Revue culturelle N°100

This week's picture

“Art is a language that anyone can understand. I truly believe that it can inspire a certain energy in people. It plants a seed in the passerbyer’s mind, one that could potentially transform into a thought, feeling, or positive action.”

Laila Ajjawi is a Palestinian street artist raised in Irbid’s refugee camp - home to 30,000 people. She quickly turned to walls to express herself & painted her first mural at 17. Mainly focusing on women’s empowerment & the Palestinian cause, her art seeks to uplift people, avoiding colours which might trigger feelings of anger or hostility.

“This is why I never use red in any of my works. Seeing that colour every day can really affect people’s behaviour.”

Capture d’écran 2024-01-11 à 10.26.19

Death of Boujemaâ Oujoud, emblematic figure of Moroccan theater

The world of Moroccan theater and art was marked by the news of the death of Boujemaâ Oujoud, nicknamed “Ba Azizi”, which occurred in a clinic in Casablanca. The 83-year-old artist left a valuable cultural legacy after a long fight against illness. His disappearance, announced by the Ministry of Youth, Culture and Communication, sparked a wave of emotions and memories among the artistic and cultural community of the Kingdom.

Boujemaâ Oujoud, from a young age, joined the ranks of veterans of Moroccan theater, such as El Bachir Laâlaj, Bouchaïb El Bidaoui and Abderrahmane Souiri. He emerged in the 1960s as a central figure in Moroccan theater, radio and television, particularly distinguishing himself in servant roles, hence his pseudonym “Ba Azizi”. His contributions were marked by a unique combination of acting skills and commitment to dramatic art, reflecting the richness of Moroccan culture.


« L’Épopée » : a documentary celebrating the Moroccan exploit in Qatar

In Casablanca, at the Megarama cinema, the first screening of the documentary “L’Épopée” was held, retracing the journey of the Atlas Lions during the Football World Cup in Qatar in 2022.

This documentary, initiated by the Moroccan journalist and producer Abdellah Jaafari, is, certainly, a sporting retrospective, but also the consecration of a historic performance at an international sporting event. Director Mehdi Bennaceri, through this film, was able to capture the spirit of football and the fervent commitment of a nation behind its team.

« L’Épopée » offers an intimate overview of the challenges, moments of solidarity and moments of glory that marked this unforgettable journey. The film highlights the popular support of Moroccans for the Atlas Lions, and also shares several testimonies from world football figures, like Rivaldo, Kluivert and Adebayor.

The documentary has been broadcast in Moroccan cinemas and abroad since January 5.


Launch of the 2nd edition of the National Reading Project in Rabat

On January 4 in Rabat, the Faculty of Educational Sciences initiated the second edition of the National Reading Project, in collaboration with the Ministry of National Education and the Scientific Research Foundation in the United Arab Emirates. Placed under the theme “For a society of readers”, this project aims to encourage reading among new generations, promote human and citizenship values, and instill a spirit of creative, critical and knowledge-producing reading.

Abdellatif Kidai, the dean of the FSE in Rabat, highlighted the low level of reading within Moroccan society, particularly in academia, and expressed the university's commitment to this project. Director of Research and Development at the United Arab Emirates Scientific Research Foundation, Abdulqodus Qawam, also highlighted the importance of this project in consolidating academic and development cooperation between the United Arab Emirates and Morocco.

The project consists of four competitions: “The Educated Student” for school students, “The Diamond Reader” for university students, “The Educated Teacher” for teachers, and “The Establishment of Enlightenment” for societal establishments. Participants are invited to read thirty books in Arabic or Amazigh languages, covering various fields. This initiative aligns with the Strategic Vision of the 2015-2030 reform of the Moroccan education system, aiming to enrich the culture of reading within society.

This project promotes reading and participates in the kingdom's struggle against illiteracy. It is an opportunity for younger generations to open up to new horizons of knowledge and reflection, while strengthening their commitment to the values of citizenship and humanity.


Femininity and Colors: Mounia Rohi’s exhibition in Fez

The city of Fez hosts an exhibition by the painter Mounia Rohi, at the Mohamed El Kacimi gallery, under the theme of “Femininity”. Organized by the regional directorate of the Ministry of Youth, Culture and Communication of Fez-Meknes, the exhibition continues until January 16.

Mounia Rohi, self-taught visual artist, presents around thirty varied works, exploring the theme of women through paintings inspired by her personal experiences. Her designs, which include depictions of women from the medina, female masks, and themes such as time, nature, and love, eloquently depict female experiences and emotions.

She mainly uses paper, fabric and stone; in addition to playing with a lively color palette.

Mounia Rohi, in her statements, expressed that painting is for her a means of expressing her inner feelings and daily concerns. Her paintings, often accompanied by poems of her own composition, seek to express the feelings and thoughts of women, thus providing a window into their inner world.


The short film “The Last Wave” at the Baghdad Film Festival

The short film, directed by Mustapha Farmati, was chosen to represent Morocco at the prestigious Baghdad International Film Festival, which will be held from February 10 to 14. This film represents pride for Moroccan cinema and highlights the talent and creativity of Moroccan directors on the international scene.

Mustapha Farmati, through “The Last Wave”, offers a cinematographic work that captures the essence of Moroccan culture and stories, thus highlighting the richness and diversity of the country’s artistic heritage. The selection of this film for an international festival as renowned as that of Baghdad demonstrates the recognition of the quality and originality of Moroccan cinema.

This choice also marks an important moment for Moroccan cinema, proving its ability to transcend borders and reach a global audience. The participation of “The Last Wave” at the Baghdad Film Festival is another step towards broadening the international visibility of Moroccan films and an opportunity to share unique and universal stories. The presence of this short film in such an event is an opportunity for Mustapha Farmati to demonstrate his know-how and for Morocco to shine in the world of international cinema.

Algeria, Egypt, Morocco

CAN 2023: Achraf Hakimi and Mohamed Salah, invaluable players

The market value of Achraf Hakimi (Morocco) and Mohamed Salah (Egypt), who participate with their respective national teams in the final phase of the African Cup of Nations (CAN-2023), taking place on January 13 in Ivory Coast, now have a value up to 65 million euros each.

Another Moroccan, in this case Naif Aguerd, who plays for West Ham (English Premier League), comes in second position with a market value of around 38 million euros.

Algerian Ismail Bennacer, AC Milan player, occupies third place with a market value of 35 million euros.


Celebration of the inscription of Malhoun as a UNESCO heritage site by the Academy of the Kingdom

The Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco is organizing a cultural and artistic evening entitled “Al-dur Al-Mmaknun Fi Dakirat Al-Malhoun” at the Mohammed V National Theater in Rabat. This event aims to celebrate the inclusion of the poetic-musical art of Malhoun on the UNESCO list of intangible heritage, thus marking international recognition for this distinctive element of Moroccan culture.

The event, designed and produced by Abdelmajid Fenniche, playwright and expert in heritage arts, will bring together around a hundred actors and musicians, as well as several contemporary poets. Since 2017, the Academy has actively worked on Malhoun's candidacy for inclusion on the list of intangible heritage of Humanity, involving poets, musicians, researchers and academics in numerous national and regional consultation meetings.

Considerable scientific work was carried out for the creation of the “Encyclopedia of Malhoun”, which currently has eleven volumes, and a documentary on this heritage art was also produced. The official inscription of Malhoun at UNESCO, announced in December during the 18th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Kasane, Botswana, represents an important step in the preservation and promotion of this ancestral Moroccan art.

Arab World, Morocco

First International Congress of Food and Environmental Sciences in Meknes

The 1st edition of the International Congress of Food and Environmental Sciences will be held on January 19 and 20 in Meknes, organized by the Faculty of Sciences of Moulay Ismail University. This academic and scientific event, under the theme “Environmental biotechnology to shape the future of bioresource valorization”, will bring together scientists, experts, stakeholders and policy makers from around the world.

Saudi Arabia, Morocco

A Moroccan-Saudi economic forum in Riyadh on January 21 and 22

The General Confederation of Moroccan Businesses is organizing an economic mission to Riyadh, in cooperation with the Federation of Saudi Chambers, on January 21 and 22. This forum aims to explore investment opportunities between Moroccan and Saudi companies in various sectors, including agriculture, industry, finance, renewable energy, real estate, construction, services, health and technologies.

Arab World, Morocco

Rabat: ICESCO organises an international conference on media education on February 21 and 22

The Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) plans an international symposium on “Media Education: Perspectives and Expectations” on February 21 and 22.

This meeting aims to highlight the efforts made at the Arab and international level in the field of security media, to strengthen the skills of Arab executives in this area and to share national experiences in this regard. It follows the implementation of the ninth Arab media plan for crime awareness and prevention as well as the recommendations of the Council of Arab Ministers resulting from this media plan.

The conference is structured around several themes, including “Media/education partnership in building a knowledge society and supporting sustainable development”, “Ethical framework of freedom of expression in Arab legislation and conventions and international media", "Importance of media education to face media, intellectual and security challenges" and "Artificial intelligence and the future of media education".

This event will be marked by the participation of experts in security education and the media, including government officials, researchers, journalists and academicians with a view to exchanging experiences and good practices.

Saudi Arabia

Unprecedented success for the fourth “Riyadh Season”

Riyadh's season, which began on October 28, attracted more than 5 million visitors in less than a month. It had the theme “Big Time” and was held on Boulevard City. Following a recent attendance of 200,000 visitors in a single day, Turki Al Sheikh, head of the General Entertainment Authority, announced the temporary closure of this place on Friday evening, citing the need to maintain the quality of services and the comfort of visitors. The record crowds coincided with the mid-year school holidays, providing Riyadh residents and visitors with an ideal opportunity to experience the season's attractions.

Press release: “Riyadh Season is one of the biggest winter entertainment events in the world. A variety of dishes from around the world, courtesy of exclusive restaurants, plus countless exciting surprises. The festivities capture the essence of Saudi Arabia, from its Najdi heritage to its current dynamism. »

For more information:

Arab World, Iraq, Morocco

Moroccan participation in the 14th edition of the Arab Theater Festival in Baghdad

Morocco will be present at the 14th edition of the Arab Theater Festival, which will take place from January 10 to 18 in Baghdad. Three Moroccan plays will be performed, including “Ecstasia”, produced by the Terre de Chaouen Foundation for Cultures and directed by Yassin Ahjam; “Taknza… The Story of Touda” by the Fawanis Theater Group, written by Tariq Al-Ribh and Ismail Al-Warabi and directed by Amin Nsour; as well as “Kalam” by the Chamat troupe (Menouni cultural center), written by Mohamed Berrada and directed by Bousselham Daif. They will compete for the Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qassimi Prize.

The event, organized by the Arab Theater Authority in cooperation with the Iraqi Ministry of Culture and the Iraqi Artists Union, will see the participation of more than 600 artists through theatrical performances, seminars and debates.


Launch of the “The Architect” competition for architectural creativity

On January 12 in Fez, Maghrebna, Culture and Innovation, a hub of the Dialna Maroc platform, announced the launch of the third season of its emblematic competition “The Architect”, focused on the theme “Tradition and innovation, architectural sketches for the Morocco of tomorrow”. This competition is aimed at the responsible visionaries of tomorrow and aims to promote innovative architectural projects. It places emphasis on sustainable architecture, eco-neighborhoods and projects adapted to regional specificities.

Participants are invited to present their creations in the categories “Dar Lemdina” for the urban house and “Dar Lbadiya” for the rural house. These categories encourage the exploration of various fields such as anthropology, urban planning, digital art, civil engineering, heritage, storytelling, and ecology. The competition allows young Moroccans to immerse themselves in innovative subjects, develop an entrepreneurial spirit and acquire interdisciplinary skills. The benefits include innovation, the development of an entrepreneurial culture, involvement in current issues, the training of versatile talents, networking and the promotion of Moroccan cultural identity.


The work of Copernicus, Kepler and Borelli now available in Arabic

The work “The Astronomical Revolution: Copernicus, Kepler, Borelli” by the Franco-Russian philosopher and historian of science Alexandre Koyré (1892-1964) was translated from French into Arabic by Youssef Ben Othman. This translation work was announced by the Tunis Translation Institute. The original French version of this 525-page book was first published in 1961.

In “The Astronomical Revolution,” Koyré explores the evolution and transformation of key concepts in astronomy, detailing how this science progressed from geocentric to heliocentric cosmology. The work analyzes the impact of the work of Copernicus, Kepler and Borelli on the development of astronomy and physics, marking a key period in the history of science.

This Arabic translation of Koyré's work is a significant contribution for Arabic-speaking readers, allowing them to access important knowledge about the modern scientific revolution and its impact on the history of science.

Youssef Ben Othman, professor of philosophy and modern sciences at the Faculty of El Manar in Tunis, is also a translator at the Tunis Translation Institute and has held high academic positions. His area of research includes the history of philosophy and modern science, epistemology, and science didactics. Ben Othman has already translated three other major works of Koyré into Arabic, including “Galilean Studies”, “Newtonian Studies”, and “From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe”. The latter is Koyré's most famous book, originally published in 1957.


“Four Daughters", the American tour

The feature film “Four Daughters” by Kaouther Ben Hania, selected for two categories at the 2024 Oscars, is currently screening in six American cities. Screenings take place in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Austin, Nashville and Palm Springs, notably as part of the “Palm Springs International Film Festival” where a special screening in the presence of the director is planned.

