Capacity Building Workshop
The fifth edition of Hakaya festival kicks off in September
August 2012
Francais ÚÑÈí

In This issue

My best Companion
The AEF welcomes Nour Shbeita to the team
Local Safar Funds- Safar/Istikshaf program
Safar Grants in July/August
The Fifth Edition of Hakaya Festival Kicks off in September

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About AEF

The Arab Education Forum is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization active in the Arab World in the field of community and youth work . The mission of AEF is to contribute to an Arab cultural regeneration project that springs out of the inherent knowledge and experiences within the Arab societies

Safar Grant

Grant applications for the Safar/Istikshaf program are accepted throughout the month. The grant selection committee looks at the submitted applications in the first week of every month, provided that the application is submitted at least one month before the date of travel. For more information


Video Storytelling Workshop - Jordan 

Contact Us

6 Fares ALKhouri street- Shmesani
P.O Box 940286 11194 Amman Jordan
Tel: +96265687557


My best Companion

Renowned Arab poet, al-Mutannabi, was the first one that I remember who wrote a poem where one of the verses affirmed that “the best companion of all times is a book”. Many a library that I visited when I was young featured this verse at the entrance and it never failed to catch my eye, as they used alternating artistic Arabic fonts and styles: some Thulth, others Diwani and oft Ruq’a script ..

A feeling of loss overtook me however when our “Jeera” project team started visiting the municipal libraries in Amman, as I could not spot that verse no matter how much I sought it out. However, the familiar sight of books and the calmness of the librarians, seemingly unmoved by the post-Internet loss of customers, managed to restore a feeling of quietude to me. So we sat with the librarians - as agreed upon during the previous week’s meeting with the Municipality of Amman/Cultural Section - and we had a very rich discussion. These visits confirmed our deep conviction at the Arab Education Forum that the solution for any problem lies with the people, however, despair and frustration are the prime enemies that hinder any kind of productive activity.

On one of such visits, we were at the Raya Library for Children when my eyes caught sight of a treasure that I had been hunting since my childhood days, the full series of the scientific story by the great Arab novelist Suna’allah Ibrahim, published by Dar al-Fata al-Arabi. Those books have eluded me despite the fact that I always bragged about my ability to look up any book electronically! How can the Internet generation live without this educational tool, and I don’t mean by that only the Suna’allah Ibrahim scientific stories, but also the general loss of the paper-book feeling.

We continue with “Jeera” project team our select library go-round (current selection of 5-7 libraries), with the express purpose of setting up a pilot project for re-populating libraries with readers and to re-activate the library as a learning space, that will adopt the “Jeera” approach to learning through apprenticeships and more lively forms of transmission of knowledge and experience. Maybe the best way to bring back the apprenticeship approach to education should start off at the same place where it ends, as the library is definitely NOT merely a storage place for books as seems to be the case at present.
Nour Shbeita
The Arab Education Forum welcomes Nour Shbeita to the team

Nour Shbeita joined the AEF to work as a coordinator of Jeera Initiative- Amman Learning and Convivial City.

Nour Shbeita turned his back to engineering barely a month after practicing it, so ardent to acquire new experiences he moved from one field to another, amassing in the process 8 years of experience in the development sector, always introducing himself as a poet and an independent art student. He has several research papers in many a field; he has set up a number of art and writing initiatives and contributed to the birth of new community initiatives. He brings to the AEF a wide range of experiences, including website management and content editing, skills that he will also bring to his work.

Local Safar Funds- Safar/Istikshaf program

During the mobility operators meeting held last June in Alexandria, the local Safar Funds were inaugurated and activated in 8 Arab countries (Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, Sudan, Mauritania, Morocco and Oman). The idea behind these funds is to sustain support for youth mobility through local partnerships in each Arab country. A number of activists in the field of mobility and learning through travel were selected as coordinators of their local Safar funds. Such funds are to enable Arab youth to learn and benefit from inspiring youth initiatives in their own countries as well as within the various Arab countries, by assisting them to access learning platforms and cultivate the culture of travel.

Local coordinators of Safar funds:

Egypt: Nesma Gewily
A writer, story teller and a youth activist, Nesma developed her creative writing module "Kan aw ma kan" where she uses writing and storytelling as tools for self discovery and telling your own story. She is also the founder of "Letaarafo" initiative which works to tell the stories behind people and places through different ways of artistic expression.
Palestine: Hassan Karajah and Thamina al-Hossari
Hassan Karajah started off his volunteerism and community service with Saffa Sports Club which participated in the National Campaign for Reading and Book Donation in 1992, giving him the opportunity to take part in many social and volunteer activities. He is a board member of Handala Cultural Center and the project manager of Saffa Sports Club. Prior to getting his BA in MIS, he worked with several Palestinian institutions; he attended one of the regional meetings of Safar Fund, was an Arab traveler, and along with a group of friends set up the local chapter of Safar Fund in Palestine and Safar Tajwal/Mobility Group.

