These bespoke residencies in Brussels for creative writers from the Arab world last for six weeks, and provide an opportunity to focus on a specific writing project. Depending on the interests and needs of each writer, residencies may involve events such as readings or workshops in partnership with arts institutions in Flanders, and trips within the country. The residents for the 2018 and 2019 editions were selected from a pool of 280 applicants by an advisory committee of Hicham Bustany (writer, Jordan), Iman Mersal (poet, Egypt/Canada), and Azza Shaaban (writer, Egypt). This program is supported by Flemish authorities.
After studying at UC Berkeley, Iraqi-American poet and performer Noor Al-Samarrai (b. 1992) was a Fulbright Creative Arts Grantee in Amman, where she studied oud with Omar Abbad, taught creative writing at the University of Jordan, and collected oral histories with Iraqis about life and love in mid-20th-century Baghdad for a book on the city’s psychogeography. Her poetry collection El Cerrito was published by Inside the Castle Press in 2018.
Egyptian writer and journalist Amira Hassan El-Dosoki (b. 1985) studied mass communications at Ain Shams University in Cairo and worked for several Arab newspapers, including Al-Dostour, Al-Masry Al-Youm, and Al-Haya, before becoming a freelance writer for online newspapers. She has published two books of short stories, Bs ya Yousef (2013) and Tango Medan Al-Giza (2015), and her novel Al-Clouormy was published by Dar Merit. She was the recipient of the Sawiris Cultural Award in 2013.
Palestinian-British writer Ma’an Abu Taleb (b. 1981) is the founding editor of Arabic-language online music magazine Ma3azef. His boxing-themed debut novel All The Battles was published in Arabic in 2016, and an English edition, translated by Robin Moger, was published in the fall of 2017. Maan holds an MA in philosophy and contemporary critical theory.
Egyptian writer and director Menna Ekram holds an MFA in Cinematic Arts from the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts (RSICA) and an MA in Feature Filmmaking from Bath Spa University. She has worked as a freelance writer for numerous documentaries and TV dramas such as the hit TV shows Heba Crow’s Feet and Seventh Neighbor. Her short film The Wheel premiered at Dubai International Film Festival. She also co-founded the Ikhtyar initiative and launched the first feminist cinema club in Egypt.