Montreal’s Arab World Festival

Posted on October 21st, 2009 by .

The golden age of globalization has brought us many great things, especially in arts and culture. The four corners of the world are now clearly represented in our cities, and locals are interested in understanding and learning about other cultures. However, in North America, access to Arabic culture remains limited, since geographically we are so far away, and unlike Europe, we don’t share as many historical roots.

Read the full story to find out why you shouldn’t miss the Festival’s 10th anniversary.

That’s why I always get excited about Montreal’s ARAB WORLD FESTIVAL , which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, from October 29 to November 16. It’s one of the few occasions we have in North America to see musical and dance performances from all over the Arab World, from Lebanon to Morocco, Iraq to Egypt.

Even if I don’t know very much about many of the famous musicians, bands and singers from the Fertile Crescent, I like to take a chance and see a wide variety of shows so I can learn more about them. Algerian singer Cheikha Khalida will be performing contemplative melodies at Kaza Maza, a new café on Parc Avenue, while Nassima Chanabe and Amazigh Kateb (from the band Gnawa Diffusion) will be presenting their musical journey, a sun-filled adventure in the streets of Algiers, influenced by Algerian and Spanish music.

Hailing from Morocco, Abdelhadi Belkhayat is one of the country’s most important singers, and is an important figure from the glorious era of North African music in the 1970s. Naseer Shamma, Carlos Pinana and Ashraf Sharif Khan offer a musical exchange between the different cultures of Spain, Iraq and Pakistan, while Furat Qaddouri revisits the qanoun, a rare string instrument that resembles the zither. There are also plenty of free concerts happening all around the city, including an Arabic jazz concert with Assi and Mansour Rahbani from Beirut at the Maison de la culture Frontenac on November 11. Finally, after much critical acclaim in France, Great Britain, Poland, Armenia, Jordan and Egypt, the Fayha Choir, lead by Barkev Taslakian, will be the closing act at Montreal’s Arab World Festival on November 15.

You might have seen the movie The Secret of the Grain, by Abdellatif Kechiche, a French-Arabic production featuring a family of Tunisian immigrants making couscous. What I loved about this movie is not only that it showed so many different aspects of Arabic culture, but also because it gave me insight into the joys, pains and difficulties of everyday people in their daily lives. Montreal’s Arab World Festival, just like The Secret of the Grain, is all about that: showing us that despite cultural differences, there are still some basic, universal emotions we all share.

Arab World Festival, Montreal, arabic culture, diversity, Cheikha Khalida, Nassima Chanabe, Amazigh Kateb, Gnawa Diffusion, Abdelhadi Belkhayat, Naseer Shamma, Carlos Pinana, Ashraf Sharif Khan, Furat Qaddouri, Assi and Mansour Rahbani, Fayha Choir, Barkev Taslakian, Abdellatif Kechiche

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