The Co-Writing Lab

“Tales of Community Art and Art in Public Space in the Arab World” was a three-days co-writing lab organized in Cairo in spring 2017 by Mahtatat for Contemporary Art. The lab brought together forty-one artists, practitioners, and culture makers from Egypt, France, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Sudan, Syria, and Tunisia.

The Lab gathered artistic knowledge and expertise from all over the Arab region plus France and harvested that collaborative creative experience in order to develop multimedia works. After the lab, the editorial team finalized the content in three languages – Arabic, English, and French – for publication on

The co-writing lab was organized by Mahatat for contemporary art and supported by the Danish Egyptian Dialogue Institute (DEDI) and Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC).

Mahatat for contemporary art

Mahatat is a Cairo-based initiative founded in 2011. Through contemporary art practices, Mahatat seeks to transform public spaces, create opportunities for exposure to the arts and offer needs-based learning experiences. We recognize that cultural and artistic activities should be financially affordable as well as socially and geographically inclusive.

In Egypt, however, contemporary art remains socially and geographically exclusive. The exclusivity of the art scene marginalizes the majority of the population from being an art audience and centralization of the arts deprives amateurs and emerging artists outside the capital from exposure and skills development opportunities. Our role is to take art beyond decentralized channels and nurture creative expression and production of art as a visible and accessible part of our everyday life.

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Mahatat for contemporary art

Co-Writing Lab Team


Eyad Houssami


Masrah Ensemble –

Eyad Houssami makes theatre and participates in Bassatin Baanoub, an ancient organic farm in southern Lebanon, where he aspires to establish a theatre academy that champions independence from fossil fuels. He is the founder of Masrah Ensemble, a theatre organization focused on the Arab stage, honored as an Ellen Stewart International Award finalist for activating social change and engagement.

Krystel Khoury


Krystel Khoury is a researcher and cultural manager. She holds a Phd in Anthropology of Dance and intercultural dynamics from Clermont-Ferrand University in France (2014). Her writings investigate embodied knowledge, artistic practices, collective creative processes as well as transmission of intangible cultural heritage and experiences. Since 2009, she has been initiating, managing and/or bringing conceptual support to Arab and European organisations regarding projects in the field of arts and culture with a focus on artistic and educational development.

Heba El Cheikh


Mahatat for Contemporary Art –

Cultural manager Heba ElCheikh studied French, translation, and journalism, and in 2012 she completed her masters degree in Art Management, with a focus on community arts and evaluation at Utrecht School of the Arts in the Netherlands. In 2011, she co-founded Mahatat for contemporary art.

Nada Sabet


Noon enterprise –

Nada Sabet holds a BA in Psychology and Theater from The American University in Cairo (AUC) and an MA from Goldsmith University of London in Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship. Integrating multiple schools of interactive theatre into her practice, Sabet has, for the past decade, been creating shows in Arabic for an Egyptian audience, to expand that audience in a constant dialogue and push the general expected boundaries. She has created works for adults, youth, and children in theatrical and non-theatrical spaces all over Egypt with professional actors and enthusiasts alike.

Mohamed Mongy


Mohamed Mongy is a facilitator.

Ali Azami


Ali Azami is a facilitator.

Shaimaa Atef

Content manager

Mahatat for Contemporary Art –

Shaimaa Atef received her master’s degree from Sorbonne, Paris 1, in Cultural Heritage Management in 2014 and a professional diploma in Research Methods and Skills from the Maastricht School of Management in 2015. Shaimaa currently works as the Content Manager at Mahatat for Contemporary Art. She is also a co-founder of Boldan, an initiative for the documentation of the architectural, vernacular heritage of Egypt and a platform that connects all experts and people passionate about vernacular architecture.

Ayman El Khattam

Logistics coordinator

works at Mahatat for Contemporary Art –

Mahatat is a Cairo-based social and cultural enterprise founded in 2011. Through contemporary art practices, Mahatat seeks to transform public spaces, create opportunities for exposure to the arts, and offer needs-based learning experiences to artists, practitioners, and entrepreneurs.

Shuruk Mohamed

Documentation team

Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CILAS) –

Shuruk Mohamed is an assistant program director at Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CILAS). As assistant program director she co-directs CILAS’s yearlong study programme in the liberal arts. Prior to joining CILAS, she has been involved in leading positions with a range of national and international cultural and educational organizations in Egypt, in fields including intercultural learning and different models of alternative education. Shuruk is passionate about, learning through travelling and experiencing, and enriching social diversity and inclusion.

Hend El-Ghazaly

Documentation team

Cairo Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences (CILAS)-

Hend is serving as a co-fellow in Cairo Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences and as a co-director in both Research and Translation Labs in the same institute. She is concerned with Alternative Education; she is a co-founder of “Mubtadaa” initiative which aims at introducing critical social sciences and Humanities in Arabic to high school students through activities. This initiative enables her to test and revise her ideas about simplifying social sciences, pedagogy and the learning environment.

Lab Contributors


Nasef Azmi

El Kosha puppet –

A puppet artist, born in Cairo in 1956. He studied theater in France and specialized in puppet art.From 1978 to 1984, he worked as an actor, assistant scenographer and assistant director in several theaters in Paris, and he founded …L’Almandin Puppets in 1986. The band performed several performances of his writing and directing. He taught puppet shows and their therapeutic uses at the State Schools of Social Sciences in Paris from 1993 to 1997, and was recently assigned to teach puppet theater at the Faculty of Arts at Ain Shams University.

Farida Hammad

Mahatat for Contemporary Art –

Farida Hammad is currently the Director of Strategic Development and responsible for developing, diversifying, and sustaining Mahatat’s model in the frame of its vision and mission. She has recently completed an MA from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in Media in Development. Her research traces the interplay between representation, spaces of expression, and creative social movements.

Hosni Al Moukhlaes

Theatre de l’opprime Casablance –

Tania Khouri

works at Dictaphone Group –

Dictaphone Group creates live art performances based on findings and stories produced through research on space and oral history. They have been creating site specific performances informed by research in a variety of places such as a cable car, a fisherman’s boat, and a discontinued bus.

Reem Khedr

Mahatat for Contemporary Art –

Reem is currently the Program Coordinator at Mahatat for Contemporary Art. She graduated from the American University in Cairo (AUC) in December 2011 with a bachelors degree in journalism, minoring in sociology. She has over four years of experience with nonprofit organizations, including the Goethe-Institut, Save the Children, and the John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement at the American Univeristy in Cairo.

Mohamed Kajoiney

Spectacle pour tous –

Spectacle pour tous is a multidisciplinary theater company, founded in 2009. They are based in Tangier and used to work on Casablanca as well. They conduct theatre performances in the streets, public gardens, and school yards. They did a caravan show, touring with a car, and they used to conduct the show inside the car. They have an office and theatre in the old medina of Tangier.

Ahmad Borham

Ahmad Borham is an architect.

Sahar Qawasemi

works at El Hoash Gallery –

The Palestinian Art Court – Al Hoash is a Palestinian non-profit art organization based in Jerusalem, established in 2004. Al Hoash provides a knowledge-based platform for both emerging and established artists in Palestine to express, explore, realize, and strengthen their national and cultural identity through visual practice.

Astrid Thews

Mahatat for Contemporary Art –

Astrid Thews is experienced in qualitative research, conceptualization, and fundraising and is particularly passionate about facilitation and training. She firmly believes in sharing, participation, and inclusion, which she expresses by adopting participatory and visual approaches and tools in workshops, meetings, and change processes she (co-)facilitates.

Nadine Bekdache

works at Public Works –

Public Works is a design and research studio. They are bringing the disciplines of architecture and graphic design together with the study of urbanism. They’re fascinated by urban and public narratives in Lebanon. They want to engage in it – critically, politically, and creatively.

Russol Al Nasser

works at Tajalla –

Tajalla is an art foundation that aims to establish new space for art and to support artisits in Jordan.




Aymen Gharbi is an artist, architect, and cultural producer, living and working in the medina of Tunis. After graduating from ENAU (Ecole National d’Architecture et d’Urbanisme), he focused on urban heritage and sociocultural participation. His work at INP (Institut National du Patrimoine) is dedicated to the architectural development of the medina. He is one of the founders of “Doolesha,” an interdisciplinary team experimenting in urban explorations.

