Saleem Dabbour

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Saleem Dabbour
Saleem Dabbour at his home office , (2012).
Born 18 September 1970
Jalazone, Ramallah
Occupation Novelist, scenarist, director, film critic
Language Arabic, English and Dutch
Nationality Palestinian and Dutch

Saleem Dabbour[1] (Arabic: سليم دبور‎) (born 18 September 1970), is a Palestinian novelist, scenarist, director, producer, and film critic.[2] Dabbour became popular for his "straight-forward and daring work" as a writer in Shu fi Ma fi (2006), Kaffa (2007) and Shubak al-Ankabout (2009).[3]


Born in Jalazone, Palestine in 1970, Dabbour acquired Dutch citizenship in 1998 after a royal decision by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and since then, detains two citizenships (Dutch and Palestinian). He holds a BA degree in English Literature from Bir Zeit University and a postgraduate diploma in Cultural Studies from the Netherlands.

Poetry and writing[edit]

Saleem Dabbour published his first poem in Al-Quds (newspaper)at the age of 12. In his teenage years, hundreds of poems, short stories, and articles of his hand were published in Palestinian magazines and newspapers. He also wrote song lyrics and sang at several festivals. At university, he was contributor and editor of both the Arabic and English student magazines. At the age of 22, Dabbour wrote, directed, and produced his first theater play, Khaliluha, addressing the social custom of early marriage. Two other theater plays followed shortly; Fi Beetina Jinn and Malikaat Rahmeh, and were performed in the main theater houses. At the age of 23, Saleem Dabbour completed his first novel, Saber,[4] which was published 20 years later by Dar al-Jundi, in October 2013.[5][6][7][8]


Saleem Dabbour has won several literary prizes, including the First Prize for Short Prose 2003, El-Hidzjra Foundation, Netherlands, for Eyewitness – a story on the Jenin massacre of 2002. In 2003, Dabbour participated in Stateless Nation, a project from the Venice Biennale that collected video interviews with prominent Palestinians in Palestine and the Diaspora for ongoing exhibition. For his work and efforts in the human rights field, Dabbour was honored as a Distinguished Visitor by the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights in 2006. Dabbour was voted among the top 5 Cultural Personalities in Palestine in Ma'an's 2009 Annual Leading Figures and Organizations poll.[9][10] in which around 450,000 persons took part. In 2013, Dabbour became CEO of IMPACT, a nonprofit organization specialized in creating visual productions for social change.


Featured films[edit]

Nuktet Tahawul[11] (Turning Point/Beyond the Sun)) (2010)

Nuktet Tahawul is a truth-based drama on a Palestinian boy growing up under Israeli occupation in the 1980s, stars Sami Mitwasi as the leading character Osama, and co-stars 15-year-old Majd Dabbour as the young Osama. The 100-minute film is set in a small village and tells a personal journey of adolescence and young adulthood, struggles, hardships and existence. The film was a "turning point" in recent Palestinian cinema history, for being the first-ever 100% Palestinian-funded production with an all Palestinian crew and cast.[12][13][14] As a result, unlike most Palestinian productions, it did not need heed any censorship and could take head on the brutality of the Israeli conflict and the controversial issue of collaboration with the Israeli military.[15] It gained a lot of media attention for being the first Palestinian film that was released in Egyptian cinemas, after initially being banned by former Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak.[13][16][17] The film that was shot in its entirety in Palestine, faced many difficulties due to Israeli conflicts, especially when shooting in the cities of Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Beit Sahour in the West Bank.[12][13][14][17]

Spider Web[18] (Shebaak al-Ankabout) (2010)
Spider Web deals with lawlessness and the rule of law in Palestine in a moving dramatic story on the fight for justice and dignity. The 90-minute film highlights the role of the PNA and various justice agencies in confronting corruption and crimes that take place in a Palestinian village due to the corruption of a police officer who covers up for criminals. Their crimes disrupt order in this village, causing chaos and undermining the safety and well-being of the whole community. The film sends a strong message that it’s not possible for any citizen to feel safe and secure on the personal or community level in the absence of law, as only the law can guarantee justice and impartiality of the judiciary and safeguard the rights of all citizens. The film also shows women progressing to non-stereotyped roles, i.e. an abused wife becoming a gas station owner and worker, a harassed university girl complaining to high level police officer.
The high quality film was produced for the TAM project, screened in community and university settings with following discussion sessions and broadcast on 10 TV stations.
Kaffa![19] (Enough!) (2007)

