Nour Contemporary Middle Eastern North African Arts Festival Announced

This year Nour returns in autumn with a hugely expanded line-up of artists and partners including some of the UK’s best known cultural institutions. 1 October to 1 December 2012, Kensington and Chelsea celebrates the very best in contemporary arts and culture from across the Middle East and North Africa [MENA] region.

Nour 2102 is a borough-wide festival delivered in partnership with a stellar cast of cultural organisations including Leighton House Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Mosaic Rooms, the Ismaili Centre, Science Museum, The Tabernacle, the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre and many others. Contemporary photography from and about the Middle East, new Syrian art, electro trip hop explorations of identity and gay culture – all this and much more besides feature in Nour 2012.The Festival challenges perceptions of life in the Middle East and North Africa

New festival partners include the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Science Museum, the Ismaili Centre, the Mosaic Rooms, the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre and The Tabernacle. A significant new feature of Nour 2012 is the organisers’ call to cultural organisations, big and small, across Kensington and Chelsea to get involved with events that:

The V&A opens ‘Light from the Middle East’ an exhibition of photography that reflects elements of the region’s social, cultural and political life from the end of the 19th century to the present day.

Created by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Nour – which means ‘light’ or ‘illumination’ in various Middle Eastern languages – has now expanded beyond its original venue of Leighton House, a remarkable symbol of east meeting west, to embrace the entire borough.

This year’s festival takes place in globally renowned cultural centres across the borough, including the Victoria and Albert Museum,Science Museum the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, the Ciné Lumière, The Tabernacle, and the Mosaic Rooms.  The programme embraces film, exhibitions, talks and debates, literature, music, politics, visual arts, fashion and cuisine.

Major artists involved include the British Palestinian author Selma Dabbagh, the Iraqi music artist Attab Haddad, and the Arab musician and broadcaster Reem Kelani in a thought-provoking programme that tackles taboos, provides a platform for emerging voices, and showcases international talent.

Highlights of the 2012 programme include:

    • Light from the Middle East – a major exhibition of contemporary photography from and about the Middle East
    • An evening of song inspired by social protest set to electro and trip hop rhythms with Tunisian singer/songwriter Emel Mathlouthi
    • An exploration of the role of art and culture in Syria, a country scarred by violence, with prolific author and journalist Malu Halasa
    • Understanding the realities of life of the Middle East’s often forgotten LGBT communities who are forced to claim asylum based on their sexuality or gender identity, in a stunning photographic portrayal by the British photojournalist Bradley Secker
    • An evening with the acclaimed poet Al Saddiq Al-Raddi, whose work vividly reflects the complexity of his heritage as an African poet writing in Arabi
    • The British Palestinian author Selma Dabbagh is confirmed as the Nour 2012 Writer-in-Residence. Best known for her acclaimed novel Out of It, Selma will deliver a series of master workshops on writing and publishing at various festival venues
    • Enjoy an evening in concert with Reem Kelani, widely recognized as one of the finest female singers of her generation
    • Film screenings from up-and-coming Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) film-makers will be shown at Leighton House Museum in association with the London MENA Film Festival
Full festival brochure available for download at: /

Full festival listings available online from beginning of September at

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea launched the first Nour festival at Leighton House in 2010. Kensington and Chelsea has very close connections with the Middle East and North Africa: the borough is home to a hugely diverse range of MENA communities, and Arabic is its second language. In just two years, the Festival has grown exponentially and is now among the foremost of its kind in the UK.

Speaking of the growth and success of the festival, Councillor Nicholas Paget-Brown, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Transport, Environment, and Leisure Services said:

“Nour has rapidly developed into an internationally respected festival of contemporary culture from across the Middle East and North Africa.  It is part of our ongoing commitment to cultural excellence and we are very proud that the festival has expanded to include some of the best-known cultural institutions in the UK and provide an increased global platform for emerging voices and international talent.”

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