Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival Winner of 2010 Arab British Culture & Society Award
By Sehr Sarwar
The highly anticipated Arab British Culture and Society Award Ceremony was held on Thursday 20th May at our premises in Gough Square to a full house of distinguished guests including this year's award panellists, ABC trustees, foreign dignitaries and even celebrities! As you may well know by now, our annual award of £5000 is presented to an individual or organisation which, in the opinion of the judges, has made an outstanding contribution to the British public's knowledge and understanding of the life, society and culture of the Arab people.
The judging panel, who were all in attendance on the evening, comprised Dr Shelagh Weir (Chair), journalist Malu Halasa, ethical businesswoman Heather Masoud, Professor Tim Niblock, editor Margaret Obank, and actor Nadim Sawalha. It was a wonderful surprise that Jordanian-British actor Nadim Sawalha made an appearance at the award ceremony and graciously had his photograph taken with some excitable fans (myself included). Never a dull moment at the Arab British Centre!
The judges unanimously chose the Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival as this year’s winner, in recognition of the wide range of shows and activities from throughout the Arab World which it organizes during its annual festival. Through its concerts, dance shows, art and photographic exhibitions, poetry readings and plays held in many Liverpool venues it has introduced Arab culture to many thousands of adults and children, and played an important role in increasing appreciation of Arab life and culture and combating prejudice.
Platters of tangy vine leaves and flavoursome spinach fatayers were laid out in the true ABC hospitality style that helps to ensure a great turnout at our events. Colourful LAAF programmes were being distributed during the reception, packed with the itinerary for the upcoming festival this summer. A short film filled with exciting images and video footage from previous years at the LAAF had everyone checking their diaries to plan the trip up north in July to be part of this year’s festival.
The Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival was one of ten candidates shortlisted for the award. As in previous years, the judges were impressed by the high quality and range of nominations received, and specially commended the following candidates for their notable contributions:
- Kamal Boullata: Palestinian artist, and author of a major book on Palestinian art in its social and historical context, Palestinian Art: From 1850 to the Present
- Dr Eugene Rogan: historian of the Middle East, and author of an ambitious and compendious history of the Arabs, The Arabs: A History
- Unipal: a charity which sends British volunteer teachers to Palestinian refugee camps, and invites Palestinian teachers to the UK
After the specially-commended candidates were presented with their certificates, a beaming Taher Qassim collected the 2010 Arab British Culture and Society Award on behalf of the LAAF team. Taher Qassim made special mention of the Yemeni Ambassador His Excellency Mohamed Taha Mustafa, who was also in attendance, in recognition of his long-standing support of the Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival since its first event in 2002.
For those eager to soak up the summer sun and keen to explore Arab British events outside of London, check out the LAAF website (www.arabicartsfestival.co.uk) and plan your trip up to Liverpool! This year’s festival runs from 2 – 11 July 2010. Fear not if your schedule doesn’t allow you to make the journey up North, as I most certainly will be there. Of course my notebook and pen will accompany me so I’ll be scribbling away, ready to report back to you all.
Image above: Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival (from left to right: Finoon Saleh, Frank Hont, Ngozi Ikoku and Taher Qassim) with Award Founder Sir Peter Lloyd.