Kaffa! is a short drama that deals with the political turmoil in Palestine which began in January 2006 during the first democratic parliamentary elections that Hamas participated in, its unexpected landslide victory, the following international aid boycott and the developing internal conflicts that marked 2007 and overshadowed Israeli occupation policies.[20] The 48-minute film sought to provide truthful and objective insight into these issues by capturing developments in a family with two sons of rivaling parties. Focusing on the mother and the sons who belonged to rival factions Hamas and Fateh, the film followed the family through the excitement of the pre-election and immediate post-election period, to the growing tensions and increasing inter-factional violence which disrupts family life and the mother's health.[20]

Kaffa! was awarded the Gold Prize at the 2009 Tunis Arab Media Festival,[20] and won the Silver Prize at the 14th Arab Media Festival in Cairo, 2008, in the short film category.[21]


Shahbour (2012)
Shahbour is a 60-minute play that seeks to promote civic engagement and volunteerism, using irony and satire. The play focuses on misconceptions about volunteer work and criticizes the people that only move to action when there is direct material compensation. The play attempts to make the audience reflect about what (s)he can do to help others and help solve priority issues that affect their community. Shahbour, a misery coffee shop owner, gradually changes under the influence of Abu Srour into an active community volunteer, finding not only more respect but also an increase in his clientele. His wife, Aziza, finds an interesting solution to solving the waste problem in the village, forcing the local council to take the issues brought forward by their constituents more serious... The play was performed live on 20 occasions and will be filmed for broadcast on TV.
Let's Vote (2011)
Let’s Vote is a 60-minute play that provides information about various voter registration and election procedures in an entertaining manner, using comedy and music, and a professional cast including famous Palestinian actors and young talent. Performed 10 times for live village audiences including at the annual 3-day Apricot Festival in Jifna, with a total attendance of around seven thousand people. The play was a project component of the Increasing Voter Awareness project that also included voter education workshops for women.
Dance with Death (2008)
Dance With Death is a play inspired by regular Gaza bombings. It deals with extreme suffer, hope and despair of war victims. The play tells the story of a lone young boy that tries to save his father who his critically injured and trapped under the rubble of their destroyed house. Using a minimalist approach and an absurd interpretation of this harsh reality, the play criticizes not only the occupational war policies, but also the lack of intervention on part of the Arab and Western world. It was performed among others at the International Children Festival, Tunis, 2008. One week after that performance the War on Gaza started…
Balak Bithoun[22] (2007)
The 60-minute-long social play Balak Bithoun deals with domestic violence, visualizing the cycle of violence including between spouses, child abuse and juvenile violence, in a realistic yet comic manner, with inclusion of Islamic and traditional views on the subject. The play was designed to help the diverse audience participants relate what they see to their own lives and to the life of the community, received much media attention and was applauded for its effective way in breaking the silence surrounding the sensitive domestic violence issues and stimulating the audience to participate in discussions. The play was performed in 80 communities, then filmed and screened in at least another 40 communities, and broadcast on various TV stations.

Aniimated films[edit]

Al-Hayaa Ahla (Life is Better) (2007)

Al-Hayaa Ahla (Life is Better) was the first-ever Palestinian-made animated film for children.[23] Written by Dabbour, this 22-minute-long film that evolves around children's rights using original characters, was funded by UNICEF and distributed to children, schools and child rights organizations throughout Palestinian territories.[23]

Documantary films[edit]

The Road to Success (2008)
The 50-minute, high quality documentary seeks to shed a light on the plight of Palestinian women activists, who face strong societal and occupational obstacles, and the important work of local and national women’s organizations in Palestine. The documentary is intended to inspire and support women’s activism in a patriarchal culture and an obstructive political environment. The documentary features successful young and veteran women’s activists, including the Minister of Women’s Affairs, telling openly about their personal journey and efforts towards becoming successful women’s rights’ defenders in their community and society. The documentary was broadcast on local TV stations.


