Category: News

The Ahmed Family

As Ramadan begins, our minds go back to LightNight 2019.

LightNight is an annual arts and culture festival in Liverpool, which sees hundreds of events take place in venues across the city centre. The free culture crawl sees thousands come onto the city’s streets to explore the work of artists, performers, producers, creatives and musicians.

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival and Liverpool Arabic Centre held a special event at Liverpool Town Hall, welcoming people into the Arab home, with culture and performance. With dancers and traditional food, it was an evening of celebration.

It was especially important as it took place during Ramadan, and we were privileged to be included in the breaking of the fast with our friends who came to the event. This is a time of year when we are so often together to break the fast, so it is difficult for those in isolation during this period.

Our friend, Neda, brought this lentil soup to share with us all. When we asked for the recipe, we received a video of the family making the soup for us, and we wanted to share it with everyone. It’s easy to follow and the ingreidents are also easy to find. If you want to add more to it, like perhaps chicken, you can.

Food brings us together. Watch below and try the recipe yourself. And thank to the Ahmed Family for welcoming us into their kitchen.

Food and recipes are an important part of every culture, Arab families have their own special recipes they share, favourite ingredients and ways of cooking. We’re hoping to bring a glimpse of more dishes cooked in Arab homes in the coming weeks.

This is just one of the films we have on our YouTube channel. Make sure you subscribe to our playlists here.

We’re thrilled to be this week’s guests for The Arab British Centre’s excellent Friday Hangout series.

Sign up for the session via the Arab British Centre website. 

Arab British Centre - Friday Hangout

Join us at our fifth Friday Hangout, this time co-hosted by Liverpool Arab Arts Festival!

Our Friday Hangout series brings together people interested in Arab culture for an online chat over their lunch breaks, wherever they may be currently ‘locked down’. Five weeks in, we’re delighted that so many people have taken part in our informal sessions, all inspired by our team missing our lunch-time conversations whilst working from home.

This Friday, we’ll be joined by some of the wonderful people behind Liverpool Arab Arts Festival (LAAF), who this week announced that they will be moving their annual festival online in light of the Covid-19 crisis. We’ll be chatting to Festival Manager Jack Welsh, who is leading their online transition, as well as dancer Jamila Boughelaf, dancer and co-founder of Hawiyya Dance Company, whose Dabke-inspired performance Curfew is one of the festival’s key events this year.

LAAF has been at the vanguard of Arab cultural programming in the UK for nearly 2 decades. Established in 2002, every July the festival brings a thrilling celebration of Arab culture to venues across Liverpool, showcasing a packed programme of visual art, music, dance, film, theatre, literature and special events.

Hawiyya Dance Company is an all-women’s collective who explore identity, culture and resistance through dance. The culturally diverse 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.

Join us on Friday as we chat to Jack and Jamila about the unique challenges festivals and collectives are facing in the current circumstances, what ‘going digital’ actually means for large-scale creative programming, and more about Curfew and the work that the Hawiyya Dance Company is doing with the local community in Liverpool.

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival returns from 9-18 July, but, because of these extraordinary times, this year’s festival will take place online. 

Our annual festival provides a platform for Arab arts and culture. Since mid-March, we’ve been talking extensively with our artists, collaborators and partner venues about what form the festival could take given these unprecedented circumstances. We have wanted these discussions to not only guide this year’s festival, but to also shape how we work with digital in the long-term.

Our 2020 festival will still provide an opportunity for us to connect with Arab artists and to also showcase stories from across the Arab world. 

We may not be able to gather in physical spaces – like theatres, galleries and performance rooms – but this does not mean we cannot provide a platform for our artists and creatives. This festival, we will be showcasing a diverse array of work via online platforms, from Vimeo to Instagram, that have been chosen in dialogue with our artists and that are most appropriate for each work. 

Many of our festival highlights are formed through celebrating with each other, through dance, performance and shared experiences. We have found in the past few weeks that, while we may be apart, we can still connect. Across the Arab world, there are stories of those who are disconnected, who may be quarantined, or are under curfew, yet who find ways to connect with each other and reach out to the world through arts and culture. 

This year we are separate, but together. 

We will be unveiling our full programme in the coming weeks. 

We’re not just waiting until July, though. We’ve been working with some of our festival friends, creative collaborators and partners to create some interactive content, giving you a taste of Arab culture in lockdown. Stay tuned!

Throughout the year, we work with communities across the UK, exploring Arab heritage and culture, giving people access to art and artists. This will continue, both online and offline.

As a digital festival, you’ll hear about how to watch and engage with us if you sign up for our newsletter, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or YouTube

Image: Yara Boustany | ēvolvō’ + One Day & One Night Beirut | LAAF 2019 | AB Photography. Presented by Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, produced by Shubbak

For the second year in a row, LAAF and OUTPUT gallery are partnering to put on an exhibition by an Arab artist that is from or based in Merseyside. The artist will receive a payment of £300, plus a further £200 to cover materials.

