Shubbak 2017 dates announced

Category: Blog, Featured, News

Shubbak Festival dates announced: 1 – 16 July 2017 Shubbak has become a key moment in the arts calendar of the UK and the Arab World, bringing new and unexpected voices alongside established artists to new audiences every two years. The festival returns to London from 1–16 July 2017 with…  More →

Shubbak Festival 2017 - coming soon

Khaled Kurbeh and Raman Khalef at the BBC Arabic Festival

Category: Blog, Featured

Sounds from the Syrian diaspora: Khaled Kurbeh and Raman Khalaf performed recently in London at the launch of the BBC Arabic Festival. Experimental electronic music meets Middle Eastern instrumentation and downbeat jazz.

Khaled Kurbeh and Raman Khalef

Performance(s) between two shores – selected projects

Category: Blog · Tags: , , , , ,

We’re delighted to announce the selected projects for Performance(s) between two shores عروض بين شاطئي. After the jury’s deliberation in September 2016 in Brussels, the selected projects are: Suspension and Disbelief by Hani Sami (Egypt), Transaction by Mithkal Alzghair (Syria), and Personal Empathy Machine by Amal Omran (Syria). Further details…  More →

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New commissions from Syrian artists

Category: Blog

Shubbak is proud to announce a new programme to support Syrian artists through commissioning the creation of new work from a new generation of talented artists, in partnership with the British Council. This includes musicians Tanjaret Daghet (pictured), Khaled Kurbeh and Wael Alkak; filmmakers Ammar Al-Beik and Yasser Kassab; and…  More →


Maha’s Music Show – Shubbak 2015

Category: Blog, News

Shubbak was delighted to be covered by Maha’s Music Show on K2K Radio. Maha’s Music Show mixes Arabic music and bilingual English & Arabic chat, sun-soaked sounds that conjure up memories of lazy hazy days in the Middle East. It is the only show broadcast in the UK dedicated to…  More →

Maha's Mega Mashup Shubbak Festival 2015 Part II

Watch Shubbak 2015 highlights

Category: Blog, Featured · Tags:

Shubbak 2015 showcased work by over 130 artists across 70 events in more than 40 venues, to a total audience of over 50,000. From the latest DJ talents to Eid on Trafalgar Square, from a densely packed literature festival to graffiti interventions in East London, Shubbak presented new, diverse and…  More →

Shubbak 2015 in pictures

Category: Blog

As Shubbak’s 2015 Festival draws to a close, we’re looking back and remembering a few of our favourite moments from the festival. Want more? Head to our Facebook photo stream.

Zahed Sultan at the Barbican Centre during Shubbak 2015. Photo: Michael Brydon

The Mix: Introducing our Music Maestros

Category: Blog · Tags: , , , , ,

Described as “possibly the biggest Arab musical event of 2015”, The Mix is set to be a show-stopping finale as well as a veritable journey through a spectrum of music that the Arab world, and beyond, has to offer. With jazz, rock, electronica, folk and spoken word poetry, each fused…  More →


‘Karama’ – Dignity through Music: An Interview with Soufian Saihi

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In this interview Soufian Saihi, founder of the band Karama who will be playing at the Shubbak Festival’s musical finale The Mix on 25 July, discusses how this uniquely international and eclectic band was formed; the inspiration behind their upcoming album ‘Visa’; and the responsibility of claiming back Arab dignity…  More →


Shubbak Literature Festival

Category: Blog

On Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 July 2015, the British Library will host the Shubbak Literature Festival as part of Shubbak, London’s largest biennial festival showcasing the best in contemporary Arab culture. As one of the leading collections of historical and contemporary Arabic texts in the United Kingdom, the British…  More →


A Homage to Michel Khleifi: Review of Forbidden Marriages in the Holy Land

Category: Blog · Tags: ,

“The holy sites here are this country’s identity but they are also its curse,” says playwright Yehoshua Sobol, “Religion does not adapt easily to the phenomenon of love… so it tries to get rid of it.” Sobol’s words here capture the essence of this documentary, directed by Michel Khleifi, which…  More →


D-Sisyphe / décisif: Constructing a Better Future for Tunisia

Category: Blog · Tags: , , ,

D-Sisyphe (pronounced as in the French ‘décisif’, meaning ‘decisive’ in English) is an important piece of performance, both as a creative expression that fuses contemporary dance with physical theatre and as an insight into the kind of socio-political situation of Tunisians that ultimately led to the 2011 uprisings that began…  More →


