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Sheik your booty

Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival opens this wekend

Published on July 6th 2012.

Sheik your booty

LIVERPOOL'S  Arabic Arts Festival, the only festival of its kind in the UK, opens this weekend after a record 10th year in 2011.

It's theme is Behind the News - who are the people beyond the politics, the dictators and the riots - so expect a packed programme of music, dance, performance, visual art, comedy, debates, talks, workshops, film, exhibitions and poetry - including many free events.

Highlights include a world premiere at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on 15th July from the Alif Ensemble and the play Rest Upon the Wind at Unity Theatre from veteran actor and writer Nadim Sawalha.

Festival goers are also promised a breathtaking solo piece from ballet dancer Ayman Safiah at St Georges Hall on 14 July. Somebody has dubbed the talented young dancer "The Arab Billy Elliot" and he has just been snapped up by dance guru Matthew Bourne’s company New Adventures.


Razanne Carmey, the festival's new executive director, explained: “This year’s festival looks ‘Behind the News’ of political change in the Arab world.  Yes the riots and demonstrations, yes the calls for dictators to ‘Leave! Leave! Leave!’ But who are the people on the streets, when they go home?  We want to know the truth behind the news, the life behind the news and the loves, tears and laughter of the news makers.  And here in Liverpool, LAAF will let us sample and participate in the rich art and culture of so many countries and communities.”

There's an exhibition and debate of satirical cartoons at the Walker Art Gallery throughout the festival period (6-15 July) from Reem Abdelhadi. His work Laughing at the Government explores and discusses the history of Arab political humour and the art of drawing cartoons. It would never happen in Syria.

For all ages, LAAF 2012 also sees the return of the ever popular Family day at Sefton Park on 8 July,  an afternoon of colour, live music, dance, workshops, stalls and food centred around the Palm House.

Marcel Khalife, Patron of the festival, said: “This year’s events reflect the quality and diversity of arts, education and sheer enjoyment we have come to connect with the only festival of its kind in the UK. I believe the artist is by nature a rebel and one must be rebellious with all creative projects; the 2012 festival is a celebration of the ongoing cultural expression within the Arab world. The festival’s mass appeal is self evident; join in and be part of it”

Owing to a family bereavement New York based Maysoon Zayid's performance at St Georges Hall has been postponed.  

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