Shubbak Festival Opens Today

Although the “literature” events don’t begin until July 23, performances, film screenings, visual arts demonstrations, and talks start today in London:

shubbak2Shubbak — or Window — is billed as “London’s largest biennial festival of contemporary Arab culture.” Now in its third iteration, the Shubbak kicked off in 2011, and in 2013 presented more than 55 events, spread across 42 venues, attracting more than 50,000 viewers, listeners, and participants.

This year’s festival runs today through July 26, with the literary emphasis coming in the final three days. But one don’t-miss literary event of Shubbak’s opening weekend is “Disappearing Cities of the Arab World,” which runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the British Museum. The program promises to explore “issues of architecture, post-colonialism, globalisation and psycho-geography. It brings together writers, artists, historians, architects and urbanists to explore the complex space that is the contemporary Arab city.”

The opening session features Ziauddin Sardar, author of the compelling Mecca, on Mecca, as well as Eyal Weizman on architecture in the Occupied Territories, Shadia Touqan on Jerusalem, and Salma Samar Damluji on mud-brick in Yemen.

The second session, which begins at 12:45 p.m., features:

Leading writers, including Hassan Abdulrazzak, whose play Love, Bombs & Apples will be staged at the Arcola Theatre (21-25 July), Nihad Sirees, focusing on Damascus, and Mo Mesrati, writing about Tripoli, discuss how their work reflects the changing urban experience, the creative license that fiction allows in the representation of place.

The third session, which starts at 2:30, features Cairobserver’s Mohamed Elshahed and is chaired by Sheyma Buali; the fourth, the keynote, brings together Sharon Rotbard, author of White City, Black City: Architecture and War in Tel Aviv and Jaffa and Sam Jacob, curator of the British Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale.