Damascus Stories

An evening of magical storytelling and music

The Diwan Foundation have adapted for performance the stories of award-winning Syrian novelist Ulfat Al-Idlibi. She is well-known in Syria for her enchanting short stories of love, marriage, families, politics and revolution in Old Damascus which capture a world that is fast disappearing.

Two outstanding performers create this evening for us: Alia Alzougbi tells the stories while Louai Alhenawi provides the musical accompaniment. Both artists currently reside in the UK.

The stories you will hear during the evening are:

  • Yousef Eid – A visit to the fortune teller known as the Hajjab, to fulfil wishes and read the future, taking us into 18th century Damascus.
  • The Drunkard – It is typical for people to go on the straight and narrow for the duration of the Holy month of Ramadan, only to return to their wayward ways soon after…
  • The Angel of Luck is persuaded by the Angel of Mercy to grant the wishes of three young girls at the prime of their youth. Years later, he goes back to check on them…
  • The Agha – Contrary to what the 24-hour rolling news would have you believe, rebellion against oppression has existed in the Arab world long before the Arab Spring.

Louai Alhenawi is a Syrian musician, teacher and composer. He specialises in the ney (Arabic flute), Arabic percussion (dabuka, daff and riqq) and Middle Eastern music. Louai graduated from the eminent Damascus Conservatoire in 2001. Since coming to the UK in 2002, he has performed extensively, recorded and toured worldwide with many artists including Oojami, Terry Hall, Natacha Atlas, Shakira and others. He also leads and composes for his group Al-Farabi, performing spiritual and Arabic classical music.

Alia Alzougbi is an actress, storyteller, dancer and workshop facilitator based in the UK. She is part-Lebanese, part-Syrian and grew up in several countries in the Middle East. Alia has performed at various festivals, galleries, museums and stages across the world. She uses storytelling as a tool to create platforms for introspection, reflection and discussion. Alia is a BAFTA Scotland nominated performer who was awarded the Best Storyteller Award by The Fringe Report in 2011.

Diwan Foundation is a UK-based non-profit organisation with a focus on music, storytelling and dance from the Eastern Mediterranean, Western Asia and North Africa. Co-directed by Louai and Alia, Diwan was conceived to highlight what we have in common, creating a platform where people can meet, learn and enjoy. Tonight’s show was entirely arranged musically and devised theatrically by Diwan.


Mon 17/07/2017

19:00 – 20:30

 International Anthony Burgess Foundation

3 Cambridge St
M1 5BY
United Kingdom

£10 / £8 / Free for refugees and asylum seekers

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