Seattle's Arab Festival to Offer Music, Dance, Film and Food, 8/29-30

Seattle's Arab Festival to Offer Music, Dance, Film and Food, 8/29-30

Arab Festival explores the cultural roots and current influences of Arab countries through live performances, foods, and a traditional shopping bazaar, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m., Aug. 29 - 30, in Seattle Center Armory and Fisher Pavilion. Strong coffee, dancing and workshops, family activities, crafts and more, illuminate Arab culture in our midst.

This year marks the ninth year of Arab Festival and the eighth at Seattle Center. Washington Senator Cyrus Habib and U.S. Representative Jim McDermott will attend the festival's opening ceremony and partake in a friendly mana'eesh (flatbread) eating contest.

Shadia Mansour, the "first lady of Arabic hip-hop" (www.youtube.com/watch?v=paQAdTElChM), performs her signature blend of rap and song at Mural Amphitheatre at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Mansour also will participate in a question and answer session, 1 p.m., Sunday, following the screening of Nana Dankwa's "Hip Hop is Bigger than the Occupation," a documentary film about a group of artists traveling through Palestine to teach and perform non-violent resistance through the arts. Other musical highlights include performances by Tarik Bentlemsani, Naseem Band, Ghassan Shakir, Mostafa Super Group, George Sadak Trio, Nader Kabbani and Dr. Deima Elnatour.

Performances by the Iraqi Women Association Dancers, Zulaika, Shahrazad Dance Ensemble, Jafraa Dabke Team, Karavans Dance Troupe and Janelle Bel Isle showcase Arabic dance. Festival-goers of all ages are invited to learn the traditional dabke step dance and perform on the Armory Stage, at 1 p.m. on Saturday).

This year the festival includes film, with screenings held in the Armory Lofts. Question and answer sessions with the filmmakers follow presentations of Jen Marlowe's "Witness Bahrain" and Mikael Taib's "Home in Time for War." "Art of Resilience," Raghad Mardini's short-film about a cultural center in the mountains outside Beirut, also is included on the program.