The Khaleejesque team continually ponders with the barrage of research, commercial trends, and click bait articles that have called ‘time of death’ on our respective field of publishing. With our collected knowledge, network, and experience in what is seemingly a “dying field,” we set to formulate our own research more focused on the MENA publishing scene on a global scale—namely, niche and independent publishing platforms, whether print or online, founded and staffed by young Arabs and Muslims from around the world.
As a platform that strives to amplify the voices of creatives and activists alike, we are dedicated to sharing our findings on a burgeoning field amongst creatives of the MENA region and beyond. As traditional publishing houses increasingly diminish, these independent platforms are paving the way for a new movement—heralding a cultural paradigm shift towards an egalitarian voice in publishing far from the constraints of traditional print and online media.
As a result, we’ve published a MENA Indie Zines and Platforms feature which can be accessed here.
In addition we’ve reached out to individual Zines who have shared with us their intricate workings and their missions and visions for their platform.
On behalf of Jahanamiya, Ahd Niazy (Founder and Editor-in Chief) has answered below.
- About the Platform:
The most beautiful thing to me about running Jahanamiya is getting to know our contributors, especially our writers. It feels like such a privilege for someone to let you read their writing – their personal story, or their creative take on an important (and likely also personal) theme or concept. Not only do our writers let me read their work, but they trust me and work with me to edit and improve it. They allow me to nurture their pieces to their full potential, a vulnerable and brave act that requires a lot of trust and patience on their part. Our writers have ranged from high school students to working mothers to grandmothers who led entire careers and raised generations of children before deciding to dedicate their time and talent to our publication.
- Content: what is your publication concerned with and what kind of content does it feature?
Jahanamiya publishes writing by the women of Saudi Arabia – women who have lived here, who are Saudi, or who otherwise hold ties and connections to the country. Our publication strives to celebrate the diversity, experiences, and voices of Saudi women. As such, we strive to create a space where said diversity is not only acknowledged, but deeply respected. We seek to learn from our readers, to learn more about our rich culture and history through the narratives and experiences of individual women.
The goal of all this? Jahanamiya strives to nurture young girls and women to become their best selves, and to find the courage to share their experiences with us. These experiences, opinions, and stories matter, and we’re proud to showcase them at Jahanamiya. We support women embracing and learning about their roots and heritage as they work towards their various pursuits and goals. Essentially highlighting where they come from and where they want to go. Jahanamiya takes a clear stance against western feminism by letting Arab women speak for themselves about whatever suits them. Our agenda is merely to nurture and empower these women, to elevate their voices and to support them as they bloom into the brightest versions of themselves. From this space, they will be better able to give to themselves, their families, and hopefully, their communities.
- The team behind the platform:
I [Ahd Niazy, Founder and Editor-in-Chief] have worked individually since founding the magazine, with a lot of support from friends and family along the way. It’s been really challenging to run such a communally-engaged publication on my own, which is part of why we haven’t published as regularly as I’d originally hoped. I’m also a full-time PhD student at present. When I first founded the magazine, I was a full-time undergraduate student. You can read more about that here. As such, balance has always been a challenge in relation to Jahanamiya and my own academic work and goals.
We are presently looking to grow our small team – if you are a graphic designer, a writer, an editor, or if you feel an insatiable urge to contribute to Jahanamiya’s cause, please do reach out. We’ll need the support as we prepare new content and begin moving towards our expansion plan.
Contributors to Jahanamiya come from all over. It’s so exciting and humbling for me to scroll through our contributors’ page and see the rich variety and range of careers, backgrounds, and interests of the people who have dedicated their time to this publication, and to support our cause. Our writers are predominantly Saudi women, though they range from women who write for a living to women with careers in the medical field or in the arts. Our artists come from all over the world, and they brighten our publication with their wonderful and colorful works of art. Most of the artists are based in the Middle East.
- Work Space:
All work for Jahanamiya is done remotely. Since founding the publication, I’ve lived in Atlanta, Paris, Ann Arbor, and Jeddah. Presently, I’m based in Jeddah, which makes connecting with contributors a lot easier than when I was in the US. That said, the privilege and flexibility of working remotely remains one of the major perks of having a digital platform.
Images courtesy of Jahanamiya.