SHUBBAK, London's Festival of Contemporary Arab Culture, Kicks Off July 1st

Shubbak, London's festival of contemporary Arab culture, has become a key event in the arts calendar of the UK and the Arab World, and 2017 will be the 4th edition of this biennial festival.

It returns with a wide, diverse, exciting and thought-provoking programme, celebrating extraordinary artistic skills looking imaginatively to the future, whilst reflecting on the fragility, resilience and challenges of artists in times of crisis.

Shubbak grew indirectly out of the 'Arab Spring' in 2011 and now engages with the turbulent legacy of that period to bring to audiences the hopes, ambitions and aspirations of artists and performers from across the entire region.


At the Young Vic Taha by Palestinian actor Amer Hlehel, charts the lyrical life story of one of Palestine's most eminent poets, Taha Muhammad Ali while at Sadler's Wells Syrian dancer and choreographer Mithkal Alzghair performs a poignant double bill entitled Displacement, drawing attention to the human being amidst the complexities of migration and war.

The UK premiere of Corbeaux by Moroccan choreographer Bouchra Ouizguen, a performance by 10 Moroccan women and up to 10 local dancers developed in workshops organised by Serpentine Galleries, will be presented at the Serpentine's Park Nights and at Tate Modern

At the Arcola Theatre And Here I Am by award winning Iraqi writer Hassan Abdelrazzak (Love, Bombs and Apples; Baghdad Wedding) is based on the actor Ahmed Tobasi's personal coming of age story.

Cie Chatha perform Sacré Printemps! at the British Library (co-presented with The Place) and Southbank Centre Square. Inspired by the hopes and challenges of building a new civil society, Tunis-born choreographers Aïcha M'Barek and Hafiz Dhaou create a visceral streetscape of today's Tunisia.

At Cine Lumiere actress and singer Norah Krief explores the burst of nostalgia she felt, remembering her mother listening to the Egyptian diva Umm Kulthum on their record-player.

Performance(s) Between Two Shores is a series of three new works from Arab theatre artists now creating in Europe. These works include: at the Arcola Theatre Three Rooms, an original performance work by Amal Omran (Syria), Hatem Hadawe (Syria) and Kathryn Hamilton about absence through travel restrictions and Mind the Gap, an interactive lecture performance by Hani Sami (Egyptian), which investigates how we perceive and consume images of conflict. At the Hackney Showroom Mithkal Alzghair (Syria) will present Transaction, a meditation on the power of images from conflict situations, using aerial performance and live singing.

Shubbak's music programme kicks off at Barbican with a double-bill featuring Egyptian five-piece band Cairokee, mixing rock, rap and traditional Egyptian sounds, and Lebanese singer-songwriter and visual artist Tania Saleh in her UK debut.

The Mayor of London's Eid Festival on Trafalgar Square, at the end of Ramadan, is one of London's most important community celebrations, visited by 15,000 - 25,000 people. Shubbak will present three hours of music featuring Afro-Egyptian band Hawidro, Sudanese singer Rasha, the 'Nahda' tribute ensemble Oxford Maqam and virtuoso Syrian Kanun player, Maya Youssef.

King's Place sees the UK premiere of the Tarek Yamani Trio, in partnership with Abu Dhabi Festival. Tarek Yamani is an American-Lebanese, New York based composer and pianist. The trio will be playing original music from his albums.

Following the success of Cities of Salt in 2015 Shubbak and The Royal Opera, in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Festival, present an evening concert at LSO St Luke's. It features the premiere of excerpts from Woman at Point Zero by Lebanese composer Bushra El-Turk, with a libretto by British Egyptian writer Sabrina Mahfouz, and works by four composers in residence - Nabil Benabdeljalil (Morocco), Bahaa El-Ansary (Egypt), Amir ElSaffar (Iraq/America) and Nadim Husni (Syria) . Woman at Point Zero is based on the seminal novel by Egyptian author, doctor and feminist Nawal el Saadawi - an allegorical tale of historical female oppression in Egypt that questions what true freedom and empowerment can mean for women today.

Love & Revenge at Rich Mix is a music and video performance by Wael Koudaih (aka Rayess Bek) and video artist Randa Mirza (aka La Mirza). It revisits the old popular songs and Egyptian movies from the golden era of Cairo's Studio Misr. Featuring stars such as: Samia Gamal, Tahi Carioca and singing idols Leila Mourad and Farid El Attrache.