Lasting 110 minutes and with music composed by Amine Bouhafa, the movie features a talented cast including Olfa Hamrouni, Eya Chikhaoui, Tayssir Chikhaoui, Hind Sabri, Nour Karoui, Ichraq Matar and Majd Mastoura. The film explores the life of Olfa, a Tunisian and mother of four daughters, oscillating between light and shadow, two of whose daughters disappear one day. The director uses a docu-fiction style to lift the veil on the story of Olfa and her daughters.

Nominated in the 2024 Oscars shortlist for Best International Film and Best Documentary,the film was also chosen to represent Tunisia at the 2024 Césars in seven categories. After its world premiere at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, where it won four awards, the film was screened in Tunisian theaters in September 2023 and in France last July.

Kaouther Ben Hania, known for her international co-productions, presents “Four Daughters” as screenwriter, editor and director. This is the director's second film to represent Tunisia at the Oscars, following her fourth feature film, “The Man Who Sold His Skin”.


Tunis: Amateur Theater Meetings

The 4th edition of the Amateur Theater Meetings, organized by the Theater and Performing Arts Pole of the Tunis Opera Theater, will be held from January 9 to 14, 2024 at the Theater of Young Creators, at the Cité de la Culture. This edition will feature six shows by amateur theater troupes from five different regions of Tunisia, including Tazerka, Bouhajla, Djerba, Thala and Tunis.

These meetings will offer the public varied theatrical creations, starting each day at 7 p.m. The event is designed as an opportunity for the public to travel internally through the concerns, feelings and aspirations of today's youth, expressed through theater.

The opening of the event will be marked by the play “Al wassaya al Achr” (The ten commandments), supervised by Abdelkader Ben Saied and produced as part of the workshops of the Theater and Performing Arts Center of the Théâtre de l'Opéra . Other scheduled pieces include “Patrito” by Aymen Tahhari, “Accharit al assouad” by Saber Selmi, “Ghbiche” by Meftah Boukri, “El Ghadhra” by Walid Ksouri, and “El Kaleb Maskoun” by Walid Ayadi. These shows are produced by cultural associations active in the theater sector, committed to supporting young theater lovers.

Plastic ArtsExhibitions

Tribute to Ali Bellagha

The Maison des Arts du Belvédère organises a special exhibition in tribute to the Tunisian visual artist Ali Bellagha (1924-2006), to celebrate the centenary of his birth. The exhibition, entitled “Ali Bellagha, The Gold of Time, Witnesses of His Time”, will present 40 works by this accomplished artist, who was at the same time a designer, painter and engraver.

The event will take place from January 13 to February 10, 2024 and is organized in partnership with the plastic arts department of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs. The Maison des Arts is also planning a round table on the life and influences that marked the career of Bellagha, an important figure in the visual arts in Tunisia.

Bellagha, from a family of artisans in the Medina of Tunis, studied at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Tunis then at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he specialized in drawing, engraving and ceramics. He is recognized for having adopted a modernist approach to the development of artistic crafts, promoting Arab-Muslim heritage while giving it a touch of modernity. Bellagha used various materials such as wood, stone, copper, wool, leather and silver, to highlight Tunisian artistic heritage. In 1966, Ali Bellagha chaired the Salon Tunisien and in 1975, he was president of the Union of Tunisian Visual Artists (UAPT), of which he was one of the founding members. This exhibition is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate Bellagha’s significant contribution to Tunisian art and culture.


Opening of the 15th Abdelmalek Bouguermouh Amateur Theater Festival

The 15th edition of the “Abdelmalek Bouguermouh” amateur theater festival in Amizour, Béjaïa, began with the play entitled “Targit” (the dream), directed by Belkacem Kaouane and Boualem Zeblah. The play, performed by the “Talwith” theater troupe and written by Mouloud Tikoubaini, enjoyed notable success during the Béjaïa international theater festival in October. “Targit” presents a dreamlike story inspired by Kabyle tales, mixing mystery and intrigue, and transports the viewer on a magical journey. The main character, facing social distress, dreams of becoming a prince, only to wake up to the reality of his modest life. Seven troupes from different regions of Algeria are participating in this festival, which will continue until April 13, coinciding with the celebration of the Berber New Year.

Algeria, Palestine

“Peace for Palestine” solidarity gala at the Algiers Opera

The Algiers Opera “Boualem Bssaish” will host, on January 20, a solidarity gala entitled “Peace for Palestine”. This event, hosted by one hundred and fifty (150) Algerian artists, aims to support the Palestinian people in the face of brutal Zionist aggression in the Gaza Strip. Organized under the direction of the Director General of the Opera, Mr. Abdelkader Bouazara, this gala aims to affirm the support of Algerian artists for the Palestinian cause.

The program, presented by maestro Lotfi Saidi, will include performances of Andalusian music, opera and poetry about Palestine, with interpretations of famous pieces and poems dedicated to Palestine. The price of the entry ticket is set at 1,000 DA, and the participating artists express their pride in supporting this important cause through their art.


Preparation of files for registration as world cultural heritage

The National Center for Prehistoric, Anthropological and Historical Research (CNRPAH) in Algeria is working on the development of several files to propose the inclusion of Algerian cultural property on the UNESCO world heritage list. The director of CNRPAH, Professor Slimane Hachi, announced these efforts during the festivities of the Yennayer festival marking the Amazigh new year.

The files concern different elements of Algerian culture, notably popular songs such as the "Ayay" of the Saharan Atlas, the "Achwiq" of Kabylie, the "Sraoui" of Aurès, the Malouf of Constantine, and the Chaâbi from Algiers. Other files concern popular poetry, the “Isefra” and the “Malhoune”, as well as the Kabyle dress and the silver jewelry of Ath Yenni.

The CNRPAH also provides files on the know-how linked to pottery, the distillation of flowers, and the production of traditional earthenware. This initiative aims to recognize and protect the rich Algerian cultural heritage, granting it global recognition through UNESCO registration.


Draft law on the film industry presented to the APN

The Minister of Culture and Arts, Soraya Mouloudji, presented a bill on the film industry to the Committee on Culture, Communication and Tourism of the National People's Assembly (APN). This project, which includes 85 articles, aims to establish an appropriate legal framework for the exercise of productive and service activities linked to the film industry in Algeria.

The bill guarantees the freedom to exercise various cinematographic activities while respecting the Constitution and the laws of the Republic. It stipulates that the production of cinematographic films dealing with the Popular Resistance, the national movement and the Revolution of November 1, 1954 requires prior authorization from the Minister of Mujahideen. The legislative text also includes provisions for the production, distribution and exploitation of films tackling religious, political and other sensitive themes.

The bill provides provisions for the filming of films on national territory, requiring prior authorizations and specific agreements for military, sensitive and protected areas. He proposes the creation of a cinematographic film viewing commission for the allocation of cinematographic exploitation visas. Support measures for the film industry are also planned, such as public aid and training for artists and professionals. The bill introduces provisions for the issuance of the professional cinema card and the creation of a mediation and ethics commission.


