London’s Shubbak festival doubles audiences in 2013

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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 its 15 day run in London, twice as many as the first time the festival was staged in 2011.


The Festival Chair, Omar al-Qattan, also confirmed that the next Shubbak Festival will take place in London in 2015.

“We have been deeply moved by the public’s response to Shubbak this year, and by the extraordinary support we have received from London’s cultural organisations, despite the current realities of the region. Thanks to that support, we are delighted to announce that we have already begun planning for an even more ambitious Shubbak Festival in summer 2015,” he said in a statement.

The festival encompassed visual art, film, music and panel discussions. Highlights included a sold out concert at the Barbican Centre featuring two of Algeria’s most celebrated musicians, rock ‘n’ rai icon, Rachid Taha, and singer-songwriter, Souad Massi, the UK premiere of highly acclaimed Syrian film Round Trip, and a discussion between Tunisian student and blogger Malek Sghiri and writer Ghias Al Jundi on their approaches to capturing the Arab Spring.

Egyptian German singer Merit Ariane Stephanos, who performed in the festival as part of musical ensemble Zanubia, said the festival was an important opportunity.

“The festival is helping to transcend boundaries and acts as a platform for a variety of artistic voices from the Arab world,” she told Al Arabiya English in June.

“People in this part of the world can’t usually observe real Arab culture, that is why I find this festival so interesting, it is all about presenting artistic Arab discourse to the world,” she added.

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