Catherine ThoméCEO Saïd Foundation
Fatima MullickProgramme Manager
Hana Alhirsi-EvansGrants Manager
Fatema ZehraCommunications Manager
Luqman AliCEO & Artistic Director, Khayaal Theatre
Luqman trained in the sciences of Islam and the languages (Arabic, Persian and Urdu) and cultures of the Middle East and the Subcontinent.
In 1997, Luqman co-founded Khayaal, the first professional theatre company dedicated to the exploration of classic Muslim literature through contemporary stagecraft as a means of fostering greater intercultural and interfaith engagement and understanding. He adapted and produced Khayaal’s award-winning debut production, Conference of the Birds, in London in 1998. He went on to pioneer the adaptation of the works of an array of Muslim mystics and sages as well as folktales from African, Arabic, Chinese, Persian and Urdu cultures, staging these works at The Globe’s Shakespeare and Islam Season (2004) and at The British Museum’s critically acclaimed Hajj Exhibition (2012) as well as in theatres, corporations, schools and communities throughout the UK and beyond.
Luqman is currently working to nurture an inclusive humanitarian discourse of story and dream in Muslim communities and between those communities and wider society through Khayaal’s national theatre-without-walls programme while also developing the company’s next medium scale production exploring the intersection of Britain and Islam in the story of coffee.
Mohammed Ali MBEFounder, Soul City Arts
Mohammed Ali is an award-winning artist, curator and producer. He has been commissioned to work internationally with leading galleries, festivals, arts centres and theatres to produce large-scale murals in open spaces in the communities where people work, live and play. As an artist, Mohammed is passionate about sharing and presenting untold stories. He works collaboratively with communities to create unique and immersive arts experiences that inspire and engage people to experience and connect with art.
Mohammed is the Founder of Soul City Arts, a leading independent arts organisation based in Birmingham that has worked with artists, academics and activists from around the world to commission and present innovative exhibitions, performances and digital installations. He has worked extensively in places like Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne, New York and South Africa.
Most recently, Mohammed has embarked on an ambitious project to tell the story of the Bangladeshi pioneers of Britain’s historic curry house trade. The Knights of the Raj is a unique insight into the lives of people like his father who helped pioneer the curry house trade that has transformed Britain’s culinary tastes. The exhibition debuted at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in 2017 to critical acclaim. A follow up arts installation premiered at the Museum of Food and Drink in New York in 2018.
Remona AlyJournalist & Broadcaster
Remona Aly is a journalist and broadcaster. She writes for The Guardian and various other media outlets on faith, lifestyle and identity. She is a resident Pause for Thought contributor at BBC Radio 2 on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show and Saturday Breakfast with Dermot O’Leary, and is also a presenter on BBC Radio 4’s Something Understood. As a media and cultural commentator, Remona has appeared on television and radio, including Sky News, ITV and the BBC.
She is Director of Communications for Exploring Islam Foundation which specialises in PR campaigns and creative resources. She has presented for the Things Unseen podcast, produced by CTVC, an independent production company, and was the Deputy Editor of emel, the British Muslim lifestyle magazine.
Syima AslamDirector, Bradford Literature Festival
Syima Aslam is Founder and Director of the Bradford Literature Festival (BLF). In just four years she has established BLF as one of the most innovative and inspirational festivals in the UK. Bringing together literature from around the world and across all genres, BLF promotes intercultural fluency and reflects the changing face of contemporary Britain.
Before founding BLF, Syima had a successful career in both the public and the private sector, working in marketing, inward investment, and strategy building in the education sector.
Syima’s ambition is to create real and lasting change for the people and communities of the city in which she lives and works. Her commitment to young people and her passionate belief that education has the ability to change lives are the inspiration behind everything she has achieved with the festival.
Alia Al ZougbiPerformance Practitioner, Producer & Educator
Alia is a BAFTA-nominated performance practitioner, producer and educator. She uses performance tools and traditions to engage people of all ages in critical conversation around global issues, and is particularly interested in cultural production as a form of activism.
Alia is Head of the HEC Global Learning Centre in London, a development education organisation working with schools, universities, and the community to promote global citizenship, social justice, and environmental sustainability. She is among the core teaching staff on the Young Audiences Team and the Adult Learning Programme at the British Museum.
