November has arrived bringing with it a wonderful mix of events in London that engage with the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) arts, history, music and culture. By far on top of the list, in terms of its depth and scope, is the splendid exhibition at the British Museum, titled 'Egypt: Faith after the Pharaohs' that opened last week.
Charting Egypt's journey over twelve centuries, beginning from 30BC until present day, it shows the remarkable objects that have been uniquely preserved in Egypt's arid climate and that tell the tale of this ancient land, from being a part of the Roman Empire, followed by the Christian Empire and finally, with the arrival of Islam. It looks at the changes from a world of many gods to the worship of one God.
Due to continue right up until February 2016, it has already started its great accompanying programme of talks, workshops, film screenings and other special events. For more information and to book: http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/faith_after_the_pharao...
This month also sees the end of the 'Nour Festival of Arts' 2015 with the planned finale on Sunday 8 November that will show the Moroccan-born French singer Hindi Zahra at the Royal Albert Hall. Drawing on her musical influences from Berber music, soul, jazz and world music, Zahra's vocals have been compared with the likes of Portishead, Manu Chao, Billie Holiday and Patti Smith. There are still tickets left at: http://www.royalalberthall.com/tickets/events/2015/nour-festival-hindi-z...
Also coming up is the annual London-based EFG Jazz Festival from 13-22 November, which brings over 2,000 international artists and altogether 300 gigs to take place across 50 venues. Skimming through the programme, it features some MENA artists, including: Basel Rajoub’s Soriana (14 November at Rich Mix), Ibrahim Maalouf (17 November at the Barbican), Yazz Ahmed, (18 November at Ray’s Jazz), Bachar Mar Khalife (19 November at Rich Mix) and Reem Kelani (20 November at Rich MIx). So if you are a jazz lover, check out the fantastic schedule and book early to avoid disappointment: http://www.efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk.
Other than these highlights there is, of course, always more for Arab-London and you can find the whole listings of events on 'My Curious Inbox' page: www.nahlaink.com/curious-inbox.
Last but not least, do have a read of my latest book review article on 'Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution' written by the Egyptian Mona Eltahawy. The article link: http://www.nahlaink.com/reviews/headscarves-and-hymens-mona-eltahawy.
Best wishes to all!
London, November 2015