Arabic films this month

Lots of opportunities to see Arabic cinema in the UK in September.

Screening at Encounters Short Film Festival

Date: Sunday 21st September, 2014 
Time: 3:00 pm
Venue: Watershed, Bristol

Our Souls Are Palestinian is a programme of short artists film works which look at Palestine from various perspectives, external, embedded and provocative. The two films which anchor this programme are ‘They Do Not Exist’ by Mustafa Abu Ali  (1974) and ‘Future Archaeology’ (2009/10) by Armin Linke & Francesco Mattuzzi (part of the project Decolonizing Architecture).

More info on Bristol Palestine film festival website

Safar Film Festival

Date: Friday 19 September and Thursday 25 September 2014; vintage film exhibition from Tuesday 2 September until Sunday 5 October 2014.
Venue: ICA, London

The only festival in the UK solely focused on programming popular Arab cinema, Safar includes UK premieres alongside classics of the Arab silver screen. These will be accompanied by Q&As, special introductions and a day-long forum which will bring together some of the most significant figures in Arab cinema. Safar has expanded its scope this year to include an exhibition of vintage Arab movie posters, memorabilia and contemporary art inspired by film, all shown in the UK for the first time.

View the full programme here

And coming up in Nov and Dec…

Bristol Palestine Film Festival, 2014

Date: Friday 28th November – Tuesday 16th December, 2014

The dates, programme and details of Bristol Palestine Film Festival will be announced by the end of September. We anticipate the event running from 28 Nov – 16 December, with the two main weekends being 28-30 Nov and 5-7 Dec. Follow us on FaceBook or sign up toour newsletter to stay up to date.

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Learn Arabic on Twitter

twitter arabicGreat twitter accounts to follow if you’re learning Arabic. In no particular order…


Good News from the Middle East |

أخبار سارّة من الشرق الأوسط


Rotating account with tweets by a different Arabic learner/teacher each week. Run by the people behind the website

@4ArabChildren المفكرون الصغار / Little Thinking Minds

Producers of high quality Arabic educational audio-visual products from DVDs, CDs to Apps for children to inspire a love for the language


Arabic Language Training For Professional and Apsiring Linguists. Excellent resources focussing on news and current affairs vocabulary by using current media articles.


Tweeting about creativity from the arabic speaking world. Visit the blog for more info. Created by designer & arabic language learner Susan Carey.


A continually updated list of free Arabic learning resources for adults and children. Twitter feed by a provider of Arabic classes in Southampton, UK.

twitter arabic 2@arabiclanguage

Official Twitter account for the Transparent Language Arabic blog. Learn the language with free resources, social media, and research-based software.


EU-funded online course of Arabic for students, pupils and businesspeople.


They say: “The best place to learn Arabic in a way you can use it in everyday conversation, writing and reading.”


The Story of an Expat who learns/shares Arabic via tweets | Blog: |


arabic twitter 3

Don’t forget you can change the language on twitter to Arabic on the account settings menu, so that you can read Arabic every time you log on. Don’t forget how you did it in case you need to change it back again!

Which other twitter accounts would you recommend for Arabic learners? Let me know!

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Thanks to all our followers

A huge thank you to everyone who’s followed the blog and contacted me about it over the past year… And a huge apology for letting it languish all this time!

imageIt’s been a busy time as I’ve been off on maternity leave with my second son, baby Max, who has of course had a thorough introduction to the sight and sounds of Arabic with baby board books and classic Levantine nursery rhymes.


imageI’ve been back at translation work over the summer as my husband took some paternity leave to help out as I started translating my first Arabic novel commission: The Amman Bride by Jordanian author, blogger and civil rights activist Fadi Zaghmout (and the most-followed Jordanian on Twitter!). It’s a fascinating, controversial and very moving story of 5 young Ammanis, whose lives and fates, and love lives, intersect in surprising ways. It was a bestseller in Jordan and I hope you’ll enjoy reading it when it’s out in English in 2015.

Before I started work on that, I squeezed a couple of other Arabic projects into my ‘keeping in touch’ days:


Children’s songs from around the world in nine languages!