Launch of the 5th edition of the Tamazight theater competition in Tizi-Ouzou

The 5th edition of the competition for the best play in Amazigh in 2023 was launched at the Kateb Yacine regional theater in Tizi-Ouzou. This competition, more focused on the promotion of Amazigh theater than on the competition itself, sees the participation of eight theater troupes.

Organized as part of the celebration of the Amazigh New Year, Yennayer 2974, the competition aims to encourage theatrical associations and cooperatives in theatrical production in Tamazight. The awards ceremony for the best play will take place on January 20 during a ceremony organized at the theater.

Launched in 2018, this competition is open to all national theater associations and cooperatives, with plays lasting more than 50 minutes produced in 2023. The first prize of the 4th edition was awarded to the cultural cooperative “El lemssa” from Batna.

The opening of the event was marked by various activities, including a one-man show “Dz Dream” by Omar Zaouidi, an exhibition of traditional objects, and the celebration of Yennayer at the Mouloud Mammeri culture house.


Cheikh Sadek Abdjaoui, an icon of Hawzi and Andalusian

29 years ago, on January 7, 1995, Sheikh Sadek Abdjaoui, master of Hawzi and Andalusian, died at the age of 87. Abdjaoui was famous for his artistic versatility, mastering Andalusian classical and Hawzi, but also Aâroubi, Kabyle, and Madih (religious song). His contribution to radio playwriting and musical composition was also notable. He created several associations and a new orchestra in Bejaïa. After independence, he founded the city's Music Conservatory.


“Thawra”: An acclaimed theatrical play in Sidi Bel Abbès

The play “Thawra” (Revolution), directed by Abdallah Merbouh, was presented at the Regional Theater of Sidi Bel Abbès. Winner of the Grand Prize of the 16th edition of the National Professional Theater Festival (FNTP) in Algiers, this work was produced in 2023 and designed by Abdelkader Djeriou, with the participation of many talented artists.

The play is about freedom and Algeria's struggle for independence. It aims to convey a strong message about resistance and history, in a poetic framework.

After this performance, the troupe is expected in Iraq to participate in the 14th Arab theater festival in Baghdad.


« Yugurten »

The main part of the theatrical play “Yugurten”, recounting the life and resistance of the Numidian king Jugurtha, was presented at the Kateb Yacine Regional Theater in Tizi-Ouzou. The play was produced by the Thighri Umezgun association based on a text by Mohamed Ameziane Bourbia and directed by Lyes Arab. It traces the struggles of Jugurtha against Roman power. The play “Yugurten” aims to transmit and preserve Algerian national memory and history, while promoting historical figures like Jugurtha.

Jugurtha, grandson of the Numidian king Massinissa and ruler of Cirta (present-day Constantine), had rebelled against Rome, leading a seven-year war (111-105 BC). He was betrayed by his father-in-law, Bocchus, king of the Moors.

Street art

Fethi Mjahed from Tiaret wins first prize at the National Graffiti Festival in Sétif

Fethi Mjahed, an artist from Tiaret, won first prize for his work on optimism at the 5th edition of the national graffiti festival in Sétif.

Hamza Mokrani from Khenchela and Salah-Eddine Adhimi from Sétif obtained second and third places respectively.

Nacer Fadli, president of the organizing committee, mentioned that 40 artists from various wilayas participated in this event, organized by the league of cultural and scientific activities of young people in collaboration with the ODEJ and the direction of youth and sports .
Unlike previous years, where graffiti was done on the walls of the city, this edition saw the artists working on wooden panels in the square adjoining the Sétif amusement park. These works may be used to decorate certain establishments or participate in other competitions.

The festival aims to use graffiti art as a means of raising awareness of citizenship and tolerance, while promoting young local artists.


Classification of Ksar Lalla Fatma as a protected national archaeological site

The Ministry of Culture and Arts of Algeria has approved the classification of Ksar Lalla Fatma as a protected national archaeological site. Located in a cork oak forest in Oued Djenane, in the commune of El Aioun, 40 km east of El Tarf, this historic site includes important Roman, Byzantine and Islamic archaeological remains.

The director of culture and arts of El Tarf, Abdelkader Azzedine, stressed that this classification would provide legal protection necessary to preserve and enhance this historic monument. Steps have already been taken to protect the site, made up of a two-story rubble villa, farms, olive presses and areas for processing agricultural products.

Ksar Lalla Fatma, whose construction dates back to the Roman period between the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, was modified by the Byzantines to make it a defense tower.

United Arab Emirates

Art Dubai 2024: program, exhibitions and conferences

Art Dubai 2024 is in its 17th edition. The program is open to the public from March 1 to 3 at Madinat Jumeirah. Pablo del Val, artistic director of the event, highlights Art Dubai's institutional role in the region's cultural ecosystem, supporting artists, research, cultural education and intellectual leadership. The 2024 program wanted to reflect the diversity of Dubai.

One of the main focuses of the Global Art Forum remains that of global warming with a study on extreme weather conditions and their impacts on the social and cultural domains. Speakers include Stephanie Rosenthal, director of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi; Samir Bantal, director of the AMO think tank at the Office of Metropolitan Architecture in Rotterdam; Anne Holtrop, founder of Studio Anne Holtrop of Bahrain; as well as the artist Monira Al Qadiri. She is a Kuwaiti artist. She is known for her works that explore topics such as cultural identity, gender, and the Gulf's oil legacy.

The “Modern and Collector Talks” conference, presented in collaboration with Dubai Collection, will present, in several sessions, the artistic connections established during the Cold War, including the influence of Soviet educational initiatives on South Asian artists, Africa and the Middle East.

The fair's educational program extends to more than 100 schools, reaching nearly 15,000 young people. Sahil Naik, Indian artist, will lead workshops for children, encouraging them to imagine the future of cities.

Art is also part of the program, obviously. A series of works, focused on hope and healing, will explore the transformative power of art in difficult times. Krista Kim, a Korean-Canadian artist, will present “Heart Space,” a digital installation interconnecting visitors through their heartbeats. Piaget will host “The House of Gold,” an exhibition on the symbolic aspects of gold, including jewelry collections, luxury watches and commissioned artworks.

“We are committed to laying the foundations for a thriving cultural and creative ecosystem, inspired by our city of Dubai” – Benedetta Ghione, Executive Director of the event.

Arab World, Saudi Arabia

Expansion of Saudi film development program to Asia

Red Sea Labs (Saudi Arabia) has officially opened applications for the fifth edition of “The Lodge”, a long-term residency program developed in collaboration with Torino FilmLab and sponsored by Film AlUla. Applications are open until January 20 for Saudi projects and until January 30 for Arab, African and Asian projects.

