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The Cultural Events in the Middle East To Look Forward To

Mark your calendars

Event season is in full swing. Whether you’re a cinephile or raver, there are plenty of cultural events in the Middle East and North Africa in the next couple of weeks that will ensure your little black book is filled up and your weekends are occupied until the New Year. From Abu Dhabi Art to the FIFA World Cup, below, read on for the happenings that will satiate your cultural appetite. 

Cairo International Film Festival 

The 44th edition of the Cairo International Film Festival is currently underway in the Egyptian capital until Nov. 22. The cinematic event kicked off with a star-studded opening ceremony that honored Hungarian film legend Béla Tarr, Egyptian veteran actress Lebleba, and Egyptian director Kamla Abou Zekr. During the 10-day-long event, various award-winning films will be screened at the Cairo Opera House, including Egyptian Welsh director Sally El-Hosaini’s drama The Swimmers, which will be making its regional premiere.

Marrakech International Film Festival

Also underway in North Africa, is the Marrakech International Film Festival, which cut the ribbon on its 19th edition on Friday. This week, stars including French-Algerian actor Tahar Rahim, Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh, British star Vanessa Kirby, and France’s Marion Cotillard all hit the red carpet and attended a gala dinner, which kicked off the nine-day-long celebration of cinema. The event runs until Nov. 19 and features a diverse lineup of films from across the world.

Abu Dhabi Art

From November 16-20, Abu Dhabi Art 2022 will bring together 78 galleries from 27 countries at Manarat Al Saadiyat. Set to be the biggest to date, Abu Dhabi Art 2022  will also see 33 new international galleries participate in the annual fair. This year’s edition, now in its 14th iteration, will highlight artists from the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey, and the wider region, and will offer an opportunity for local and international galleries to present artworks for sale, shown alongside exhibitions, artist commissions and installations both at the venue and across the emirate. 

The 100 Carnival

There’s more action in Cairo this weekend with The 100 Carnival, hosted by MA’z Market. Taking place between 10am and 11pm on Nov. 18, in New Cairo’s Family Park, the event promises to bring together 100 local businesses, ranging from brands, artists, and community services. There will also be talks from local businesses and there’s games to keep the little ones occupied.

Amman Opera Festival

Jordan’s first-ever opera house, AA Theatre, is set to welcome the return of Amman Opera Festival‘s (AOF) fourth edition on Nov. 16, the first iteration of the one-of-a-kind event since the COVID-19 pandemic. Festivalgoers can catch a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s famed La Traviata, starring Zeina Barhoum as Violetta from Jordan, Riccardo Gatto as Alfredo, Carlo Morini as Germont, Eva Macaggi as Flora, Talia Gosheh as Annina, Graziano Issa as Giuseppe alongside The Italian Piacenza Opera House Choir, The Terre Verdiane Orchestra, and musicians from Jordan conducted by Massimo Taddia and directed by Riccardo Canessa.

Fashion Futures

Saudi Arabia’s Fashion Futures is coming back for its third edition in Riyadh from Nov. 17 to 19. The speaker lineup includes former NBA player-turned-model Badara Ndiaye; Roksanda Ilincic, founder of ROKSANDA; and Valentina Ignatova, co-founder of BY FAR, among others. The three-day event will also provide a platform for Saudi designers and brands to showcase and sell their products. 

Abu Dhabi Formula 1

The UAE capital is gearing up to host the annual Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which will take place from Nov. 18-20, as the 2022 F1 season reaches its conclusion. In addition to exhilarating races at the Yas Marina Circuit, including the showdown between Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc, who are tied on points as they battle for P2 in the World Championship, the event will also feature musical performances from the likes of rappers Kendrick Lamar and Dave, rock legends Def Leppard, electronic group Swedish House Mafia, and Usher.  

2022 FIFA World Cup

Football fever is at an all-time high as fans count down to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which is set to kick off in less than a week in the football-crazed Middle East, four year’s after France took home the top prize in Russia in 2018. The quadrennial event will kick off on Nov. 20 with an opening match between host country Qatar and Ecuador, which will be held at the Al Bayt stadium. Four Arab countries will be competing in Qatar next month, including two from the GCC and two from North Africa. They are: Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Morocco, and Qatar. It will be the host country’s first-ever World Cup appearance in the tournament’s 92-year history.

XP  Music Features

MDLBEAST are holding their XP Music Futures conference on Nov. 28 to 30. The one-of-a-kind industry event is set to welcome renowned keynote speakers and will bring together artists, record labels, music executives, and industry leaders to explore the region’s emerging nightlife industry. Speakers for the conference include the likes of Hardwell, Mathew Knowles (Beyonce’s father), and Palestinian-Chilean singer Elyanna. There will also be performances by local talents, including rapper Moayad, who will be launching his debut album with and performing it live for the very first time.

MDLBEAST Soundstorm

Much like previous editions of the electronic music festival, ravers can expect to catch a spectrum of regional and international names, who will be heading to Saudi Arabia from Dec. 1 to 3 for the third edition of MDLBEAST’s Soundstorm. Wizkid, Bruno Mars, Post Malone, DJ Khaled, DishDash, David Guetta, Marshmello, Bruno Mars, and Post Malone, make up some of the household names that will be making their way to MDLBEAST this year, in addition to homegrown female artists Biirdperson, Cosmicat, Dorar, Kayan and Solskin. 

Red Sea International Film Festival

Building on the success of the debut event, which took place last December, the Red Sea Film Festival is finally making its much awaited come back, cutting the proverbial ribbon on its second edition from Dec. 1 to 10 in the Ritz Carlton Jeddah. 131 features and short films from 61 countries in 41 languages will be presented throughout the 10-day-long festival, 34 of which will be making their world premiere, in addition to 17 Arab premieres, and 47 MENA premieres. The festival will kick off with Indian director Shekhar Kapur’s rom-com What’s Love Got to Do with It? on RSIFF’s first night, while Valley Road directed by award-winning Saudi writer and director Khaled Fahd will wrap up the 10-day-long cinematic event.

Sole DXB

Following a host of successful events that centered around subcultures of far flung locales like Japan, Jamaica, and South Africa, this year, the region’s premiere streetwear and music festival has decided to celebrate the Middle East and North Africa for its milestone 10th anniversary. Set to take place from Dec. 9 to 11, following a two-year-long pandemic-induced hiatus, the forthcoming 2022 edition of Sole DXB will take place in Dubai Design District (d3), where it will play host to a spectacular lineup of performers including UK-based artists Central Cee and Jorja Smith, Egypt’s Felukah, American rapper Bas, and Roc Nation signee Rapsody, among others.

Balad Beast

Taking place in the historic Al Balad area of Jeddah from Nov. 9 to 10, the two-day musical event is set to welcome international artists Busta Rhymes, Carl Cox, and Tales of Us. They join other previously-announced acts, across five stages, including homegrown talents Baloo, Biirdperson, Blacky, Dish Dash, DJ Tennis, Dorar, Mazaj, Mezo, Nomad, Vegie, and Vinyl Mode. Bringing local and international artists to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the event is the first of its kind in the Kingdom’s coastal city. In addition to concerts, the debut event will also be taking over the historic district’s famous artisan market. The Souq will be redefined throughout the two-day event to feature all of Saudi’s best streetwear vendors, including MDLBEAST’s very own merchandise brand, Bani Beast.

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