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.
Thaer Hilal, Syria
Contemporary artist Thaer Hilal has compared the seasonal colors of his village, Al Nassireya, outside Damascus, with the patterned hues present in his paintings. He work has been featured in several international exhibits, museums and biennales, where he's picked up awards. In addition to painting, he's created installations. He told Al Arabiya recently: “Though I embody the pace of people, I am just a bystander who imparts everything around me to my paintings.” Hilal also lectures on art runs creative workshops for kids in the UAE, where he's based.