Learn About the Arts and Everyday Life in the Middle East

Ala Hamdan
Ala Hamdan

September 15, 2016

Explore the Middle East through the lenses of visual and performing artists during a series of events Sept. 27 at Susquehanna University, titled Passion for the Arts and Everyday Life in the Middle East. The public is invited to attend these free events.

At 4 p.m. in the Blough-Weis Library, photographer and filmmaker Ala Hamdan and dancer and musician Marwa Sayid Ahmad will each present a workshop showcasing their art and discussing the role of the arts in the contemporary Middle East. At 5 p.m. a reception and photography exhibition will be held in the library, followed by a performance by Sayid Ahmad, a screening of Hamdan's short films and a roundtable discussion with the artists at 6 p.m. in Isaacs Auditorium of Seibert Hall. Hamdan and Sayid Ahmad will answer questions on a variety of topics.

Hamdan is a Palestinian-Jordanian photographer and filmmaker based in Amman, Jordan. She is an instructor at King's Academy, one of the top schools in the Middle East and North Africa, where she teaches photography and filmmaking. She lectures widely across the Arab and Islamic world and Europe on photography and film and the approach to the commercial and media industry in the Middle East. Her love and excitement for capturing the beauty of everyday life of the Middle East pushes her to explore various themes from the culture of cuisine to the beauty that can be found within an environment of conflict. Over the last decade her short films and photography have been used in numerous commercial marketing campaigns and have won more than a dozen international prizes, including the 2016 Dubai Creativity Film Award and the 2016 Istanbul Tourism Film Festival.

Sayid Ahmad is a Lebanese-Palestinian entertainer living in Jordan. A member of Al Hannouneh Society for Popular Culture since 1996, she is a folkloric "dabkeh" dancer. Dabkeh is a Levantine dance with ancient roots that is performed across the region at festivals and weddings, and more recently at competitive events. Her dabkeh group has performed and competed throughout the Arab and western world. In addition, she has played the oud, a pear-shaped stringed instrument, for the past 14 years, performing both as a soloist and in several bands. From 2006 until 2011, she performed for the University of Jordan Choir, and from 2007 to 2014, she played with the Jordanian band Sho Hal Ayyam. She's currently a member of the all-women's musical ensemble Naya, with whom she has been performing since 2011.