Shubbak (meaning ‘window’ in Arabic) supports and celebrates the diversity of Arab artists’ creativity and innovation through its professional and engagement programmes, national touring and biennial multi-artform London Festival. Working nationally and internationally, we commission, initiate and develop projects that encourage a wide range of creative approaches in an artist-led process.

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Becoming by Hela Ammar.

Shubbak Festival

Shubbak Festival is London’s largest biennial festival of contemporary Arab culture. It brings new and unexpected voices alongside established artists to London every two years. An ambitious programme connects London audiences and communities with the best of contemporary Arab visual arts, film, music, theatre, dance, literature and debate.

“[A] triumphant celebration of Arab contemporary culture.”

the majalla

In 2019 Shubbak Festival audiences of over 60,000 enjoyed performances from 150 artists in over 60 events across London from 28 June–14 July 2019. Explore the festival guide to see what happened. The next festival will take place in 2021.

“The festival speaks of restless societies that are questioning themselves”

Financial times

“The world’s biggest festival of Arab culture.”

The times

Past Festivals

Cairokee kicks off Shubbak’s 2017 music programme at the Barbican

Shubbak Festival 2017

Shubbak’s 2017 Festival included over 130 artists, originating from 18 Arab countries, across 70 events in more than 40 venues across London between 1-16 July 2017. The festival featured 16 full days of concerts, performances, screenings, talks, exhibitions and installations, performing to a total audience of over 50,000. See Shubbak 2017 in pictures or watch a few of our favourite moments from the festival.

2017 Shubbak Festival Guide PDF
2017 Shubbak Festival highlights

Shubbak Festival 2015

Shubbak’s 2015 Festival presented over 60 events across London from 11-26 July 2015. The festival featured 16 full days of concerts, performances, screenings, debates, exhibitions and installations from over 100 international artists, as well as over 30 artists based in the UK. See Shubbak 2015 in pictures or watch highlights from the festival.

2015 Shubbak Festival Guide PDF
2015 Shubbak Festival highlights

Shubbak Festival 2013

Shubbak’s 2013 festival took place over 15 days in the summer of 2013, presenting over 55 events, spread across 42 venues, attracting an audience of over 50,000 people. We brought together a wonderful range of partners, from London’s largest museums to intimate theatres, from the largest concert halls to specialist cinemas. See the 2013 festival guide below for further details.

2013 Shubbak Festival Guide PDF

Shubbak Festival 2011

Initiated by the Mayor of London, the Shubbak Festival 2011 was the first of its kind in Europe. A festival devoted to contemporary Arab writers, photographers, painters, directors, composers and other creative artists. It was an opportunity not just for the Middle East curious, but for resident Arabs keen to learn more about their own region and share in its accomplishments.

2011 Shubbak Festival Guide PDF

Who We Are

Eckhard Thiemann Artistic Director Shubbak

Eckhard Thiemann

Artistic Director & CEO

Eckhard Thiemann has been artistic director of Shubbak since 2012. Previously he was a producer for the London 2012 Festival and the Cultural Olympiad, curated the Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival (2011), OUTSPOKEN – NEW PERFORMANCE FROM ARAB ARTISTS (2010) and the dance season African Crossroads (2009). He currently also works as Programming Associate – Dance for The Lowry, one of the UK’s largest arts centres, and was Artistic Co-curator of the Oslo International Dance Festival in 2017.

Taghrid Choucair-Vizoso

Taghrid Choucair-Vizoso

Senior Programmer & Festival Producer

Taghrid Choucair-Vizoso joined Shubbak in the summer of 2018. She is co-founder and co-director of At Home in Gaza and London, a cross-cultural digital performance project bringing together artists and audiences in two cities. She produced and co-programmed the 2018 Arab Women Artists Now Festival (AWAN) in London. As a practitioner and associate with Kazzum, she leads engagement programmes with young refugees and asylum seekers in the UK.

Youcef Hadjazi Administration & Bookkeeping Assistant

Youcef Hadjazi

Administration & Bookkeeping Assistant

Youcef Hadjazi is an Algerian born, Kuwait raised, award-winning creative practitioner. Following his graduation from the Manchester School of Art, Youcef worked in a number of production and creative roles with, amongst others, Castlefield Gallery, Dibby Theatre Productions and ArtReach. He continues to develop his artistic practice which spans lens-based media and performance. The primary focus for his creative work is identity politics and notions of Diasporic queerness. Previous exhibitions and collaborations include Waterside Arts Centre, HOME Manchester and Journeys Festival International.

Sarah Hamed Assistant Producer She is wearing a white t-shirt, black jacket and has curly dark shoulder length hair.

Sarah Hamed

Assistant Producer

Sarah Hamed is a Liverpool born Egyptian. Part of Young Shubbak, Sarah produced and co-curated their first sold-out event Other Love. Her activities with Young Shubbak continue as they plan new projects that aim to showcase and platform incredible Arab artists. Since graduating with an anthropology degree from UCL, she has focused on research of the material world and its relationship with the representation and exposure of minorities and their work. This research has lead to her collaboration with minority artists in the creation of projects that aim to cultivate positive and nuanced representations of minority voices.

