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Week-long Cultural Festival Aims to Revive Palestinian Traditions, Life in Jerusalem

'Layali al-Quds' is the first cultural festival in Jerusalem launched by 'Shafaq', also known as the Jerusalem Arts Network

A jubilant Palestinian wedding procession marched through the streets of Jerusalem, kicking off a festival aimed at reviving life in the ancient city.

'Layali al-Quds' is the first cultural festival in Jerusalem launched by 'Shafaq', also known as the Jerusalem Arts Network which includes five of the most prominent art centres in the city: Al-Ma'mal Foundation for Contemporary Art, the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, Palestinian Art Court-Al Hoash, Palestinian National Theatre, and Yabous Cultural Centre.

Daoud al-Ghoul, the director of Shafaq, said there will be 50 events during the festival.

Cultural festival aims to revive Palestinian traditions, life in Jerusalem Haaretz

At the Palestinian Art Court-Al Hoash, an exhibition called "Maktoub - postcards for Jerusalem" showcases works from a number of Palestinian artists, including Ahed Izhiman.

"What encouraged me at first to participate in this exhibition by the Hoash al-Fan al-Falastini (Palestinian Art Court - al-Hoash) in Jerusalem, was that many of the artists participating came from Palestinian cities and villages, starting from the Gaza Strip, Jerusalem, the West Bank and the old Palestinian (the Arab-Israeli) cities from 1948," said Izhiman, an artist from Jerusalem, referring to the 1948 Arab-Israeli war that drove tens of thousands of Arabs from their homes.

Israel captured East Jerusalem, including the Old City and the holy compound, in the 1967 Middle East war. It annexed the area and declared it part of its "indivisible capital". This has never been recognised internationally, with the United Nations and others regarding East Jerusalem as occupied by Israel and maintaining that the status of the city can only be determined through negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

As the night fell, crowds gathered at Al-Ma'mal Foundation for Contemporary Art for a performance by the band "Toot Ard", with a picturesque view of an old church in the old city of Jerusalem as backdrop.

The goal of the event was to encourage Jerusalemites to go out at night in the city, said the project coordinator at the foundation, Aleen Khoury.

For Ala' al-Qaq, who lives in Jerusalem, the festival offered a much-needed opportunity for Jerusalemites to explore their own city at any hour of the day.

'Layali al-Quds' will run until Friday.