Saudi hip-hop host launches The Beat DXB

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Reem Ekay
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Big Hass
Updated 21 March 2018
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Saudi hip-hop host launches The Beat DXB

DUBAI: Saudi hip-hop promoter and radio host Hass Dennaoui (aka Big Hass) is known as one of the regional independent music scene’s most influential figures. Big Hass started the Kingdom’s first FM radio hip-hop show — “Laish Hip-Hop?” — in 2011, introducing Saudi listeners to what he calls “real” hip-hop. By which he means socially conscious, smart rap, as opposed to the commercial “bottles-and-girls” tracks that clutter up the charts.

Dennaoui relocated to Dubai from Saudi around 18 months ago “to give my autistic son a better life” and recently revived an events series that he launched in Jeddah in 2013, The Beat.

“Its main aim is to feature local, up-and-coming artists from the community and give them a platform to perform live,” he told Arab News.

Last weekend saw the first The Beat DXB take place. It featured performances from Lebanese singer-songwriter Jamil Jabbour, Sudanese R&B/soul singer Reem Ekay, and Serbian singer and pianist Aleksandra Krstic.

“The main reason I wanted to launch with these artists was simply because they don’t perform that often in Dubai,” Dennaoui explained. “Jamil Jabbour is very talented with a very strong voice, but he rarely gets the chance to do originals. Reem’s vibe is just incredible, but The Beat DXB was her first live performance in two years! And Aleks is one of my favorite singers in Dubai. We also got a special appearance by Double A the Preacherman who freestyled using lyrics we gave him on the spot, which proved to be very entertaining.”

Dennaoui described the night as “amazing,” saying: “What I personally enjoyed was the fact that the audience was there listening to each and every song: There was no talking, no drinking, no distraction, simply a connection made between the artist and the audience, and watching that was a true blessing.

“I received a lot of great feedback,” he continued. “I expect big things for The Beat DXB.”


Carpet Diem: Notes on a cultural icon

‘The World’s Ugliest Carpet.' (Shutterstock)
Updated 18 February 2019
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Carpet Diem: Notes on a cultural icon

DUBAI: Five things we learned at Carpet Oasis, the annual festival in Dubai.

The biggest carpet on the planet

No surprise that the world’s largest carpet was created in Iran — Persian rugs are widely regarded as the global benchmark for excellence. No surprise either that it’s installed at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in the UAE — a country with a hunger for breaking ‘world’s biggest …’ records that is probably record in itself. The big rug’s dominant color is green (Sheikh Zayed’s favorite, apparently, and — handily — the color generally associated with Islam). It consists of 2.2 billion hand-tied knots and 38 tons of cotton and wool, and was constructed by a team of 3,000 workers.

The most expensive carpet ever sold

In 2013, an anonymous buyer — believed to be from the Middle East — paid $33.8 million for this sickle-leaf carpet, believed to have been created in the early 17th century in Persia. The price was completely unexpected. Sotheby’s, the auction house, had estimated a sale of around $7 million for the relatively small (2.67 by 1.96 meters) ‘vase-techinque’ carpet from the William A. Clark Collection. But the phone buyer refused to concede, sending the price spiralling to more than three times the previous record.

The oldest carpet known to man

This Russian pile carpet survived from, at least, the 4th century BCE until it was discovered well over 2000 years later in the tomb of a Siberian prince. Who clearly didn’t have cats. As was customary at the time, the prince was buried with his most treasured possessions, the majority of which were stolen by grave robbers at some point over two millennia. But the hole they left behind allowed snow to pile up inside, helping to preserve the carpet until the tomb was found again in 1948. The carpet is now in the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.

The alpha-carpet

Described at Carpet Oasis as ‘The World’s Most Famous Carpet’ — which is tricky to verify given most people can’t name a carpet besides “my living room one” — the Ardabil Carpet is actually one of a pair of silk-and-wool Persian rugs currently belonging to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. They were created in the mid-16th century and come with an inscription from the work of Persian poet Hafiz Shirazi and the central design is based on the interior of the dome of the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan.

The eyesore

Billed as ‘The World’s Ugliest Carpet’ — a claim that would surely be hotly contested by anyone growing up in the West in the Seventies — this monstrosity from Portland Airport in Oregon, USA has become something of an ironic hipster icon, its hideous pattern (based on the airport’s runways) and color scheme replicated on socks, hats and bicycle helmets. The carpet has its own website and social media accounts (yes, it’s more popular than you…) When the airport announced it was going to be replaced, online outrage ensued, and it was recycled into wall hangings and door mats. Rest easy though, its replacement is almost equally aesthetically offensive.