Award-winning Muslim organisation Macfest launches Arab Heritage Festival in UK

The event in northern English city Manchester will feature a series of cultural events, both online and in-person

The Muslim Arts and Culture Festival, Macfest, won the prestigious Queen's Award for Voluntary Service earlier this year. Photo: Macfest
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A British Muslim festival in the UK is holding its first Arab Heritage Festival, in northern English city Manchester, this month.

The Muslim Arts and Culture Festival, Macfest, was founded in 2017, in the wake of the Manchester Arena terrorist attack, to act as a bridge between different Muslim and non-Muslim communities and confront discrimination with culture.

Earlier this year, the organisation received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service award for outstanding achievements by volunteers.

Founder Qaisra Shahraz, who has been awarded an MBE – a British award given to someone for making a positive impact in their line of work – told The National her organisation wanted to make the festival an annual occasion.

It will be a place where arts, culture and heritage of Arab communities are celebrated in the UK, said Ms Shahraz, a British Muslim novelist and activist.

'This festival is very important for our Arab communities, a matter of great pride, for placing a spotlight on their cultural heritage.

"We have provided aspiring and established artists a platform to showcase their talent and expertise,” Ms Shahraz said.

With speakers joining from around the world both online and in-person, the festival’s events cover a variety of cultural themes, including: Palestinian embroidery, Islamic tiling, Arab artefacts from the Glasgow Museums collection and Sudanese henna culture.

A concert in Salford, a city in Greater Manchester, with the Nile Band, a Middle Eastern band in the UK that plays music from the Arab world will close the festival on September 19.

Paul Griffiths, a deputy lieutenant of Greater Manchester – a title bestowed upon people who make valuable contributions to the community – said he was “proud” to be launching the inaugural event.

“It will be a wonderful celebration of Arab heritage in all its forms alongside the rich diversity which makes for such an important and fascinating culture. This is an exciting time, and I am very proud to be part of it.”

The inaugural Arab Heritage Festival runs from September 11 to September 19. For more details on events, see here.

Updated: September 10, 2021, 3:13 PM