Yemeni-Emirati singer Balqees named in Forbes’ Arab 30 under 30 list

Balqees Fathi has been selected as one of the region’s most influential personalities under the age of 30. (@balqeesfathi)
Updated 07 March 2018
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Yemeni-Emirati singer Balqees named in Forbes’ Arab 30 under 30 list

CAIRO: Yemeni-Emirati musician Balqees Fathi has been selected as one of the region’s most influential personalities in the “Arab 30 under 30” list, recently revealed by Forbes Middle East.
The singer was chosen as the most influential personality in the music category.
Forbes credits her participation in the first female-only concert in Saudi Arabia last December as part of the reason she made the list. She also headlined the Sharjah World Music Festival in the same month.
The 29-year-old star was also a brand ambassador for Pantene in 2016 and for L’azurde, a jewelry brand, in 2017.
Forbes Middle East has issued its first list of Arab movers and shakers under the age of 30, who are revolutionizing their respective fields through innovative ideas.
“With over 60 percent of the population under the age of 30, the very first class of Arab 30 under 30 is a dynamic mix of social entrepreneurs, artists, celebrities and intellectuals,” reads Forbes Middle East’s website.
The list features Palestinian singer Mohammed Assaf, 29, who was awarded a recording contract and gained a legion of adoring fans when he won Arab Idol in 2013.
Another high achiever is the UAE’s new Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence Omar bin Sultan Al-Olama, who at 29 is responsible for selecting the learning tools for the country’s smart government services.
Egyptian footballer and Liverpool striker Mohammad Salah was also featured on the list. The 25-year-old is currently the second highest goal scorer in the English Premier League.
In October last year, he led Egypt to its first football World Cup finals since 1990, after having scored five goals in the qualifiers.


West End theater turns migrant camp to get London audience talking

Updated 20 June 2018
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West End theater turns migrant camp to get London audience talking

  • The Playhouse Theatre in London’s West End aims to immerse the audience in the squalid camp in the northern French port city of Calais that inspired “The Jungle.”
  • The immersive play offers a glimpse into life in the camp, telling the story of asylum-seekers, people smugglers and charity workers who used to populate it.

LONDON: London theatergoers used to spectating in comfort are in for a rude awakening after the authors of a play swapped the traditional plush velvet seating for wooden benches and covered the floor with soil to simulate the feel of a migrant camp.
The Playhouse Theatre in London’s West End aims to immerse the audience in the squalid camp in the northern French port city of Calais that inspired “The Jungle,” whose authors hope their play will stoke debate about migration.
“People often hold strong opinions about this subject because it doesn’t seem to have any immediate answer,” said Joe Murphy, 27, who co-wrote the play.
“Discussion is the only think that is going to get us forward ... and hopefully this play can provide some of that space for debate,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.
Co-author Joe Robertson said the pair had “tried to depict both the terrible conditions that existed in the Jungle camp, but also the hope that existed in that place.”
Up to 10,000 people seeking ways to reach Britain used to live in the giant slum before it was cleared by authorities in late 2016.
Immigration remains a major political issue across Europe, as well as in the United States, where the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the Mexican border has caused an international outcry.
Several European leaders including those of France, Germany, Italy and Austria are to hold talks on Sunday to explore how to stop people from moving around the European Union after claiming asylum in one of the Mediterranean states of arrival.
Murphy and Robertson, 28, based the script on their experience as volunteers in Calais, where they ran a temporary theater within the camp.
The immersive play offers a glimpse into life in the camp, telling the story of asylum-seekers, people smugglers and charity workers who used to populate it.
“There were 25 different nationalities of people all forced to live side by side often on top of each other and the phenomenal story about that place was people did make an effort to come together,” said Robertson.
Theatre-goers are invited to seat at the tables of the camp’s makeshift Afghan café, where the action unfolds.
“The closer you are to the audience the better the message is delivered,” said actor Ammar Hajj Ahmad, who plays one of the leading characters.
Ahmad, from Syria, is one of many actors from a refugee background featured in the play. Several asylum-seekers the authors met in Calais are also part of the cast.
“I am proud of this, I love telling stories ... about the many people who lived in Calais,” said cast-member Mohamed Sarrar, a musician from Sudan who arrived in Britain two years ago.
The play, which premiered at another London theater The Young Vic, last year, runs from July 5 to November.