Syrian dance event in London explores conciliation this Peace Day

London, UK: To show there is more to Syria than just war, London-based peacebuilding NGO International Alert is marking the International Day of Peace by giving members of the public the opportunity to learn a traditional dance from the Middle Eastern country.

As part of the Talking Peace Festival taking place in the UK capital on 21 September 2019, a Syrian campaigner, who will also discuss the history of the dance and its relevance to peace, is holding the free Dabkeh workshop, which is open to children and adults.

“I have always enjoyed dancing the Dabkeh at weddings and happy occasions, with people gathering and enjoying their time. However, it was only recently that I discovered it was originally created to prepare homes for the winter and get communities to come together and help each other with it. It represents values of solidarity and peace in the community. It inspired me and I would encourage all to come and learn more about it. And you’ll get a chance to learn a few steps too,” said George Marrash, Syrian peacebuilder and Dabkeh dancer.

International Alert has been working on the Syrian crisis since 2014, aiming to strengthen the peacebuilding knowledge and skills of Syrian civil society. The NGO’s work is important because long-term prospects for peace in Syria depend on the presence of a robust civil society and policies that are informed by local realities.

“Despite the many challenges, obstacles and setbacks to peace in Syria, there are many dedicated people who are working tirelessly to build it. We are committed to doing whatever we can to support and be part of these efforts – from our Peace Education work with Syrian refugee children in Lebanon, to supporting networks of Syrian peacebuilders all over the Middle East and Europe, to advising donors and policy makers on how to increase their role in peacebuilding,” said Caroline Brooks, Syria Programme Manager.

The NGO’s Peace Education project gives Syrian children and young people a safe space to play, express themselves and process their feelings about the conflict. It also helps to improve their resilience in the face of violence and displacement, and heal through play, art and theatre activities. Around 7,000 children and young people have benefitted from the work to date.

The Talking Peace Festival is a global arts and cultural platform designed to engage people in the most urgent issues of peace and conflict around the world. The festival returns for its fifth year and takes over Flat Iron Square, a cultural hub in London Bridge. And for the first time it is being organised by five members of the +Peace coalition, who are coming together to tackle global levels of violence and division and transition culture, policy and politics in support of peacebuilding.

Together, Conciliation Resources, International Alert, Mercy Corps, Peace Direct and Saferworld are curating an eclectic programme of events including art, food, photography, talks and music to showcase the power of words in supporting peace and highlight some of the inspirational peacebuilding work taking place around the world.

International Alert is also running its hit Conflict Café food experience, with a focus on Filipino cuisine this year due to the ongoing ethnic, economic and political unrest in the Philippines. Londoners will enjoy a three-course sharing meal created by Anglo-Filipino chef Mark Corbyn of London supperclub, The Adobros.

Notes to editors

The “Let's Dabkeh” dance class takes place at 12.30pm, 21 September 2019. The venue is The Siding at Flat Iron Square, 6 O'Meara Street, London, SE1 1TE. Tickets are free, but registration is required here.

Conflict Café Philippines is run in partnership with Eatwith and supported by Flat Iron Square. Bookings can be made here.

Press pack:

Talking Peace Festival programme:

International Alert: International Alert is a leading peacebuilding organisation that works with people directly affected by conflict to build lasting peace, working in over 20 countries and territories around the world, including in the Philippines. International Alert established pop up restaurant Conflict Café in 2014, celebrating the power of food to break down barriers and get people talking.

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