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Tea with Culture

Podcast featuring discussions and interviews about the cultural happenings in the United Arab Emirates presented by Hind Mezaina (The Culturist) and Wael Hattar.


Permanent Temporariness: Film Screenings and Curator-led Tour at NYUAD Art Gallery

Permanent Temporariness: Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti at NYUAD Art Gallery. Photo by Aitzaz Ansar (via the 

I've been invited to present a series of short films at NYUAD Art Gallery, part of its latest exhibition Permanent Temporariness: Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti, curated by Salwa Mikdadi and Bana Kattan

The screenings will take place on Wednesday, 23rd May at (pm in the Screening Room at the NYUAD Arts Center, followed by a curator-led tour of the exhibition. Since it's also Ramadan, Suhoor will be served at the gallery. The screenings and the tour are free to attend, but please register here.

Here's the list of films that will be screened on the night. I am particularly excited for Introduction to the End of an Argument by Jayce Solloum and Elia Suleiman from 1990. 


Dir: Fabio Palmieri | 2015 | Documentary | 9min 

Against a tellingly hypnotic factory backdrop, a refugee encapsulates the global immigration crisis in his own wrenching words. Each year, thousands of people try to enter other countries. They flee from war, persecution and poverty. 



Measures of Uncertainty
Dir: Jawad Al Malhi | Documentary | 4:28min | No dialogue 

Measures of Uncertainty was shot in Shufhat Refugee Camp, in occupied East Jerusalem. The camp has a population of over 100,000 people and is situated less than 5km from the walls of the old city of Jerusalem. Filmmaker Al Malhi has himself grown up in the camp and has continually tasked himself with creating representations of the everyday life of his community through photography, video, painting and sculpture.


District of the Post Office
Dir: Rosalind Nashashibi | 2002 | 7min

One slow, hot afternoon, a neighbourhood built to be a utopian suburb for employees of the Palestinian Post Office now becomes a lawless no-man’s-land between occupied East Jerusalem and Ramallah.


Introduction to the End of an Argument
Dir: Jayce Solloum and Elia Suleiman | 1990 | 45min 

With a combination of film, documentary, news coverage and excerpts of "live" footage shot in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Introduction to the End of an Argument explores representations of the Middle East, Arab culture and the Palestinian people by the West. 



Date: Wednesday, 23rf May 2018 at 9pm
Venue: Film screenings: NYUAD Arts Center, Screening Room C3-B101 and curator led tour at the NYUAD Art Gallery (location map)


Sharjah Art Foundation 


Listen to this interview recorded for Tea with Culture podcast with Nawar Al Qasimi, the Development Manager at Sharjah Art Foundation. She talks about the history and role of the foundation, how it is funded and its different initiatives over the years.

Located in Sharjah’s historic Art and Heritage Areas, Sharjah Art Foundation's activities and events take place throughout the year and include exhibitions featuring Arab and international artists, performances, music, film screenings and artist talks, plus art education programmes for children, adults and families. The Foundation hosts the annual March Meeting and every two years presents the Sharjah Biennial.




I have featured many exhibitions at Sharjah Art Foundation on this blog, and this interview gives you an insight into how the foundatio works and what it aims to achieve.

If you live in the UAE and still not familiar with it, please make time to visit. They always have museum quality exhibitions, film screenings, workshops and more. All of them are free to enter/attend amd it's one of the most welcoming art spaces in the UAE. You can see the latest exhibitions and events listed here

Here's a taste of the current exhibitions:

Mona Saudi: Poetry and Form
7 March - 7 June 2018 


Mohamed Ibrahim: Elements
16 March - 16 June 2018


Anna Boghiguian
16 March - 16 June 2018 

Latif Al Ani: Through the Lens 1953-1979
16 March - 16 June 2018 


Zineb Sedira: Air Affairs and Maritime NonSense
16 March - 16 June 2018 


Active Forms: Works from the Sharjah Art Foundation Collection  
16 March - 16 June 2018 

John Akomfrah - Vertigo Sea (2015) 


Sharjah Museums Authority



Listen to this interview recorded for Tea with Culture podcast about the Sharjah Museums Authority. It's with Manal Ataya the Director General of Sharjah Museums Authority and Alya Al Mulla the Curator for Sharjah Art Museum.

They discuss with Wael Hatta the cultural growth and development of Sharjah Museums Authority, with a special focus on Sharjah Art Museum's history and its growth over the years, including a discussion about the museum collection and its latest long term loan of the collection from the Barjeel Art foundation

It's also Museum Week around the world (23-29 April 2018), so if you've not been to any of the 16 museums, now is the perfect time to visit.




Film screening with live music - Berlin: Symphony of a Great City


Re|sound is a new biannual event for musical experimentation in dialogue with cinema launched by Sharjah Art Foundation

For its first edition, the 1927 film Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (dir. Walter Ruttman) will be screened alongside electronic experimental artists Astral LXXXII, João Menezes and Karim Sultan, on Saturday, 28th April at 8.30pm.

All three artists are based in the UAE, and it's good to see an initiative like this engaging with local musicians/artists (compared to many who fly in acts for something like this). I hope we get to see more of this. 

The event is free to attend and will take place at the outdoor Mirage City Cinema in Al Mureijah Square in Sharjah



Event details:
Date: Saturday, 28th April 2018 at 8.30pm
Venue: Mirage City Cinema, Al Mureijah Square, Sharjah (location map)
Free entry  


Astoria Hotel and Pancho Villa's in Dubai

From Gulf News Archives, featured in Friday Magazine


The 22nd April edition of Gulf News' weekly Friday Magazine featured an article titled How Dubai’s Pancho Villa’s has changed over the years about a venue that was a very popular in Dubai in the 1980-90s. 

