Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 May 2019

London festival awarded Unesco Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture

The Shubbak festival will hold its fifth celebration in June and July

Detail from the work of Moroccan calligrapher Noureddine Daifallah featuring Arabic letter forms on show during the 2017 Shubbak Festival. Stephen Lock / The National
Detail from the work of Moroccan calligrapher Noureddine Daifallah featuring Arabic letter forms on show during the 2017 Shubbak Festival. Stephen Lock / The National

London’s Shubbak festival has been awarded the Unesco Sharjah prize for Arab Culture in recognition for its outstanding contribution to promotion of Arabian art and culture.

The festival was founded in 2011 and is held every two years.

Named after the Arabic for "window", it gives British people insight into the Arab world through visual arts, film, music, theatre, dance, literature and debate. It is now the largest festival of Arab culture in Europe.

Organisers say this year’s festival, which will run between June 28 and July 14, will feature more than 150 artists and collaborate with institutions including the British Museum, British Library and Southbank Centre to host installations and performances.

Highlights will include Groupe Acrobatique de Tanger’s latest show, journalist and novelist Leila Slimani talking about Arab feminism, and the UK debut of documentary Of Sheep and Men by award-winning Algerian director, Karim Sayad.

“We are very grateful to Unesco for this Award,” said Eckhard Thiemann, Shubbak’s artistic director.

“Our ever-growing range of partners in London and beyond shows there is a real hunger and interest to hear Arab artists’ take on our times and the world we live in.

"The beauty of our festival is that we can boldly show many of these views, often creatively contradicting each other, but enriching us with powerful emotion and sharp insights.”

The festival shares the $60,000 award with Samandal Association, a collective of comic book artists from the Arab region based in Lebanon.

The prize will be awarded by Unesco director general Audrey Azoulay in a ceremony at the agency's headquarters this year.

The Unesco Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture was first proposed by the Ruler of the emirate, Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, to commemorate the designation of the city as Cultural Capital of the Arab Region in 1998.

Updated: April 25, 2019 11:57 PM

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