Author: Jack Welsh

Yalla! Let’s Stomp!
Join us for a FREE Dabke Dance Workshop led by Sylvia Ferreira (Hawiyya Dance Company)
Time: 19.00-20.00
Address: FireFit, 115 Upper Warwick St,  Toxteth, Liverpool, L8 8HD
Hawiyya Dance Company founded in 2017 as an all-women’s collective who explore identity, culture and resistance through dance. The group uses folk dance ‘Dabke’ and contemporary dance to create narrative works that explore themes such as resistance, oppression, displacement, social justice, individual and cultural identity. The culturally diverse dancers unite in their commitment to anti-racism and anti-imperialism in all they do.
By booking only. Very limited places.
To book your place, email: [email protected]

If you’re an aspiring writer of Arab heritage, you need to know about a new international poetry and short story competition – with £1,000 worth of prizes to be won.  

The A Day in the Life competition is being launched by Liverpool Hope University in conjunction with Liverpool Arab Arts Festival.

Entrants of Arab heritage, under the age of 21, are being invited to submit either a poem, short story or video clip which shines a light on an aspect, either positive or negative, of their life in the Liverpool City Region.

It could be related to school, work, community or leisure time, and should give a snapshot of a typical 24 hours in the person’s life.

Applicants can use whatever medium they’d like – whether it’s written word, short video, a rap or a link to their TikTok or any other social media clip.

Both the Palestinian Writers Union and the Jordanian Writers Society are also hosting their own A Day in the Life competitions in their native countries, and delegates from each will Zoom-in to a special winners’ ceremony held in Liverpool in July during this year’s Liverpool Arab Arts Festival.

Professor Michael Lavalette, Dean of the School of Social Sciences at Hope, said: “This is a great opportunity for aspiring young writers and creative thinkers. What we really want to see are poems or short stories that really offer a window into someone’s lived experience. There are no restrictions as to what you might address – this is about how you interpret a day in your own life. Applicants can use a variety of mediums to capture their thoughts, whether it’s a written poem or short story, or whether you turn those ideas into a video or social media snippet. For me, the cross-national element of the competition is really exciting. Both Liverpool Hope University and LAAF are committed to fostering links between communities, and we hope this is a way to build further bridges. Of course the prize money isn’t bad, either!”

Afrah Qassim, Chair of LAAF, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Liverpool Hope University on this great initiative. Our 2022 festival theme is points of connection between cultures and this project encapsulates this wonderfully. From writing to video and audio clips, we can’t wait to see the creative responses in this cross-national competition.”

There will be two categories for applicants in Liverpool:

  1. 16 years and under
  2. 17 to 21 years

Prizes are as follows: 1st: £250 2nd: £150 3rd: £100.

The UK competition will be judged by experts from Hope and Liverpool Arab Arts Festival and its community partners, with the winner announced during the organisation’s big summer spectacular on Wednesday July 13th.

One of those judges will be the award-winning poet Dr Eleanor Rees, who is also Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Hope.

Among the panel of judges from LAAF are prize-winning Yemeni novelist Hamdan Dammag and Amina Atiq, a Yemeni- Scouse poet, performance artist, creative practitioner and award-winning community activist.

The big reveal will take place at Liverpool Hope University’s Great Hall, located at the city centre Creative Campus, on Wednesday July 13th, as part of Liverpool Arab Arts Festival.

Founded in 1998, Liverpool Arab Arts Festival is the UK’s longest-running annual Arab arts and culture festival, platforming the best UK and international Arab artists.  The festival creates a dynamic between traditional and contemporary Arab artforms, encouraging informed debate that explores, and increases, appreciation of Arab people and their rich cultures. Liverpool Arab Arts Festival’s work continues throughout the year, with a wide range of events and participatory projects that bring together artists and diverse communities. From Liverpool to the Arab world, LAAF builds connections that help more people to encounter and experience Arab culture in Liverpool and beyond. The year-round programme of artistic and cultural events includes Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, which runs this year from Thursday 7 – Sunday 17 July 2022. Liverpool Arab Arts Festival is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.

Murad Sudani, General Secretary of the Palestinian Writers Union, said of the A Day in the Life initiative: “This competition is a great opportunity for young people in Palestine, Jordan and Liverpool to learn from each other and about each other’s lives. It is the first, but hopefully not the last, shared competition between students in our countries.”