Shubbak ends with a night of the finest electronic and underground sounds at Rich Mix. Featuring Maurice Louca, one of the pioneering musicians in Cairo's electronic music scene with influences from psychedelic to Egyptian shaabi; the Palestinian female DJ and electronic music producer DJ Skywalker; Missy Ness a DJ from Tunisia; Palestinian producer and beat maker DJ Sotusura playing the finest Arabic hip hop and electronic music and Salvatore De Simone, an Italian DJ, brings Beirut World Beat;

Survival of the Artist, presented in partnership with The Mosaic Rooms at the British Museum, is a one day event that reflects on how artists and art spaces continue to work in times of civil and political conflict and censorship, and on how they are responding to the threat to cultural heritage.

Shubbak at the British Museum explores responses from artists and institutions to the fragility of and threat to cultural heritage and artistic expression. For one day only Saudi Arabian artist Zahrah Al-Ghamdi will produce an evocation of a Saudi village using sand, rubble and cloth in the Great Court in view of an audience. Unearthed sees Syrian artist Issam Kourbaj cover the floor of the Great Court with hundreds of old hardback book covers placed side-by-side to cover sixty square meters of floor.

At the Mosaic Rooms Dar Al Sulh (or Domain of Conciliation) is a supper club with a difference hosted by the Chicago based artist, Michael Rakowitz. This al-fresco three-course meal is based on the recipes of his Iraqi-Jewish grandmother and seeks to recall a time when 'Jews were once Arabs too'.

The exhibition Shift is the UK debut of three young female artists from Saudi Arabia: Zahrah Al-Ghamdi, Dana Awartani and Reem Al Nasser present large scale installations and video works which contemplate the place for memory and heritage amidst rapid cultural change.

The Craft at Gasworks is the first UK solo exhibition by Amsterdam-based Kuwaiti artist Monira Al Qadiri. Poking fun at collapsing postcolonial empires, these works explore how the rise of nationalism and political populism trivialise formerly common ways of being international in the world, in the era of diplomatic rituals, national grandeur and political grandstanding.

At Rich Mix Syrian artist Sulafa Hijazi: Animated Images is a response to our ever-closening relationship with new media.

Shubbak at the British Library is a 2-day programme of readings, panels and debates, with themed sessions on the most current issues facing Arab literature. Writers taking part include Robin Yassin-Kassab,Rasha Abbas, Malika Booker, Golan Haji, Mona Kareem, Dunya Mikhail, Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi, Basma Abdel Aziz, Ganzeer, Mohammad Rabie, Saleem Haddad , Alexandra Chreiteh, Alberto Fernández Carbajal, Bidisha, Najwa Benshatwan, Nadia Al-Kokabany, Susan Abulhawa and Sabrina Mahfouz

The film programme is titled 'Reframing Narratives' and explores artistic responses to crises. Drawn from recent releases and including UK premieres, themed events explore how artists' imaginations chip away at conventional viewpoints and will largely take place at presenting partner Barbican Cinema.

UK premieres include 'Off Frame'(AKA Revolution Until Victory) by Mohanad Yaqubi, award-winning Syrian director Soudade Kaadan's 'Obscure', and 'The Last of Us' by Tunisian director Ala Eddine Slim.

Imagined Future Shorts are films from the region's most exciting new voices. In Mounia Akl's Submarine, wild child Hala refuses to evacuate her derelict house when the garbage crisis in Lebanon causes her whole village to flee. Larissa Sansour offers a dystopian solution to the deadlock in the Middle East in 'Nation Estate', whilst Chadi Aoun's 'Silence' celebrates creative resistance in authoritarian darkness. Directors Rana Kazkaz and Anas Khalaf, capture the dilemmas lived by many on the Mediterranean shores and reflect on a Syrian parent's choices to save his daughter in 'Mare Nostrum'.

'Farouk, Besieged Like Me'at Cine Lumiere is a deeply personal personal documentary by veteran Syrian documentarian Hala Alabdalla. She invites the audience to dinner with writer and editor Farouk Mardam-Bey for a thought-provoking reflection on Syria, culture and identity.

As part of its 2017 collaboration with two influential festivals in the Arab region to imagine new responses to local contexts, Shubbak has invited dancers and choreographers Selma and Sofiane Ouissi (founders of Dream City) to commission a series of interventions for Dalston and artistic directors Aurélien Zouki and Eric Deniaud (Collectif Kahraba) to commission a series of events for the Shepherd's Bush area.

Shubbak in Dalston explores a neighbourhood facing rapid economic development alongside fragile existences and hidden histories whilst Shubbak in Shepherd's Bush explores this vibrant West London neighbourhood with a rich multicultural history.

For more about the festival, visit

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