London hosts its first Festival of Contemporary Arab Culture

This week we cast our eyes to the shores of London town, to the recently ended first ever festival celebrating Arab culture. ‘Shubbak: A Window into Contemporary Arab Culture’, hosted by the Mayor of London, ran from July 4th to the 24th during which time over seventy events were staged at more than 30 venues across London.

Although London, like many other global cities across the world has had Arab culture weaved into its identity and history over centuries never before has there been a distinct event platform dedicated to showcase and celebrate this.

As a platform the purpose of Shubbak (‘window’ in Arabic) is to expose diverse narratives of the Arab world through a wide-ranging programme of visual arts, film, music, theatre, dance, literature, architecture, lectures and discussion. In its inaugural run the festival featured  work by contemporary Arab artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians, choreographers and architects based in London and around the world including Algeria, Bahrain, Canada, Egypt, India, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, USA.

Below is a snapshot of sessions from this year’s programme to give you a taste of what one can probably expect from the festival in 2012.

Take 1/Take 2: Yesterday and Today in the Middle East

Forward Thinking: the Future of Architecture in the Arab World

Contemporary Arab Poetry. The Maghreb: History and Pan-Arabism

El Problema: Testimony of the Saharawi People

Public Domain: Talk on public and civic spaces in the Arab world

Cathay to the Arab World: Far Eastern Inspirations in the Islamic Lands

On the Importance of Being an Arab by Ahmed El Attar and Temple Independent Theatre Company

Preconceptions and Identity in the Arab World: debate and Q&

Highlights from Shubbak 2011 can be found on Twitter, Facebook and the main event website.

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