The article includes an interview with Russell Johnson, who used to be the restaurant and nighclub manager at Pancho Villa's. It's a classic article about old school Dubai and one for the nostalgists of this city.

My favourite line from this article captures what Dubai was like then, a small town where everyone went to the same venues (well, almost everyone):

‘You see, back then Dubai was very small. You started out in G&D (George and Dragon) in the Ambassador’s, then you came over to Pancho’s for a meal and a dance and then ended up at The Lodge in Al Nasr Leisureland, the only club that served breakfast at six in the morning. 


I also love this part, 

In his 42 years at Astoria, and Pancho’s, Russel has hobnobbed with some of the best. ‘I have no regrets. I have spent the most wonderful moments with American rock singer and songwriter Suzie Quatro, British musician Leo Sayer, Greek performer of Forever and Ever fame Demis Roussos, Mohammad Ali, and Indian and Sri Lankan cricketers.    

Read the complete article here


Prince's original recording of Nothing Compares 2 U

Prince's estate has released his original 1984 recording of Nothing Compares 2 U, ahead of the second anniversary of his death. 

Prince's recording is more ornate than Sinead O'Connor's stripped-down version, and features a heavy guitar riff and a saxophone solo by frequent collaborator Eric Leeds.

But the backing vocals, recorded by the star's on-off girlfriend Susannah Melvoin, are a revelation, providing a harmonic counterpoint to the desolate lyrics. 

via BBC  


The video features previously unseen rehearsal footage of Prince & The Revolution from the summer of 1984. It is incredibly sad to watch and listen to. Gone to soon, but will never be forgotten.





Scrabble Stories 

I'm a huge Scrabble fan, although I've not played the game for a long time. Here's a video featuring professional Scrabble players and champions sharing their favorite, most improbable, worst, most patient, most regretful, and most humbling plays and moves of all time.

"Scrabble is kind of a microcosm for life, in some ways. The game is so deep I could never finish learning about it." is my favourite line from this clip.


Love and Revenge at Louvre Abu Dhabi on 2 and 3 May 2018


Love and Revenge / Gharam Wa Intiqam is a live music and video show by Randa Mirza (La mirza) and Wael Kodeih (Rayess Bek) that revisits music and cinema archive from the Arab world, featuring singers and film stars from Arab pop songs and Egyptian films. 

The show is coming to Louvre Abu Dhabi, for two nights on Wednesday, 2nd and Thursday, 3rd May. The performance will take place at the Auditorium Plaza at 8pm on both days. The price of the ticket ranges between AED 114 and AED 142 which can be bought online or at the museum.  

Lebanese hip-hopper Rayess Bek and visual artist La Mirza offer their own electro-modern take on the golden age of Egyptian cinema and eternal hits of Middle Eastern popular music.

Bek mixes popular Arabic songs, while Mirza puts into movement extracts from movies. For these two Lebanese who grew up in France, their performance is a cross-border dialogue of two cultures.  


Via Sohpiatown at Louvre Abu Dhabi on 19 and 20 April 2018

Via Katlehong Dance will perform Via Sophiatown at Louvre Abu Dhabi on 19th and 20th April. Founded in 1992, Via Katlehong Dance is not just a dance group, but a "community development organization".

Via, "Initially, the dancing was a way to divert young people from the violence and crime that wracked the townships during the struggle to end Apartheid. The choreographer, who grew up in Katlehong, says he joined the troupe himself in 1996, when he was about 15 years old."  Do read the complete article, as it gives you an insight into this group. 

The performance at Louvre Abu Dhabi will take place at the Auditorium Plaza at 8pm on Thursday/Friday 19th and 20th April. The price of the ticket ranges between AED 114 and AED 142 which can be bought online or at the museum. 

Via Sophiatown combines pantsula dancing, a sort of non-acrobatic but demanding hip-hop, tap-dancing, stepping and gumboot dancing. By calling out, whistling, stamping feet and clapping, the audience participates in this celebration full of dynamism and passion for life.

With beat of internationally renowned South African music, like Dorothy Masuka or Miriam Makeba, the show will feature couples dancing the tsaba-tsaba or kofifi, the ancestor of the pantsula. Accompanied by three jazz musicians, they will relive these highlights of African culture, the 'happy Africa' era.


Insula - Concert in Dubai and Abu Dhabi


The French band Insula will be performing their blend of Afro-Caribbean jazz and Algerian music in Dubai on Saturday, 14th April at Alliance Francaise at 3pm and in Abu Dhabi on Monday, 16th April at the Abu Dhabi Theatre close to Marina Mall at7.30pm

INSULA is a French group of three musicians who play Caribbean jazz with Arabic-Andalusian rhythms. They compose music with original sounds mixing the Arabian Lute and the piano, combining traditional and modern music. “Insula” also has a great deal of African influence so Arabic and Algerian sounds feature prominently in their compositions.

This French band is formed by musicians, with Maher Beauroy (Piano-Martinique), Redha Benabdallah (Oud-Algeria) and Adriano Tenorio (Percussions-Brazil) in tribute to the writer Frantz Fanon, prominent figure in Martinique and in Algeria. 

Inspired by the Arab-Andalusian music and the modern Caribbean jazz, the group offers a bold music, rich in sensitivity and color, building a bridge between tradition and modernity in the footsteps of the great thinker and militant anti-colonialist Frantz Fanon.




Tickets for Dubai: 
Tickets for Abu Dhabi: