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Casa Árabe’s Tenth Anniversary

The institution is celebrating ten years of commitment to contemporary Arab creativity and thought with a year-long schedule of special events.

March 01, 2017
To celebrate these ten years of efforts to bring Spain and the Arab world closer together, the institution has scheduled over a dozen public events, which will be held at its headquarters in Madrid and Cordoba.
The first of these events will be taking place on Sunday, March 12 at 7:00 p.m., with the holding of an anniversary concert at the Teatros del Canal. The concert will be a commemoration of Casa Árabe’s official opening ten years ago. Iraqi musician Naseer Shamma, one of the finest Arabic oud performers of all time, will be the main event during these celebrations, which will also include participation by musicians Mahmud Fares, Perico Sambeat and Nabyla Maan.

Analysis and thought will also hold a special place in 2017, with various top-level seminars and conferences: “A decade of transformation in the Arab world,” on April 24-25; “Seminar on Arab studies in Spain,” in October, and “Otherness in the Construction of Contemporary European Identity: Arabs and Muslims in Europe,” to be held in both Madrid and Barcelona. These will be the main events held to celebrate the tenth anniversary.

As could not have been otherwise, literature and culture will also play a notable role in the schedule. On May 19-20, Casa Árabe’s auditorium and garden will be hosting the “Arabisms in Urban Culture” festival. At this festival, young Arab and Spanish creators will be showing their own viewpoint on modern day reality to viewers, through plays, exhibitions, concerts and debates.

With the arrival of summer and the PhotoEspaña festival, as of June at Casa Árabe you can enjoy an exhibition titled “An Uncanny Impulse,” put on by the Arab Image Foundation of Beirut ( It explores the art of collecting photography through the eyes of Lebanese collector Mohsen Yammine. You can view a selection of photographs from his archive of over 1,400 images, which tell the story of lifestyles and social tastes at the turn of the century in the Middle East.

The business world will also be meeting up at Casa Árabe. In July, we will be holding a business encounter to celebrate “Ten years of economic relations between Spain and the Arab world” and the presentation of the Casa Árabe Economic Bulletin (July 5, at the City of Madrid’s CentroCentro Auditorium).

In September, Casa Árabe’s headquarters in Cordoba plans to hold a seminar on medieval science and Al-Andalus, with the goal of offering an overview on which notable scientists worked in Al-Andalus, under whose patronage and in what fields of knowledge they specialized. This seminar, coordinated by Mónica Rius and Cristina de la Puente, will take an in-depth look at one of Al-Andalus’ least explored legacies up to the present.

Lying ahead are twelve months to celebrate ten emblematic years at Casa Árabe, in Madrid and in Cordoba. Endless new offerings and activities that will bring the Arab world closer to Spain so we can enjoy its culture and get a more in-depth look at the way it thinks.

In just a decade, Casa Árabe has become a point of reference for the Arab world.

Since it was created, Casa Árabe –with headquarters in Madrid and Cordoba– has received visits from more than 114,200 people. They have had the chance to take part in all sorts of activities: film series, concerts, theatrical performances, exhibitions, business gatherings, research seminars, study presentations, round table discussions, courses and even fashion shows.

These events for culture and thought have featured well-known personages such as Palestinian artist Khalil Rabah, Iraqi film director Mohamed Al-Daradji, Syrian photographer Carole Alfarah, writers Amin Maalouf, Tahar Ben Jelloun and Yasmina Khadra, and musicians Naseer Shamma, Anouar Brahim and Amal Murkus, as well as many others.

This schedule of cultural activities has placed a highlight on showing the diversity in Arab societies. The weekly schedule of films at our headquarters in Madrid and Cordoba, with occasional screenings in other cities throughout Spain, has been committed to offering a series of Arab films as an alternative to Spain’s commercial movie theaters, while our exhibitions have lent visibility to the plural forms of artistic expression in today’s Arab world, allowing the Spanish audience to get a closer look at little-known artists. The exhibitions “Projects at Scale” by Palestinian artist Khalil Rabah, held with the cooperation of the ARCOmadrid Fair of 2016, and the exhibition on the Jameel Prize of 2011, devoted to contemporary art inspired by Islamic art, are two excellent examples of this.

Since the opening of its Arabic Language Center (CLA), Casa Árabe has become a leader in the teaching and dissemination of the Arabic language in Spain, and more than 6,500 students have spent time in our classrooms to learn the language. This educational experience has been enriched with different offerings of calligraphy courses, congresses on the teaching of Arabic as a foreign language and the publishing of textbooks for children’s audiences, including “Basma.”

Similarly, Casa Árabe has tracked current events in the Arab world from a multidimensional perspective. Its conferences, research seminars and round table discussions have attempted to provide a response to Spanish society by dealing with topics related with the status of Muslims across Europe, fighting stereotypes, Islamophobia and racism. In this sense, we would highlight the seminars “Islamophobia Debated: The genealogy of fear for Islam and the construction of anti-Islamic discourses,” the “First International Congress on the Management of Religious Pluralism” and the event “Sunni and Shiite: Political interpretations of a religious dichotomy.” Other platforms for dialogue have examined the impact of conflicts and the economic crises in Arab countries and the socio-political transformations which have taken place since the Arab Spring.

In terms of the economy, Casa Árabe has devoted several seminars to the subject of Islamic finance in Spain (2010), as well as holding business gatherings on investment opportunities in Oman, Jordan, Sudan, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Morocco. Furthermore, as part of Madrid’s International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR), since the year of 2013 the institution has annually organized a round table discussion on tourism development policies and strategies, with the participation of tourism ministers from the region, having now become an essential event on the sector’s yearly calendar.

With the objective of promoting reconciliation, over the last decade the institution has hosted many gatherings of experts, political leaders, economic leaders, role-players involved in various international initiatives, embassies and European governments, who have discussed topics on religion, politics and social activism. This area of activity saw the height of its efforts come to fruition during the Meeting of the Syrian Opposition in Cordoba, in January of 2014, bringing together 150 Syrian personages so that they could come closer in terms of their positions before the Geneva Conference. Casa Árabe’s analysis of current events and the intellectual products by experts have been collected twice per year in its journal  “Awraq: A journal for thought and analysis on the contemporary Arab world.”

Finally, throughout these years the institution has been responsible for seeking to protect the legacy of Al-Andalus, and the heritage of Arab culture and Al-Andalus existing in Spain, as well as the concept symbolized by “Cordoba.” This mission was reflected in the conference series “Great Capitals of the Medieval Islamic World: Past and present,” held in Madrid, Seville and Cordoba, and “Art and Cultures of Al-Andalus: The power of the Alhambra,” with the cooperation of the Alhambra and Generalife Board of Trustees, and the exhibition “From Qurtuba to Córdoba.”
Casa Árabe’s Tenth Anniversary