This initiative, part of the Red Sea International Film Festival, traditionally supports feature films from Saudi Arabia, the Arab world and Africa. However, it is now expanding to include projects from across the Asian continent. In total, 16 projects will be selected.

“The Lodge” offers mentoring and workshop programs designed to help filmmakers develop their projects, with training covering script development, film production, including financing, sales and marketing. The workshops will take place in various locations across the kingdom, including AlUla. Filmmakers from the program will have the opportunity to present their projects at the Red Sea Souk during the Red Sea International Film Festival in 2024. Ryan Ashore, head of The Red Sea Labs, highlighted the importance of this program in supporting emerging filmmakers and diversify the global cinema scene.

Saudi Arabia

“AlUla, Wonder of Arabia” opens in Beijing

The “AlUla, Wonder of Arabia” exhibition is held in Beijing until March 22. It presents more than 230 archaeological objects from the Saudi region of AlUla. The exhibition includes 50 objects on display for the first time, as well as recently discovered cultural relics and ancient animal bones from mustatils (stone monuments) dating back to the prehistoric era.

Visitors can view sculptures, pottery, cave paintings, inscriptions and bronze relics, accompanied by an immersive multimedia presentation. The exhibition also includes works by renowned photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand, showcasing the impressive landscape of the Saudi region.

Previously held at the Arab World Institute in Paris from October 2019 to March 2020, this updated version is designed by archaeologists Abdulrahman Alsuhaibani, Executive Director of Archaeology, Conservation and Collections at the Royal Commission for AlUla , and Laila Nehme, senior researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research.

The exhibition, organized chronologically, begins by exploring the geographical and environmental settings that facilitated early human settlements in AlUla, followed by a thematic layout around the four main heritage sites of the AlUla Valley: Dadan, Qurh , the old town and the Unesco World Heritage Site, Hegra. The event aims to recall the trade routes that once linked the Arabian Peninsula to China. AlUla, located along the ancient incense route and later pilgrimage routes to Mecca, facilitated the transportation of Chinese silk and ceramics to the peninsula, along with Arabic incense and other valuable goods heading to China.

Égypte, Émirats Arabes Unis, Jordanie, Palestine

Watermelon is a hit in latest designs, in solidarity with Palestine

The watermelon has been a symbol of resistance since the Palestinian flag was banned by the Israeli occupation in 1967.

For example, Emirati graphic artist Fatma Al Mulla launched a collection called “For Palestine,” where she uses slices of the iconic fruit to pay homage to the war-torn country. She donates a portion of sales to charities supporting victims of the war in Gaza. Designers such as Zaid Farouki, a Palestinian-Jordanian designer based in Dubai, have begun producing embroidered watermelon-shaped brooches. Sayka Abbas, Egyptian founder of jewelry brand October13, has launched products such as the watermelon slice-shaped “Resistance” necklace, adorned with black diamonds.

Lebanon, Palestine, Syria

“In the Shadow of Beirut” in the running for 2024 Oscars

“In the Shadow of Beirut” is an Irish, Lebanese-German documentary in the running for the 2024 Oscars, co-directed by Garry Keane and Stephen Gerard Kelly. The documentary, selected to represent Ireland in the Best International Feature Film category, was also presented in the MENA region at the Red Sea Film Festival in Jeddah. Produced by Brendan Byrne, “In the Shadow of Beirut” is notable for its beautiful cinematography and its respectful and empathetic treatment of its subjects. The film was financed partly by Hidden Light Productions, founded by Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, although their role was limited to post-production.

Stephen Gerard Kelly, who spent five years in Lebanon starting in 2015, was inspired by his friendship with several families from Sabra, Beirut, and the Shatila refugee camp, to make this documentary. Although he did not initially plan to make a film, his experiences led him to document daily life in these communities. “In the Shadow of Beirut” follows four families in Sabra and Chatila in 2018. The film tells the daily struggles and hopes of these marginalized families, without falling into the pitfall of “poverty porn” which was one of the main critics for Nadine Labaki's film “Capharnaum”.

Focus on the four families, already in difficulty in 2018, and who find themselves facing even more precarious conditions following the economic and financial collapse of Lebanon in 2019:

The documentary begins with images of Abou Ahmad Abid, a young boy from Shatila, a district of Beirut, who picks up trash in the street. His family, made up of his mother Fatima, a widow, and his brothers, fled Syria for Lebanon. Everyone works to support themselves, but Fatima regrets not being able to provide an education to her children, especially Abou Ahmad.

In Sabra, another district of Beirut, Ayman Koujeyje runs a store with his family. Ayman, of Lebanese nationality but of Syrian origin, lives with constant concern for the future of his daughters, in particular Sanaa, 13, whom he protects from external influences. Despite her desire for freedom, Sanaa accepts a marriage proposed by a young man, following the decision of her parents.

Abou Turki Daher and his family, belonging to the Dom community of Lebanon, face daily challenges, centered around their daughter Sariya, who suffers from a severe skin disease.

Abboudi Ziani, after two stays in prison, struggles to find stable employment and to raise his son Ali. His criminal history and subsequent addiction complicate his situation.


Samir Sayegh and Arabic Calligraphy

Samir Sayegh, one of the most renowned master calligraphers in the contemporary Arab world, revolutionized Arabic calligraphy with a modern and innovative approach. Born in 1945, Sayegh was deeply influenced by his years in Paris in the 1960s, where he was immersed in an atmosphere of cultural freedom and emancipation. This experience nourished his grandiose dream of freedom, often disappointed but always renewed.

With the Arab Spring, Sayegh found a new source of inspiration to experiment in his art, creating his collection “Yawmiyyat el-hourriya” (The Notebooks of Freedom). He used this period to further liberate the art of calligraphy, experimenting with different papers, gold and silver. This collection was followed by “Anchored/Ancestral Cities,” inspired by the devastation of historic cities such as Mosul, Aleppo, Beirut and Gaza. In this series he wrote as a hymn or a prayer for peace, without depicting cities or houses but rather suggesting lines of music theory and musical notes.

Sayegh insists that calligraphy, although having begun in the Arab world with the writing of the Koran, is not a strictly religious art but rather universal. He has always been interested in big existential questions, seeking answers through the mysticism of calligraphy. His works, imbued with prose poetry, are an exploration of authenticity and modernity.

The Beirut Museum of Art chose to digitize Sayegh's work as part of the Wasl Beirut Program supported by UNESCO's Beryt fund. An exhibition honoring Samir Sayegh took place at the Oriental Library at Saint Joseph University on December 18 in Beirut, coinciding with UNESCO's celebration of the Arabic language. The exhibition presented his collections “Freedom notebooks 2011-2012” and “Anchored/ancestral cities 2014-2015”. The event also included an exchange with the artist, hosted by Mahmoud Haïdar, and the screening of a documentary essay produced by Karma and Rajwa Tohmé.

