1. Cities of Salt is a tale of cultural transformation into modernity. It details how the discovery of oil in Saudi Arabia ushered in a new era of technology and consumerism. Discuss how healthcare is transformed from traditional to modern practices. In your discussion, explain how the new healthcare system relates to the new social structure and how the conflict between the two traditional and modern practices is resolved.
2. Cultural transformation is the central theme of Cities of Salt. Some aspects of this transformation are drastic, such as the destruction of Wadi Al-Uyoun. Others are rather slow, such as the introduction of formal education in Harran and the development of a security force. Why, in your opinion, is there such variation in the speed of progress/change?
3. The world of Cities of Salt changes at a pace that is too fast even for the residents of Harran to comprehend, let alone cope with it. These changes directly affect the ecosystem, demographic structure, and access to resources. What aspects of the culture resist change? Why?
4. There are no traditional/classical main characters or heroes in Cities of Salt. Rather, it is a story about a community. This is why several characters appear out of nowhere while others die or simply disappear from the narrative. Choose one character that dies or disappears and explain his/her their function in the narrative.
5. Colonel Nour Al-Din, the main character in The Nile Hilton Incident, is a corrupt police officer who does not even attempt to hide or deny his corruption. However, the movie ends with him trying to arrest his own uncle. Why does he refuse to accept his uncle’s way of resolving Shafiq’s case?
6. Shafiq, the construction tycoon in The Nile Hilton Incident, is a highly influential businessman with enough power to have Lalena’s murder case closed. Why does he use his power to have the investigation reopened? What cultural patterns motivate him to risk the outcome of the investigation?
7. Both Cities of Salt and The Nile Hilton Incident deal with social change and oppression. The workers in Harran live and work in slave-like conditions. The residents of Cairo are struggling under the pressure of corruption. However, both groups put up with oppression for a long time. What cultural patterns made them wait and later triggered the two societies to protest and start uprisings?
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