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HEADLINE ACT: Vocalist Farah Siraj grew up in Amman, Jordan and Spain and combines her loves of Middle Eastern modes, flamenco singing, and bossa nova grooves into something new and mesmerizing

HEADLINE ACT: Vocalist Farah Siraj grew up in Amman, Jordan and Spain and combines her loves of Middle Eastern modes, flamenco singing, and bossa nova grooves into something new and mesmerizing

The highly anticipated Liverpool Arab Arts Festival returns to the city this week, for the start of an impressive nine-day-long festival.

Now in its 13th year, the festival brings a delightful array of events from some of the finest Arabic artists the world has to offer.

The Big Saturday launches the festival on June 7th at The Bluecoat. The 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. 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 June 8th 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.

Curator of the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ graphic design poster exhibition, which runs throughout the festival, Danah Abdulla will be giving guided tours around the exhibition itself.

Liverpool Arab Art Festival 2014 set to give insightful experiences

Liverpool Arab Art Festival 2014 set to give insightful experiences

The Bluecoat will screen the first of six films of this year’s festival on Saturday, which includes ‘El Gusto’ - 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.

On Monday June 9th audiences will be introduced to screenings by political academic Reem Abu-el-fadl and followed by a post film discussion.  Then on Wednesday June 11th, the controversial and action packed film ‘Omar’ is screened at Fact. Other equally distinct films are included in the line-up throughout the course of the festival.

Theatre and dance also has a strong presence throughout this year’s festival with some truly gripping and inspiring pieces. Award-winning playwright Hassan Abdulrazzak presents an exclusive reading of scenes from his new play ‘A Fire Blazing Brightly’.

Visitors will experience the magic of Middle Eastern dance at its finest on June 10th as Funoon Al Arabiya come together to present joyful and colourful folkloric music and dance in ‘Funoon Wa Alwane’ at the Unity Theatre.

Swivel Theatre Company will be presenting a series of gripping new plays centring on Arab women in revolution in Waiting for Summer at the Unity on Wednesday June 11th and Thursday June 12th.  Finally, after their sell-out show last year, Diwan are back with a new show Sarmada at the Bluecoat on Saturday June14th, based on Fadi Azzam’s novel which was long-listed for the Arabic Booker Prize in 2011.

Liverpool Arab Art Festival 2014 set to give insightful experiences

Liverpool Arab Art Festival 2014 set to give insightful experiences

There will also be a variety of exciting and thought-provoking talks throughout the festival with Freedom Hour which will offer debates on current affairs, culture, freedom and change in the Arab world.

Ten fiction writers, in a unique anthology presented in English for the first time, are set to provide insightful and engaging event on Wednesday June 11th.

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 putting together a fantastic drumming workshop opportunity led by the distinguished darbuka player Simona Abdallah on Saturday June 14th at The Bluecoat.

bluecoat liverpool

bluecoat liverpool

Bringing LAAF 2014’s festivities to an exciting climax is the fantastic Family Day at Sefton Park Palm House on Sunday June 15th.

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 www.arabartsfestival.com

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