Jihad Sayed

Mahatat for Contemporary Art –

Jihad is currently the Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL) Officer at Mahatat. She is a community development worker with over eight years of experience in managing, coordinating, implementing, and evaluating social and development activities and projects. In addition, she has trained and supported both children and youth through conducting life skills workshops, feasibility studies, and promoting volunteerism in national organizations.

Emilie Petite

works at Nassim El Raqs- Rezodanse Egypt –

Nassim El Raqs – Rezodanse Egypt aims to open new spaces for creation and production for artists in Alexandria and to give them the opportunity to take over a “piece” of our city by enabling them to question their practice, demands, desires, and physical language in the context of an unpredictable and innovative work environment.

Maher Sherif

works at El Madina theatre

ElMadina was founded in 2000 in Alexandria, Egypt. It works in arts and culture through training, production, and cultural space management and aims to support artists and youth initiatives. It also seeks to create a culture market for artists in Alexandria as it is one from the main culture cities in the Mediterranean.

Aliaa El Gready

works at Gudran –

Gudran Association for Arts and Development is a group of artists including painters, musicians, theatre artists, and cinema makers motivated by what we can call the social responsibility of the artist to abandon the galleries and go out to the street to make a contact with the daily-lived reality.

Hussam Hilali

Hussam Hilal is a writer and poet.

Salam Yousry

works at The Choir Project –

The Choir Project invites people from all walks of life to put their hopes and concerns, their feelings and thoughts, their jokes and woes into song.


Somaya Garsallah

Kamal Laazar Foundation –

Architect and museologist, Somaya Garsallah holds a PhD in Communications and another in Museology, Mediation, and Heritage from the University of Avignon et des Pays de Vaucluse and the University of Quebec in Montreal. She directed a number of museographic projects at the National Institute of Tunisian Heritage.

Farah Mazoughi

K’art, Tunisian Association for children and youth theatre –

This association, established in 2013, is based in the south of Tunisia, mainly in a village in Sfax, in the central market of the village. It contains a place for performance rehearsals, trainings, and screenings. All theatre performances, however, are conducted on the association’s bus. The main idea is to create mobile theatre that tours the south and all the parts of Tunisia.

Atef Hamdani

works at Fanye Ra3’man 3ani –

Fanye Ra3’man 3ani is an initiative started after the 2011 revolution to tackle controversial issues of Tunisian communities through presentation of art in the streets of Tunis. After the movement found success, it registered as an NGO in 2013. The NGO creates four-to-five art camps throughout the year for Tunisian youth.

Rowan El Shimi

works at Mada Masr –

Mada Masr is an Egypt-based media organization interested in producing intelligent and engaging journalism and more generally in re-examining the role of media in relation to its public.

Hala Makhlouf

Hala Makhlouf is a researcher.

Abdelrahman Taliawi

Abdelrahman Taliawi is an architect.



Director of LA FAI-AR Foundation
Director of the City of the street Arts in Marseilles

Stephane Segreto-Aguilar

Circostrada –

Stéphane Segreto-Aguilar holds a BA in foreign languages from Aix-en-Provence (University of Provence) and from Trieste (SSLMIT) and an MA in arts management and European cultural policies from Paris (Institute of European Studies, Paris 8 University) and from Montreal (Concordia University). He has contributed to Italian cultural influence in France (Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Marseille) and to French cultural influence abroad (French Embassy, both in Cuba and in Spain).


Circostrada –

Claudine Dussollier studied geography. She has had various working experiences in the field of immigration, urban, social, and cultural development. In 1993, she joined the public establishment of the Parc et Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris as a program director linking artistic projects to their social and urban context. Since 1998, she directs or coordinates training, publishing initiatives, and cultural development projects in France and in the Mediterranean.

Abir Saksouk

works at Public Works –

Public Works is a design and research studio. They are bringing the disciplines of architecture and graphic design together with the study of urbanism. They’re fascinated by urban and public narratives in Lebanon. They want to engage in it – critically, politically, and creatively.

Angus MacKechnie

works at ISAN –

The Independent Street Arts Network is a national membership and strategic organisation that aims to bring together the many diverse parts of the outdoor arts sector.

Beth Stryker

works at Cluster –

CLUSTER — Cairo Lab for Urban Studies, Training, and Environmental Research aims at establishing a critical space for urban discourse. CLUSTER engages critical theorization while being grounded in professional practice, negotiating the blurred boundaries between formal/institutional regulations and everyday urban informality.

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