Shu Fi Ma Fi[24] (20 episodes, 2006)

Shu Fi Ma Fi[25] was the second Palestinian-produced TV 'soap' series in history. Produced by the independent Ma'an Development Center, the series, which was labelled as a family comedy, consisted of twenty 40-minute episodes set in a University and dealt with a range of social and political issues including domestic violence, corruption, parliamentary elections, inter-religious marriage, online love and drugs. The series, which was deemed a great achievement for Palestinian media productions, was first broadcast in 2006, during the month of Ramadan on Palestinian Satellite Channel as well as 12 other independent Palestinian TV channels.


  1. ^ Saleem Dabbour with his youngest son Mohammed as featured on Mubdioun [1] YouTube. Sep 12, 2012
  2. ^ "شاشات يعالج قضايا المرأة الفلسطينية". AlJazeera. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  3. ^ "'Beyond The Sun' Film Premiere Au First Production Of 'Turning Point' Project". Palestine News Network. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  4. ^ Dar Al-Jundi Publications for October [2] PNN. October 28, 2013
  5. ^ Publication of Saber for the Palestinian novelist Saleem Dabbour [3] Aelya news. October 23, 2013
  6. ^ Publication of Saber for the Palestine writer and novelist Saleem Dabbour [4] Al Quds news. November 10, 2013
  7. ^ Publication of Saber for the Palestine writer and novelist Saleem Dabbour [5] Al Watan news. November 9, 2013
  8. ^ Saber [6] qordoba for electronic books
  9. ^ "Best of 2009 unveiled in Ramallah". Ma'an News Agency. 1 February 2010. 
  10. ^ "Best of 2009 unveiled in Ramallah". American Task Force. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  11. ^ Palestinian film Turning Point [7] TouTube.Sep 13, 2012
  12. ^ a b Shaeeb, Hiba (14 December 2011). "بالصورإعلان تفاصيل أول فيلم فلسطينى فى تاريخ السينما المصرية". AlNahar. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  13. ^ a b c "نقطة تحول - أول فيلم فلسطيني يعرض في القاهرة". Maan News. 14 December 2011. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  14. ^ a b Namet'Allah, Sara (26 November 2011). "نقطة تحول فيلم فلسطينى بدور العرض المصرية قريباً". AlAhram. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  15. ^ Narrating Conflict in the Middle East - Discourse, Image and Communications Practices in Lebanon and Palestine [8] I.B.Tauris, 2013
  16. ^ Sadek, Basem (17 December 2011). "نقطة تحول: فيلم فلسطيني منعه نظام مبارك". AlSharq. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  17. ^ a b "نقطة تحول فيلم سينمائي فلسطيني في دور العرض المصرية". AlArab. 28 December 2011. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  18. ^ Palestinian Film Spider Web [9] YouTube.Sep 12, 2012
  19. ^ Palestinian film 'Kaffa!' [10] YouTube.Sep 13, 2012
  20. ^ a b c "Palestinian shows win big at Tunis Arab TV and Radio Awards". Ma'an News Agency. 17 July 2009. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  21. ^ "Palestinan film wins silver at 14th Cairo Arab Media Festival". Ma'an News Agency. 17 November 2008. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  22. ^ Palestinian Theater 'Balak Bithoun' [11] YouTube. Sep 14, 2012
  23. ^ a b "DCI and UNICEF produce animated film on child rights". DCI. 13 February 2008. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  24. ^ NBC Report, Palestinian Soap Opera ' Shu Fi Ma Fi' [12] YouTube.Sep 9, 2012
  25. ^ Palestinian Soap Opera ' Shu Fi Ma Fi' [13] YouTube.Sep 13, 2012