Samir Sayegh continues to inspire and influence future generations through his art, which is a fusion of the laws of the cosmos and human spirituality, making him a universal artist and deeply connected to the soul of the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia

Zaina al-Shehri celebrates Bedouin traditions

Zaina al-Shehri's paintings represent camels, traditional houses, the Bedouin desert. Her works notably allow us to discover the different breeds and varieties of camels, which are an integral part of the culture of the Arabian Peninsula, explaining her recent participation in the King Abdelaziz camel festival.

“My love for camels dates back to childhood. The camel was an inseparable and fundamental element of the movement of my ancestors and it still constitutes a symbol of heritage in all regions of the Kingdom” – the artist for Arab News.

Plastic Arts

Medco X Katya Traboulsi

This is a unique collaboration between Medco, a Lebanese petroleum products distribution company, and Katya Traboulsi, a visual artist. Traboulsi, who defines herself as a “socio-political visual artist”, embarked on a project of artistic reinterpretation of the traditional ornaments of Lebanese trucks. These, highly symbolic, reflect the beliefs and history of Lebanese truck drivers, conveying messages of protection and cultural pride.

The tradition of decorating trucks, according to Traboulsi, dates back to the days when transport animals were decorated to attract attention. Today, this custom continues on trucks from Tripoli, richly decorated with symbols, while those from Bekaa or the South mainly carry messages. A recurring element is the eye-shaped hubcap, supposed to protect against malicious intent.

The collaboration with Medco, led by Michèle Chammas Garzouzi, materialized after the latter visited Traboulsi’s exhibition, “Rej3a ya mama”, at Saleh Barakat. Inspired by Traboulsi's work and its cultural importance, Garzouzi proposed transposing this art onto Medco's tanks. The artist thus had the opportunity to disseminate this popular art on an unusual medium, tanks, reflecting the essential role of trucks in Lebanese society, particularly after the recent fuel shortages.

This initiative marks a shift from “naqla naw3iyya” (remarkable transition) to “naqla faniyya” (artistic transition) for Medco. It symbolizes not only a common cultural heritage, but also a celebration of the shared identity and beliefs of the Lebanese. The collaboration came to fruition at an event in Dora on January 5, where the new artistically decorated tanks were unveiled.

Plastic ArtsExhibitions

Artistic Crossing in Lebanon: From Sanayeh to the Sursock Museum

The exhibition “Intimate Garden Scene (In Beirut)” at the Sursock Museum, inaugurated with a work by Marwan Rechmaoui composed of metal debris from the Beirut port explosion in 2020, offers a journey through three decades of Lebanese critical art . This exhibition, which runs until May 15, 2024, offers a retrospective of the works of artists who have marked the artistic scene since the founding of Ashkal Alwan in 1993, an association dedicated to the promotion of contemporary artistic practice in Lebanon.

Ashkal Alwan's first group exhibition took place in 1995 in the Sanayeh garden in Beirut. Since then, the association has continued to encourage artistic dialogue, notably through the biennial Home Works forum, started in 2000. The exhibition at the Sursock Museum presents an impressive collection of drawings, paintings, collages, videos, photos, sculptures, notebooks and archival documents. It includes works by artists such as Jalal Toufic, Mounira al-Solh, Lamia Joreige, Roy Samaha, and others who began their careers with Ashkal Alwan or contributed to his cultural activities.

This exhibition is not an anthology of Lebanese art from the last 30 years, but rather an exploration of the political and social realities of Lebanon, reflected through art. The works presented address various themes, such as the reconstruction of Beirut, current crises, the end of military occupations, the October 2019 uprising, the port explosion, gender issues, and more.

The exhibition, of remarkable density, requires several visits for a complete appreciation. It is accompanied by a program of films presented from mid-January 2024, thus enriching civic discourse and debate on contemporary Lebanese realities through art.


New archaeological discovery in Minya

A team of Spanish archaeologists, led by Mayte Mascorro and Esther Pons Melado of the University of Barcelona and the Institute of the Ancient Near East, have discovered several tombs dating from the Ptolemaic and Roman eras, as well as mummies from the Roman era.

According to Adel Okasha, head of the Central Department of Egyptian Antiquities in Central Egypt, the mission discovered fragments of papyrus inside a clay seal and numerous mummies wrapped in colorful fabrics. The faces of some mummies were covered by golden and colorful funerary masks.

The team also discovered several architectural elements, burials and other archaeological objects at the Saqqara site.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar

“Saudi Day at the 2023 International Horticulture Exhibition in Doha”

The Doha International Horticultural Expo 2023 celebrated a special “Saudi Day” on Friday, January 6, 2024. The event highlighted the folklore, heritage, history and achievements of Saudi Arabia. Distinguished guests included the Saudi Ambassador to Qatar, Prince Mansour bin Khaled, as well as the Qatari Minister of Municipalities, Abdulla Al-Subaie.

The exhibition served as a platform to highlight the Kingdom's successes in its efforts to achieve sustainability and preserve natural resources, as part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030. Mansour Al-Mushaiti, Saudi Deputy Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture, highlighted Saudi initiatives and achievements, including investments in the agricultural sector and sustainable development efforts.

Saudi Arabia was also highlighted for its leadership in clean energy, reducing carbon emissions, increasing green spaces and sustainable waste management. Al-Mushaiti mentioned that the area of nature reserves and conservation areas in the kingdom reached 16% of the total area, exceeding the target of 15% set for 2030.

The exhibition began on October 2 of the previous year and will continue until March 28. The Saudi Pavilion attracted more than 400,000 visitors thanks to the diversity of its content, providing a showcase of the Kingdom's agricultural and environmental sustainability projects.


Sabrina Bahsoon, launches a fund for the education of Palestinian children in Malaysia

Lebanese-Malaysian TikTok star Sabrina Bahsoon, also known as “Tube Girl,” has created an education fund to support Palestinian children. The initiative will fund the education of 14 Palestinian children at the Marifah International School in Seri Kembangan, Malaysia.

Bahsoon, who has nearly 800,000 followers on TikTok, has teamed up with advocacy group Geutanyoe Malaysia to help Palestinian refugees who have fled Gaza and the West Bank to Malaysia.

The young woman was criticized last November on social networks following her charitable initiative to sell T-shirts with the British NGO “Choose Love”, in favor of the victims of Gaza, for not having clearly said “Palestine” and for launching the project on the eve of Black Friday.


Beirut: “Ephemeral Escape” by Rawia Ghandou Zantout

The exhibition of the Franco-Lebanese painter is held from January 11 to 19 at Rebirth Beirut. » “Ephemeral Escape” is a textured and colorful showcase of Rawia’s art, focusing on ecological themes and landscapes. Her work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions in Lebanon and abroad, and she has been commissioned to paint portraits of world celebrities. Rawia also received a Global Art Award finalist certificate. » – extract from the press release.