Thamina al-Hossari works in a human rights institution that documents cases of martyrdom, Palestinian home demolitions and evictions and land expropriation. She edited Hawamesh quarterly and has her own blog entitled “Ashher Sayfi / I unsheathe my sword”. She joined Palestine Safar team to spread the culture of internal travel (within one’s own country), to promote communication amongst Palestinians all over occupied Palestine, and to redefine the people’s relationship with their homeland via traveling. With the team’s assistance, she aims at inculcating travel in the Palestinian way of thinking. Thamina has a BA in Arabic and Islamic studies.
Jordan: Fadi Bashir
Fadi currently works as a free-lance trainer on life and debate skills with the International Youth Foundation (IYF) and other community based organizations. He contributed to the development and growth of debate clubs in Jordan. As of the age of 14, he has been serving his community actively involved with many civil society organizations. He studied as a nurse but opted to pursue community service instead. He switched between various institutions; he worked as a project coordinator and trainer with Princess Basma Youth Resource Center as well as with INJAZ project for youth rehabilitation.

Iraq: Essam Asaad
Essam is an assistant teacher at the Department of Strategy in the College of Political Science at AnNahrain University. He is also a local coordinator in Iraq for a number of youth development projects, and a founder of several civil society initiatives on interfaith dialogue, conflict resolution and community development within Iraq and the Arab world. He has given lectures and written papers on the role of youth in development, political economics and youth and community development. He is the chairman of the Iraqi Center for Human Rights and Democracy Studies that is involved in civic awareness and related research, the head of the Youth Development Society and the Secretary of the Scientific Promotions Committee. Essam has a BA in Political Science, an MA in International Economic Relations from AnNahrain University, and a PHD from the Institute of Arab Research and Studies in Cairo.

Sudan: Saf’a Yaqoob al-Tayyeb
Safa’ volunteered at Aaza Women’s Society, at the Accounting and Social Peace building Sections, then as a financial manager of the Peace and Hope Society at the Federal Kober Prison in 2006. She takes interest and is active in youth and women’s issues. She participated in a number of youth and women’s events within and outside Sudan, and she is her country’s representative at the “Committee for people’s right to compensation from colonization”. She is an active member of several Sudanese volunteer organizations, and she currently works as an accountant at Aaza Women’s Society.

Mauritania: Elmaaloum Oubeck
Elmaaloum is a youth, media, and human rights activist. He is also active within civil society and participated in many volunteer events in addition to facilitating several seminars on youth and cultural issues. He wrote numerous articles on social and cultural affairs. He is active in a number of youth organizations, and as of 2005 he is the secretary general of the Dialogue Circle for Culture and Creativity. He is keen on spreading the culture of learning through travel.
Morocco: Omar Id Tnaine
Omar is an independent journalist; he writes in various e-forums and works as a film producer. In 2011 he was selected for the "10-Minute film" program that the Doha Film Institute offers for film making. He produced a short film entitled “Taouda”, and became a jury member at several film festivals such as (Issni Ourgh film festival). He writes articles on theatre and cinema for cultural magazines. Currently he is setting up an electronic forum to exchange information on youth training. He has a BA in sociology from the Literature and Humanities Department, Mohammed V University. Omar speaks 4 languages: Amazigh, Arabic, French and English.
Oman: Saif Al-Sharji
Saif is a Project Controls engineer at Worley Parsons engineering company. He is the focal point for the International Network of Peer Education, a pioneer youth network specialized in youth health, working under the umbrella of the UNFPA. He is responsible for organizing and executing youth projects, facilitating training workshops and education for youth, as well as assisting in regional training workshops and symposiums. He is also the coordinator of the Youth for Change program and is a leading member in the Scouts movement in the Sultanate of Oman. Saif is one of the 12 Arab youth who were selected to the UN Alliance of Civilizations fellowship program of the Spring of 2012. Currently Saif is working on establishing his own Organization “Majan youth Development” which aims to advocate for youth participation and intercultural dialogue.

Safar Grants in July/August

A total of seven Travel grants were awarded in the July/August round of grants as follows:

Mohammed Al-Deiri from Palestine/Gaza, Ammar Abu Bakr from Egypt , 3ala’ El-Baba from Palestine, Mustafa El-Khatib from Palestine, Alaa’ Aatyeh from Egypt, and Areej Zrook from Sudan all received travel grants to participate in the Janana summer camp organized by the Arab Information Center for Popular Arts (al-Jana). Mohammed is a visual artist specialized in graffiti and portraits. Ammar is a visual artist and Dean of Fine Arts at Luxor University and the founder of El-Mahrousa Association. 3ala’ is a student at the International Academy for Modern Art in Ramallah city, he trains children on drawing. Mustafa is a student at the International Academy for Modern Art and is a member of the Jidaryat/Mural wall painting group. Alaa’ is a student of journalism and Islamic studies, while pursuing informal studies in piano and literary writing and linguistics. She works in several youth initiatives for youth development such as “Nama’ School for Sustainable Development”. Areej is a director, writer and producer. She took part in several film making workshops. She directed a film entitled “Orange Tint” in 2010, a documentary about the life of Sudanese women living in the city.