Behind the Scenes: A Selection of Arab Theatre

Category: Blog · Tags: ,

This year’s Shubbak Festival offers a selection of Arab theatre works from the sublime to the ridiculous including comedy Love, Bombs and Apples, revealing moments of revelation for four men spread across the globe; satirical all-female showcase Razor Sharp; Now is the Time to Say Nothing, a play and a…  More →


An Interview with Masasit Mati of Top Goon

Category: Blog · Tags: , ,

Holding up a Mirror to the International Community In this interview with the Shubbak Blog, Masasit Mati talk about their new series Top Goon Reloaded: Intimate Diaries of Evil; how they are turning their satire on the international community; and the creative force that is holding strong in the Middle…  More →

Top Goon Reloaded. Episode 1: Prostate

When The Arabs Used to Dance: A Celebration of the Past and a Warning for the Future

Category: Blog · Tags: , ,

When the Arabs Used to Dance is a somewhat contradictory title for a dance performance, using the past tense for something that is yet to come. The title is not the only part of El Meddeb’s new performance that seems out of place – the four male dancers use styles…  More →


Arab Feminist Voices

Category: Blog · Tags: , ,

Razor Sharp showcases three pieces of new writing by Arab women. The title can be taken to refer to an obsession with hair that goes across the Middle East. It also indicates the edginess of the writing. Yamina Bakiri, an Algerian neuroscientist who grew up in France, examines the rise and…  More →

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A Collaborative Home Video for ‘Shahba’: An Interview with Hello Psychaleppo

Category: Blog · Tags: , , , ,

In this interview, Samer Saem Eldahr (aka Hello Psychaleppo) talks about his new video for Shubbak entitled Shahba; his upcoming album; and his hope that electronic music can bridge both a musical and non-musical divide between the Middle East and the West. – Aimee Dawson: In the Middle East you…  More →

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A Dream-like Nightmare and a Painful Joy: An Interview with Badke

Category: Blog · Tags: , , ,

The Shubbak blog caught up with Badke’s dramaturg Hildegard De Vuyst ahead of their performance at the Southbank Centre on Tuesday 14 July. They have just arrived in the UK after taking the performance to Salzburg, Austria and Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and are doing a…  More →

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Shubbak ‘In-Situ’ – The Middle East: Coming to a Street Near You…

Category: Blog · Tags: , , , ,

This church is in Syria. And this book warehouse is in Iraq. Don’t believe us? It’s true – from 11–26 July all across London you could find yourself wandering into parts of the Middle East that you never thought you would visit or that some may have thought they would…  More →


The Art of Imagineering: An Interview with Khalid Shafar

Category: Blog · Tags: , ,

Khalid Shafar is a pioneer of Emirati design. Born in Dubai, the American University in Dubai business graduate studied furniture and object design, first at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design in London, then at the Centre for Fine Woodworking in New Zealand. Known for his ingenious combinations of…  More →


Forming a Harmonious Collective: Zahed Sultan Discusses his Barbican Residency

Category: Blog · Tags: , , ,

The multimedia artist Zahed Sultan on his upcoming live set especially created for the Barbican Art Gallery as part of Doug Aitken’s Station to Station: A 30 Day Happening (27 June – 26 July). — In my July residency at The Barbican, we will conceive and bring to life an interactive…  More →

Basic CMYK

From the Soul and the Heart: An Interview with Karima Skalli

Category: Blog · Tags: ,

One of the first events for the Shubbak Festival, and the opening event for the festival’s music programme at the Barbican, sees the enchanting Karima Skalli take to the stage with a selection of sensational, spiritual songs accompanied by the talented Asil Ensemble. Internationally renowned singer Karima has been singing…  More →

Karima Skalli & Asil Ensemble

An Awakening

Category: Blog · Tags: , , , , ,

Sevan K. Greene on his play Nahda, whose characters are modern Middle-Easterners from the real world Nahda is an interesting beast in my zoo of plays because it is actually made up of four pre-existing short plays or ‘visions’ (three of which were performed elsewhere and one which has never…  More →