Inauguration of the exhibition “Hidden Nature: Images of Omani Wild Life” in Muscat”

On January 8, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth of Oman, represented by the Omani Arts Association, inaugurated the artistic exhibition “Hidden Nature: Images of Omani Wild Life” in Muscat. The exhibition, sponsored by His Excellency Azan bin Qasim Al Busaidi, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism for Tourism, is taking place at the headquarters of the Omani Arts Association.

The exhibition features 51 artworks focusing on two aspects of Omani wildlife: insects and reptiles. It highlights the work of seven Omani photographers specializing in wildlife photography. The works are accompanied by their scientific names registered with scientific institutions in Oman.

The two-week event also includes the presentation of live samples, wildlife research, as well as lectures on Omani snakes, including information on their types and methods to manage them. These conferences are presented by Ahmed Al Busaidi. Additionally, practical close-up photography workshops are organized by a group of photographers for participants.

Jordan, Palestine

Amman : une série d’événements de solidarité avec la Palestine à Darat al Funun

2023 s’est conclue dans l’espace artistique avec l’inauguration de l’ installation intitulée « We Will Not Leave » de l’artiste Soha Shoman, qui documente la guerre actuelle, et son passé de 75 ans. Le projet documente également les noms d’artistes, de coordinateurs d’expositions, d’activistes culturels et de journalistes qui ont été ciblés, réduits au silence ou menacés en raison de leur solidarité et de leur soutien aux droits des Palestiniens ; en plus de documenter les noms des sites culturels, archéologiques et patrimoniaux détruits lors de l’agression contre Gaza.


Iranian Cultural Council in Beirut launches series of books on women

The Iranian Cultural Chancellery in Beirut recently organized a ceremony to mark the birth anniversary of Fatima al-Zahra, daughter of the Prophet, an occasion to launch the book series “Women in the Thought of Imam Khamenei”. This series includes three volumes focusing on women and family, women facing modernity and female models.

All three books share an idea of ​​the “perfect” woman, with a respectable behavior and matching the social behaviour expected by the current Iranian government.

Arabie Saoudite, Égypte, Émirats Arabes Unis, Jordanie, Maroc, Oman, Tunisie

Participation Omanaise au Festival de Sharjah pour la Poésie Arabe

Le 8 janvier, les poètes omanais Mohammed Al Maashari, Yousuf Al Kamali et Shemisah Al Naamania ont participé à la 20ème édition du Festival de Sharjah pour la Poésie Arabe, qui se poursuit jusqu’au 15 janvier. L’événement comprend des lectures de près de 60 poètes arabes, dont Ali Al Shaali (Émirats Arabes Unis) et Aref Al Saadi (Irak), tous deux lauréats du Prix de Sharjah pour la Poésie Arabe (12e édition).

Parmi les autres participants figurent des poètes de l’Arabie Saoudite, du Koweït, de la Mauritanie, de la Syrie, du Soudan, de l’Égypte, du Maroc, de l’Irak, de la Jordanie, de la Tunisie, du Sénégal, de la Bahreïn, de l’Algérie, du Niger, du Qatar, du Yémen, du Tchad et des Émirats Arabes Unis.

Le festival a remis le Prix de Sharjah pour la Critique de la Poésie Arabe. Les lauréats sont le critique tunisien Moncef Al Wahaybi (premier prix), le critique marocain Anwar Benyaich (deuxième prix) et le critique marocain El Hussein Benbada (troisième prix).

En parallèle, le festival a proposé une conférence intitulée « Le Développement de la Langue de la Poésie Arabe », avec deux sessions au Beit Al Sha’er, où interviendront des critiques d’Égypte, de Tunisie, d’Arabie Saoudite et de Jordanie.

Enfin, le festival présente la pièce de théâtre « Majlis Al Haira », écrite par le Cheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, membre du Conseil Suprême et gouverneur de Sharjah, et produite par le Théâtre National de Sharjah.

Émirats Arabes Unis, Jordanie, Palestine

Jordanian Painter Ihsan Bandak: Artistic Creations and Modern Expressions

The works of the Jordanian painter Ihsan Bandak invite you to discover colorful landscapes and nature. The artist mainly paints Jordanian and Palestinian cities. He draws streets bustling with passers-by and sellers, trying to represent the cultural diversity of the region. He intentionally omits facial features, emphasizing clothing, movement and architectural elements. His portraits, created by random lines, evoke above all pain and regret.

Trained in the United States, he offers a palette of natural and abstract colors, where light shapes blend to fill the space, leaving traces and shadows behind.

Recent Journals

28 - 12 - 23

"عيب" by Sarah Bahbah Sarah Bahbah is a Palestinian Jordanian artist and director born and raised in Australia. Raised by Immigrant parents, her culturally conservative upbringing led to a great rebellion of Art. Over the past decade Bahbah has become renowned for her signature style, giving birth to visually striking, culture-shifting stories that combine her most intimate psyche appearing as subtitles placed over cinematic stills. Bahbah’s art explores the power of vulnerability by way of giving voice to the vast spectrum of chaos and desire in imperfect relationships. She believes in embracing emotional vulnerability to break taboos and celebrate the liberation of guilt and shame. In 2020 Bahbah released her most impactful series yet titled “3ieb!” in Arabic / “Shame On Me!” in English; a series where she provocatively posed in front of the camera for the first time, expressing her desire for sexual liberation from her cultural restrictions. The subtitles appeared in both English and Arabic calligraphy which caused an uproar within the MENA community, while simultaenously giving voice to many women who held the same desire. Bahbah’s work has been featured in countless publications including New York Times, Forbes, Business Insider, The Cut, Vogue US, Hollywood Reporter, Vice and many more. In 2023 Bahbah released her first ever luxury fine art book, "Dear Love".

21 - 12 - 23

"I'm 33 and I've never been on a plane" It took five years for Abdel Rahman Zagout, a Gazan photographer, to complete a project on the Egyptian border with Gaza, which won the 2018 Red Cross photography competition. This photograph is part of the project, portraying a young Palestinian at the border, his hands open in front of a closed window. Abdel Rahman Zagout graduated in media at Al-Aqsa University and graduated in 2008. He worked for ten years as a freelance photojournalist and photography consultant. His project recounts the hopes and dreams of Palestinians, shattered by poverty and fences. Most of the photos were taken at the Rafah crossing, which links Gaza to Egypt. It is considered to be the main exit from Gaza, and is only opened sporadically.

