Karen Dabrowska is an Arab Weekly contributor in London.

  • Rising Palestinian music stars delight London audience, On: Sun, 13 Aug 2017

  • Saudi female artists champion preservation of traditional houses, On: Sun, 09 Jul 2017

  • Syrian conflict in spotlight at London’s Imperial War Museum, On: Sun, 25 Jun 2017

  • Putting on stage the ‘Occupational Hazards’ of administering Iraq, On: Sun, 28 May 2017

  • Sudanese artists showcased for first time in London, On: Sun, 09 Apr 2017

  • Multitudes portrays the experiences of Arab women through art, On: Sun, 02 Apr 2017

  • Iraqi Kurdistan then and now through photographs, On: Sun, 12 Mar 2017

  • Pattern Recognition showcases contemporary Palestinian art, On: Sun, 12 Feb 2017

  • Jewelled Tales of Libya displayed in London, On: Sun, 29 Jan 2017

  • Zaha Hadid’s early paintings exhibited in London, On: Sun, 15 Jan 2017

  • London exhibition showcases Qatari contemporary art, On: Sun, 25 Dec 2016

  • Abdallah Khaled’s Paths of Light shine in London, On: Sun, 27 Nov 2016

  • The Writing of Art showcased in London, On: Sun, 06 Nov 2016

  • Academics fight to protect Libyan antiquities, On: Sun, 09 Oct 2016

  • London exhibition showcases language as art, On: Sun, 02 Oct 2016

  • London gallery showcases modern Arab art, On: Sun, 25 Sep 2016

  • Conservation architect warns of imminent demise of Jerusalem’s Old City, On: Sun, 14 Aug 2016

  • When archaeology is manipulated for political ends, On: Sun, 24 Jul 2016

  • Mideast world heritage destroyed but not only by ISIS, On: Sun, 03 Jul 2016

  • Bahrain’s varied contemporary art showcased in London, On: Sun, 26 Jun 2016

  • The Eggsperiment: A simple painting with a powerful message for Syria , On: Sun, 15 May 2016

  • Reluctant artist highlights Palestinians’ plight , On: Sun, 01 May 2016

  • Muslim world’s Life and sole in London exhibition , On: Sun, 24 Apr 2016

  • Digital archive immortalises Mesopotamian city, On: Fri, 25 Mar 2016

  • Ark Re-Imagined to save Iraq’s cultural heritage, On: Fri, 11 Mar 2016

  • Jerusalem//Home: An artistic statement about the holy city, On: Fri, 04 Mar 2016

  • Suspended Accounts tells forgotten Palestinian history, On: Fri, 19 Feb 2016

  • Iraqis eye the future of their country in \'Whose Peace will it Be?\', On: Fri, 05 Feb 2016

  • War-torn Iraq a destination for daring travellers, On: Fri, 05 Feb 2016

  • Jumana Manna’s first solo UK exhibition, On: Fri, 29 Jan 2016

  • Egypt: Faith After the Pharaohs recalls religious coexistence, On: Fri, 22 Jan 2016

  • East London gallery offers glimpse into Arab art, On: Fri, 15 Jan 2016

  • London exhibit explores Algerian identity, On: Fri, 04 Dec 2015

  • Display of Arab modern art at British Museum, On: Fri, 27 Nov 2015

  • Kurdish art exhibition highlights art by refugee children, On: Fri, 20 Nov 2015

  • Every face tells a story in Bachi exhibition, On: Fri, 06 Nov 2015

  • Unusual art exhibit from Saudi Arabia , On: Fri, 30 Oct 2015

  • Autonomy of Self: Remembering injustices, On: Fri, 09 Oct 2015

  • Endless Flow: A disabled artist’s journey, On: Fri, 02 Oct 2015

  • Rising Palestinian music stars delight London audience

    The artists highlighted Palestinians’ suffering under Israeli occupation in many songs and musical compositions.

    Original compositions. Palestinian artist Nai Barghouti. (Nini Productions)

    2017/08/13 Issue: 119 Page: 22

    London - Rising Palestinian stars Nai Barghouti and Mohamed Najem and Friends en­chanted audiences across Britain with a blend of Arabic and jazz music during a tour that took them to North London’s historic Union Chapel, a live enter­tainment venue and charity drop-in centre for the homeless.

    Using traditional Arab instru­ments accompanied by the piano to produce a unique musical lan­guage, the performers highlighted the Palestinians’ suffering under Israeli occupation in many of the songs. Part of their fee was donated to assist UNICEF’s work in Syria.

    The double bill in London’s his­toric Union Chapel began with a performance by Najem and Friends. Formed in 2016, the quartet — Na­jem on clarinet and ney, Clément Prioul on piano, Thomas Julienne on bass and Baptiste Castets on drums — is popular in the Paris jazz scene and has appeared in festivals across France and in Gabon.

    Najem described his first piece, “Instant Love,” composed in 2011, as a reflection of his feelings to­wards the audience.

