Interviews

Like the mysterious woman hidden under a fine silk abaya, Saudi Arabia is the country cloaked in expensive outer wear but that doesn’t give away too much. Although we can smell the fragrance of her woody-scented oud perfume, we can never quite imagine the beauty that might be beneath. With the exception of Mecca and Medina that reveal the religious pilgrim trail, the rest of Saudi seems to exist in a parallel universe that the rest of us are unable to fathom.

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As a professional dance choreographer one of the greater milestones is to be able to create a genius enough production that is worthy of being staged at Sadler’s Wells. Recognised as one of the world’s top venues dedicated to international dance, only the very best of ballet, flamenco, hip-hop, jazz, Latin and other forms is allowed on its London platform with a standard that requires no less than artistic perfection. So it was that when I met Charlotte Desorgher, she had just realised this very big aspiration. 

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I had the privilege to meet up with the Palestinian-Irish playwright Hannah Khalil this week in London, a day before the opening of her latest production ‘Scenes from 68 Years’. A project that has been in development for over five years, it went through several stages to secure all the necessary funding and for the script to be artistically developed to a tee. It is being produced by Sandpit Arts.

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Curated by Aser El Saqqa, ‘Joha - The Journey’ Exhibition is on at Rich Mix 3-26 February, 2016

 

I first met with the 37-year-old Palestinian artist, Mohammed Joha, a couple of days in advance of the launch of his latest solo show that is currently being held at the Rich Mix venue in Shoreditch. He was with the curator of the exhibition, Aser El Saqqa, as they were taking care of the last touches to the artwork before the final presentation to a London audience.

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Originally from Misrata, Aimen Ajhani is the 25-year-old Libyan street artist who is set on chasing a big dream – to keep up the artistic political-resistance movement that began in Tripoli, Libya when he was just a teenage boy. His activity then started by creatively engaging against the repressive system which threatened not just his freedom of expression but that of his whole generation and killing off their innocent aspirations.

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The message is urgent and impassioned when I caught up with the incredible British-Moroccan actor Nabil Elouahabi last week during a break between rehearsals. His new play 'The Nightmares of Carlos Fuentes' opens tonight at London's Arcola Theatre and is about an Iraqi refugee who comes to the UK seeking asylum but adopts a Mexican character in the form of Carlos Fuentes.

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In sunny Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a young Arab woman is usually tucked away in a top-floor studio at her parents’ house in a peaceful residential area. Spending over twelve hours a day with a sharp 9am start to midnight, she is focused on making the most heavenly pieces of Islamic artwork. And, in this super tidy space, she must centre herself for the precision required to create her divine paintings, drawings, woodwork and ceramics.

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Interview with Leilah Nadir on her recent visit to London to promote her book: ‘The Orange Trees of Baghdad: In Search of My Lost Family’ which has just been published in the UK this March 2014.

 

There is also the Nahla Ink Review: www.nahlaink.com/reviews/orange-trees-baghdad-leilah-nadir.

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Faisal Samra Interview: Construction, Destruction and Reconstruction

C.D.R. Exhibition: At The Ayyam Gallery, London

 

The cool, airy and sophisticated space of the Ayyam Gallery, London opened its doors last week for the launch of the long-established Saudi artist Faisal Samra’s first solo UK exhibition on the subject of: ‘Construction, Destruction and Reconstruction’ (C.D.R.) that is on show until 29 March, 2014.

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Bringing Arab Cinematic Greats to London with the MENA Film Hub

 

Oh for the love of the art of Arab film and London cinema, cinema, cinema! If in the past three years you have attended an Arab film or an Arab film festival in London, chances are the half-Egyptian half-English Yasmin El Derby was somehow involved in curating it or working hard behind the scenes to bringing it to London’s Arab diaspora audience and others fascinated by world cinema.

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