Mustafa Youssef from Egypt received a travel grant to Yemen to assist in the production of a documentary entitled “the land of the forefathers”. Mustafa graduated from the Higher Cinema Institute in 2006 and has since worked in different fields, such as production, filming and direction and has volunteered in the development field with local organizations such as Gudran and international ones such as Save the Children.

The Fifth Edition of Hakaya Festival Kicks off in September

Under the patronage of Greater Amman Municipality, Hakaya Festival returns in its fifth edition scheduled to open on the 11th of September, organized by al Balad Theatre and the Arab Education Forum, funded by the European Union and other sponsors.

Inspired by the rich and tumultuous experiences of our region and the world at large, the festival presents an exceptional array of stories and performances over the span of 7 days from 11 - 17 September, 2012.

The Opening night will be held at the garden of the National Museum of Fine Arts in Lweibdeh featuring a presentation of “Hakaya” as well as the launch of both “Jeereh” and “Istikshaf” projects, topped by a storytelling performance entitled “Urgent Stories”.

The festival kicks off with a Tunisian performance by artist Nawel Eskandarani, inspired by the Tunisian revolution, entitled “harassment@art.only”. The performance narrates personal stories of resistance using the spoken word, dance and live music. Hakawi at Tahreer Theatre group from Egypt will present a performance that has been evolving over the past 5 years, “Bussy” or Look Here, which documents the experiences and particular stories of Egyptian women. The festival will also feature another Egyptian performance, “The Ebb and Flow of Tide”, presented by Tammy Theatre group.

Distinguished storytellers from all over the world will astound Hakaya audiences with their passion for storytelling. This year, the festival is proud to present: Salman Natour and Taher Bakeer from Palestine, Abdul Rahim El Maqori from Morocco, Abdul Razak Kammoun from Tunisia, Praline Gay-Para from Lebanon/France, Jack Lynch from Ireland, Amal Al Saki from Iran, Shadi Atef from Egypt, Ashwat Bhatt from India, Sarah Kassir from Lebanon and Abu Saleem Brothers from Jordan who will tell the story of Ash Shater Hasan. The story-telling events will not be confined within the borders of the city of Amman but will travel to visit Jordanian governorates as well as the remote suburbs of Greater Amman.

Since Hakaya Program is also interested in the transmission of knowledge and expertise to the younger generation, three workshops for youth and animators will be organized, facilitated by experienced trainers and storytellers, namely, Praline Gaypara, Ashwat Bhatt, and Raneen Institute.

As in every year, amateur and seasoned storytellers alike are invited to share their 5 – minute stories in the “marketplace of stories” that is meant to feature new talents and provide space for experimentation with a live audience.

In addition, the festival is collaborating with two innovative collectives/groups who are active in the cultural and artistic scene in Jordan and whose work is relevant to storytelling. The first session of “Salon-Aat” will take place during the festival, with the aim of starting a debate on Arab and International art works that are related to women. The debate will address these works in a workshop, entitled “Veiled Monologues” organized by Aat and Female Economy Dutch troupe in cooperation with Al Balad Theatre/Hakaya. The festival will also host a joint workshop with Pen Project to encourage youth to take the initiative, write their tales and publish them online.

For the first time in Hakaya, the audience will have the opportunity to attend a two-hour session with a storyteller to listen to and discuss his/her experience in the field. This session will help the audience meet the storyteller up close and understand the process of becoming a storyteller and how to discover this skill that lies within.

As part of “Hakaya meetings”, the network will gather in their annual meeting to exchange expertise and discuss their individual and collective work. In this edition, two research projects on storytelling conducted within the framework of Hakaya program will be presented for discussion. The first research is on “methodologies of transmitting the art of storytelling in some Arab countries” by Shahd Bani Odeh and the second is on “transforming life and folk tales into literary works” by Anas Abu Rahmeh.

Hakaya is also about movies, and this year two films will be screened and discussed: The first is “The Nekbah Archive”, produced by researcher Mahmoud Zeidan from Lebanon and Directed by filmmaker Diana Allan. The film presents excerpts of lengthy interviews that were recorded with the first generation of Palestinian refugees, who shared experiences that remain unwritten and untold. The second film is “The Halqa: the storytellers’ circle”, which is directed by Thomas Landerberger and documents the stories that unfold in el Fana Mosque Square in the Moroccan city of Marrakech.

The festival is made possible thanks to the cooperation of a number of local partner organizations including: MS/Action Aid, National Museum of Fine Arts, Diwan ad Doq, Darat al-Funon, The Studio, Gaza refugee camp, Talbiyyeh camp, Dhikra Initiative, YMCA – Madaba, Haya cultural Center, Princess Basma Youth Center, Shepherd Hotel, Granada Hotel, Canyon Hotel, Roya TV, Ayyam FM, Spin FM, Farah Al Nass Radio, Radio Al Balad and Ahli Bank.

Hakaya is a program that connects organizations, individuals and different groups that believe in the centrality of stories in the healthy growth of individuals and societies. For several years, the program has been celebrating the art of storytelling in theatre, arts, promotion of literacy and writing, formation of identity and cross-cultural dialogue.

The detailed agenda of the festival and a brief on the activities can be found here:

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