Hijab-wearing ballerina performs on Alexandria streets to promote tourism

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Ballerina Aya Magdy - a student at Alexandria University - performing dance moves around the Egyptian city to promote tourism. (Photo: Hussein Hossam / Fantasia Photography)
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Ballerina Aya Magdy - a student at Alexandria University - performing dance moves around the Egyptian city to promote tourism. (Photo: Hussein Hossam / Fantasia Photography)
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Ballerina Aya Magdy - a student at Alexandria University - performing dance moves around the Egyptian city to promote tourism. (Photo: Hussein Hossam / Fantasia Photography)
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Ballerina Aya Magdy - a student at Alexandria University - performing dance moves around the Egyptian city to promote tourism. (Photo: Hussein Hossam / Fantasia Photography)
Updated 04 February 2018
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Hijab-wearing ballerina performs on Alexandria streets to promote tourism

ALEXANDRIA: Pictures featuring a 20-year-old Egyptian ballerina wearing a hijab as she performs on the streets of Alexandria have proved popular on social media.
Aya Magdy appears in photographs performing dance moves around the city and on its iconic Stanley Bridge while wearing a headscarf and donning a long-sleeved ballet dress.
Magdy, a law student at Alexandria University, says her aim is to showcase the beauty of her city by performing in front of its most famous sites and encourage tourists to visit.
When asked how people in the street react when seeing her, Magdy said: “They were surprised at first, but soon I began to see admiration in the way they looked at me as they see me perform this beautiful art,” she told the local Youm7 newspaper.
When the photos were posted on a public Facebook page, some people criticized her for dancing and wearing a hijab at the same time.
But Magdy said she wanted to break taboos about ballet dancing in Egypt, and promote it as a form of art.
The idea of taking to Egyptian streets and performing ballet began when the “Ballerinas of Cairo” were spotted posing and performing moves in front of Cairo’s architectural gems.
Magdy says she was inspired by them and wanted to do the same for her city.
See more photos from the shoot by Hussein Hossam / Fantasia Photography here.


The UAE’s art scene isn’t imported, Emirati curator argues

Updated 24 March 2019
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The UAE’s art scene isn’t imported, Emirati curator argues

  • Several art platforms participated in the new segment
  • One of the artists said her piece is actually a collaboration with the public

ABU DHABI: This year, Art Dubai introduced a new segment into its program — the UAE NOW exhibit that showcased the country’s local independent, artist-run platforms.

The region’s largest art fair ran from March 20-23 and Arab News caught up with UAE NOW curator Munira Al-Sayegh to find out more about the push to showcase homegrown creativity.

“The UAE NOW section of Art Dubai is extremely important to me. It is a moment where we are looking at the cross-collaboration of grassroots platforms that have taken place out of the sheer idea of collaboration between creatives and it is extremely important to showcase this as a counter-narrative to the usual stereotypical idea that the UAE’s art scene is a very commercial art scene or one that is imported,” the curator said.

The participating platforms included Bait 15, Banat Collective, Jaffat el Aqlam, PAC (Public Art Collective) and Daftar Asfar. The platforms were invited to showcase their works and many ended up creating small, informal spaces that showed off the artists’ pieces in a cozy atmosphere. Bait 15’s booth featured a large mattress in the middle, where visitors could rest their weary feet, and the Banat Collective boasted draped chiffon on which passers-by could draw and doodle with chalk pastels.  

The piece by Saudi Arabia-based Palestinian artist Jana Ghalayini was a “collaboration with the public,” she told Arab News, adding that she was hoping to explore themes of identity and empowerment through the interactive installation.

For her part, co-founder of the Abu Dhabi-based Bait 15 studio Afra Al-Dhaheri was equally interested in opening up a dialogue.

“This is the first time that Art Dubai allows for community spaces to be present… I think this dialogue has to emerge one way or another, like, having the artist community speak,” she told Arab News.  

“Art is important for any society. It’s a register for the history of the society, the community and the times,” she added.