Tlemcen – Capital of Islamic Culture

Referred to as the Pearl of the Arab Maghreb and chosen as the Capital of Islamic Culture for 2011, the town of Tlemcen in Algeria is hosting the International Festival of Folk Dances on from the 12th to the 18th of July, 2011 as part of a series of events highlighting various aspects of Islam. In a message from the President of Algiers, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, he noted that Tlemcen’s rich cultural and historic inheritance made it the perfect choice as a venue for the festival, a choice which was made by the Islamic Organization for Education, Culture and Sciences.

As the name suggests, the focus of the International Festival of Folk Dances is on folk dancing as an expression of emotions, values and cultural heritage. Thirty groups from a variety of locations will be sharing styles of folk dancing from their particular region, noting the differences and similarities of this treasured form of expression. Among these groups is the Morvarid-e Lian band from Bushehr in Southern Iran who will be performing the Zar-rite, a dance form originally brought to Iran by African slaves, and therefore having certain elements in common with folk dancing from North African countries. Countries participating in the festival, as well as in other events of the 2011 program, include Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Saudi Arabia, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Indonesia, Jordan, Libya, Malaysia, Senegal, Syria, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey and Mauritania.

Symposiums included in the Tlemcen, Capital of Islamic Culture 2011 calendar of events include Islam in the Maghreb; Thinkers and Renowned Figures of Tlemcen; Poetry and Music, Ancestral Know-How in Tlemcen and its Region; History of Literature in Tlemcen, The Roads of Faith; and Emir Abdelkader and Tlemcen. In addition to the International Festival of Folk Dances, there will be festivals highlighting Arab calligraphy, decorative arts, Sufi music, and Haouzi music. Exhibitions will provide a platform for presenting aspects of cultural heritage, art and history, particularly in relation to the religion of Islam.

With its headquarters in Rabat, Morocco, the Islamic Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) was established in 1979 with the objectives of strengthening and promoting cooperation among member states in the fields of education, culture, science and communication, as well as consolidating understanding among Muslim peoples while contributing to the achievement of peace and security worldwide. ISESCO is listed with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) as a donor.