Alia studied Social Anthropology with a particular focus on the unearthing of alternative oral histories and intangible cultural heritage. This led to her using Performance Storytelling as a form of subverting dominant narratives, especially around the Muslim and Arab Worlds – an art form she continues to relish. Her work in the community continues to negotiate creative outlets for the narratives of lesser-heard peoples.
Monique Deletant-BellDirector, Dance Hub Birmingham
Monique is an experienced Arts Leader. She currently Deputy CEO of Culture Central and Director of Dance Hub Birmingham (a strategic initiative to bring together the dance sector in the West Midlands). As Director (Maternity Cover and Job Share) at Stratford Circus Arts Centre she brought together a number of partners around the education offer in East London, successfully retaining Arts Council NPO funding and developing work with the older adult community and with Amal. She was previously Interim Chief Executive/Chief Operating Officer at Rich Mix. She worked at Akademi as Administrative Director for a number of years and was Director of Resources and Administration at a disability led arts centre in Essex.
In a varied career, Monique has worked as a Stage Manager and in various non-arts positions, including as a researcher for an MP, at the Lord Chancellors’ Department, as a manager at a non-departmental public body and as Assistant Private Secretary to the Master of the Rolls.
Monique has a freelance portfolio and is a trained coach and mentor.
Abid HussainDirector, Diversity, Arts Council England
Abid Hussain is Director, Diversity at Arts Council England, the national development agency for arts and culture leading the organisation’s work on Equality, Inclusion and the Creative Case for Diversity.
He is an alumnus of both the U.S International Visitor Leadership Programme (IVLP) and the Salzburg Global Seminar responding to themes of art and social change, migration, displaced artists and conflict transformation.
Abid has led on the development of the Arts Council’s strategic equality and diversity framework since 2014 which included the development and launch of the transformative Elevate and Change Makers programmes which have made a significant contribution to diversifying the arts and cultural landscape in England.
He has extensive experience of working with cultural institutions, academia, government and third sector across the UK and Internationally across Europe, North America, East Asia, South Africa and Australasia.
Abid was instrumental in the development of the pioneering Arts and Islam initiative developed at Arts Council England and has been a strong advocate and champion for encouraging greater Muslim participation across arts and culture.
Zarah HussainVisual Artist
Zarah Hussain works at the intersection of science and spirituality, combining contemporary digital art with rigorous training in traditional hand-drawn Islamic geometry. Her work encompasses infinitely looping animations made with code, interactive apps, painting and sculpture.
Her most recent project, ‘Numina’, was a large scale sculpture with a digitally animated surface. Commissioned by the Barbican for their foyer spaces programme in 2016, Numina combined designs found in the art of the Islamic world with contemporary digital arts by mapping animated geometric patterns onto a pyramidal wall sculpture set in a hexagonal grid.
At the Islamic Art Festival in the Sharjah Museum in 2015/16, Hussain presented ‘Sharjah Spectrum’ – a large scale installation with digital animations on three walls that viewers could interact with using mobile phones. She also projected her animated geometry over the exterior of the William Morris gallery in 2015. Entitled ‘Magic Carpet’, this animation provided background visuals for the Transcender music festival at the Barbican.
‘Symmetry in Sculpture’, Hussain’s solo show at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery was extended twice in 2014 due to popular demand and numerous exhibitions of her painted work have received much critical acclaim.
Hussain has completed several Public Art Commissions, including a room in the new Royal London Hospital and an outdoor shutter project in Barking and Dagenham funded by the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund.
Asad Ali JafriCurator of Programmes Shangri La, Doris Duke Foundation
Asad Ali Jafri is a cultural producer and artist with a creative vision for sustainable social change. As an innovative thinker, Asad utilizes the universal language of art to connect communities, cultures and people to transform interactions, perceptions, and collective consciousness. Since 2001, Asad has worked passionately with artists, creatives and thought leaders across nations, disciplines and genres to curate meaningful productions, design sustainable initiatives and build strong communities.
Currently, Asad is based in Honolulu, Hawaii working for the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art as Curator of Programmes at Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design.
Shelina JanmohamedVice President, Ogilvy Noor
Shelina Janmohamed is the bestselling author of ‘Love in a Headscarf’, a memoir about growing up as a British Muslim woman. Her new book, ‘Generation M: Young Muslims Changing the World’, is an exploration of rising group of global Muslims who believe that faith and modernity go hand in hand, and they are going to have a disproportionate influence on our future world.