Meanwhile the Jordanian Writers Society is chaired by Muhammed Khudair, a celebrated and multi award-winning poet.


Terms and conditions

The competition is open to those of Arab heritage either living in the Liverpool City Region (as well as separately in Palestine and Jordan). 

Any video-based submissions must be either one minute in duration, or less. 

Any written submissions must be of a maximum permitted 500 words in length. 

Categories for applicants are as follows:

1) 16 years and under

2) 17 to 21 years

Prizes are as follows, for each age group: 1st: £250 2nd: £150 3rd: £100.

Full details can be found at

To submit your application by emailing [email protected].

Please include a filled-in Competition Consent Form, which can be found at:

Please also include contact details for either yourself or your legal guardian.

The closing date for submissions for applicants from Liverpool is midnight Friday June 17th. 

10 finalists from each entry category will be invited with their families to the event on Wednesday July 13th during Liverpool Arab Arts Festival 2022.

Winners will be announced on the day of the event – if you can’t be there on the day, please nominate someone to collect the award for you.

Prize money will be awarded either via bank transfer or cheque, or, if the applicant is claiming asylum, via a gift card.

Larissa Sansour and Søren Lind present a live audiovisual performance of their new Arabic-language opera. Performed for an audience for the first time by Palestinian soprano Nour Darwish, you are invited to immerse yourself in an unforgettable operatic experience at the brand new state-of-the-art Tung Auditorium at the University of Liverpool’s Yoko Ono Lennon Centre.

Nour Darwish will sing live on stage against the backdrop of Larissa and Søren’s new film, As If No Misfortune Had Occurred in the Night (2022), which has been specially recomposed for this unique event. Performed as a single aria, the audiovisual work poetically laments a century of Palestinian trauma, starting with the cataclysm of World War I. Nour Darwish’s solo performance will envelop you as it brings the “world-class” film to life, resonating throughout the remarkable acoustic performance space.

Larissa and Søren’s new commission, As If No Misfortune Had Occurred in the Night (2022), has received critical acclaim whilst on display at FACT as part of the current exhibition, Let the Song Hold Us. The exhibition continues until 19 June 2022.

Doors: 18:00
Performance + Q&A: 18:30 – 20:00
Event Ends: 20:00

Saturday 21 May, 18:30 – 20:00
Tickets General £12.50, Concession £10 (+ fees)
Buy tickets:

The performance will be followed by a live Q&A with the artists, hosted by Dr Nicola Triscott, Chief Executive/Director at FACT Liverpool.

“A sublime evocation of maternal grief” ★★★★ – The i

“The dramatic cinematography is arresting, but it is the content of the song that elevates the piece” ★★★★ – The Guardian

This special event is presented by FACT Liverpool and supported by Liverpool Arab Arts Festival.


Liverpool Arab Arts Festival strongly supports Liverpool Against Racism (LAR) a brand new festival in Liverpool which takes a stand against racism.

LAAF’s founder Taher Qassim, and creative producer, Laura Brown, will be taking part in the LAR conference, at The Spine, Paddington Village, Smithdown Lane, Liverpool, L7 3FA on Tuesday 26 April 2022, between 9am – 6pm.

Championed by the Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson, Liverpool Against Racism will feature specially commissioned music and cultural events which will stimulate a conversation about, and action against, racism. With a focus on community cohesion, it will act as a platform for people and organisations to creatively respond to hate crime.

Running for a week, from Saturday 23 to Saturday 30 April, the programming team – led by key music industry figure Yaw Owusu – is pulling together plans which will see live talks and debates as well as music and cultural events taking place across the city, featuring a diverse line up of local, national and international individuals and organisations who are invested in the charge for change.

The ambition for LAR is to set Liverpool apart as a city that doesn’t shy away from addressing the issue of racism and to celebrate diversity in all of its forms.

For more information about the programme, visit:


Family Day 2018 - AB Photography

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival returns this summer with ten days celebrating the best Arab arts and culture. Marking 20 years since the first festival was held in the city, organisers have revealed the popular Family Day returns as part of the programme, for the first time in two years, at Sefton Park’s Palm House.