We are inviting applications from people producing visual arts, performance, music, film or any other media. We are looking for a strong and creative art practice that we can platform at this year’s festival in a solo exhibition at OUTPUT gallery from July 9-26. You do not have to class yourself as a ‘professional artist’ or be working in the arts to apply, everybody is welcome.

Founded in 1998, LAAF is a registered charity delivering arts and community programmes. It aims to increase appreciation and awareness of Arab culture and arts at a local, national and international level.

OUTPUT gallery was established in April 2018 and works exclusively with creatives from or based in Merseyside. It aims to support the development, mobility, and visibility of the local art scene from its base at 32 Seel St in Liverpool City Centre.

To apply for this role, please email [email protected] with:

  • Your name
  • Confirmation that you are from or based in Merseyside and also from or have heritage in an Arab country
  • A short description of what you make and why
  • Any images/video/audio of the work you are submitting is useful so we have a good sense of your work
  • Contact details including email and phone number so we can contact you

OUTPUT gallery will support the artist in curation and install.

Deadline for applications is midnight on Friday 10 April. Please check out for full accessibility information and get in touch if you have any queries. The £500 is a fixed fee and unfortunately there is no extra budget to cover the work of a PA, our apologies.

Arts Council England today published its Equality, Diversity and the Creative Case report for 2018/19.

As a National Portfolio Organisations LAAF’s statistics are featured in the report.

The report features data on:

  • The workforce of NPOs including the diversity of people in key leadership roles and at different job levels.
  • The Creative Case for Diversity ratings of NPOs – for the first time shared for each organisation and against the new four-point scale.
  • This year, the report also includes data broken down by artform (discipline), Arts Council Areas and NPO bands.
  • The diversity of applicants to the last year of Grants for the Arts; the first year of National Lottery Project Grants and Developing Your Creative Practice.
  • The diversity of the Arts Council’s workforce, leadership and National and Area Councils.
  • Audience data from NPOs.

You can download the report directly here.

Image; Farah Saleh, Gesturing Refugees

Yemeni Poemfilms
Call for Arab Artists, Filmmakers and Animators

The University of Liverpool and University of Leeds, in collaboration with Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, are working on a series of community projects with the Yemeni community in the UK. This work has generated new poems which have directly responded to poems and stories by contemporary poets in Yemen.

We are now looking to commission Arab filmmakers to create poemfilms – works combining poetry and film – that respond to these new poems.

  • Your production will be an original response to a given poem – which is no more than 1 side of A4 – and last between 2 – 5 minutes.
  • You can work in any film media, but animation is welcome.
  • The final soundtrack should be able to be translated into both English and Arabic and be accessible to a general audience.
  • The poemfilm can offer its own interpretation of the poem, but should be in general sympathy with the poet’s original work.

The poemfilms, which will be shown in a variety of settings across the UK and internationally, will launched at Liverpool Arab Arts Festival in July 2020.

The fee for each poemfilm will be £2k. This should cover all expenditure.

Further examples of poemfilms can be found at and

How to apply

  • Contact details (name, email and phone number) Please note this commission is open to both UK-based and international applicants.
  • Short biography
  • Web links or examples of previous film work (no more than 5 examples)
  • Proposed outline of your poemfilm – this would be how you would approach production (e.g. style, content, ideas.) Please note that your poem and further information will be provided following discussions with the project team following your successful proposal.
  • Outline budget for your poemfilm.

Please send all documents, files links via WeTransfer to [email protected]

Deadline for applications: 5pm (GMT), Monday 3 February 2020.

For more information, please email [email protected]

Image: Sheffield Yemen in Conflict poetry workshop. Courtesy of Taher Qassim.

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival (LAAF) is looking to appoint a creative and experienced Cultural Education Producer to lead on the development of our arts and cultural projects in schools.

The successful candidate, who will be experienced in collaborating with and overseeing freelance artists, will devise, plan and deliver these creative projects from scratch. They will implement robust monitoring and evaluation processes throughout.

This experience will enable them to shape and deliver project targets while fulfilling reporting criteria. As an excellent team player and communicator, they will also be able to engage with a diverse range of people; from cultivating partnerships to working closely with young people.

Ideally, they will have knowledge and understanding of Arab arts and culture and have experience of Arts Awards Accreditation. They must have a current enhanced DBS or would be able to secure one before the post commences.

Annual Salary: £12,155
Working hours: 17 hours per week.
Contract duration: The post is initially funded for 12 months by Qatar Foundation International.

Download the full Job Description: LAAF Cultural Education Producer

How to apply:

Please submit your CV along with a covering letter (maximum 2 sides of A4) demonstrating your suitability to the role in relation to the stated Knowledge, Skills and Experience criteria.

LAAF is committed to widening access in the arts. We particularly welcome applications from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community as this group is currently under-represented in the arts.

Please email your CV and covering letter to [email protected] with the subject line ‘Cultural Education Producer application’.

Closing date: 9am, Monday 13 January 2020.

Interviews will be held late January in Liverpool – dates to be confirmed.

