Even as world headlines from the Middle East focus on upheaval and violence, the region's culture continues to thrive. Here's our look at some groups and individuals making their mark on arts and culture in the region, in no particular order.
Aynur Doğan, Turkey
Aynur Doğan's soaring voice raised the Kurdish folk tradition's profile on the world music platform. Born in Turkey, Doğan has spent the past decade performing Kurdish and Turkish classics while unveiling her own creations as well. A court issued an order to ban her 2004 album, Kece Kurdan (Kurdish Girl) because it allegedy encouraged separatism. Last year, at the Istanbul Jazz Festival, audience members booed her so severely for performing Kurdish songs that she left the stage. Even so, her tour schedule remains busy as she travels around Europe.