Category: News

This autumn half term join LAAF and the Lady Lever Lever Art Gallery to learn about the maps of 12th Century Arab explorer Muhammad Al-Idrisi. Have a go at making your own maps using printmaking and other techniques in this exciting, free workshop with artist Jessica El Mal, as part of the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival cultural education programme.

Family workshop for ages 11+

Address: Village, Lower Rd, Port Sunlight, Bebington, Wirral CH62 5EQ

Book tickets here:

Al-Idrisi was a explorer and map maker born in Morocco in 1100AD who left his home aged 16 to explore the world. The maps he created are some of the earliest conceptions of the earth being round.

In this workshop we will explore how Al-Idrisi made his maps, and have a go at creating some of our own using a range of techniques such as print making.

Jessica El Mal is a writer, artist and curator based between Marrakech, Manchester and London. Her work often explores the concept of borders, ecology and migration.

Fatim Benhamza’s project Positive Pandemics is now available to view online at LAAF’s website.

A series of three digital illustrations that present utopian and dystopian visions of Casablanca’s environmental future, the project aims to raise awareness of the impact of ‘bad’ politics on the climate crisis in the Arab region.

This online project is part of Liverpool Arab Arts Festival 2021 and is available until November.

You can see Fatim’s work here:

Palestinian composer and oud player, Saied Silbak, has created a special playlist for LAAF, ahead of his performance at the festival, when he brings Songs From Palestine to Liverpool Philharmonic’s Music Room

Each month during the festival, LAAF dedicates an hour on Melodic Distraction to the story of one of our artists. In September, Saied took us on a journey through his favourite Arab artists and tracks

Read more about Songs from Palestine and book tickets

Listen to the show on Melodic Distraction

Saied Silbak Playlist

Ziad Rahbani – Shou Hal Ayyam

Marcel Khalifa – Bghaibtek Nizl Il Shiti

Umm Kulthum – Meen Elly Aal

Saied Silbak ft. Nour Darwish – 7ob

Abdel Halim Hafez – Ana Lak Ala Toul

Sheikh Imam – Iza il Shams Ghirait

Saied Silbak & Rola Azar – Iza Elshams (Cover)


Generations for Change six young producers are looking for an experienced Events Manager / Project Producer to lead and support in the delivery of The Celebration Event, marking the end of their six month action research project. The successful candidate needs to be available from 4th October to 15th November (rates in the job description).

Generations for Change is an exciting 6 months paid development and training opportunity for young people from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds who are aged between 18 – 30 years and who are resident in the Liverpool City Region. 

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) in partnership with Curious Minds, are working with a range of brilliant cultural and creative organisations based in and outside of the City Region who are hosting and providing 1-1 support, mentoring and creative skills development for the participants. 

Cultural Partners:  Capoeira for All, Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, Liverpool World Centre, MAKE Liverpool / Hamilton Square and Writing on the Wall.

The project started in May 2021 and is providing 6 young people the opportunity to train, equip and upskill to deliver a series of creative action research projects focusing on the key issues and inequalities faced by Black, Asian and other diverse Ethnic groups in the Liverpool City Region. 

Young Producers are currently shaping how they will work and find solutions to improve racial equality. 

Role description

We are now seeking to appoint an experienced Events Manager/Project Producer(s) to lead and support the young producers to organise and deliver a celebration event that will showcase their experiences, research findings and creative response.

You will operate as the single point of contact and lead for ensuring the celebration event takes place on time and within budget.

It’s essential that the young producers are at the heart of the planning and delivery and they can build a range of production and event management skills.  The appointed Events Manager/Project Producer(s) will be skilled in capturing the expectations and aspirations of the young producers and enable them to realise their vision for platforming and sharing their creative outputs to diverse audiences.  

It might be the young peoples choice to exhibit their own creative outputs during w/c 8th November, this will need to be factored into the project timeline and schedule. 

The deadline for applications is 10am on Wednesday 29 September

Download the full job description and find instructions on how to apply here:

JD for Event coord G4C Celebration Event 10th November 2021

This Thursday, join us for an exciting artist film premiere.

Watch the film on Eventive, then we’ll direct you to Zoom for the artist conversation

هيHeya is an experimental music project, which aims to act as a bridge for women making music in the Middle East. For Liverpool Arab Arts Festival 2021, members Nour Sokhon, Yara Mekawei, Zeynep Ayşe Hatipoğlu and Jilliene Sellner bring us Blue Spaces – a film event that raises questions about class, gender and colonialism and how they relate to the climate crisis.