Kissing Amnesia: the work of Raed Yassin

Category: Blog · Tags: , , , , ,

The work of Lebanese multimedia artist Raed Yassin relates to mass media, pop culture, urban life and history – themes that he explores in his first solo exhibition in the UK. In ‘Kissing Amnesia‘, Yassin presents works from the ongoing ‘Yassin Dynasty’ (2013) series (a project that is derivative of…  More →

Christmas Eve by Raed Yassin

Brewing ideas for Shubbak

Category: Blog

Playwright Hannah Khalil reflects on writing for the 2015 festival Everyone knows the writer’s enemy – more than enemy, horror is the blank page. And what can be even scarier is to be told, “write whatever you want”. Too much freedom can be a bad thing … In writing terms…  More →


Shubbak 2015 – First events now on sale

Category: News

We’re delighted to announce our first events of Shubbak 2015! The Asil Ensemble with Karima Skalli opens our music programme at the Barbican, Palestinian / Belgian dance collaboration Badke arrives at London’s Southbank Centre, Radhouane El Meddeb’s moving production When The Arabs Used To Dance visits The Place, and the…  More →

When the Arabs Used to Dance, Radhouane El Meddeb - La Compagnie de SOI ©Agathe Poupeney \ PhotoScene

Open call: expressions of interest

Category: News

The third Shubbak festival of contemporary Arab culture will be held across London from 11?26 July 2015. The programme is currently being developed by Shubbak’s Artistic Director Eckhard Thiemann in partnership with a number of venues. Shubbak is a curated festival and participation is normally by invitation only. However, we…  More →

ArtLyst: Shubbak Festival announces London Third Edition

Category: Press

“The second edition of Shubbak, A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture, featuring artists from Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen, hosted by London’s leading cultural venues, more than doubled its audience in 2013, it was announced…  More →

The Mosaic Rooms. A.M. Qattan Foundation. Alia, 19, Beirut. Photo: Rania Matar

Al Bawaba

Category: Press

“Doubling up: UK’s Shubbak Festival knows how to multiply x 2…” Read the full article

Algerian singer-songwriter Souad Massi was one of many Arab artists hitting up this year's Shubbak Festival Image: Facebook.

Al Arabiya: Shubbak festival doubles audiences in 2013

Category: Press

“The second edition of Shubbak, a festival in London aiming to be a “window on contemporary Arab culture,” doubled its audience in 2013, a statement from organizers announced this week. The festival, which showcases the work of contemporary artists and musicians from 16 Arab countries, reached over 43,000 people during…  More →

Algerian singer-songwriter Souad Massi, who opened Shubbak Festival 2013 alongside Rachid Taha. Photo: Reuters

V&A blog: Culture in Defiance: Syria Speaks

Category: Blog, Press

Nawara Mahfoud has blogged for the V&A on Rich Mix’s Culture in Defiance: Syria Speaks exhibition, part of the Shubbak Festival 2013. “An exhibition at Rich Mix this week presents a range of street art from the uprising in Syria. Guest blogger Nawara Mahfoud introduces the role that graffiti plays…”…  More →

Reflection of “Not a Number” banner by Aram Tahhan and Ibrahim Fakhri, for the Culture in Defiance exhibition at RichMix Gallery, London in 2013

The Observer: The 10 best Arab films

Category: Press

Read The Observer’s article: ‘The 10 best Arab films’ as chosen by Omar al-Qattan, film-maker and chair of Shubbak.

The Observer

Young Reporter’s Blogs, Ehtifal Family Day

Category: Blog · Tags:

On the closing day of Shubbak 2013 the Serpentine Gallery and the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) presented the Ehtifal Family Festival – an extraordinarily successful free, one-day family event that celebrating the Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture. Read blogs from our young reporters Guy Phillips (aged 7?), Lulwa Qattan…  More →

Guy Phillips (aged 7) pictured at the Serpentine Gallery for the Ehtifal Family Festival, Shubbak 2013

The Guardian: Ibrahim el-Salahi: from Sudanese prison to Tate Modern show

Category: Press

The Guardian covers Tate Modern’s Shubbak exhibition: Ibrahim El-Salahi: A Visionary Modernist. “The first African artist to get a Tate Modern retrospective has come a long way since he drew on scraps while a political prisoner. Mark Hudson meets a pioneer finally getting his due…” Read the full article

The Guardian

The Independent on Culture in Defiance

Category: Press

The Independent covers Rich Mix’s Shubbak exhibition: Culture in Defiance. “The hopes of Syria’s protests shine through in a new Hackney art exhibition…” Read the full article

