Comments, Culture, In Focus, Music

Summer with the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival

This is the UK’s longest running annual festival and will light up the city with music concerts, theatrical performances, literature and visual arts in a variety of venues. And it will take place between Thursday 6 July and Sunday 16 July.


Maya Youssef.

It was founded in 1998 to keep alive Arab arts, culture and heritage through a platform to educate, challenge and engage communities in Arab cultural and heritage developments in the UK and beyond.

What is interesting about this festival is that it creates, according to its organisers, “a dynamic between traditional and contemporary Arab artforms, encouraging informed debate that explores, and increases, appreciation of Arab people and their rich culture.”

This year, which as always takes place in the land of its birth, Liverpool, its programme can be enjoyed at venues ranging from the iconic Liverpool Philharmonic Music Room to Sefton Park Palm House.

In fact, on 7 July, at the Liverpool Philharmonic Music Room, the critically acclaimed Somali-British singer Aar Maanta takes to the stage, supported by British-Egyptian rising star, singer – Nxdia.

The Ayoub Sisters.

A few days later, on 14 July, on the same stage will be the so-called “queen of the qanun”, Maya Youssef, of Syrian origin but based in the UK and a master of this 78-stringed Middle Eastern plucked zither. Her intense and thoughtful music is rooted in the Arabic classical tradition but forges pathways into jazz, western classical and Latin styles.

The LAAF culminates with a free-entry, unticketed Family Day on Saturday 16 July at Sefton Park Palm House, an iconic feature of Liverpool City’s parks. Storytelling, family-friendly activities, stalls, workshops, talks and Arabic food will all be a feature of the programme.

There will be special world music performances by master of the Iraqi oud and Founder and Director of The Taqasim Music School in London, Ahmed Mukhtar.

Aar Maanta.

Also performing will be the Scottish- Egyptian, classical-crossover duo, The Ayoub Sisters, who are, in the words of Egyptian Streets “One of the top 15 most inspiring artists of the decade”.

To close the day of family activities, workshops, talks and gastronomy, Algerian mandola-player, percussionist and ‘king of Rock ‘n’ Raï’ in the UK’ Abdelkader Saadoun will be taking to the stage.

For the full programme, please visit Liverpool Arab Arts Festival 2023.

(Information and photos provided by Angie Lemon.)

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