Composed of voice, cello, sonic interventions, field recordings and video footage from Cairo, Beirut, Istanbul and Hastings, Blue Spaces is a stereo soundscape with an ethereal, fluid feel –  existing in stark contrast to the realities of class, gender and the political and climate based traumas of the Middle East.

The climate crisis that the world now faces is largely down to industry and consumerism that is rooted in the Western world, yet a lack of responsibility for these realities still endures. The impact that this activity is now having across the Middle East falls mainly on the shoulders of women and the working class – themes that will be reflected in the sounds and visual work of Blue Spaces.

Read more here

The National has published two features on this year’s Liverpool Arab Arts Festival:

Eating the Copper Apple: an ode to displacement and identity
Layla Maghribi
“My body may be here but my soul is in Syria.” The opening line of lisa luxx’s Eating the Copper Apple is a poignant distillation of the emotional journey traversed by the British and Syrian poet in her latest performance.

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival returns for its longest run yet
Layla Maghribi
“Liverpool Arab Arts Festival (LAAF), the UK’s longest-running festival of Arab arts and culture, has returned for its 23rd edition with a multi-artform programme of live and online events.”

Image: Eating the Copper Apple courtesy of lisa luxx

A gift from N3rdistan to Liverpool – N3 to Liverpool is an exclusive playlist compiled and curated by the iconic musical collective helping you explore the very best in emerging Arab music.

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival audiences will remember N3rdistan from their virtual visit to the festival to launch the 2020 digital edition. The live performance by Walead Ben Selim and Moroccan musical collective N3rdistan was an introduction for many music fans to the mystical tunes and the abrasive flow by the charismatic artists.

Between rock, trip hop, electro, oriental-beat with world influences, this quartet mixes with ease digital power, ancestral Arabic poetry, the targeted singing intermingling here and there with the melodies of a Qanoon and African Keys. Without falling into the trap of ethnic-electro this firey sonorisation serves as an engine to this group producing the most highly musical journey of the moment.

Listen to their exclusive playlist here

Walead says

Here we are at the dawn of a new world. Here we are building a new art, new vibration at the crossroads, we are building cultural bridges at a time when others would like to see us separated. Here between a cha3bi rock and an electrified classical Arabic, a new scene emerges from the rubble, a new breath carries away the dust and our scenes are detached from codes and barriers. The only label we want is the label of free music and ‘we are still here and the dream continues ‘.”

Walead Ben Selim biography 

Born in Casablanca in 1984, Walead Ben Selim was a bright and inquisitive student who rebelled from childhood. At school he founded with Houssine otherwise Wu-Sen, one of the first rap group of Morocco, ‘Thug-gang” joined by Widad Broco the first women rap artist of the Arabic world, which then became  “TG Crew”, a dozen groups playing rap, dance, Graff. Moroccan rap was thus at his beginning and Thug Gang played a critical and abrasive hip-hop, oscillating between the need for limits, and social uprising. With time they became the flag bearers for their friends but also for the Moroccans youth suffering from lack of liberty and new forms of artistic expression. Together they won the ‘tremplin’ for young musicians in 2001 and the Moroccan hip-hop championship.

In 2011 after travelling and cultural exchanges with Africa, Asia, and Europa, Walead called upon Nidhal JAOUA a multi-instrumentalist to create a digital synopsis of his musical experiences to build the foundations of the group with Widad, joined by Cyril Canerie a studio drummer, of Internationnal renown and Khalil Hentai (Epi), the group became finally formed in May 2014 before being selected for the “Inouîs de printemps de Bourges” in 2015.

Trans generational and transgender, appealing and incredibly mystical, N3rdistan is on the frontier of electronic music, rap and Arabic poetry. On stage, N3rdistan is a ball of energy, which get stronger as the minutes go by, the melodies sometimes aggressive, sometimes gentle are sung by unusual voices in which the ease surprises and destabilises, an explosion of colours.

Grounds for ConcernCollective mapping workshop
Time/date: 1-3pm, Saturday 17 July
Venue: Maker Space at FACT, 88 Wood Street, Liverpool L1 4DQ

This workshop invites participants with migrant backgrounds. Participants will be paid an honorarium for attending. Please bring a laptop, tablet or phone, if possible. 

Spaces are limited. To book a place please email: [email protected]

Join us for a collective mapping workshop inspired by the themes of Jessica El Mal’s installation Grounds for Concern, on display at Mann Island Atrium between 16 July – 15 August as part of Liverpool Arab Arts Festival 2021.