I had my first ever experience in a recording studio with my Babel Babies colleagues, recording our first multilingual CD of children’s songs from around the world. Get a copy to hear our rendition of Incy Wincy Spider in Arabic!










wpid-birka-228x228.gifI edited a fantastic new Arabic textbook for complete beginners: Al Birka introduction to Arabic letters and sounds, from the brilliant Spanish publisher Albujayra. They produce really beautiful, colourful and engaging Arabic textbooks so I hope this will be just the first of many to make the transition into English.

So all this is just by way of an apology for my silence for so long! I resume teaching again in September, at school and some private tutoring, so I hope to get back into the swing of posting Arabic learning resources on a more regular basis.

Thanks as always for reading,


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Nour Festival of Arts, London, Oct – Nov 2013

There’s a great line-up of Arab and Middle Eastern cultural events at the Nour Festival this year, including some fascinating talks, exhibitions, gigs, dance performances, films and workshops. Plus, for the foodies: cuisine from Iraq and Qatar, and a chance to sample the cooking of Sami Tamimi, co-author of the Jerusalem cookbook with Yotam Ottolenghi.  See the Nour Festival website and links below for more details.




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And Other Stories Arabic reading group: London, New York and Cairo

And other stories logo

UK independent publisher And Other Stories is hosting an Arabic reading group this autumn/winter, focussing on three Syrian novels recommended on the European Society of Authors’ Finnegan’s List, a list of under-translated, under-recognized works. And Other Stories has translated and published several books on the back of recommendations from previous reading groups, so perhaps one of these will make the pick? The books we’ll be discussing are:

The Epidemic by Hani al-Rahib

The Shell by Mustafa Khalifa

Ascension to Death by Mamdouh Azzam

Excerpts in English are available on the And Other Stories website along with information about obtaining Arabic copies of the book.

Once you’ve read the excerpts and/or the books, please share your comments online on the website, or come to our reading group meet-up in London: Monday October 7th at 7pm at the Royal Festival Hall /Southbank, where we’ll be discussing The Epidemic.

Please email if you would like to get involved or receive further information about the above books.

More about the reading group (virtual and in person):

* AOS reading group website for more details and to download samples of the 3 texts in English

* ArabLit blog: Crowdsourcing Discussions of Books to Translate: Get Involved in NYC, Cairo, Online

* Cairo Book Club blog: post about The Epidemic

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Outdoor Middle Eastern film screenings, London, 20 – 22 August

ICA Off-site: Cinema on the Steps

20 – 22 August 2013

The Institute of Contemporary Arts London is organising three evenings of Middle Eastern film screenings 20 – 22 August. The full programme  includes a range of both short and feature length films. The screenings are all free and will take place on the Duke of York Steps adjacent to the ICA.

Doors open 7.30pm and screening start times vary according to programme length, see website for details:

Thanks to Naomi for flagging this up!

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Nuqta – Arabic typography and calligraphy online

Sorry – no posts for weeks and then two in one day! Will try to get back into a more consistent routine… As I’ve said before, please do get in touch if you’d like to blog with me on this site or have resources you’d like me to shout about!

Just come across this lovely site through twitter: Nuqta,

nuqta - typography

The world’s first user-generated mobile museum of Arabic typography and calligraphy.

Created by You, for You. Available on the iTunes app store.

It’s supported by the Khatt Foundation for Arabic typography, which I’d never heard of before but which also sounds wonderful, and Design Days Dubai.

If this is your cup of tea, you might also be interested in these books:

* Arabesque – Graphic Design from the Arab World and Persia – Ben Wittner (Editor), Sascha Thoma (Editor), Nicolas Bourquin (Editor), Huda Smitshuijzen Abifares (Foreword)

* Arabic Typography by Huda Smitshuijzen Abifares

* Arabic for Designers by Mourad Boutros

And over on the Inspiration blog is a lovely post with 24 beautiful examples of modern Arabic typography

Posted in Art, Book reviews, Useful websites | Tagged , | 2 Comments