Arabs Are Not Funny

After a very successful sold-out 29 editions, Arabs Are Not Funny is coming to #Walthamstow – Waltham Forest!
The first ever London Borough of Culture! We’re looking forward to delivering a great show with very interesting line-up of comedians, representing the Arab world and surrounding regions, looking for an opportunity to showcase their talents and Comedians with roots in the Arab world attempt to prove the naysayers wrong!
This show is widely regarded as one of the hottest comedy nights among the Arab community and beyond.
Comedians hand-picked from London coming together If you like controversial, modern chat, these comedians will bring it in spades.

بعد إصدار 29 إصدارًا ناجحًا للغاية ، أصبح موقع “العرب ليس مضحكة” يصل إلى والتهامستو – والتهام فوريست!

أول لندن على الإطلاق للثقافة! نحن نتطلع إلى تقديم عرض رائع مع مجموعة مثيرة للاهتمام للغاية من الكوميديين الذين يمثلون العالم العربي والمناطق المحيطة به ، ونتطلع إلى فرصة لعرض مواهبهم ومحاولات الكوميديين ذات الجذور في العالم العربي لإثبات خطأ الرافضين!
يعتبر هذا العرض على نطاق واسع واحدة من أهم الليالي الكوميدية بين المجتمع العربي وما وراءه.
الكوميديون الذين يتم اختيارهم يدويًا من لندن يجتمعون معًا إذا كنت تحب الدردشة الحديثة المثيرة للجدل ، فإن هؤلاء الممثلين الكوميديين سوف يجلبونها إلى مكان رائع.

جميع أعمال اللغة الإنجليزية.

– Sezar Alkassab
Scottish comedian, born to iraqi parents Stand-up comedian Sezar Alkassab brings his storytelling comedy style to the stage with silly stories, informed observations, and provocative punchlines.
“Absolutely brilliant! Such a friendly guy, and the show was hilarious!” – The Vaults UK “A talented and exciting comedian to watch” – Festival Angaelica, USA Sezar Alkassab won various awards and honours in 2017 for ‘Paint Dry’, a feature-length film which he wrote, directed, starred in and produced, including Best First-time Filmmaker at the 2017 Nevada International Film Festival. He was a 2015 semi-finalist in the new-act competition So You Think You’re Funny and has appeared on BBC Radio 4 as part of The BBC Radio New Comedy Award (now renamed Radio 4 Comedy Award

– Isabelle Farah

A British-Lebanese actress, comedian and admin monkey, unsure whether she is more at home in both the Lebanese Mountains or the mountains of Muswell Hill. Isabelle has a long history of trying hard but failing miserably at being a serious person, which is why she fell into comedy.

– Maria Shehata

A award-winning Egyptian-American comedian who has lived in New York, LA, and now London where she is quickly making a name for herself at some of the top comedy clubs in the country.

She has a conversational delivery and no-nonsense candor and a style that is sardonic yet playful, which she uses to charm audiences all over the US, UK, and Europe. Maria’s stand up has been featured on Comedy Central’s “The Watch List,” Showtime’s “Bridging the Gap,” and Nuvo TV’s “Stand Up and Deliver.”

She was featured in the series “The Cradle of Comedy,” and appeared in the film “100 Jokes.” She has trained in improv and sketch with UCB and Second City. Maria is winner of Best Comedian at the Hollywood Festival of New Cinema, and Best Comedy at the Miami Web Fest where she was nominated for Best Actress.– Leila LadhariHalf Swiss, half Austrian, half Tunisian and half arsed when it comes to adding up fractions. With a face like butter wouldn’t melt, but a mouth that’s far from halal, she spends half her time doing stand up comedy, half her time acting and the other half working on new ways to bring shame on her family. “


El Far3i, Al Raseef & Z The People

Arts Canteen & Superculture present:

El Far3i, Al Raseef & Z The People 

Tuesday 21 August at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, 8pm.
Don’t miss this live music line-up featuring fantastic acts across Balkan, Soul, Arabic Folk, Acoustic Rap, Hip-Hop and more! 
El Far3i

El Far3i-الفرعي’s music can be described as a mixture of Hip Hop, Arabic Folk and Acoustic Rap and Arabic poetry. He believes in the power of his music and exploring and adapting the lyrics to fit the current social and political conditions.

Al Raseef ع الرصيف

A dynamic street band that plays a fusion between Arabic and Balkan music.

Al Raseef is a band and a musical idea that started in Ramallah, Palestine in 2011, that plays Arabic and Balkan music in vibrant and varied grooves, with a contemporary and new fresh arrangements. The sound is characterized by the versatile colors of wind instruments; brass and woodwinds, accompanied by a guitar and the drums; which sails you on a musical journey around the Mediterranean and its diverse cultures.

Z the People 

Z the People زين الناس is a singer, producer, and keys player from the Palestinian diaspora.

Born in the Washington D.C. USA and a product of many Soul and RnB influences, Z has carved a reputation for his style of mixing of Soul and Arabic music. His songwriting reflects the struggle of two worlds colliding, and the search for home in a scattered universe.

Get Tickets!

Olcay Bayır – Live in London!

Arts Canteen & Kazum present Olcay Bayır.
Friday 29 June at Rich Mix Main Space 8pm.

“Music is the greatest passion for which I have always had the biggest place in my soul. It is my true happiness. As I have been going through my life, I have nourished my emotions with various styles of music, regardless of national borders. I have been inspired, amazed by each of them.Now ,itis time for me to sing..”  – Olcay Bayır 

Olcay Bayırwasrecipient of a 2017 Women Make Music award from the PRS Foundation, Olcay Bayır is a boundary-crossing singer-songwriter with a gorgeous voice and a band offirst class musicians serving up dynamic and powerful songs with roots in Anatolia mixed with the cosmopolitan London vibe. 

This concert will showcase Olcay’s original contemporary song from her forthcoming second album, arranged and produced by Al MacSween and Giuliano Modarelli from award-winning band Kefaya *(winner Best Newcomer *Songlines Music Awards 2017) who also lead this evening’s band. 

Olcay (pronounced Ol-djai) was nominated as Best Newcomer in the Songlines Music Awards 2015 for her debut album, and was described by The Guardian as “an impressive newcomer to London’s vibrant global music scene.”

What people are saying : 

“Opera’s loss is certainly our gain” WOMAD

“An authenticity and emotional intensity that moves one to the core.” Al Arte Magazine

“A woman whose voice is extraordinary in range and emotional power”Shepherd Express Milwaukee

Get Tickets!

Perpetual Movement

This private view of the “Perpetual Movement” exhibition event is free and open to all but registration is essential to attend.

The ultimate aim is to increase understanding around Arab women’s diverse realities and concerns, shed light on the art works made by 7 Arab women artists, while providing an alternative, more nuanced narrative surrounding the Arab region and its peoples. 

The exhibition will be running from the 1st- 25th March 2018.


هذا العرض الخاص لمعرض “الحركة الدائمة” مجاني ومفتوح للجميع ولكن التسجيل ضروري للحضور.

والهدف النهائي هو زيادة الفهم حول الحقائق والمخاوف المتنوعة للمرأة العربية، وتسليط الضوء على الأعمال الفنية التي قامت بها 7 فنانات عربيات، مع توفير سرد بديل أكثر دقة حول المنطقة العربية وشعوبها.

سيتم تشغيل المعرض من 1 – 25 مارس 2018


Perpetual Movement considers the relationship between migration and memory in connection to the Arab world and its diaspora. How does your memory of a place change once you have left? What happens if you are ethnically associated with a location but have never even been there? Memories can be inherited, they can alter from generation to generation, becoming fragmented, creating gaps that need to be filled. They can also change with time. Some memories can be buried, while others can be idealised. 

The artists whose works comprise this exhibition have roots in Egypt, Kuwait, Syria, Yemen and the UAE, yet they are based in Europe and North America as well as in the Arab World. Some of them have been born into diaspora, others remain in the region, while others have left their homeland due to other circumstances. They all illustrate movement in their work in various ways, creating a rich, multilayered picture of young women from the region. 

People have been moving to, from and through the Arab region for hundreds, even thousands of years. They still do. With them memories also move, are created and are altered through time. Sometimes travel is required to discover one’s own heritage. At other times movement is vital to seek safety. In our technological and globalized world, many of us have the gift of travel, but some our hindered due to powers beyond our control.

Perpetual Movement addresses a multitude of reasons for and the impact of migration and investigates the fragmented memories that are created and passed on as a consequence of these actions. Movement can be both positive and negative, there are many reasons why it takes place, but it is always happening.

The exhibition comprises the work of 7 emerging women artists with roots in the Arab region: 

Line up : 

– Yumna Al-Arashi

(b. 1988, Washington D.C., USA) was born to a Yemeni father and Egyptian mother, and raised in the United States. She studied International Politics at The New School in New York City and her on-going photography work has received support from The US Department of State Office of Art in Embassies, International Women’s Media Foundation, The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, National Geographic Abu Dhabi, and VSCO. She was named an Up And Coming Female Journalist by Forbes Magazine in 2011. Yumna’s work confronts her own struggles of identity and placement in the social realm as both a woman and a Muslim. Her background in politics and journalism shines in her work, where she approaches humanitarian matters such as women’s rights and labor injustices

– Nada Elkalaawy

(b. 1995, Alexandria, Egypt) is a London-based Egyptian artist in the final year of an MA in Painting at the Slade School of Fine Art. Her practice attempts to record what is being forgotten and mark what should be erased from collective memory. By delving into an archive of family photographs and recordings that span three generations, Elkalaawy explores cultural and personal identity, diaspora, displacement, feminism, Islamophobia and the male gaze. Her work is autobiographical and exposes her own history, genealogy, and nationality, questioning what should be retained from her past and what should be lost. 
Though her practice revolves around her own background, it is not just a family portrait; but also an attempt to unfold her story as an artist living between two countries and cultures, narrowing down to what she wants to show about her homeland and to convey her two identities merging into one.

– Shaikha Fahad Al-Ketbi

(b. 1995, Abu Dhabi, UAE) is a visual artist whose main practice involves photography, drawing and installation art. 
Her art explores themes of self-awareness and blurs the line between fiction and reality.

– Thana Faroq

(b. 1990, Sana’a, Yemen) is a Yemeni documentary photographer. She pursued an M.A. in Documentary Photography and Photojournalism at university of Westminster in London. 
Thana has collaborated with various international organizations, such as Care, Oxfam, the British Council and UN women to tell the stories of women, children and internally displaced people in Yemen. Her work has featured in several prominent media outlets such as Vocative, CNN Arabia the Huffington Post, BBC, the World Press Photo and others.

– Araz Farra

(b. 1994, London, UK) was born in London to two Syrian-Armenian parents. She studied Fine Art at Middlesex University for three years where her adoration for video art and photography grew. Araz spent her childhood summer holidays in Aleppo, Syria. 
Coupled with living in a cosmopolitan city like London, Araz finds culture and identity to be the key element in her work. Growing up as part of the Armenian Diaspora Araz has felt compelled to share her people’s story through her art.

– Nadia Gohar 

(b. 1989, Cairo, Egypt) was born in Cairo, Egypt and received her BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art & Design in Boston, Massachusetts in 2012. 
She has exhibited internationally at The Table, Little Sister Gallery, The Power Plant, Artscape Youngplace, Project Gallery, Toronto, Canada; Sleep Center, New York; Samson Projects, Boston, USA; Liberia Cascianelli, Rome, Italy. Gohar currently lives & works in Toronto, Canada.

– Najd AlTaher

(b. 1993, Kuwait City, Kuwait) is a Kuwaiti visual artist who voices her personal point of view in regards to issues of social politics through conceptual photography, videography and installation art. 
She’s been exposed to the artistic field since a very young age. Continuous travel helped her learn the importance of craft and detail, and gain the tools to envision and collage different cultures in a modern way. 
She has won the Crossway Foundation award twice and toured Japan and the US alongside other artist. AlTaher aims to become a voice to the Arab youth.

Curator: Lizzy Vartanian Collier

A London-based writer and curator of mixed Lebanese-Armenian and British descent. 

She has an MA in Contemporary Art and Art Theory of Asia and Africa from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She runs the Gallery Girl blog Gallery Girl and is an assistant editor at I.B.Tauris publishers. 

Lizzy has written for publications both in the UK and the Middle East including Canvas, the Guardian, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, Ibraaz, Jdeed, ReOrient and Suitcase magazines.


Arab Women Artists Now (AWAN) Festival 2018

AWAN, which is about to enter its 4th edition, showcases the work of contemporary Arab women artists in the UK, Europe and beyond, providing opportunities for artists and audiences to celebrate, be informed and network whilst exposing new audiences to the work of these often marginalized artists, providing a platform to present the work of Arab Women Artists.

AWAN is produced by Arts Canteen and supported by Rich Mix London

Register Now


‘Sama’ – سماع Classical & Contemporary Arabic music

Arts Canteen presents Sama’.

Sama’ literally means ‘listening deeply, intently’.

Drawing from a long history of indigenous traditions and incorporating diverse influences of surrounding cultures, music in Palestine and among the millions of Palestinians in diaspora offers a unique window on cultural and political events of the past century.

From the perspective of scholars, performers, composers, and activists, Palestinian Music and Song examines the many ways in which music has been a force of representation, nation building, and social action.

Last year, qanoon virtuoso Ibrahim Atari enchanted Brighton audiences when he played in a concert with young musicians from the Gaza Music School, part of the Edward Said National Conservatoire of Music (ESNCM).

Ibrahim returns to UK in June to play at the Friends Meeting House with Sama’, the ensemble he leads. The other musicians in Sama’ are Heather Bursheh, flute and voice, Øystein Bru Frantzen, bass guitar and Wassim Qassis, buzuk and percussion. The musicians are all linked to the Edward Said National Conservatoire of Music (ESNCM), Palestine’s leading music school. They will play classical and contemporary Middle Eastern music.

As is the tradition in Palestine and in the wider Middle-East, the music takes us on a journey through instrumental dialogues and improvisations. Sama’s playful flute and Arabic percussion weave between the moody buzuk and the resonant qanoon, within the rhythm set by the bass guitar. With serenity and artistic integrity, Sama’s rich sound will evoke an array of sensual enchantments.

Line Up :

Ibrahim Atari – Qanoon
Wassim Qassis – Buzuk & Percussion
Heather Bursheh – Flute & Voice
Øystein Bru Frantzen – Bass Guitar

Special thanks to Brighton & Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign (BHPSC).


She is back! Oum with ZARABI

After the success of her first album Soul of Morocco, Oum is back with a new album and a new show entitled Zarabi which means “carpets” in Darija – the everyday language of Morocco. During the preparation of her new album, Oum met a group of women who weave carpets in M’hamid El Ghizlan (the same town which inspired her famous track Taragalte). These weavers have a very original way of making carpets using old clothes their clients bring to them.

Watching these women gathering the memories contained in the clothes from a family, a couple, a group of friends, or a single person brought together in a unique carpet, Oum immediately felt a strong link between their work and her way of writing and composing songs.

There is a clear parallel between the fact of assembling, weaving, and gathering in one creation many souvenirs and emotions, and the period of creation and recording of an album. The latter is finally the fruit of a patient research into the rich and fertile experiences of the artist.









All orders will be subject to a fee of £1.50 except if your tickets are free or if you are a member





Most of the songs are Oum’s original compositions, that she re-arranged herself. However there are four exceptions that confirm the freedom of expression and the boldness of this new project:

The themes are varied, but are all focused on a same idea: fragile freedom. Oum claims freedom in her life, in her relationship to music, to love or to the world… in the name of this idea of freedom, she develops a thematic dear to her heart: the expression of love and desire from a loving woman, as we can feel it on the song Jini.

Finally, Zarabi is a witness of the diversity of the cultural and musical identities of Oum, but is above all an intermeshing of emotions, souvenirs and thoughts, gathered in a same musical elixir, fragile and powerful, intense and harmonious.


A Moroccan of Saharan origin, Oum immediately impresses with her remarkable combination of power and sensitivity. With her sensual voice she explores the diversity of Moroccan music that she blends with soul and Gnawa and Hassani rhythms. Inspired by the music of her native country but also by the music of the whole African continent and by Jazz, she reveals a moving, sincere and engaged personality which develops a subtle musical world in which her Saharan origins echo.


‘This enchanting second album confirms the originality of her style and reveals Oum as the most exciting Moroccan songwriter of her time.’ Telerama

‘A river of acoustic songs written in Darija (…) weaving delicately Soul-Jazz and North African sounds, joys, dreams and melancholy.’ Le Monde

‘A transforming journey, dotted with poetic dreams and encounters’ FIP Radio (Fr)

‘With this new album Oum has established herself as an exceptional artist within the worldmusic scene’ Magazin Doppelpunkt


Contemporary Flamenco with Arab roots

This concert aims to highlight this connection and build on it with original compositions and renditions of melodies from Andalucia and the Middle East that shows the common thread that runs through these traditions.


Saturday 4 June 8pm – Rich Mix 
35-47 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6LA


Oud player 
Attab Haddad has had an interest in flamenco more or less since he started playing the oud. Flamenco’s forms, rhythms and melodies have influenced a large part of his work and he is still fascinated by the connections between flamenco and Middle Eastern music. 

To get a taster of the evening, check this video of Attab Haddad Quintet. 

Attab Haddad Quintet & guests

Attab Haddad: Oud
Ramon Ruiz: Flamenco Guitar
Philippe Barnes: Flute
Naomi Wright: Cello
Matt Ridley: Double Bass
Antonio Romero: Percussion
Anita La Maltesa: Dance

TICKETS: £14 (advance)


The Nile Project

At Arts Canteen we’re very proud to join the Barbican alongside Kazum in organising an exclusive show by The Nile Project: 


Sunday 19 June 6.30pm (doors) – Islington Assembly Hall 
Upper Street, N1 2UD

See below for discounted tickets 




The Nile Project brings together musicians from east and north Africa to celebrate the richly diverse cultures that have flourished for centuries along the Nile River.

Resonant lyres and seductive strings from up and down the river—from its sources beyond Lakes Victoria and Tana to its delta in Egypt—have learned new musical modes, while buzzing timbres and ingenious polyrhythms support vocals in more than ten languages. 

Using music to spark conversation, the Nile Project carries powerful messages about a delicate ecological and political ecosystem. Bringing together cultures and communities all affected by the impact of climate change and modern life on the river, the project is a tangible example of overcoming obstacles and division through artistic collaboration.

This performance features Nile Project Collective musicians from Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Tanzania.

‘A euphoric international coalition’ – New York Times

‘seductive and beautiful […] nothing short of revolutionary’- Banning Eyre, Afropop Worldwide

‘a model for cross-cultural dialogue and cooperation’ – Guardian

Produced by the Barbican in association with Kazum and Arts Canteen

Doors open 6.30pm 

For our newsletter subscribers we have 50 special discounted tickets for £15 only. This offer expires on Monday 30 May, so be quick!

Use code 190616 upon checkout to apply the discount. 



AWAN: Textural Threads

Arts Canteen are excited to announce the full elements and textures for the ‘Textural Threads’ exhibition. A great collective show bringing the work of five Arab female artists, it will form an important part of this year’s #ArabWomenArtistsNow #AWAN Festival 2016.

FREE EVENT – Please register in advance.

The ‘Textural Threads’ exhibition will run from Wednesday 2 March until Saturday 19th March, 2016.

Curated by Najlaa Elageli, Founder of Noon Arts

from 6.00 pm to 10.00 pm



Five Women Artists:


Meryem Meg:

From an Algerian-Bulgarian background, Meg is a multidisciplinary artist with an MA in Graphic Design, who is currently working as a Designer with Nike, London. Her work focuses on symbolism where she often finds herself exercising subconscious healing through the depiction of themes such as fertility, birth and cycles within nature. Meg’s passion for race, gender and identity surfaces within her work and she strives to empower women by creating visual affirmations through her art.


Dima Nashawi:

Nashawi is a Syrian artist who believes that art goes hand in hand with social activism and is a powerful means for peace building. Her life and work journeys have taken her from Damascus, to Amman, to Beirut, and now London, where she is studying Art and Cultural Management at King’s College. With a BA in Sociology, Nashawi also studied Fine Arts in Syria. Her work experience began as an art illustrator-animator for magazines and online children sites; but, later, she took on social work with the UNHCR to help refugees in Damascus, who came from Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, Iran and Iraq. Due to the war in Syria and found herself in Beirut working again with refugees, this time with children and using art as a means of healing. Nashawi’s illustrations are delicate, feminine, intricate and with many times a fairytale element to them. They reflect on her personal experiences so far, her travels around the Middle East and always engaging with the deeper subject of human rights around the world.


Nasreen Shaikh Jamal Al Lail:

Raised between Saudi Arabia and the UK, with an MA in Photography, Al Lail seeks to find solace through her art where agendas of identity, self and space are the tools of her practice. Her personal experiences have shaped the way she perceives fluidity and dynamism of cultural identities. Her art attempts to understand how interactions between collective memories of different cultures create a unique set of problems for the individual. She has been exhibited in the UK and Saudi Arabia and is also one of the Founders of Variant Space, a platform for emerging women Muslim artists living in the UK seeking a discourse through the visual arts.


Hania Zaazoua:

Zaazoua is an Algerian designer, visual artist and stylist. She is a graduate of Fine Arts and is the Design Director at Bergson & Jung in Algiers as well as having established her own interior design brand called ‘Brokk’Art’ in 2012. Zaazoua draws her inspiration from her wanderings, whether real or virtual, to create work that is an invitation to a teasing journey of the almost trivial dream world to exploring an alternative version of the society that she lives in.


Takwa Barnosa:

Barnosa is a young Libyan artist who is currently studying for her Bachelors in Fine Arts at the University of Tripoli. She is a very talented calligraphy artist who is venturing into the fusion of calligraphy with different forms of mixed media. Her work is a response to her daily struggles as a female living in Tripoli and what this entails. She seeks solace through her simple depictions of singular Arabic words that become descriptive of her inner landscape as well as of her surrounding environment.

Exclusive Media partner Al Ghad Al Arabi

Supported by Arts Council England.



Arab Women Artists Now

This is the Launch event of Arab Women Artists Now a one-day festival coinciding with International Women’s Day and will be a showcase for exceptionally talented Arab women artists working in the UK on 12 March.

It will increase the visibility of their work and expose new audiences to these under-represented communities and cultures.

Special guest : Juliana Yazbeck

Juliana Yazbeck was born in New Jersey, USA, to Lebanese parents who fled the Civil War. At the age of five, she moved to Lebanon and was raised there until, at 22, she moved to London. Juliana’s mixed background has influenced her musical style and political lyrics. Combining poetry and music, Western and Middle Eastern styles, and tribal beats with smooth harmonies, her songs tell stories focused on gender, war, displacement and love. Juliana is also a writer and music entrepreneur and is currently finishing her debut album.




March 2nd at 8.00 pm – 11.00 pm


Rich Mix

35-47 Bethnal Green Road

London, E1 6LA


020 7613 7498