Shubbak Festival 2021: The Synaptik, Felukah and London Syrian Ensemble to perform

'As our world opens up again post-pandemic, Shubbak offers opportunities to reconnect, share and explore our new local and global realities,' says artistic director Eckhard Thiemann

The Synaptik & Felukah will perform as part of the 2021 Shubbak Festival. Courtesy Shubbak Festival
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The London Syrian Ensemble and Palestinian rapper The Synaptik will perform at London’s Shubbak Festival.

Running from June 20 to July 27 across various venues in the city, the sixth itineration of the UK’s prestigious Arab contemporary arts festival will run under a hybrid model of physical in-person and virtual events.

The festival is a place of discovery, meetings, and calls to action as well as contemplation

Also on the music bill is a solo gig by Adnan Joubran and hard-hitting Egyptian singer and rapper Felukah, who will perform a joint show with The Synaptik.

The three acts round off an eclectic music programme featuring a streamed show from Lebanon and an all-women evening line-up of spoken word poetry and experimental electronica.

Artistic director Eckhard Thiemann says the festival’s expansive programme, which includes exhibitions and film screenings, aims to inspire as well as thrill those curious about the Middle East region.

"The programme transcends the borders of all our previous editions,” he says. “The festival is a place of discovery, meetings, and calls to action as well as contemplation. As our world opens up again post-pandemic, Shubbak offers opportunities to reconnect, share and explore our new local and global realities.”

The festival also runs with Shadia El Dardiry as the new chairwoman.

Shadia El Dardiry for Arab Showcase in The National. She is a new chair of the Shubbak arts organisation in London. Photographed at her hom in south London.
Shadia El Dardiry the new chairwoman of the Shubbak Festival. Mark Chilvers for The National

She said the ability to put the festival on was the result of “brave and inspiring responses to a radically disruptive year”.

"It has forced artists and curators to think of new ways of collaborating, creating and presenting art,” she said.

“While the festival will retain its roots and a physical presence in London, it will, for the first time in its history, be open to a global audience through a series of online and international initiatives.”

Here is a breakdown of the live and streamed music gigs coming our way.

1. Adnan Joubran at Jazz Cafe: Wednesday, June 30 at 7pm GMT

Primarily known through the work with his siblings in Le Trio Joubran, the Palestinian oud virtuoso's solo show will feature reworked tracks from his 2014 debut album Borders Behind. The new treatment finds him injecting many of the Levant folk tunes with jazz, flamenco and classical music influences.

Tickets are Tickets are £16.50 ($24) from

2. The Synaptik and Felukah at Jazz Cafe: Saturday, July 3 at 3pm and 7pm

The two fierce artists represent the modern face of the Arab hip-hop scene. Live-streamed to a global audience, the matinee and evening gigs will be one of the first places to hear The Synaptik's new album Al Qamar Wal Moheet (The Moon and the Ocean), which is out later this year.

The Palestinian-Jordanian lyrical swagger is undercut with auto-tuned croon in line with trap music stars such as Travis Scott.

"The thing with trap music, what makes it universal, is that it is all about the vibe," he previously told The National. "All I want to do is to create a vibe for you to get lost in."

Hailed as an artist "bringing the Nile to New York," he will be joined by Egyptian rapper and soul singer Felukah, who will present songs from her brooding new EP Kawkab. Also expect to hear favourites from 2019 debut album The Citadel and 2020's follow-up Dream 23.

In a May interview with The National, Felukah said she hopes her burgeoning career inspires other Arab women to express themselves within the music industry. "

Tickets are Tickets are £18.50 ($27) from

3. Michelle and Noel Keserwany at Loyac, Beirut, Lebanon: Thursday, July 8 and streamed from 6pm GMT

Dig beneath the starling harmonies from the Keserwany sisters and you will find satirical lyrics offering pungent critique on the social and political state of Lebanon. Dancer Wafa'a Celine Halawi will accompany the music with choreography based on the theme When the World is Closed.

Sign up to platform Twitch for free access the Livestream.

4. London Syrian Ensemble presents Sounds of Syria at King's Place: Wednesday, July 7 at 8.30pm GMT

Led by composer and ney soloist Louai Alhenawi, the London Syrian Ensemble compromised of musicians trained at the prestigious Damascus Conservatoire.

With compositions built from the Arabic musical modes, known as maqams, the performance will debut works from Syrian composers at home and from the diaspora.

These include two commissioned pieces, Fajr by Mohammad Othman and Nadam by Elias Bachoura.

Tickets are Tickets are £20.00 ($29) from

5. Fierce Voices at Rich Mix: Saturday, July 17 at 7.30pm

The festival’s closing soiree brings together the different musical and performance strands of the festival. Poet Yomn Al-Kaisi leads an all Arab women line-up of spoken word artists, singers, rappers and DJs.

Also on the bill is experimental singer Bint Mbareh, spinner DJ Nooriyah and hip-hop artist Bint7alal.

Tickets are £18.50 ($27) from


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