Using printing and college, participants will reappropriate maps and reimagine borders significant to them. This will include legal treaties, geo-political policies, economic and ecological developments, as well as land acquisitions, affecting the area between the European Union (EU) and North Africa.

Grounds for Concern delves deeper into the history of borders and land acquisition, exploring the cultural and collective potentials of how to rewrite what we think we know about the world. In this workshop, research is used as an artistic tool against division and property.

In partnership with Open Eye Gallery and Bluecoat.

About Jessica El Mal

Jessica El Mal is an English-Moroccan creative dedicated to valuing time, care and human connection in everything she works on. With a particular interest in ecology and migration, her work is both deeply personal and yet draws on the universality of the human experience through a balance of digital techniques, aesthetics and interaction. The work tends to address global structures of power through critical research, multidisciplinary projects, and speculative future imaginaries often centered around collaboration, co-curation and collective knowledge systems.

This year’s film programme lets you watch some of the best Arab Cinema online, and we have developed a reading list so you can explore the films in advance.

Each month has two films for you to enjoy. Linked thematically, they are designed to be enjoyed as a double bill or to watch separately. There are so many stories to share from the world of Arab film. It’s a rich and varied industry, with long lasting film tradition and culture. Our programme is designed for those just discovering Arab Cinema, as well as those seasoned film lovers.

Our July and August programme is live now. This year we’re using on the online platform Eventive. You can create a login or sign up using Facebook, then watch the films via any browser or online device. Each films is £5 to watch and are available for different lengths of time, because of licensing. If you pre-order, you’ll get a notification when the film is available to watch. You’ll have seven days to start watching the film after it is made available. Once you start watching, you’ll have 24 hours to finish the film.

The Perfect Candidate
Available 16 – 31 July

Haifaa Al Mansour’s The Perfect Candidate tells the story of a determined young Saudi doctor’s surprise run for office in the local city elections sweeps up her family and community as they struggle to accept their town’s first female candidate.

The film, which was selected to compete for the Golden Lion at the 76th Venice International Film Festival is Al Mansour’s fifth feature. She is perhaps best known for her ground-breaking and award-winning WADJDA from 2012, the first feature film ever shot entirely inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Read a review of the film in The Guardian

Watch an interview with Haifaa Al Mansour here

Pre-book your ticket to watch The Perfect Candidate here

Arab Blues
Available 22 – 25 July

Arab Blues, or Un divan à Tunis, is a French-Tunisian comedy, the debut of director Manele Labidi Labbé. It tells the story of Tunisian psychoanalyst Selma who, after being educated in Paris, moves back to Tunisia to open a psychoanalytic practice.

The 2019 film had its world premiere at the 76th Venice International Film festival.

Watch an interview with director Manele Labidi from Cascade Festival of African Films here

Read a review of the film on CinEuropa here 

Pre-order your ticket to watch Arab Blues here

Talking About Trees
Available 1 – 31 August


Ibrahim, Manar, Suleiman and Altayeb are the members of the Sudanese Film Club founded in 1989. Unable to make films for years, they have decided to revive an old cinema. They are united not only by their love of cinema and their passionate desire to restore old films and draw attention to Sudanese film history once more, but also by the fact that they all enjoyed a film education outside Sudan.

Their plans to renovate the outdoor cinema come up against bureaucracy, lack of cash and a general fear of upsetting “he who cannot be named.” (The film was made before the recent overthrow of Omar al-Bashir).

In the meantime, they sit together and talk about the past and the history of Sudanese cinema, including their experiences of persecution and even torture as oppositional artists. They recall their times of exile and dream of a Sudan in which art and intellectual thought can be free. We are smarter than them, but not as strong, is the conclusion.

Read a review of the film in The New Yorker

Watch an interview with Ibrahim Soulieman here

Pre-order your ticket to watch Talking About Trees here

Roll ‘Em
12 – 15 August

Omar Nizar works as a filmmaker and Founding Partner at a production company; a job he finds too superficial and non-artistic, mainly revolving around advertising, which he abhors. When his partner, Muhannah, asks him to create a commercial focusing on the history of Jeddah for a soulless and inauthentic product to please a client, Omar refuses and holds on to his principles, believing he should portray the country for what it truly is.

Jeddah to Omar is the place he grew up in, where his family and friends live, also his girlfriend Lina Najjar. They have been in a. relationship for two years, with Jeddah playing a role in shaping their relationship.

Read about the film here

Pre-order your ticket to watch Roll ‘Em here

Explore the whole of our July and August festival programme here