The Digital Mural Lab Hosts International Visitors

Artistic Representatives from Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Morocco Visit the Digital Mural Lab



A Regional Project for North Africa

These visitors are invited to the United States under the auspices of the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program.
Primary Program Contact: Ms. Kim Ngoc Le, Senior Program Officer, International Visitors
Council of Los Angeles, 3540 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 910, Los Angeles, CA 90010;
Telephone – (213) 388-1428 ext. 22; Fax – (213) 388-5879; Email –

Department of State Program Contacts: Ms. Colleen Fleming and Ms. Ericka Moten, Office of International Visitors; Telephone – (202) 453-8608 or (202) 453-8609; Email or

Accompanied By: Mr. Wael Abdelsattar, U.S. Interpreter; Ms. Rana Raad, U.S. Interpreter; Mr.
Nabil Tohme, U.S. Interpreter
January 12 – 30, 2009



•The Department of State has outlined the following specific objectives for the project:

•Examine freedom of speech as a constitutionally guaranteed First Amendment right in the United States;

•Explore the role of art as an expression of freedom of speech;

•Illustrate the power and potential of art in shaping contemporary issues and values, and in building civil society;

•Examine various sociopolitical art forms and their conceptual inspirations and effects and;

•Demonstrate the diversity of American artistic and cultural traditions and how this diversity contributes to a dynamic political system.


Mr. Alaa Ahmed Abou Zeid ABDEL AAL

Radio Broadcaster
Dr. (Mrs.) Mariam Gaid FORHAM BOTTROS

Lecturer, Sculpture Department
Faculty of Fine Arts, South Valley University
Iraq Mr. Mohammed Rasim KASIM AL-KHAFAJI

Chairman Tawasin Cultural Society
Libya Dr. (Mr.) Suleiman Ali BEN KAFU

Head, Mass Media Department
Al-Fattah University
Morocco Mr. Omar LEBBATE

Hakim Hip Hop Group


Name: Mr. Alaa Ahmed Abou Zeid ABDEL AAL
Present Position: Radio Broadcaster
Concurrent Position: Correspondent, Arab News Agency
Education/Training: B.A., Media and Press, Souhag University, 1991
Memberships: Egyptian Writer’s Syndicate; Cairo Atelier.

Publications: Short Stories:
“The Edge”;
“The River”.

Address: 61 Hamada Ajami Street
Off Queen Street
Haram, Giza

Telephone: (202) 012-4241-149
Languages: Arabic (primary)
U.S. Travel: No previous U.S. travel
Other Travel: Kuwait

Professional Interests: Mr. Alaa Abu Abdelaal is both a news reporter and a writer whose publications explore the issues and challenges faced by the people in Upper Egypt.  As a news journalist, he reports on many different issues, including cultural life and the condition of human rights in Egypt, the coverage of which has earned him a creativity award.

In his novels and short stories, Mr. Abdelaal discusses the two biggest challenges that face Upper Egypt: economic underdevelopment and religious strife between Muslims and Copts.  Mr. Abdelaal has won a number of literary awards including the Al Sawy Wheel Award for best short story and the Sawiris Foundation Literary Award for best creative novel.  He continues to write in the hopes that policy makers who read his pieces will be moved to convey his thoughts to the public and begin working to solve their problems.


Name: Dr. (Mrs.) Mariam Gaid FORHAM BOTTROS
Present Position: Lecturer, Sculpture Department, Faculty of Fine Arts, South
Valley University

Previous Positions: Instructor
Education/Training: Ph.D., Helwan University, 2006

Memberships: Artists Syndicate in Egypt;
Asala Syndicate for Arts.

Publications: Artistic Sculpture Works

Address: 20 Khidr Street
Hadaek Helwan
Telephone: (202) 012-109-4668

Languages: Arabic (primary)
U.S. Travel: No previous U.S. travel
Other Travel: Italy
Professional Interests: Dr. Mariam Forham Bottros is an instructor and sculptor at South Valley University.  She is very interested in using art as a means to illustrate the social situation in the Luxor and Qena areas of Egypt. She instructs approximately 100 students – many of whom come from underserved areas.  She hopes to explore the ways in which art influences and reflects contemporary situations.


Name: Mr. Mohammed Rasim KASIM AL-KHAFAJI
Present Position: Chairman, Tawasin Cultural Society

Education/Training: B.A., Fine Arts, Baghdad University;
Course Certificate, Cultural Management, Goethe Institute, Germany.

Memberships: Iraqi Plastic Art Association;
Union of Iraqi Journalists.

Publications: Poems and articles about critiquing art published in Arabic and Iraqi newspapers

Address: 2nd Floor, Building 77, Street 13
Quarter 102, Abu Nwas Street
Baghdad, Iraq
Telephone: 07901-282-518

Languages: Arabic (primary), English
U.S. Travel: No previous U.S. travel
Other Travel: Austria, Germany, Jordan, Syria, Turkey

Professional Interests: Mr. Mohammed Rasim Kasim Al-Khafiaji is the chairman of the Tawasin Cultural Society, an arts and cultural organization
established in 2004 in Baghdad.  Mr. Kasim leads an organization that is one of the cultural forces in the rebuilding of Iraq’s civil society.  With hundreds of members, the Tawasin Society continues to promote equal rights between the genders, encourage free speech and dissenting opinion, and advance peace through the arts despite societal pressures and security threats.  He hopes to examine best practices in running effective cultural organizations.


Name: Dr. Suleiman Ali BEN KAFU
Present Position: Head, Mass Media Department, Al-Fattah University
Concurrent Position: Head, Academic Exams Department, Al-Fattah University;
Lecturer, Al-Fattah University.

Previous Positions: Committee Head, Short Films Festival, Tripoli;
Committee Head, 17th Theatre Festival; Head, Evaluating Exhibition Association, 2000 – 2007;
Supervised more than 20 graduation projects.

Education/Training: Ph.D. and M.S., Sofia University, Sofia, Bulgaria, 1998;
B.S., Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, U.S., 1985;
Winner, Gold Medal, Salaam Festival, Morocco;
Winner of more than 10 local and regional prizes.

Memberships: Artists Union of Tripoli and Libya; National Association of Youth Care;
Andalusia Association of Youth Care; Aljeel Alsaaed Band for Theatrical Acting;
Libya Cinema Association; North African Artists Union.

Publications: Published many articles in local newspapers and Albohooth Al-elamya (Mass Media Research) regarding cinematography; Co-authored, Interior Design (Part I) and Interior Design (Part II), academic books for art high schools published at the national level, 2001; Animation Techniques (book to be released).

Address: Hay Al-Andalus
Behin Alarousy Mosque
Telephone: +218913755610
Languages: Arabic (primary), English

U.S. Travel: Flagstaff and Washington, DC
Other Travel: Bulgaria, Malta, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey.

Professional Interests: Dr. Suleiman Ali Ben Kafu is the Head of the Mass Media Department at Al-Fattah University.  In addition to teaching at the University, he has lectured on animation and cinema at various seminars and workshops.  Having performed in 16 plays, Dr. Ben Kafu also has a long history of performing on Libyan television, including the documentary, Abdullah Wa Algaba.  He has taken a behind-the-scenes role as Art Director for Libyan and Greek television programs.  Dr. Ben Kafu has participated in more than 13 art exhibitions, representing Libya in Morocco, Bulgaria and Egypt.  Additionally, he has exhibited his artwork in Washington, DC and Flagstaff, Arizona.  His diverse background in Fine Arts enables him to train the next generation of Libyan artists in social and political expression.


Name: Mr. Omar LEBBATE
Present Position: Manager, Hakim Hip Hop Group
Concurrent Position: Artistic Advisor, Festivals in Meknes;
President, Bab Mansour Youth.

Previous Positions: Soccer Player (first division, amateur), 2004 – 2006
Education/Training: Degree, Computer Science, ELITE 3000, Meknes, 2002;
English Study, Moulay Ismail University, Meknes, 2003 – 2004;
Certificate, NGO Management, Cinema and Audiovisual Institute,
Rabat, 2004.

Memberships: Development Advisor, Reseau Maillage Maroc (Network Morocco)

Publications: Press article ready for publication, “When I Was Your Age”

Address: No. 4571 Rue 42 Oujah Arous
Telephone: (212-64) 31-25-27

Languages: Arabic (primary), French

U.S. Travel: No previous U.S. travel

Professional Interests: Mr. Omar Lebbate is the President of Bab Mansour Youth Association in Meknes.  In his role at this neighborhood association, he is very active in civil society, generating activities for the youth in the area debilitated by poverty and unemployment. Past association activities have included participating in and organizing music festivals, travel, exchange forums and community service projects.  Bab Mansour Youth Association joined the nationwide Maillage network of youth NGOs, and Mr. Lebbate has become the network’s development advisor.  He has also organized break dance competitions and hip hop concerts in Meknes.

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