Yemen in Conflict: The role of popular literature in conflict resolution

The next poetry workshop will be hosted by Ahmed Alkhulaidi at: Channel View Centre Jim Driscoll Way Grangetown, Cardiff, CF11 7HB.

The workshop will take place on Saturday 16th November 2019 from 14:00 to 16:00.

We encourage anyone who is interested in poetry and spoken word to come along and get involved in the local workshop. Spaces are limited to twelve participants, so be sure to sign up soon. If you require further information or are interested, please send an email to Taher Qassim at [email protected]

About the project

The University of Liverpool and the University of Leeds, in collaboration with the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, are looking for people who are passionate about Yemen, its poetry and spoken word. We are producing a series of poetry workshops throughout the UK, working with the Yemeni community. The work created from these workshops will be used as part of a multimedia exhibition that will launch at the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival in 2020.

The workshops will be hosted by a local poet from each city in which the workshop will take place. The poet in that city will use works collected from Yemeni poets concerning the topic of conflict and its resolution as an inspiration to start the workshop. The poet and the project lead will facilitate the session to encourage responses from participants attending the workshop, using the spoken and written word to create new bodies of work. In this way, the work produced locally, nationally and internationally will create a dialogue about the situation in Yemen through poetry and spoken word.

A youth-led exhibition speaking out against the harmful practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) will be opened by TV and Radio 1 presenter Maya Jama on Tuesday 5 November at Liverpool John Moores University.

The exhibition, curated by members of Savera UK Youth was initially created to be displayed at the National FGM Centre’s annual seminar, which took place  in London on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (6th February).

The exhibition, comprising photographs, collages and poetry created by members of Savera UK Youth, will now be shown in the Peter Jost Building on Liverpool John Moores University’s Byrom Street campus for one day only (5 November, 2:30pm – 5:30pm).

The event will be opened by the Savera UK Ambassador Maya Jama and Savera UK Youth will also welcome guest speaker, Payzee Mahmod, a survivor of FGM, child marriage and honour based abuse (HBA). and former Chief Crown Prosecutor for North West England and charity Patron, Nazir Afzal OBE.

Since losing her sister, Banaz, in a tragic honour killing in 2006 Payzee has dedicated herself to campaigning to eradicate HBA and child marriage. Payzee became a Survivor Ambassador for the Safeguard Futures, Ban Child Marriage campaign with IKWRO.

Speaking ahead of the event, Payzee said: “As a survivor of FGM I am committed to raising awareness about this and other harmful practices which contribute to honour based abuse.

“We must challenge these practices and eradicate them on every level through education and training. In order for us to achieve this we must recognise and understand the complexities of honour based abuse.”

Following February’s event, Savera UK Youth members decided to expand the exhibition in order to engage more young people and provide an opportunity to learn more about FGM. The upcoming show will now include live performance art and the performance of a specially-written song, alongside the young people’s poetry and visual art.

The initial pieces for the exhibition were first created during three sessions in which Savera UK Youth members spoke to a survivor of FGM Babs Cessay about her experiences and also representatives from Savera UK, to learn more about the harmful practice.

Savera UK Youth members also participated in a sessions with photographer, Andrew ‘AB’ Abrahamson, who shared tips for using disposable cameras, so they could interpret their understanding of FGM through photography.

Working with AB, the young people curated an exhibition of outstanding images that represented their feelings about FGM, carefully naming the collection. The participants also worked with artist Joanne Tremarco and poet Kiara Mohamed add further elements to the exhibition.

Joanne assisted in the creation of collages and stop motion pieces to further express and illustrate youth members’ feelings around FGM, while Kiara helped them to create poetry around the topic.

The thought-provoking exhibition will shine a spotlight on the often hidden subject of FGM and aims to educate people – in particular younger generations – about FGM and the impact it has on those affected.  It also seeks to empower people to speak out and challenge harmful traditions that violate human rights.

The event will take place during this year’s UK Parliament Week, which engages people from across the UK with Parliament, explores what it means to them and empowers them to get involved.

Savera UK Youth Advisory Board Chair, Ayomide Folarin, said: “We want to use our exhibition to educate other young people about FGM and encourage them, regardless of background or gender, to speak out against this harmful practice.

“We are looking forward to showing our work and meeting other young activists who share our mission to make a difference and raise issues that matter to young people.”

Speaking ahead of the event, Maya Jama said: “The work that Savera UK Youth members have put into this exhibition is truly exceptional and I am proud to be supporting them in raising awareness around FGM.

“Seeing FGM through the eyes of people who are just like them and beginning to better understand its impact is such an effective way to educate the younger generation and encourage them to speak out.”

Afrah Qassim, Founder of Savera UK, added; “This exhibition highlights that culture can be beautiful, but harmful practices that violate human rights, such as FGM, have no place in any culture.

“We are overwhelmed by the outstanding and thought provoking work that our youth members have produced and we are proud of their commitment to speaking out against harmful practices and helping to educate the next generation.”

The #EndFGM project has been funded by the #iwill Programme. #iwill is a UK-wide campaign aiming to get 6 out of 10 young people involved in social action by 2020.

To register for tickets, visit: