Celebrating Palestinian heritage on the UAE's big screen

Celebrating Palestinian heritage on the UAE's big screen
‘Soufra’ (2017). Supplied
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Updated 28 December 2019

Celebrating Palestinian heritage on the UAE's big screen

Celebrating Palestinian heritage on the UAE's big screen
  • Reel Palestine is returning for its sixth edition next month
  • The festival will be screening independent Palestinian films in venues across three emirates

DUBAI: Reel Palestine, a UAE-based film event dedicated to Palestinian movies, is returning for its sixth edition next month. Set to kick off from Jan. 17-25, The weeklong festival will be screening independent Palestinian films at Alserkal Avenue in Dubai.

The pop-up festival, which debuted in 2015, is held in collaboration with independent arthouse theater Cinema Akil in an effort to present Palestinian culture and heritage in an authentic way through a handpicked selection of short films, features and documentaries.

In addition to film screenings, the sixth edition of the film fest will also bring together some of the inspiring film makers responsible for the featured works for Q&A sessions to discuss some of the pressing issues facing Palestinian people.

Among the films set to showcase during the event is the Elia Sulaiman-directed “It Must Be Heaven.” The satirical-comedy film tells the story of a Palestinian man, played by Sulaiman himself, who travels the world but faces the same problems as he would in his hometown. Notably, it won the Jury Special Mention award at the 2019 edition of the Cannes International Film Festival.

Also showing is the 2017 documentary entitled “Soufra.” The production, which was directed by filmmaker Thomas A. Morgan, follows the inspirational story of a generational refugee named Mariam, who, after spending her entire life in the Burl El-Barajneh refugee camp situated south of Beirut, sets out to change her fate by launching her own catering company, Soufra.

Meanwhile, in addition to discovering Palestinian films, guests will also be able to explore a carefully curated collection of unique crafts, souvenirs and items made and inspired by Palestinian traditions at the RP Souk. The week-long marketplace will be open during film screening hours at Cinema Akil in Dubai.

Among the vendors who will be selling their made-in-Palestine products are Rimal Books, an independent publishing house founded by Nora Shawwa and Ayadi by Widad, a Dubai-based platform that sells art, accessories and apparel that is all handmade by Palestinian women. 


What We Are Reading Today: The Autocratic Middle Class by Bryn Rosenfeld

Updated 9 min 16 sec ago

What We Are Reading Today: The Autocratic Middle Class by Bryn Rosenfeld

What We Are Reading Today: The Autocratic Middle Class by Bryn Rosenfeld

Conventional wisdom holds that the rising middle classes are a force for democracy. Yet in post-Soviet countries like Russia, where the middle class has grown rapidly, authoritarianism is deepening. Challenging a basic tenet of democratization theory, Bryn Rosenfeld shows how the middle classes can actually be a source of support for autocracy and authoritarian resilience, and reveals why development and economic growth do not necessarily lead to greater democracy.
In pursuit of development, authoritarian states often employ large swaths of the middle class in state administration, the government budget sector, and state enterprises. Drawing on attitudinal surveys, unique data on protest behavior, and extensive fieldwork in the post-Soviet region, Rosenfeld documents how the failure of the middle class to gain economic autonomy from the state stymies support for political change, and how state economic engagement reduces middle-class demands for democracy and weakens prodemocratic coalitions.