Let me wish you all a Happy New Year with the genuine hope that the world moves just a step towards a semblance of peace; and, especially, when it comes to the Middle East and North Africa region. I am sometimes asked why I choose to promote Arab arts and culture when all that is happening, if viewed from the popular news outlets, is war, strife, struggle and constant catastrophic developments in the region that are impacting on everyone else and everywhere.
My answer is that the arts and any peaceful cultural activity have a very important and necessary duty to perform. By providing a different narrative to all the bad around us, they offer a safe space to contemplate the dramas playing out on the streets of our home countries and in the West, without the risk of turning to violence and without provoking more resentment. It is in the nature of making art, whether explored through music or theatre, comedy, dance or literature, that a new perspective emerges and that which flows far deeper than any hate, discord or aggression that we might otherwise think we have to digest on a regular basis.
It is important in my view to continue to celebrate and support every endeavour that makes something beautiful out of something that might otherwise be made uglier. And, London, fortunately, is one very special place where we have not just a collective of Arab diaspora communities but many others who are all grabbing the opportunity to do just that; and, in doing so, they rightly challenge the doom and gloom like the alchemist who turns base metals into gold.
For the month of January and running into February, a look at 'My Curious Inbox' will reveal what is in store for the Arab-Londoner. Make sure to scroll down a page and have a look out for the great exhibitions coming up (including the 'Jewelled Tales of Libya' at the Arab British Centre and the early works of the Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery), the theatrical production of 'Borderline' at the Cockpit Theatre, the music (especially the Egyptian Hamza Namira and the Oxford Maqam), the 'Arabs Are Not Funny' night of comedy, the day when 'South Social Meets Lebanon', the 'Syrian Voices' that will host Syrian culture and all the other wonderful events you have to choose from.
For the full listing: http://www.nahlaink.com/curious-inbox
Best wishes to all!
Freelance Journalist + Blogger
London, January 2017