With music, visual art, literature, film, performance, workshops, Liverpool Arab Arts Festival brings artists from around the world to the city, as well as providing a platform for those closer to home, as it allows people to experience and enjoy Arab culture. The longest running Arab arts festival in the UK, this year’s theme explores language and translation. It takes place Thursday 7 – Sunday 17 July 2022.

The ever-popular Family Day has been a firm fixture of the annual festival. Held at Sefton Park’s historic Palm House, which this year marks its 150th birthday, the event returns after a two-year break due to the pandemic. Held on the final Sunday of the festival, Family Day has grown each year, bringing together contemporary and traditional Arab cultural music and dance, along with authentic food, drink and family activities. This free event is an opportunity for Liverpool’s many communities to come together in a joyful celebration of Arab culture.

Other highlights of the 2022 programme include Curfew, a contemporary dance production presented by Hawiyya Dance Company and El-Funoun Palestinian Dance Troupe at Unity Theatre. Supported by British Council and Arts Council England, the Liverpool show will also premiere the performance of another dance piece by Sharaf DarZaid, Love in the Time of Apartheid.

An exhibition by the Arab Image Foundation brings rare photographs depicting 100 years of Arab history and culture, which are never previously seen in Europe. Artists from Beirut Printmaking Studio have created new etchings in response to the photographs. The exhibition will be held at Liverpool John Moores University’s Exhibition Research Lab at the School of Art and Design alongside a new video commission by emerging British-Algerian artist Hannaa Hamdache.

The full ten-day programme will be announced in Spring 2022.

Festival Chair Afrah Qassim says,

“After two years of programming both online and offline, we are delighted to be back to our ten days in 2022. Our festival has always been a celebration, a way to provide a platform to show the rich and diverse art and culture that comes from our Arab community. We are all looking forward to welcoming our artists and audiences back this July”.

To stay up to date on programme announcements, sign up to the newsletter at

We’re proud to be featured as a case study in Arts Council England’s Environmental Responsibility Annual Report 2020-21, a publication which presents National Portfolio Organisations (NPO) environmental data and narratives for the period of 1 April 2020 – 31 March 2021. It comes as the Arts Council England and its environmental partner, the non-profit organisation Julie’s Bicycle mark the 10th year of their world-first environmental programme this year.

Read LAAF’s case study here

Read the full report here

Image: Daraa Tribes performing online at LAAF 2020

In February, LAAF’s Festival Programme Manager Jack Welsh was invited to present as part of A New Direction’s Principles Into Practice online panel.

A series of case studies exploring best practice in work for children and young people through the lens of the Arts Council England Investment Principles.

Jack discussed LAAF’s 22 project, which was produced by Penny Babakhani as part of LAAF 2021 festival.

The case studies explored:

  • Programming content that is relevant to and reflects the concerns faced by young people
  • How to create environmentally sustainable work and workplaces
  • Ways your work can have the most impactful connection with the principle
  • How to create programmes based on playful activism

Read LAAF’s case study:
Read other case studies from the event:

Kamel Saeed, an emerging UK-based Iraqi creative, presents a fascinating audio journey of discovery into the creatives that once called the Iraqi capital home. This new podcast series is being exclusively launched as part of Liverpool Arab Arts Festival 2021.

With guests including artists, writers and scholars, Saeed offers listeners a glimpse into an extraordinarily rich period of world history by exploring the lives of just a few of the creatives that have played a part in the story of Baghdad – and continue to do so to this day.

Episode One: Al Jahiz

Listen to Episode 1 and click ‘Share’ to find wherever you get your podcasts

Said to have been crushed to death by a collapsing pile of books, Al Jahiz (776-868) was an Iraqi bibliomaniac, eccentric, and prolific writer of some 260 books. His magnum opus, Kitāb al-Ḥayawān (كتاب الحيوان) ‘Book of Living Things’ is an unusual encyclopaedia, largely unknown in the West, illustrating and describing over 350 species of animals. His distinct style of prose ‘magnified the trivial so that it became important and diminished the important so that it became trivial’. Over a millennia later, his work is still enjoyed across the Arab-speaking world.

This episode of What Happened in Baghdad is commissioned by Liverpool Arab Arts Festival and co-produced with the Whitworth, The University of Manchester. The series is made possible with funding from Arts Council England.

