Arabic Arts Festival returns

The highly anticipated Liverpool Arab Arts Festival returns to the city this week, opening on Saturday 7 June at the Bluecoat for the start of an impressive 9 day long festival.

Now in its 13th year, the festival runs from 7-15 June bringing a delightful array of events from some of the finest Arabic artists the world has to offer.

Female Arabian Flamenco jazz singer Farah Siraj headlines this year’s festival in what is her only UK show this year.

A music superstar in the Arab world and many European countries, Farah will be performing in the impressive Concert Room of Liverpool’s St George’s Hall on Sunday 8 June as she brings to the city an eclectic mix of Middle Eastern music, flamenco, jazz, bossa and pop, with lyrics in Arabic, Spanish and English.

The Big Saturday launches the festival on Sat 7 June at The Bluecoat. A hugely enjoyable experience for the whole family, this free event is an exciting day of music, food, culture and entertainment, including music from DJ Funky Pharaoh, Amira Kheir, The Al Awadhel Band and Maya Yousseff. Curator of the Choose Your Own Adventure graphic design poster exhibition which runs throughout the festival, Danah Abdulla, will also be giving guided tours around the exhibition itself.

Saturday evening the Bluecoat will screen the first of 6 films of this year’s festival. El Gusto is a feel good documentary about a group of musicians coming together, a simple story that transcends cultural boundaries and cultivates a strong sense of hope.

Other films throughout the festival include Crop and Winter of Discontent, a double bill at Fact on Mon 9 June introduced by political academic Reem Abu-el-fadl and followed by a post film discussion. Then on Wed 11 June controversial and action packed film Omar is screened at Fact. When I Saw You tells the story of Talek as he seeks a way out of a refugee camp and is screened at the Bluecoat on Fri 13 June and the Oscar nominated Wadjda completes the film line up which is shown at the Bluecoat on Sat 14 June.

Theatre and dance also has a strong presence throughout this year’s festival with some truly gripping and inspiring pieces commencing on Sun 8 June, as award winning playwright Hassan Abdulrazzak presents an exclusive reading of scenes from his new play A Fire Blazing Brightly. Experience the magic of Middle Eastern dance at its finest on Tue 10 June as Funoon Al Arabiya come together to present joyful and colourful folkloric music and dance in Funoon Wa Alwane at the Unity Theatre.

Then Swivel Theatre Company present a series of gripping new plays centring on Arab women in revolution in Waiting for Summer at the Unity on Wed 11 and Thu 12 June and finally, after their sell-out show last year, Diwan are back with a new show Sarmada at the Bluecoat on Saturday 14 June, based on Fadi Azzam’s novel which was long-listed for the Arabic Booker Prize in 2011.

There will also be a variety of exciting and thought provoking talks throughout the festival, Freedom Hour will take place every day between 9 – 12 June at the Bluecoat and will offer debates on current affairs, culture, freedom and change in the Arab world. An insightful and engaging event on Wed 11 June with the launch of Book of Gaza at the Bluecoat which brings together ten fiction writers in a unique anthology presented in English for the first time. Finally on Sat 14 June a lively event to launch Syria Speaks – Art and Culture from the Frontline, a unique anthology of literature, art and culture of self-publishing Syrian writers and artists.
There will be two major exhibitions running throughout the duration of the festival.

The first, commissioned by LAAF and devised especially for the Bluecoat of artwork curated by Kalimat magazine editor Danah Abdullah. Choose Your Own Adventure plays with the format found in old board games and children’s books and has been extended until Thu 29 June. The second, Al Noor- Fragile Vision has been created for LAAF in collaboration with DaDaFest, British Council and Arts Council England. Rachel Gadsden’s methodology of creative engagement and delivery articulates the notion that, whilst acknowledging political and religious differences, arts and culture can serve to promote a common ground for discourse and development.

LAAF is also delighted to present a fantastic drumming workshop opportunity led by the distinguished darbuka player Simona Abdallah on Sat 14 June at The Bluecoat.

Bringing LAAF 2014’s festivities to an exciting climax is the fantastic Family Day at Sefton Park Palm House on Sun 15 June. Fun for the whole family, there will be a huge variety of stalls with an appealing selection of food and goodies to purchase as well as an attractive array of music and performance throughout the day, including Simona Abdallah, Attab Haddad, The Al Awadhel Band with dancers and Nawarra.

As one of the highlight events in the festival calendar LAAF promises to deliver a wide variety of unmissable attractions with family activities, visual arts, film, performance, music, dance, food, 2 book launches and interactive workshops. People of all ages and cultures will find something to interest them so be sure to put all the events in the diary so not to miss out.

For further information please visit
Choose Your Own Adventure
10am – 6pm, 6th – 29th
the Bluecoat | FREE

Al Noor- Fragile Vision
10am – 6pm, 7-17 June
the Bluecoat | FREE

The Big Saturday
12pm-5pm, Sat 7 June
the Bluecoat | FREE

El Gusto
6pm, Sat 7 June
the Bluecoat | FREE
Tickets: This event is free but ticketed. Please contact Tickets & Information on 0151 702 5324 or

Hassan Abdulrazzak: A Fire Blazing Brightly
5pm, Sun 8 June
the Bluecoat | £5/£3
Tickets from or in person at the venue

Faraj Siraj
7.30pm, Sun 8 June
St George’s Hall I £15/£10
Tickets from or in person at the venue

Freedom Hour
5pm, Mon 9 – Thu 12 June
the Bluecoat | FREE

Double Bill: Crop (U) & Winter of Discontent (15)
7pm, Mon 9 June
FACT | £6/£5
Tickets from or in person at the venue

Funoon Wa Alwane
8pm, Tue 10 June
Unity Theatre | £10/£8
Tickets: Available from, on 0844 873 2888 or in person at the box office

Book of Gaza
6pm, Wed 11 June
the Bluecoat | FREE

Omar (15)
Director Hany Abu-Assad
7pm, Wed 11 June
FACT | £6/£5
Tickets from or in person at the venue

Waiting For Summer
8pm, Wed 11 & Thu 12 June
Unity Theatre | £10/£8
Tickets: Available from, on 0844 873 2888 or in person at the box office

When I Saw You (12)
7:30pm, Fri 13 June
the Bluecoat | £6/£5
Tickets from or in person at the venue

Simona Abdullah Drumming Workshop
1:30pm, Sat 14 June
the Bluecoat | FREE

Wadjda (PG)
3pm, Sat 14 June
the Bluecoat | FREE
Tickets: This event is free but ticketed. Please contact Tickets & Information on 0151 702 5324 or

Syria Speaks
5pm, Sat 14 June
the Bluecoat | FREE

7.30pm, Sat 14 June
the Bluecoat | £7/£5
Tickets from or in person at the venue

Family Day
12pm, Sun 15 June
Sefton Park Palm House | FREE

Liverpool Waterfront