Liverpool Arab Arts Festival

8 – 16th July 2017       

Did you know that Liverpool hosts the UK’s biggest annual celebration of Arab arts and culture?

Each summer, LAAF attracts both local audiences and audiences from around the world who flock to see the richness of Arab culture through a packed 10 day programme of visual art, music, dance, film, theatre, literature and special family-friendly events.

And Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, now in its 16th year, returns to venues across the city from 8 – 16 July 2017!

This year, LAAF takes on the theme “The space between us”, which responds to Liverpool’s city-wide 67-17: 50 Summers of Love season, a series of events and performances inspired by the golden anniversary of the Summer of Love and the release of The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The diverse programme embraces both brand new work and the return of festival favourites.

What’s On?       

Wafaa Bilal: 168:01… part of The New Observatory, presented by FACT and Open Data Institute

FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology)

Thursday 22 June – Sunday 1 October


During the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the College of Fine Arts at the University of Baghdad lost their entire library due to looters who set fire to the collection. More than 70,000 books were destroyed. Over thirteen years later, students at the college still have few remnants from which to study.

In 168:01, an installation of an austere white library serves as both a monument to the staggering cultural losses endured throughout Iraq’s history as well as a platform for its potential rebirth. Comprised of a series of white shelves filled with blank tomes, the library doubles as a system of exchange connecting its physical and virtual visitors and beyond to Iraq. At the end of the exhibition, all donated books are to be shipped to the College of Fine Arts, beginning the process of rebuilding.

Sacre Printemps! – A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture Co-presented with Shubbak

Open Eye Gallery’s Winter Garden Space

Saturday 1 – Sunday 16 July, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm


A dance piece and installation presented by LAAF in association with London’s Shubbak festival is inspired by the hopes and pressures of building a new civil society. “Sacre” will bring a visceral live streetscape of today’s Tunisia as dancers jostle, fight and compete among over 30 cut-out sculptures.

LAAF Lodge Lane – celebrating Eid

Tiber Square, Lodge Lane

Saturday 8th July, 1:30pm – 4:30pm


LAAF will host a joyful public celebration of Eid, thanks to a grant from the Big Lottery Fund, with a colourful programme of cultural entertainment, cuisine, crafts and art, taking place throughout the day.

Crows Plucked Your Sinews… a Dervish production

Unity Theatre, 1 Hope Place

Tuesday 11 July, 8pm with 30 minute post show discussion

£12 / £10 concessions

A critically acclaimed one-woman show, with live music based on real events and featuring the epic lyrical tradition of Somalia, it is a unique exploration of the violence of empire and the poetry of resistance. The performance will be followed by a discussion event with Hassan Mahamdallie and members of the company.

A Developing Artists Production…And here I am in partnership with Shubbak Festival

Unity Theatre, 1 Hope Place

Wednesday 12 July, 8pm

£12 / £10 concessions

Award winning writer Hassan Abdulrazzak (Love, Bombs and Apples) presents a bitter sweet, dark political comedy based on performer Ahmed Tobasi’s true story. The show chronicles Ahmed’s transformation from armed resistance fighter to artist and his journey as a refugee in the West Bank to Norway and back again.


Reem Kelani in Concert

Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. Hope Street

Saturday 15 July, 8pm


World-renowned Palestinian singer, musicologist and broadcaster Reem Kelani returns to Liverpool for an intimate concert in Liverpool Philharmonic Hall’s Music Room. Recognised as one of the world’s foremost researchers and performers of Palestinian music, Kelani will captivate with the exhilarating power of her live show, interwoven with her inimitable, humorous, and poignant storytelling between songs.

LAAF at the World Museum

World Museum, William Brown Street

Saturday 15 July


LAAF will take over the World Museum for a Saturday extravaganza, where people of all ages can discover the creativity, captivating stories, and fascinating traditions of the Arab diaspora, with live performances presented in response to World Museum’s renowned ancient Egyptian collection.

LAAF Family Day

Sefton Park Palm House, Sefton Park

Sunday 16th July, 12pm – 5pm


Regularly attended by thousands of people of all ages and culture, Family Day brings an Arab extravaganza to the famous city park, with a programme of international music and dance acts, an Arabian souk, delicious cultural cuisine, and family friendly activities.

On the bill for LAAF Family Day is Alsarah and the Nubatones, led by Alsarah, the Sudanese born singer songwriter, described by the Guardian as “the new star of Nubian pop”. Alsarah’s “East African retro pop” is inspired by Nubian “songs of return”, and her and the band’s shared experiences of migration.

What else?

As I Open my Eyes

PictureHouse at FACT

Leyla Bouzid’s brilliant directorial debut, is the story of a young woman at a crossroads, she has to decide whether she wants to pursue her passion for music or fulfil her mother’s wish and enrol in medical school, and explores the rarely probed universe of Tunisian youth on the eve of the revolution.

This Little Father Obsession

PictureHouse at FACT

A bold and compelling hybrid film by Selim Mourad and a disarmingly honest interrogation of the hold of patriarchy in Lebanese society; the film begins with Selim Mourad staging a portrait of his own nuclear family, in which he claims a place on his own terms while he contends with the fact that he will never father a family due to his sexuality.

Literature Events

Bluecoat, Liverpool ONE, School Ln

Bluecoat will play host to a series of Literature events, developed in association with Comma Press, a Manchester publishing house, with an aim to identify and commissioning writers working across the Arab world.