    “From Bethlehem to Angers” and “Floor No. 4″ were said to re­flect Najem’s personal experiences, which had deeply moved the sing­er. Convinced that most people in the audience have never heard of Angers, a city in western France where he studied, Najem described its old town with timbered houses that were built in the 14th century. He said the smells of the old town reminded him of Bethlehem, his home town.

    “Floor No. 4″ referred to Na­jem’s time in Ramallah, where he lived for a year. In the evening, he could see the lights of Jaffa, a city close to the village of Al-Musheer, which was destroyed in 1948. “I got permission to go [to Al-Musheer] but I did not go as I wanted to re­member it as my grandfather, who died three years ago, described it,” Najem said.

    Barghouti thrilled the audience with a combination of her original compositions and new arrange­ments of some of the best-known Palestinian and Arabic songs.

    Barghouti, with flowing black hair, looked stunning in a long black dress. She was forceful, proud, dignified and defiant as she introduced her songs, which in­cluded one about Palestinian refu­gees yearning to return home and a song dedicated to every child in the world deprived of childhood due to war.

    Her song “Pulse,” written a few months ago, was an experiment in using the voice as an instrument. “Stages of Love” was a tribute to her family, who accompanied her on her British tour.

    Barghouti said she hoped to con­vey the struggle of Palestinians liv­ing under occupation and send a message that racism can never stop them from trying to reach their dreams.

    “We have talent, we have beauty, we have art and we have strength,” she said. “No one can take that away from us, not even a wall of segregation. We are here today not only because our rights are being violated but also because of our music, [which is] our way of resist­ance.”

    Regarding the challenges fac­ing musicians in the Palestinian territories, Barghouti said: “I was born and raised in Palestine but I am currently pursuing my jazz per­formance studies in Amsterdam. I experienced living in Palestine as a musician and living abroad as one. The struggle is real (at home)!”

    “The idea of not having to worry about checkpoints and being able to move freely between cities or even countries has become a dream rath­er than a reality or a basic human right,” she said. “When planning certain activities in Palestine such as concerts, rehearsals or any other appointments, I always needed to be ready for a sudden checkpoint that might pop up somewhere on the road or some gas bombs that might be thrown at civilians or a stubborn, racist soldier who might refuse to let me pass through.

    “I have been denied entry to Je­rusalem, my city of birth, but thou­sands of Palestinian refugees have been denied entry to Palestine as a whole, so who am I to complain?”

    Barghouti performed in Britain last year with the Palestine Youth Orchestra, selling out at venues from Glasgow to London. This year she returned with an all-star band that included musicians who performed with some of the most popular young Palestinian bands, including members of the Awan Quartet, Al Raseef and the Moham­med Assaf Band, as well as her Am­sterdam-based band with roots in Nigeria, South Korea and Tunisia.

    Editors' Picks

    The Arab Weekly Newspaper reaches Western & Arabic audience that are influential as well as being affluent.

    From Europe to the Middle East,and North America, The Arab Weekly talks to opinion formers and influential figures, providing insight and comment on national, international and regional news through the focus of Arabic countries and community.

    Published by Al Arab Publishing House

    Publisher and Group Executive Editor: Haitham El-Zobaidi, PhD

    Editor-in-Chief: Oussama Romdhani

    Managing Editor: Iman Zayat

    Deputy Managing Editor and Online Editor: Mamoon Alabbasi

    Senior Editor: John Hendel

    Chief Copy Editor: Richard Pretorius

    Copy Editor: Stephen Quillen

    Analysis Section Editor: Ed Blanche

    East/West Section Editor: Mark Habeeb

    Gulf Section Editor: Mohammed Alkhereiji

    Society and Travel Sections Editor: Samar Kadi

    Syria and Lebanon Sections Editor: Simon Speakman Cordall

    Contributing Editor: Rashmee Roshan Lall

    Senior Correspondents: Mahmud el-Shafey (London) & Lamine Ghanmi (Tunis)

    Regular Columnists

    Claude Salhani

    Yavuz Baydar


    Saad Guerraoui (Casablanca)

    Dunia El-Zobaidi (London)

    Roua Khlifi (Tunis)

    Thomas Seibert (Washington)

    Chief Designer: Marwen Hmedi


    Ibrahim Ben Bechir

    Hanen Jebali

    Published by Al Arab Publishing House

    Contact editor at:editor@thearabweekly.com

    Subscription & Advertising: Ads@alarab.co.uk

    Tel 020 3667 7249

    Mohamed Al Mufti

    Marketing & Advertising Manager

    Tel (Main) +44 20 6702 3999

    Direct: +44 20 8742 9262


    Al Arab Publishing House

    Kensington Centre

    177-179 Hammersmith Road

    London W6 8BS , UK

    Tel: (+44) 20 7602 3999

    Fax: (+44) 20 7602 8778

    Follow Us
    © The Arab Weekly, All rights reserved