She is an established commentator on Muslim social and religious trends, particularly around young Muslims and Muslim women, and writes for Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, the National and the BBC.
Shelina is also the vice president of Ogilvy Noor, the world’s first bespoke global Islamic branding practice for building brands with Muslim audiences, she was named one of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims, and specifically one of the UK’s 100 most powerful Muslim women. The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising named her as one of the ‘Future Female Leaders of British Advertising’.
Fin KennedyArtistic Director, Tamasha Theatre
Fin Kennedy is an award-winning British playwright and Artistic Director of touring theatre company Tamasha. Fin’s first play ‘Protection’ was produced at Soho Theatre in 2003, where he was also Pearson writer-in-residence. His second play ‘How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found’ won the 38th Arts Council John Whiting Award and has been produced around the world.
Fin writes regularly for young people and has two published volumes of plays, ‘The Urban Girl’s Guide To Camping’ and ‘The Domino Effect’ and other plays, developed through a long-term residency in an East London school. For Tamasha, Fin dramaturged and produced the national tours of ‘My Name Is…’ by Sudha Bhuchar (2014), ‘Blood’ by Emteaz Hussain (2015), the award-winning ‘Made In India’ by Satinder Chohan and the forthcoming ‘Approaching Empty’ by Ishy Din (Kiln Theatre/Live Theatre Newcastle 2019).
Fin is creator or co-creator of various innovative Tamasha community projects including ‘Taxi Tales’ (ARC Stockton, BBC 2), ‘Hear Me Now’ (Rich Mix/Ovalhouse/RADA), ‘Re-Fuel’ (Rich Mix/Theatre Royal Stratford East/Amal 2017) and ‘Leila & Justice, Inc.’ (Barbican Box 2018). Fin has written eight Afternoon Plays for BBC Radio 4 including returning series ‘The Good Listener’, set inside Government spy agency GCHQ, and ‘On Kosovo Field’, a collaboration with musician PJ Harvey.
Abdul-Rehman MalikJournalist, Educator & Cultural Organiser
Abdul-Rehman Malik is an award winning journalist, educator and cultural organizer. Currently a Postgraduate Associate at Yale University’s Council on Middle East Studies, he is also programs manager for the Radical Middle Way, which offers powerful, faith-inspired guidance and tools to enable change, combat exclusion and violence and promote social justice for all.
Abdul-Rehman has pioneered platforms which championed the intersection of arts and social change, championing political dissent and promoted resilience to violence. He recently trained over 150 young civil society leaders in Indonesia to use the power of storytelling to bridge interfaith and intercultural divides against the backdrop of violence and discrimination as part of a Google.org funded initiative called Project Cerita.
Abdul-Rehman is a journalist for BBC Radio, offering contemporary perspectives on spirituality and presenting documentaries and programs for Radio 4, Radio 2 and the World Service. His recent documentary work includes the “The Muhammadan Bean: The Secret History of Islam and Coffee”. He also regularly presents the popular Pause for Thought segment on Radio 2 and Something Understood on Radio 4.
In addition to providing curation and content guidance to a variety of cultural and literary institutions, Abdul-Rehman is also director of the Insight Film Festival, a unique year-round festival that celebrates the intersection between faith and film. He was creative advisor to English Touring Theatre’s acclaimed, radical reimagining of Othello in 2017. He continues to curate The Othello Project, a multidisciplinary festival of artistic responses to the production which tours the UK again in late 2018.
He was a 2017 Yale Greenberg World Fellow and is currently a Postgraduate Associate at Yale University’s Council on Middle East Studies, where he is undertaking a project on “rethinking” the field of Countering Violent Extremism. He is also the coordinator of a Muslim Social Justice Leadership Lab being incubated at Yale’s Dwight Hall Center for Social Justice and Service.
Abdul-Rehman was artist-in-residence at the Doris Duke Foundation’s Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Design and Culture in June 2018. During his residency at Shangri La, Abdul-Rehman curated a series of programs and original performances around the theme, “What is Muslim Culture?”. He continues to work with colleagues from around the world to establish a global network of Muslim cultural leaders committed to building cultural capital and supporting cutting-edge artistic production.
Catherine RoeTrustee, Saïd Foundation
Catherine Roe has 25 years’ experience of creating, developing and leading foundations and advising philanthropists and not-for-profits.
For 12 years, Catherine was Director of the Said Foundation, working to effect lasting change in the lives of disadvantaged children and high potential young people in the Middle East.
As Director of the Said Business School Foundation, Catherine helped to create and develop Oxford University’s Said Business School. In 2012, Oxford University made her a Distinguished Friend of Oxford in recognition of this contribution.
Since 2006, as Director of CMR Consult Limited, Catherine has worked with a range of foundations, universities and other not-for-profits.
Catherine began her career as a British diplomat, specialising in multilateral negotiation. As European Correspondent, she was responsible for the coordination of European Political Cooperation and led on the Common Foreign and Security Policy chapter of the Maastricht Treaty.
Catherine is a member of the Global Leadership Council of the Said Business School and a trustee of the Said Foundation, the Horizon Foundation, the International Institute for Strategic Studies and Aspen UK.
She has a Masters in History from Oxford University, an MBA from London Business School and a Masters in Middle East Studies from SOAS. She was the first woman JCR President of Balliol College, Oxford.
Juliet SimmonsFounder, Piece of Cake
Juliet is the Founder of Piece of Cake – a creative marketing consultancy working with not-for-profits and creative organisations. Her background is in event production, advertising and marketing and she has worked with blue-chip clients around the world. Juliet was the Creative Director at the JCC for London (now JW3) for six years prior to founding Piece of Cake. She is a member of the Book Council for London’s Jewish Book Week and volunteers for Ministry of Stories, as well as at a monthly drop-in centre for refugees and asylum seekers.
Raymond SimonsonCEO, JW3
Raymond Simonson is the first CEO of JW3, London’s Jewish Community Centre – the only Jewish community, arts and cultural centre of its kind in the UK – which opened in October 2013. He is a qualified community and youth worker with a BA in Jewish History & Hebrew, and an MA in Applied Anthropology and Community & Youth Work, and is an alumnus of the Senior Faith Leadership Programme (formerly the Cambridge Coexist Leadership Programme) – and has over 20 years’ professional experience in informal Jewish education, leadership development and community building.
Raymond was the first full time Executive Director of Limmud, an international, cross-communal, volunteer-led Jewish community learning organisation. Prior to this he was the Jewish Agency’s Director of Informal Education, where he spent a decade working with thousands of Jewish community educators and youth leaders across the UK. In a lay capacity, he sits on the Limmud FSU International Steering Committee, and the advisory boards of Mitzvah Day and the London Jewish Forum and mentors a handful of young professional leaders across the British Jewish community.
He is eternally grateful that his wife, an NHS Psychiatric Nurse, and two children are incredibly patient.
Eckhard ThiemannArtistic Director, Shubbak
Eckhard Thiemann is a curator, programmer and arts manager, specialising in contemporary Arab culture, dance and international cultural programming and exchanges.
He is Artistic Director of Shubbak, London’s largest festival of contemporary Arab culture. Shubbak 2017 presented over 130 artists across 40 venues including Royal Opera House, Barbican, Southbank Centre, Sadler’s Wells, British Museum and Cinema Lumiere, reaching an audience of more than 50,000 people.
He is also is Programming Associate – Dance for The Lowry, one of the UK’s largest arts centres, where he develops an international dance programme across its three venues, presenting over 25 dance productions across the year.
Eckhard was Associate Artistic Curator for CODA – Oslo International Dance Festival in October 2017. He has been a freelance producer for the digital platform The Space, for which he delivered co-commissions with Tate Modern, National Theatre of Scotland, Aldeburgh Music, National Theatre Wales, Barbican and Serpentine Galleries. He worked twice with Siobhan Davies Dance as interim Creative Producer, significantly enhancing the company’s international profile. He was a producer for the London 2012 Festival and the Cultural Olympiad and curated the Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival 2011 and acted as adviser for the 2014 festival. He curated Outspoken – New Performance From Arab Artists for International Dance Festival Birmingham (2010), and produced African Crossroads for Dance Umbrella (2009). He programmed the opening season of Pavilion Dance and the conference Digital Futures in Dance. Previously he was Artistic Director of Woking Dance Festival, and Year Of The Artist Coordinator for South East Arts.