Creating Community and Culture at Ahlan!

Posted On:
06 October, 2016
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I came away with an awakened interest in Arab arts and culture. – Xavier

On October 1, 2016 Al-Bustan welcomed almost 500 people to Ahlan — our second annual open house held at the Trinity Center for Urban Life. We invited the Philadelphia community for a festive experience of Arab arts and culture, and many came from well beyond the city. A joyous time was had by our staff and volunteers and from what we heard, by the attendees too!

Photos by Chip Colson:


Demonstration tables in Arabic name writing, geometric pattern-making, collective poetry, henna, and more were led by Nancy Sophy, Rebecca Eschenbach, Mostafa Darwish, Mayada Alhumsi, Miriam Mustafa, and Ndeen Al-BarqawiIbrahim Miari started off the participatory dance and music program with a lively dabkeh demonstration, followed by a drumming circle led by Hafez Kotain with youth and adults drumming, clapping , and keeping the beat with egg shakers.  Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble and a few members of the Penn Arabic Choir led by Music Director Hanna Khoury with Hafez Kotain and cellist Kinan Abu-afach performed a selection of Arabic songs, ending with the audience singing along on Fil-Bustan.

I loved the spirit in the room. I am not Arab but I felt at home and I felt encouraged by the energy and happiness in the air.

ALF SHUKR – A THOUSAND THANKS to our sponsors:

Qatar Foundation International, Assad and Mary Jabara Foundation, Hogan & Vandenberg LLC, RBTS Inc, Basem and Muna Hishmeh,University of Pennsylvania’s Middle East Center, Greenfield Intercultural Center, Lebanese Club, and Penn Arab Student Society.