Grand Umayyad Mosque, Aleppo, Syria, originally begun in early 8th Century, now a World Heritage Site, heavily damaged by tank fire in 2013 (L) Ca. 1900-1920. American Colony (Jerusalem), Library of Congress (R) Free Syrian Army fighter walks in courtyard 8 July 2013. Reuters/Muzaffar.
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Threatened history: Grand Umayyad Mosque, Aleppo, Syria, originally begun in early 8th Century, now a World Heritage Site, heavily damaged by tank fire in 2013 (L) Ca. 1900-1920. American Colony (Jerusalem), Library of Congress (R) Free Syrian Army fighter walks in courtyard 8 July 2013. Reuters/Muzaffar.

Legacy of the Crusades: Sea Castle at Saida (Sidon), Lebanon, built by Europeans in the 13th Century (L) American Colony (Jerusalem), ca. 1920-1933. Library of Congress. (R) 28 January 2004. Creative Commons/Кардам.
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Legacy of the Crusades: Sea Castle at Saida (Sidon), Lebanon, built by Europeans in the 13th Century (L) American Colony (Jerusalem), ca. 1920-1933. Library of Congress. (R) 28 January 2004. Creative Commons/Кардам.

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