She is wearing a black v-neck and has short black and grey hair.

Jackie Friend

Marketing & Communications Manager

Following a degree in Fine Art Sculpture at Central and St. Martin’s School of Art, Jackie Friend was awarded an 18 month traineeship in touring marketing with a focus on contemporary dance by Arts Council England. Since then she has worked with a wide range of organisations including LIFT (London International Festival of Theatre), Rambert Dance Company, Talawa Theatre Company, Spitalfields Music Festival, Crying Out Loud and Apples and Snakes. She is particularly interested in audience development and was part of the team at Crying Out Loud that delivered the successful Strategic Touring Project, Circus Evolution.

Shubbak Trustees

Aaron Cezar

Aaron Cezar

Aaron Cezar is the founding Director of Delfina Foundation, where he develops and oversees its interrelated programme of residencies, exhibitions and public platforms. He sits on numerous boards, committees and advisory groups such as All Change Arts, Alserkal Avenue, Shubbak, Davidoff Art Initiative, Caspian Arts Foundation, the Marrakech Biennale, the Kamel Lazaro Foundation and the Jarman Award 2012 among many others. Aaron has first degrees in Economics and Dance from Princeton University and a postgraduate degree in the Creative Industries from King’s College London.

Lynn Gaspard

Lynn Gaspard

Lynn Gaspard is the Managing Director of Middle-East specialist press Saqi Books. A fiercely independent forum for writers and artists from around the world, Saqi has made its mark as a publisher unafraid of taking risks, championing works by minority writers from the Middle East and beyond. Gaspard is a member of English PEN’s Writers in Translation Committee and of the MFest Expert Advisory Group, and was previously on the Nour Festival of Arts Steering Committee. She is the editor of the satirical collection Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic.

Sumantro Ghose

Sumantro Ghose

Sumantro Ghose is an Arts Producer, Curator and Cultural Strategist with over 20 years’ experience in museums and exhibitions, festivals, audience development and cultural diplomacy. Most recently he has been Managing Director of the London Design Biennale, and was previously responsible for exhibitions and museum programmes at Dubai Culture and Arts Authority. Prior to joining Dubai Culture, Sumantro was Deputy Director, Cultural Diplomacy Programmes at Qatar Museums in Doha. In the UK, Sumi has worked and consulted for a range of cultural and educational institutions including Tate, National Portrait Gallery, Frieze, Sotheby’s Institute, Richmond University and the American Institute for Foreign Study and was Acting Chief Executive and Director of Cultural Programmes at Asia House.

Jo Glanville

Jo Glanville

Jo Glanville is a journalist, writer and campaigner for freedom of expression. She has held senior positions at English PEN and Index on Censorship, and is currently a visiting fellow at the Arbeitsstelle Holocaustliteratur, Giessen University.

Almir Koldzic

Almir Koldzic

Almir is a Co-Founder and Co-Director of Counterpoints Arts – a leading national organisation in the field of arts, migration and social justice, supporting the arts by, about and with refugees and migrants. His experiences in this context include leading on developing strategy and identity for Refugee Week UK Festival; developing Platforma – arts and refugees national network; building meaningful and long term collaborations with leading inter/national arts, cultural and advocacy organisations; and producing a wide range of events and commissions relating to displacement.

Maysoon Pachachi

Maysoon Pachachi (Chair)

Educated in Iraq, the USA and Britain, Maysoon graduated from the London Film School and has directed 9 documentary films, including the prize-winning Iranian Journey, Bitter Water about a Palestinian camp in Beirut, Return to the Land of Wonders about her return to Iraq in 2004 and Our feeling took the pictures: Open Shutters Iraq about a remarkable photographic project. She has taught film directing and editing in Jerusalem and Gaza for the Jerusalem Film Institute, European Union and at Birzeit University near Ramallah. In 1999 she co-founded Act Together: Women’s Action for Iraq in London and in 2004, helped to set up the free-of-charge IFTVC film-training centre in Baghdad.

Shadia El Dardiry

Shadia El Dardiry

Shadia El Dardiry is a solicitor at Bates Wells Braithwaite, known for its leading role in the charity and social enterprise sector. Shadia comes from a human rights background, and prior to joining Bates Wells Braithwaite worked on human rights and migration issues in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. She has engaged in EU- and national-level advocacy as well as capacity building of local organisations. Alongside this, she has had a longstanding interest in the relationship between art and politics in the MENA region, with a particular focus on 20th and 21st century literature from the region, and in art as a form of expression for migrants and refugees. Shadia holds a Masters in Political Science and a BA (Hons) in Political Science and Economics from McGill University.

Fady Alrayyes

Fady Alrayyes is a Principal at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), an institution established to help member countries develop their economies. In his role he covers the Arab countries, manages technical cooperation projects, and conducts policy dialogue on local currency and capital markets development. Before joining EBRD, he worked as a research analyst for Thomas Murray, a London based consulting firm specialised in providing information and risk rating of capital market institutions, primarily covering the Middle East and Africa desk and working on product development. Fady holds a bachelor in economics from London School of Economics, and a Master’s degree in investment and finance from University of Exeter.