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    Posted March 20, 2015 by

    Arts and Culture: A different Arab voice


    Since the beginning of the 21st century, the Arab world has been talked about mainly in the context of war, conflict and geopolitical instability. However, it is worthwhile to credit the region with more than political and sectarian violence. The Arab world holds an invaluable wealth of culture and looking beyond the mainstream headlines allows us to appreciate some talented individuals who have made it their goal in life to promote peace, critical thinking and creativity through art.


    The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) is a non-profit organization that helps such individuals flourish by creating synergies and cross-border networks, as well as by selecting and funding promising cultural and artistic initiatives. AFAC was founded in 2007 and has since then supported visual artists, performers, filmmakers, writers and projects focusing on traditional and cultural heritage.


    AFAC’s vision is one of a blossoming and prosperous Middle Eastern art and cultural scene. One that is “confident in its expression, open to dialogue, accessible to all and sustained locally by committed patrons”. Their guiding principles are transparency in the funding process and the commitment to an apolitical, independent process.


    The eclectic composition of their board of trustees is an eloquent testament to their mission statement:


    Dr. Ghassan Salamé - Chairman
    Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs
    Dr. Nabil Qaddumi - Vice Chair & Treasurer
    Chairman of Projacs International, leading project management firm
    Dr. Suzanne Wettenschwiler - Statutory Secretary
    Attorney and member of the Swiss Bar Association
    Sawsan Al-Fahoum Jafar - Member of the Board
    Founding member of the board of The Friends of Cancer Patients Society in the UAE
    Abbas Zuaiter - Member of the Board
    Managing Member of Zuaiter Capital Holdings, a private family office
    Hani Kalouti - Member of the Board
    President and Founder of HBK Investments Advisory, an asset management firm
    Amr Ben Halim - Member of the Board
    Founder and board member of AYTB and Maritime Industrial Services Arabia, leading companies in the energy sector
    Abla Lahhoud - Member of the Board
    Prominent philanthropist engaged in numerous development projects across the Arab world
    Olfat Al-Mutlaq Juffali - Member of the Board
    Philanthropist dedicated to the development, health, education and creativity of new Arab generations
    Oussama Rifahi - Executive Director
    Former Managing Director of the New York Development Museum and cultural consultant


    Among other ongoing initiatives, AFAC is launching its second Novel Writing Program in 2015. Ten writers will be selected to take part in a project which includes workshops resulting in the completion of scripts written by the participants. AFAC will also subsequently support the publication of the finished pieces.


    The Fund welcomes donations that will help support their cause to promote Arab development through arts and culture. For more information you may visit their website: www.arabculturefund.org.


    The organization seems to bring together a tight-knit team that offers a smart blend of competencies and personal networks. For instance, Dr Suzanne Wettenschwiler has an extensive experience in legal affairs, Abbas Zuaiter and Hani Kalouti bring expert financial expertise and Abla Lahhoud and Olfat Al-Mutlaq Juffali have a wide network deeply rooted in humanitarian and development causes.

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