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Volume 51, Number 2 March/April 2000

In This Issue

March/April 2000
Arab Pop on the World Stage
Written by Louis Werner
Photographed by Jack Vartoogian

Gnaoua draws crowds in New York and rai rocks clubs in Paris; Cairenes turn up twinkly jeel in traffic while Khartoum stays close to its roots. "World beat" is big business, and Arab sounds are coming to the West. Here is a guide to some of the best.

The Art of Diplomacy
Written by Larry Luxner
Photographed by Eric Haase

Conflict-resolution skills learned in Lebanon—her parents' birthplace—and honed at Harvard helped her native Ecuador at last to make peace with Peru. Ivonne A-Baki, who has studied Islamic art and is also an accomplished painter, is now her country's envoy in Washington.

Digging Out Aqaba’s Islamic Past
Written by William Harms
Photographed by Bill Lyons

It was an archeologist's dream: A text reference hinted at the spot, and a search turned up potshards that the trained eye recognized. The discovery was Ayla, one of the earliest planned Islamic cities, lost from memory since the 1400's. Now, visitors to Jordan's port can watch beachfront excavations.

Saudi Arabia’s Desert Caves
Written by John Pint
Photographed by Lars Bjurström

A long-ago rainy period from eight to 30,000 years ago left limestone outcrops in central Saudi Arabia riddled with sinkholes. Some remain valuable water sources today and others lead down to dry caverns. A few of these cavers have explored, revealing labyrinthine marvels.

Sumerians on the Information Superhighway
Written by Arthur Clark
Photographed by Eric Haase

The Sumerians, the Mesopotamian people who first committed ideas to writing, would no doubt be pleased that a dictionary of their language is finally in the works, available electronically as a part of the information revolution that they began on clay tablets some 5200 years ago.