Shubbak is the Arabic word for ‘window’ and the second edition of this city-wide festival aims to present a broad view of modern Middle Eastern arts and culture.
The programme takes in international music, film-making, theatre and visual art over the next month, along with a clutch of multigenerational festival days across the capital. It launches tomorrow with the convivial free family party, Hafla On The Square, in Hammersmith, west London, while a Lebanese-themed special takes place at Paddington Green Gardens on June 30.
Shubbak’s evening bills are dominated by a promising array of live music. There’s a strong double-bill of Algerian talent at the Barbican tomorrow: wiry and grizzled punk rocker Rachid Taha, whose latest album, Zoom, was released in March (his Arabic-language cover of The Clash’s Rock The Casbah is always a trusty, fiery favourite), and singer/songwriter Souad Massi, whose brooding, soulful melodies are backed with acoustic guitar and oud.
On June 26, Peter Wiegold’s orchestral ensemble, Notes Inégales, collects new music from pan-Arab composers including Mohammed Sidiq and Mounir Anastas in the newly restored setting of Mayfair’s Egyptian Cultural Centre. Cairo-based collective NubaNour specialise in percussion-driven Nubian folk sounds at Rich Mix (June 28).
And there is the world fusion of Melange Collective in the beautiful City setting of St Ethelburga’s Centre (June 29).
Shubbak’s closing night, on July 6, includes Borderless Beats, a celebration of new Palestinian hip hop, roots and digital rhythms at The Flyover in west London. The festival’s scope is ambitious and, at times, scattershot but it does resound with expressions from varied regions and a thriving, vibrant diaspora.