22 is a creative anthology from Arab artists for COP26


Illustrated view from a bridge in Cairo. It is summer and there are palm trees in the foreground and pyramids in the background.
© Deena Mohamed

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival presents a new creative anthology 22 which is a rapid response to COP26 by artists and activists from 22 Arab countries across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

1 – 14 November 2021

Available via arabartsfestival.com

22 is the closing project of Liverpool Arab Arts Festival 2021, which launched on 14 July 2021. For the last four months it has invited artists and projects from the UK and internationally that highlight the complexities and disproportionate impacts that the climate crisis is having on the countries and communities in the MENA region. From water shortages to population displacement, changes in weather and failing crops, the impact of the climate crisis is worsened by the continuing hangovers of conflict and colonialism, meaning the issues already existing in the region are exacerbated. 

This creative anthology, coinciding with the conversations being held by world leaders in Glasgow, will serve as  a time capsule of this crucial moment in history. Arab voices are not frequently featured within climate conversations in the West, despite the disproportionate and severe impacts those on the ground are facing. Capturing the hopes and fears of a generation of artists and activists, 22 provides a range of perceptions and preoccupations from those living or with heritage in these specific Arab countries. 

Penny Babakhani is the Creative Producer for 22:

“Launching 22 is bittersweet because we do not know what the outcome of COP26 will be. We are at a crossroads, and the consequences of continued inaction and inadequate measures for the MENA region will be severe. 

In a generation’s time, parts of some Middle Eastern countries may be covered with water. The land in North Africa may not be able to sustain crops or vegetation. The future of the region is in the hands of world leaders at COP26, and while we can’t influence what happens behind closed doors in Glasgow, we will use this opportunity to elevate the voices of artists and activists who are rarely provided with a platform during climate conversations. 

The Arab world doesn’t speak with one voice or opinion, so we’re really pleased that this project captures a range of perspectives. This time capsule reflects a small fragment of everything that could be said right now, but we hope that future generations can look back on it in celebration of everything that we managed to save by having the difficult conversations and rising to the challenge of addressing the climate crisis.”