The Arabic Weekender: 17-19 July 2009


2009′s Arabic Arts Festival took place over a long weekend in July, with highlights including performances from musicians Abdullah Chhadeh, Natacha Atlas, and Ramallah Underground. Scroll down for more on 2009′s packed programme.

Visual Art 

Hidden Treasures from National Museums Liverpool – Islamic Collections

29 June – 31 July, 10am-5pm daily | World Museum | Free
A small selection of ceramics made by Arabic, Jewish and Christian potters during the British rule of Palestine (1929-1948)

The Art of Halima Cassell: An Exhibition of Ceramic Artwork

11 July – 9 August, 10am-5pm daily | Walker Art Gallery | Free
Cassell’s dynamic ceramics take their inspiration from traditional forms of Islamic art and architecture. She juxtaposes established styles with a more modernist approach, creating breathtaking and surprising forms.

Voyage to Arabia Exhibition

Fri 17 – Sat 18 July , 10am-6pm daily | Liverpool Playhouse
An exhibition including 30 wooden dhow boats painted by members of the local Arabic community. Includes and archive or original passport photos and memorabilia. Curated by Moira Kenny and Najib Al-Hakimi.

E-Space Lab

17  – 19 July | The Bluecoat | Free
e-space lab is an art laboratory that uses digital technology to connect with cities across the world. This two-screen installation features footage of walks exploring Damascus and Doha.


Sounds of Damascus

Thu 16 July, 6.30pm | FACT | £4 / £3
Directed by Aliya Salahuddin. Documentary, English and Arabic.
As an introduction to qanun virtuoso Abdullah Chhadeh’s live performance at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on 18 July, this film features Abdullah using music to explore the relationship between Damascus and the West.


Sat 18 July, 4pm | FACT | £7
Directed by Lyes Salem, Algeria / France 2008, 1hr 32mins, Arabic with English subtitles.
Heart-warming comedy. A gardener tells an extravagant lie about his family in an attempt to raise their position in the local community, changing the course of their destiny forever. Winner of Best French speaking film, Angouleme 2008 and Best French speaking film at the Cairo international film festival.

Salt of the Sea

Sun 19 July, 3pm | FACT | £7
Directed by Annemarie Jacir, France / Palestine 2008, 92mins, English and Arabic with Arabic subtitles.
Award winning romance about a Brooklyn born Palestinian who returns to her homeland to reclaim her grandfather’s lost fortune and falls in love with a young Palestinian man. This film premiered at Cannes last year to critical acclaim.


Early Hausa Collections from Northern Nigeria

Talk by Dr Zachary Kingdon, Curator of African Collections
Fri 17 July, 12.30pm | World Museum | Free
Inhabitants of the Hausa states in Northern Nigeria have interacted with the Arabic-speaking world since the 15th century and over time have adapted Islamic practices into their culture. Zachary Kingdon provides an overview of remarkable artefacts collected in this region between 1957 and 1973.

Islamic Ceramics – Talk by Wendy Monkhouse

Sat 18 July, 2-4pm | World Museum | Free
This ‘hands-on’ talk by Wendy Monkhouse, a researcher specialising in Islamic ceramics, includes an opportunity to make your own Iranian inspired plate.

Halima Cassell

Fri 17 July, 1pm | Walker Art Gallery | Free
Halima will discuss her exhibition that is on show at the Walker Art Gallery 11 July – 9 August

Ancient Egyptian Fashion Talk

Sun 19 July, 12.30pm | World Museum Liverpool | Free
NML Curator Dr Carolyn Routledge explores ancient Egyptian fashion over 3000 years of developments in male and female dress and hairstyles. The talk includes a practical demonstration of how to wear a wrap-around dress, a kilt and the Ramses girdle using modern material.

Ruins Technique in Contemporary Iraqi Art

Sun 19 July, 5.30pm | the Bluecoat | Free
Internationally exhibited Iraqi born painter Hanaa Mal-Allah talks about the importance of ‘ruins technique’ (to burn, cut, tear, scratch, smear, drip, dab and puncture) in her work.


Voyage to Arabia

Family event presented by Liverpool Arabic Centre in partnership with Mersey Ferries
Fri 17 July, 2pm | Meet at the ferry terminal, Pier Head | Free
Come and commemorate Liverpool’s Arabic cultural tradition on a voyage featuring dance, live music and sound installation. Arabic elders will lead a journey across the Mersey that celebrates their rich cultural heritage.

Fanily Day – Music, Dance, Food and Stalls

Sat 18 July, 12-5pm | The Bluecoat | Free
Experience the sounds and colours of a typical Arabian bazaar during this afternoon of activities for the whole family. Featuring live music, dance, storytelling, workshops, stalls and food throughout the Bluecoat’s buildings and gardens.

Cultural Clothes show presented by Liverpool Arabic Centre

Sun 19 July, 12.30-4pm | Art and Design Academy at Liverpool John Moores University | Free
Clothes show highlighting dress from across the Arab world modelled by members of the local Arabic community. Compered by BBC Radio Merseyside’s Roger Phillips. With thanks to Liverpool John Moores University for hosting this event.


The Clerks. Quddoson: Sacred Songs of East and West

Fri 17 July, 7.30pm | St George’s Hall | £15
One of the UK’s outstanding vocal ensembles, The Clerks, join three singers from Syria, each a virtuoso in the music of their community, to perform ancient chant and polyphony from Europe and the Middle East.

Natacha Atlas and the Mazeeka Ensemble with Abdullah Chhadeh and Syriana

Sat 18 July, 7.30pm | Liverpool Philharmonic Hall | £16.50, £21.50
Enjoy a fantastic double bill featuring sets by Syriana followed by Atlas & The Mazeeka Ensemble.
The celebrated Syrian born musician Abdullah Chhadeh presents his new Syriana trio project that explores the music and politics of both East and West using three distinct instrumental voices, qanun, electric guitar and double bass.
Performing with the Mazeeka Ensemble’s incredible strings, the Anglo Egyptian singer Natacha Atlas brings her extraordinary voice to seemingly disparate genres, creating a breathtaking new sonic collaboration. |

Ramallah Underground with support from Lowkey

Fri 17 July, 9pm | The Bluecoat | £7 / £5
Ramallah Underground harness hip hop to communicate contemporary experiences of life in Palestine, giving a voice to an Arabic generation. Supported by LowKey’s award winning message driven hip hop. Presented in collaboration with the Delfina Foundation.


Arabic Poetry and Fiction Reading

Sun 19 July, 1pm | The Bluecoat | Free
A fascinating event with two exciting Arabic writers; short story author Hassan Blasim (Iraq) and poet Joumana Haddad (Lebanon), who will read from and discuss their work in the company of Ra Page of Comma Press, publisher of Madinah: City Stories from the Middle East.

The Life and Times of Mahmoud Darwish

Poetry evening presented by Arts for Palestine
Sun 19 July, 7.30pm | Al-Ghazali Centre | Free

Described as the Arab world’s poet laureate, Mahmoud Darwish inspred millions with his work and still exerts a huge influence upon modern Arab literature. This evening celebrates his life and work with readings, music and food.



Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival 2009 was supported by:

Funders:  Arts Council England, Liverpool City Council
Sponsors:  Yemenia Airways, UNISON, Premier Inn
Partners:  The Bluecoat, Arts For Palestine, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool Arabic Cente, FACT, National Museums Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University, Mersey Ferries, Everyman Playhouse, BBC Merseyside.