PALESTINIAN poet and translator Iyad Hayatleh is to present his work at a special event to mark the beginning of this year’s Bethlehem Cultural Festival in Glasgow.

A member of Artists in Exile and Scottish PEN, he has lived in Glasgow since 2000 and is part of a spoken-word event on Friday at the Ramshorn, along with Palestianian writer Tasneim Zyada, London-based artist Mo’min Swaitat and Victoria McNulty, a performance poet, writer and community arts worker from the East End of Glasgow who won Writer of the Year at the 2021 Scots Language Awards.

The spoken-word performance is the beginning of a weekend of live events at the festival.

On Saturday, a simultaneous lighting of Christmas trees takes place in the square in front of Glasgow Cathedral and Manger Square, Bethlehem.

Inside the cathedral, the young Alrowwad Dabka group will take part in a special service of Christmas carols and readings.

Also on December 3, at Glasgow’s Civic House, there will be a late-night music event with up-and-coming artists from Palestine and the UK.

On Sunday, Glasgow Film Theatre will host screenings of Palestinian short films, co-curated by the Irish/Palestinian actress Sarah Agha and award-winning film-maker Wisam Al Jafari from Bethlehem.

Melissa Scott, festival director, said: “We are happy to be celebrating the twinning between Glasgow and Bethlehem for the third year.

“Bethlehem will be on everyone’s lips as we approach Christmas, but how much thought do we ever give to the people living there? This festival provides an exciting opportunity to discover Palestine and its neighbours through the cultural voices celebrating the wealth and depth of the region and linking them with artists here in the UK.

“This year, we will be building on the work of previous years through our December events and through our work throughout the year with our partners Scotland’s National Centre for Languages (SCILT) at Strathclyde University.

“Our service in Glasgow Cathedral will be broadcast live from Manger Square, Bethlehem, during their tree-lighting ceremony.

“This year, Nomcebo, singer of Jerusalema, will be performing there and we hope to livestream her from there.

“We are also really excited to be welcoming Zenobia who will be flying in for a few days to perform in an evening of Palestinian electronic music at Civic House, as well as DJs Mo’min and Hiba.”

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