The Independent

BBC Radio 3 Nightwaves: Ibrahim El-Salahi: A Visionary Modernist

Category: Press

BBC Radio 3 Nightwaves covers Tate Modern’s Shubbak exhibition: Ibrahim El-Salahi: A Visionary Modernist. Listen to the programme

BBC Radio3

Al Arabiya: London’s Shubbak Festival: A window to edgy Arab culture

Category: Press

Al Arabiya covers Shubbak 2013 in the article London’s Shubbak Festival: A window to edgy Arab culture. Read the full article

Al Arabiya

Financial Times: Pop culture diplomacy

Category: Press

The Financial Times covers Shubbak in an article by Peter Aspden. “Among a people used to turmoil and defeat, trivial victories can become trenchant victories…” Read the full article

Financial Times

BBC Radio 3 In Tune: Features Nuba Nour

Category: Press

BBC Radio 3 In Tune featured a live performance from Nuba Nour, and were joined by Eckhard Thiemann, Artistic Director of Shubbak at 6pm, 27 June 2013. Nuba Nour performed at Rich Mix on 28 June 2013 as part of the Shubbak Festival. Listen to the full programme

BBC Radio3

The Times: Art imitates life in the burgeoning Palestinian art scene

Category: Press

Read The Times coverage of Shubbak 2013 in the article Art imitates life in the burgeoning Palestinian art scene by Sophie McBain. Read the full article

The Times

The Guardian: Rachid Taha/Souad Massi review

Category: Press

Read the Guardian’s review of the Barbican’s Shubbak event Rachid Taha & Souad Massi, on 22 June 2013. “Rachid Taha is part of a generation of French musicians who were inspired by the Clash to reinvent rock’n’roll on their own terms, and it now seems no Rachid Taha gig is…  More →

The Guardian

The Guardian: John Perkins’ best photograph – an Egyptian lion-tamer

Category: Press

The Guardian’s coverage of Mr President’s Circus, on show at the Arab British Centre until 28 June 2013. “This is Hamada with Richard the lion. Hamada was two when he first put his head in a lion’s jaws…” Read the full article

The Guardian

Alsharq Alawsat on Shubbak

Category: Press

Alsharq Alawsat covers the Shubbak Festival 2013. Read the full article

Asharq Al-Awsat

Shubbak 2013 Opening Reception

Category: Blog

The Shubbak festival opening reception took place on 24 June 2013 at The Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Speakers included the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Alistair Burt, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Omar Al Qattan, Shubbak Festival Chair. See more photos on Facebook Read Omar…  More →

Shubbak Festival 2013 opening reception

The Observer reports on Top Goon

Category: Press

The Observer reports on Masasit Mati, creators of the YouTube finger-puppet show Top Goon: Diaries of a Little Dictator, to be shown as part of the Shubbak Festival next month. “Syrian satirists take puppet show into war-torn towns to mock Bashar al-Assad. Masasit Mati launched the online show Top Goon…  More →

The Observer

The Majalla: Shubbak is Back

Category: Press

Shubbak is Back: Contemporary Arab culture returns to London. Read the article by Celia Topping for The Majalla. “Following the highly successful and inspiring debut of Shubbak: A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture two years ago, this biennial festival continues to fling the window wide open on Arab arts in…  More →

The Majalla

Metro: The Barbican delivers a mash-up of Arabic art forms

Category: Press

The Metro reports on Shubbak Festival 2013 in the article The Barbican delivers a mash-up of Arabic art forms by Arwa Haider. “Shubbak is the Arabic word for ‘window’ and the second edition of this city-wide festival aims to present a broad view of modern Middle Eastern arts and culture…”…  More →

The Metro

BBC Arabic Radio: Interview with Omar Al Qattan

Category: News, Press

Omar Al Qattan, Chair of Shubbak, speaks about the Shubbak festival on BBC Arabic Radio Xtra. Listen to the full programme

Omar Al Qattan, Chair of Shubbak, speaks about Shubbak on BBC Arabic Radio Xtra

Spear’s Magazine: Check Point

Category: Press

The thriving Palestinian art scene overcomes walls and barriers… Read the article Check Point by Sophie McBain, published in the July/August 2013 issue of Spear’s Magazine. Read the full article

Spear's Magazine