Brownbook – Issue 56 (The Snow Issue)

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Brownbook is the essential guide to the contemporary Middle East and North Africa. Launched over seven years ago, Brownbook is dedicated to exploring subjects across the entire region – from the music of Kuwaiti pearl divers to the Iranian diaspora of Los Angeles. In print, Brownbook magazine’s six issues a year use beautiful photography and original artwork with in-depth stories and interviews on architecture, food, travel and other culture. Brownbook also publishes two annual Design and Fashion directories.

‘The silence of snow, thought the man sitting just behind the bus driver,’ starts Orhan Pamuk’s novel, aptly named, ‘Snow’. ‘If this were the beginning of a poem, he would have called the thing he felt inside him the silence of snow.’ It’s a natural scene setter – evoking a sky’s greyness, the soft crunch of footsteps and the particular stillness that snow brings as it falls across the land.

This issue of Brownbook is an ode to such snowy landscapes. The Middle East’s lesser-known sibling of sea and sand, the region may not be immediately associated with snowflakes but snowfall can be found annually across the mountain ranges of Morocco, Lebanon, Turkey and Iran, and even in Saudi Arabia. And here, this ‘silence of snow’ produces its own special culture, entwined in the flurries of wintry life, spent busy by hitting the slopes or kept warm with late-night salep and spiced ginger coffee.

After spending this winter visiting the artists, athletes and whole communities tucked away among the Middle East’s snow-capped peaks, we discovered two different ways of life: one of slowness and silence, and a second of pure adventure – both off and on piste.

A sense of adventure is definitely key for Karim Kerbouche, the man pioneering Algerian ice hockey, who shares his vision for the future of North African winter sports. We also meet with Iran’s top rock climber and Armenia’s female Olympic ski team, who take us to their remote mountainscapes, while Tajikistan’s ‘trekking guru’ and Afghanistan’s female park rangers in the Band-e-Amir national park highlight the different lives that snow can inspire.

There’s also a visit to Šerefudin’s White Mosque in Visoko, Bosnia – designed by the country’s leading modernist architect, Zlatko Ugljen, and an equally inspiring and educational lesson from Mohammed Al-Shaker, the Middle East’s renegade weatherman, who gives us some meteorological insights into the impact of snow. Did you know that in December 2013, more than 150,000 cars were abandoned on the streets of Amman because drivers were stranded due to the snowstorm? Until this issue, neither did we.

244 pgs, 26 × 21.1 cm, softcover, 2016

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