New UK-GCC youth initiative uses art to build bridges

A new collaboration between the UK and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will create opportunities for young artists to foster new connections. (Shutterstock)
Short Url
Updated 01 July 2020

New UK-GCC youth initiative uses art to build bridges

  • The initiative will pair an artist in the UK with one based in the Gulf to create new collaborative work

LONDON: A new collaboration between the UK and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will create opportunities for young artists to foster new connections while bridging the divide caused by coronavirus travel restrictions.
The Connect ME initiative, launched by the Arab British Centre in partnership with the British Council, will provide digital residency opportunities for young artists from GCC countries and the UK.
The initiative will pair an artist in the UK with one based in the Gulf to create new collaborative work that considers how digital tools can encourage connectivity across borders.  
“Now more than ever, we want to support emerging talent and offer opportunities to artists to develop their practice, create new collaborative work, and make new connections across borders,” said Amani Hassan, program director of the Arab British Centre.
With a focus on building ties between creative communities, the program will “serve as an opportunity for artists across the UK and GCC to build new friendships, and confront the universal challenges facing emerging creatives the world over,” she added. 
Artists aged 18-30 from any discipline can apply for the program, and their art can be “anything from an augmented reality experience to a short film, a zine, (or) a live performance,” the Arab British Centre said in a press release.
The only stipulation is that the art must be delivered to the public digitally and must be capable of stimulating international connections and creativity.
If successful, applicants will receive £1,000 ($1,229) in funding, as well as a host of mentoring and educational opportunities.
Cultural exchange remains a cornerstone of the UK-GCC relationship, with various initiatives already active and creating deeper mutual understanding through artistic collaboration.


Sri Lankan leader appoints Cabinet, state ministers

Updated 13 August 2020

Sri Lankan leader appoints Cabinet, state ministers

  • Spotlight on economy, security as 67 officials take oath in palace ceremony

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa administered the oath of office to 28 new Cabinet ministers and 39 state ministers on Wednesday during a swearing-in ceremony at the Kandy Royal Palace, a week after the Aug. 5 general elections.

“The Cabinet has been formed in a pragmatic and a realistic manner to implement the national program. Special attention was paid to national security, economic development, infrastructure, education, health and sports,” a Presidential Secretariat statement said.

While President Rajapaksa retained the defense portfolio, his brother, Namal Rajapaksa — the 34-year-old son of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa — was named minister for youth and sports.

Several senior politicians, including former president Maithripala Sirisena, were left out of the new Cabinet.

The ninth parliament is set to meet on Aug. 20.

Only two members from minority communities, Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda and Justice Minister Ali Sabry, were appointed from the Tamil and Muslim communities, respectively.

“I’m delighted to get this portfolio in recognition of my services to the nation, particularly to the legal field,” Sabry said.

He is the second Muslim justice minister to assume office after Rauff Hakeem of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party, led by PM Rajapaksa, polled 6,853,690, or 59 percent of votes, and secured a total of 145 seats in parliament, including 17 of the National List seats.

Sabry said government efforts to limit the coronavirus pandemic had “impressed the nation enough to vote them into power.”

Lawyer Razik Zarook said: “It’s a great victory for the Muslim community. The era of mistrust and suspicion is over, and the foundation is laid to build the bridges of friendship and amity.”

However, international political lobbyist Muheed Jeeran told Arab News that though the Cabinet is promising, it is “full of confusion.”

“Sabry’s appointment has disappointed the nationalist group who want to implement one nation, one law,” he said.

“But it is a joyful moment for Muslims who supported the SLPP. However, it will be difficult for Sabry as justice minister. Will he become the wooden handle of the axe to chop the tree of traditional Muslim laws as per the nationalist agenda, or will he stand for Muslim rights?”