Letters from Baghdad is the story of a true original—Gertrude Bell—sometimes called the “female” Lawrence of Arabia. Voiced and executive produced by Academy award winning actor Tilda Swinton, the documentary tells the dramatic story of this British spy, explorer and political powerhouse. 

Bell travelled widely in Arabia before being recruited by British military intelligence to help draw the borders of Iraq after WWI. Using never-seen-before footage of the region, the film chronicles Bell’s extraordinary journey into both the uncharted Arabian desert and the inner sanctum of British male colonial power. 

With unique access to documents from the Iraq National Library and Archive and Gertrude Bell’s own 1600 letters, the story is told entirely in the words of the players of the day, excerpted verbatim from intimate letters, private diaries and secret communiqués. It is a unique look at both a remarkable woman and the tangled history of Iraq. 

For more information please see the Letters From Baghdad website and you can also follow updates on the film over on Twitter.

Britain’s AMAR Foundation Scores Top in Iraq

Following requests from local communities, the AMAR Foundation has constructed and officially opened new football pitches, for use by young people and adults in Basra. These pitches will provide invaluable recreational space and allow local residents to escape the instability surrounding them. 

Back in December, it was reported that young Iraqis had started receiving football coaching, through the use of other state-of-the-art pitches, that were opened before Christmas and also constructed by the UK’s AMAR Foundation. 

As the AMAR Foundation have reported, the pitches opened in December are now being used seven days a week, with top-class coaching being provided, to help bring Iraq’s young people up to standard, through a “train the trainer” programme, for aspiring young coaches.

Imprint of Hope Are Making Iraq Great and Beautiful

Yellow, blue, red, green, children’s faces, women wearing traditional dress and clasping hands. Baghdad is making herself beautiful. Or rather, it is a group of young Iraqi volunteers who are making her beautiful. They have been roaming the streets of the capital of Iraq, making a different use of the blast walls that cut through it. 

It is these blast walls that volunteers of Imprint of Hope have decided to change, it is the face of their city. Imprint of Hope has grown to over 400 volunteers. They are students, artists, professionals and bricklayers. “Our volunteers come from different ethnic and religious groups. With a passion that unites them: humanitarian service.” 

Yalla Eat! US Culinary Walking Tours

Yalla Eat! (Arabic for Let’s go eat!) is an immersive culinary experience offered by the Arab American National Museum (AANM). Through guided walking tours of Dearborn's Warren Avenue and Michigan Avenue, participants learn the story of Arab Americans in metro Detroit, including the history of Arab merchants on East Dearborn's busy commercial strips. 

On the Yalla Eat! tours, guests will meet both small and large business owners eager to share the story of their family-run enterprises and savor the sights, sounds and delicious scents at bakeries, nut and coffee houses and fresh produce markets. Traditional Arabic hospitality is on full display, as generous samples are offered along with the stories of individuals, their families and their history.