Celebrating Arab Arts & Culture at Ahlan 2017

Posted On:
15 October, 2017
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“Diverse, dynamic, colorful & most welcoming”

On the warm afternoon of September 23, 2017, we were delighted with the presence of many wonderful guests at our greatly anticipated 3rd Annual Ahlan Open House. As the event’s title means “welcome” in Arabic, we were able to do exactly that as guests enjoyed a variety of cultural activities ranging from dance, singing, and percussion to henna art and poetry. A mix of artists, instructors and students resulted in interesting exchanges among creative, dilettante and scholarly types at this festive occasion.

Living up to the theme of Ahlan/Welcome, our friends at Trinity Center for Urban Life have been as accommodating as ever by sharing their space with Al-Bustan guests, artists, master teachers, and students. The event celebrated the work of Al-Bustan and brought together community members for an afternoon of friendship, art-making, dance, and live music.

Art activities were in session all day, and included making a collective mural to hang in West Philly, geometry & pattern-making, the “Make Your Alphabet” photo souvenir, and Nasij poetry.

The Henn Honey and Miriam Mustafa, two talented women designed gorgeous henna art to adorn guests hands. Energetic musical and dance performances filled the hall and had guests participating and watching enthusiastically, as one would expect from Ibrahim Miari’s compelling dabkeh dance demonstration and the lively drumming led by Hafez Kotain.

Hafez was soon joined by Kinan Abou-afach and Serge El Helou as the three musicians performed a medley of Arab classical and contemporary music.  The sight of audience members singing along to Fairuz’s classic Nassam ‘Alayna Al-Hawa was enthralling, all the more that many of the audience members possess little to no knowledge of the Arabic language and yet were still enjoying the experience together with loved ones and newly made friends.

It is always a remarkable highlight in events like Ahlan where, in addition to participating in Arab cultural events, guests are offered opportunities to meet and make connections with others in the Philadelphia community. From individuals who have been a part of our Al-Bustan family prior to Ahlan, to others who have just learned about the organization, members of the Philadelphia community were able to meet in a welcoming cultural space at Trinity Center.

“Ahlan generates a spirit of profound generosity and openness. The people who create it are the magic.”


A special Shukran to our Co-Sponsors: Santander Bank, RBTS Inc., Assad & Mary Jebara Foundation • University of Pennsylvania’s Middle East Center, Greenfield Intercultural Center and Penn Arab Student Society