The 14th edition of the Hakaya Festival, organized by the Al Balad Theater and the Arab Education Forum to celebrate the art of storytelling, kicked off on Hashemite Square in Amman on Friday.
The opening ceremony, led by Shalabieh Al Hakawatieh, a Jordanian storyteller, was followed by stories from four storytellers from Palestine, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria.
Abed Tarayrah, a Palestinian storyteller, told the Jordan Times: “For me, telling stories is a way to remember, preserve and pass on the heritage and identity of Palestine.”
Bahaa Tulbah of Egypt performed a traditional folk song of upper Egyptian origin.
“It gives me joy when, after telling a story, someone in the audience tells me that they too have experienced the emotions that I conveyed,” Tulbah told the Jordan Times.
“Whether it’s love, loss or longing, these shared experiences make people feel less alone,” he added.
Khalid Al Naanaa from Lebanon said that the art of storytelling plays a vital role in “the cultivation of the imagination”.
Naanaa also added that he always makes sure to pass traditional stories of his Palestinian heritage wherever he goes.
Wi’aam Al Khous, a Syrian storyteller, said he came to Jordan “with stories from Syria and will come back with stories from Jordan”.
“This process of sharing stories helps people understand each other better and creates a spirit of affinity between them,” Khous added.
Yazan Abu Saleem, a Jordanian storyteller who mainly focuses on educational topics targeting children, also performed.
“Storytelling expands children’s mental faculties, allowing them to create their own worlds and imagine history in their own way, which television cannot achieve,” said Abu Saleem.
For eight days, nine storytellers will visit Amman, Madaba, Mafraq and Irbid to tell stories from Syria, Palestine, Jordan and World Heritage, said Sanad Abu Assaf, festival coordinator.
The festival will also offer excursions, seminars, evenings with storytellers and book outings, according to Abu Assaf.
This year, the third book in the “Timeless Tales” series will be released, featuring folk tales told by Syrian refugees, he added.
“Under the motto ‘Storytelling is for everyone’ we have tried to make as many stories as possible accessible to people with disabilities and hearing loss,” he said.
The eight-day festival runs until November 5.