Illustration: Noura Andrea Nassar

Future episodes

Episode Two: Abu Nuwas

‘Pour me seven, back to back’ and ‘There’s no surgeon like the glass’ aren’t exactly titles to poems you’d expect from an Arab poet. Then again, Abu Nuwas wasn’t your average poet. The Arab-Persian Abu Nuwas (756-814) is one of the most divisive yet irrefutably gifted Arabic poets. Having mastered and advanced every genre of contemporary poetry, he went on to pioneer five more. A libidinous hedonist and an alcoholic with an obsession with wine, a fifth of his whole poetic output is dedicated in praise.

Illustration: Noura Andrea Nassar

Episode Three: Al Maarri 

The blind Arab poet, philosopher and writer Al Maarri (973-1057) was a vegan before it was cool. An outlier, he held other unorthodox views for his time: he was irreligious, a rationalist and a pessimist. His poems are at once beautifully lyrical and philosophically profound. Testimony to the universal appeal of his work, his influence spans continents: a translated copy of his poetry was found in Franz Kafka’s library, and he was one of Khalil Gibran’s dearest poets.

About the presenter

Kamel Saeed was born in Baghdad in 1997 and was educated there until the age of 9, when his family fled war in 2006. After arriving in the UK, he learned English and completed his primary and secondary education. He went on to study English Literature, graduating in 2018. Since then, he has interned at English Heritage and The Collection Museum, Lincoln, and has been consulted on diversity and inclusion within the cultural sector. What Happened in Baghdad evolved out of independent research he has undertaken into early Islamic civilisation and draws on his own Iraqi and Arab heritage.

About the guests

Hanouf Al-Alawi works at the British Museum leading a national programme that co-curates youth cultural projects. Before joining the British Museum, she worked at the Natural History Museum as a Learning Volunteer Engagement Manager, recruiting and training diverse volunteers who deliver engaging and inspiring object-based learning to children, youth, and adults. Prior to this, she worked at Kew Gardens as an Education Officer, managing a pioneering project that co-curated with pupils and their families, school museums that represented the pupils cultural diversity. Before moving to the UK, she worked in the Middle East developing and delivering pioneering projects that improved access to and quality of education for children and youth.

James E. Montgomery is Sir Thomas Adams’s Professor of Arabic, Fellow of Trinity Hall, at the University of Cambridge, and an Executive Editor of the Library of Arabic Literature. His latest publications are Loss Sings (2018), a collaboration with the Scottish artist Alison Watt, ‘Antarah ibn Shaddād: War Songs (2018) – and a translation – with Sophia Vasalou, and The Philosopher Responds: An Intellectual Correspondence from the Tenth Century (2021). His translation of Ibn al-Muqaffa’s Kalīlah and Dimnah: Fables of Virtue and Vice, with Michael Fishbein, will be published this autumn.

Bryony Dunne is an Irish artist and filmmaker based in Athens, who traces the overlaps between documentary film, cinema, photography and the natural world. She develops research-driven projects to explore the power dynamics and fantasies of control that humanity projects on to nonhuman others and nature; oftentimes, she uses fact-based fictions and hypothetical futures to build these interconnected narratives.


22, the creative anthology commissioned by LAAF as a response to COP26 is to be exhibited at Open Eye’s Digital Window Gallery until 13 February.

22 is a creative anthology by Arab artists from 22 countries across the Middle East and North Africa. Commissioned by Liverpool Arab Arts Festival as a rapid response to COP26, the artistic works include music, visual art, poetry, illustration and photography and highlight the disproportionate impact the climate crisis is having on the countries and communities living within the MENA region.

From water shortages to population displacement, changes in climate 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 MENA region are exacerbated.

As global leaders gathered in Glasgow for COP26, each of the 22 artists provided an insight into how the climate crisis is affecting their community. As a creative anthology it creates a time capsule at a crucial moment in history.

Arab voices are not strongly heard within the climate crisis conversation in the West, despite the disproportionate and severe effects those on the ground are facing. Capturing the hopes and fears of a generation of Arab artists, 22 reflects the range of perceptions and preoccupations of those living in or with heritage of these specific Arab areas.

22 exhibits at Open Eye as the Look Climate Lab 2022 launches, ahead of the Look Photo Biennial 2022, the Climate Lab is a series of research projects on climate change. Read more here

The show will be played on the digital screen 11am-4pm Wed-Sun, between Wed 19 Jan – Sun 13 Feb

Explore 22 below