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Liverpool Arab Arts Festival reveals 2024 programme

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival returns to city venues from today with the festival celebrating the city’s unique identity.

The annual event, now in its 22nd year, is the UK’s longest festival of Arab arts and culture and aims to support and champion artists from across the Arab region and its diaspora.

It runs until July 21 at venues across Liverpool including the Unity Theatre, Bluecoat, Central Library, Space Liverpool in Stanhope Street and Liverpool Philharmonic’s Music Room as well as Sefton Park Palm House and the Plaza cinema at Waterloo.

Events include music, comedy, theatre, spoken word, films, literature and the festival’s popular annual Family Day at the Palm House on July 21.

One major strand of the 2024 festival is Port Cities, a new international visual arts project being run in partnership with the British Council – MENA, with an exhibition running at Space Liverpool from July 12-20 featuring the work of Mohamed Abdelkarim, Laila Haida, Nadia Kaabe-Linke and Siska.

Each of the artists visited Liverpool in February on a research residency to help inform the creation of new artworks which critically explore the past and future of port cities, both Liverpool and those in the Arab region.

After its premiere in Liverpool the exhibition will tour to Tripoli in Lebanon, Alexandria, Rabat and Tunis.

There will also be a one-day Port Cities symposium held at the Bluecoat on July 15 which will feature performances, talks and screenings.

Above: Liverpool Arab Arts Festival. Top: The Ayoub Sisters.

Meanwhile other festival events include award-winning and internationally renowned Scottish Egyptian instrumentalists and composers The Ayoub Sisters who will present their acclaimed album Arabesque - a celebration of, and tribute to the music of the Arab World – at the Music Room at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, and the return of the Arabs Are Not Funny comedy night at the Unity Theatre.

The Unity will also host Chambers of the Heart, written by Hassan Abdulrazzak, directed by Sepy Baghaei and performed by Laila Alj, which shares the stories of three women confronting love, desire and memory, spanning from East to West.

An evening of Arab films will be presented at the Plaza Community Cinema in Waterloo, and Liverpool Central Library will host two festival workshops – Hadi Badi Books workshop for children aged four to eight, and a comedy workshop with Maria Shehata.

The festival will also host a special fundraising screening of At Home in Gaza and London at the Bluecoat on July 15.

Above: At Home in Gaza and London. Credit: Rob Harris.

LAAF chairman Afrah Qassim said: “This year’s festival is dedicated to the memory of the countless lives lost to relentless conflict, which includes many artists, creatives and communities. We stand in solidarity with those who continue to endure pain and loss.

“As the longest running annual festival of Arab arts and culture, LAAF is one of the few prominent platforms in the UK for Arab artists to present their artistic works to mainstream audiences. Our mission is to keep Arab arts, heritage and culture alive, creating, supporting and championing creatives from across the Arab region and its diaspora.

“We believe that art and creativity has the power to express our shared humanity, and that artists play a vital role in documenting their lived experiences. This year’s festival features work by Palestinian, Yemeni and Sudanese artists, among many others, that expresses creativity, hope and resilience.

“Art can give a voice to the unheard, tell untold stories and offer new perspectives. Creativity is a universal language that transcends all borders and barriers.”

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival runs from July 12-21. Details of the full programme and booking information HERE


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