14 - 12 - 23

@dyaladesigns "As cliché as it may sound, I've always been creative. Somehow I always knew that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I've never been that passionate about anything other than art and design, so why would I spend my life doing something I didn't really love? It's my passion and I intend to use my creativity to make a difference in this world." "As a Palestinian artist, I definitely feel a responsibility to use my platform to highlight the ongoing conflicts and express my emotions about them in a beautiful way. Art is my passion, and my country is my passion, so combining these two aspects of my life is something that excites and motivates me. My work is a reflection of who I am, and I think it's important to represent people who feel that their voices aren't always heard. I want people to look at my work and see the beauty and relevance of who they are and where they come from. I feel it's our global duty to show our support and unite in times of need. I feel that my work highlights the importance of acceptance and inclusion. Given the world we live in today, where people are bombarded by an unrealistic digital society, my art plays a role in breaking down those boundaries and redefining those expectations." Dyala Moshtaha

07 - 12 - 23

"I will continue to draw until Palestine is free. I will continue to draw the Palestinian flag everywhere in the streets of Egypt." - Mohamed Moataz Mohamed Moataz a décoré l'un des plus anciens quartiers du Caire, Al-Khalifa, qui est par ailleurs inscrit sur la liste du patrimoine mondial de l'UNESCO depuis 1979. Il s'agit de quatre peintures murales qui dénoncent l'horreur du génocide de Gaza. Mohamed Moataz a décoré l'un des plus anciens quartiers du Caire, Al-Khalifa, qui est par ailleurs inscrit sur la liste du patrimoine mondial de l'UNESCO depuis 1979. Il s'agit de quatre peintures murales qui dénoncent l'horreur du génocide de Gaza. Mohamed Moataz's career as a street artist began on the streets of the Egyptian capital with works celebrating Arab heritage, featuring iconic figures such as football star Mohamed Salah and the Star of the Orient, Umm Kulthum. However, current events soon caught up with him, and in recent months he has focused exclusively on the genocide perpetrated by the State of Israel in Gaza.

30 - 11 - 23

Gaza, Humanitarian truce, 28 November 2023. Mohammed Salem is a Palestinian photojournalist based in the Gaza Strip. He holds a degree in media studies from Al-Azhar University in Gaza. Mohammed has worked with Reuters since 2003, mainly covering the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. He received the Dubai Press Club Media Award, won the International Press Photo Competition in China in 2004 and was awarded second prize in Spot News at the World Press Photo Competition in 2010. His latest photos of the Gaza Strip in October 2023 have been selected by Reuters as one of the "best press photographs of 2023". "A picture should not be taken just with the eye; it should have a meaning in the heart" - Mohammed Salem.

23 - 11 - 23

"A boy eating watermelon", Adam Rouhana “There are a number of things that come to mind when I look at this image and, honestly, it’s about the boy… It’s sort of like he’s making love to the watermelon, right? That is what it looks like. So, it’s this idea, I guess, of a passion for the land and his own relationship with the land. You can see he’s in this kind of olive grove and the earth is around him." N.B. The watermelon is a symbol of Palestine. Adam Rouhana is a young Palestinian photographer who graduated from Oxford. He grew up in Boston. Each year, he returns to his homeland with his camera, and focuses on Palestinian youth, which represents half the population. A soldier, a fence, a football pitch, but also laughter, somersaults on the beach and back to school moments. The young photographer, who plans his first exhibition with curators Zainab Hasoon and Sara bin Safwan at the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, captures these everyday infrastructures, characters and emotions of Palestine. He claims the "permission to narrate" developed by Edward Saïd - in other words, the commitment to sharing an individual rather than a collective story, not dictated by an oppressive regime or locked into a given prism such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Adam Rouhana therefore offers new perspectives and new narratives of Palestine. ‘Instead of reproducing the representations of occupied Palestine that are so ubiquitous and so obvious, I was able to capture the quieter moments and try to work to create new representations of Palestine’ – Adam Rouhana

09 - 11 - 23

"Climbing walls", Khaled Hourani Born in Hebron, he is an artist, writer, commentator, curator, and a critical voice in Palestine. Operating within a socially and politically constrained system, Hourani conveys his awareness of the nuances and vagaries that permeate different aspects of social encounters in Palestine. In his pivotal 2011 project ‘Picasso in Palestine’, Hourani borrowed Picasso’s ‘Buste de Femme’ from the Van Abbemuseum in The Netherlands, to display it in Ramallah. The symbol was powerful knowing the piece was painted during WW2. What was already an unusual lending process turned into a political quagmire considering that Palestine was not - and still isn’t - internationally recognised as a state, therefore making it impossible to insure the piece. The painting had to be militarily guarded: no insurance company took the risk. Picasso’s painting was exhibited in a specific room, always with two guards. This photograph was taken at the time, and has since been exhibited multiple times, also under surveillance. A mise en abyme revealing the complexity and constant struggle of a life under occupation.

30 - 11 - 23

"Kiss of Freedom", Rami Kanso Rami Kanso is a Lebanese-Slovak graphic designer, motion designer and visual artist based in Doha. He currently works for Alaraby TV. Rami combines his work in broadcasting with his passion for creative animation. He was head of visuals for the West End music production "Umm Kulthum: The Golden Era", which premiered at the London Palladium in March 2020. He also co-produced and co-directed a series of award-winning poetry videos with his wife, Dana Dajani. In October 2019, Rami's drawing for the Lebanese revolution became a viral icon of the resistance movement. His art blends calligraphy, collage, texture work, typography and symbolism to express contemporary Arab identity.

26 - 10 - 23

"Women sleeping" by Malak Mattar "Being a feminist is not about hating men; it's about believing that men and women don't have to compete with each other, but that they complement each other. This harmony can exist between two genders when there is equality and recognition of each other's roles and abilities, without degrading anyone's status." Malak Matar was born in 1999 in the Gaza Strip. She started painting in 2014 to escape the aggression and violence she and her family experienced daily while living in the Gaza Strip. Her first solo exhibition, which she organised a year later at the age of fifteen, enabled her to forge links with international journalists and gain recognition for her work on social networks. After winning the distinction of best high school student in the Gaza Strip (and second best in the whole of Palestine), Malak Matar left Gaza in 2017 to study political science in Turkey. She is publishing a bilingual Arabic-English children's book, "Grandma's Bird", about the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, with writings and drawings that describe her own experience.

19 - 10 - 23

"Palest*n*ans: a story of displacement and pain. For decades, the world has been a silent witness to their displacement, the bombing of their refuge and the loss of loved ones. Today, with no access to food, water or medicine, they are faced with the agonising decision to leave the land they hold dear, with the uncertainty of their return, or quite simply, to die. Their story is part of the wider story of refugees around the world. The location of this work has not been added to avoid the shadowbanning I have faced in recent days." - statement by Egyptian visual artist and graphic designer Hassan Ragab, about the tragedy that Gaza goes through today, in front of everyone's eyes. The word 'Palestinians' has had several letters removed to avoid the censorship currently rampant on social networks. Hassan Ragab was trained as an architect and now lives in Southern California. Between design, furniture renovation, installations and graphic design, he participates in the development of digital art and in particular the use of Artificial Intelligence in this field.