Bibliotheca Alexandrina: Summer culture bonanza

Ameera Fouad , Tuesday 22 Aug 2023

Al-Ahram Weekly reports on the Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s 20th International Summer Festival.

Summer culture bonanza
Summer culture bonanza


If you hurry you may still catch some of the events at Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s International Summer Festival. The festival, which began on 3 August and ends on 1 September, offers a line-up of local and international musical concerts, stand up comedies, art workshops, and theatrical performances.

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a major library and cultural centre on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in Alexandria.

“This year we are keen to include various types of arts and music shows to cater to all our audiences,” Rageh Dawoud, head of the Art Centre in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, said. Dawoud is an Egyptian composer of contemporary classical music, composing several award-winning soundtracks for various films and TV Series.

The festival features a score of international and local musical bands such as Massar Egbari, Strawberry Swings and 404 Band, Akher Zapheer, and Jadal, in addition to a number of local and international musicians.

“In addition to our Egyptian artists, we have international bands and musicians coming from Italy, Morocco, Germany, and Portugal which enhances the cultural atmosphere in the country and gives space to artistic cross-cultural communication in the art industry,” Dawoud told Al-Ahram Weekly.

The progamme also features big names in the music industry in Egypt who have thousands of avid fans. It includes performances by the musician Omar Khairat, Hisham Khurma, Ali Al-Haggar, Hani Shenouda, Hisham Abbas, Abu, Hani Adel, and Dina Al-Wedidi. In addition, “we are happy also to make room for rising young stars and musicians who will perform in the festival,” Dawoud added.

Alongside the musical aspect, the festival has announced a number of writing and artistic workshops in various fields such as filmmaking, songwriting, musical composition and harmony, theatrical acting, and cinematic production. “These workshops are conducted by well-known professional artists, each in their own field. Anyone can register and attend the workshops,” Dawoud added.

What’s special this year is the rise of stand-up comedians in Egypt. That’s why the festival organisers introduced this emerging populist entertainment to its wide audience. “This is why stand-up comedians have a strong presence this year in the festival,” Dawoud added, referring to artists such as Helmi Man who is presenting the Elite X Alexandria and Alaa Al-Sheikh, both having their live performances in the art conference halls in Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

In addition, the festival offers several theatrical performances such as Us vs Shakespeare by Ahmed Askar and Ana Carmen (I am Carmen), written and directed by Sama Ibrahim which won first prize in the International Women Monodrama Festival in Algeria.

“Youth are at the heart of the festival and so is everyone. That’s why I feel that by presenting their own music, whether it is underground, electronic, traditional or folk music, each generation has its own unique voice to express their feelings and emotions. We must respect this and allow them to express it freely, as the past generations did with us,” Dawoud said.

From contemporary to folklore, the festival provides various shows of folklore art. These include the Sohbet Semesemiya (semsemiya troupe) that derives its dances from Port Said folklore and cultural heritage. Another is the Egyptian mawlawiyah, derived from the Egyptian heritage culture of Sufism.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 24 August, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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