Rayess Bek and La Mirza — ‘Love and Revenge’

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Randa Mirza (L) and Rayess Bek (R) during their recent performance at the Louvre Abu Dhabi
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Randa Mirza and Rayess Bek during their recent performance at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. A scene from "Love & Revenge" projected on the screen behind them.
Updated 05 May 2018

Rayess Bek and La Mirza — ‘Love and Revenge’

  • The viewer is taken back to an era of cinema that probably won't be recreated
  • “Love & Revenge” was recently at the Louvre Abu Dhabi for two consecutive nights

DUBAI: There’s a scene early on in “Love & Revenge” that epitomizes the poignancy in Rayess Bek’s and Randa Mirza’s audio-visual ode to a cultural golden age - clips of classic Egyptian cinema set to contemporary electro-pop reworkings of vintage Arab songs. 

In a sequence of scenes taken from Hussein Kamal’s 1969 film “Abi Foq Al-Shagara,” the Egyptian star Abdel Halim Hafez poses self-consciously in front of a camera in Baalbek, Lebanon. With him is the actress Nadia Lutfi. As their love affair unfolds on screen, they laugh and embrace and kiss. All is set to Bek’s masterful reworking of Mohamed Abdel Wahab’s “Ya Msafer Wahdak,” sung by Nagat Al-Saghira.

It’s a sad piece of film to watch. Not because of its beauty, innocence or freedom, or because of the snapshot of an unspoiled Lebanon that it provides, but because you know, deep down, that nothing like the original film or music can ever be created again.

At the heart of “Love & Revenge” is the realization that the Arab world seen through the prism of the golden age of Egyptian cinema bears little or no resemblance to today’s world: A world in which expressions of love, romance and sexuality have been effectively erased. As such, “Love & Revenge” can be viewed as an attempt to reclaim a more liberal past; one where Hafez is free to embrace Lutfi on screen at will.

Created by Bek, a former Arabic hip-hop trailblazer turned audio-visual collaborator, and Mirza, a video artist, “Love & Revenge” was at the Louvre Abu Dhabi for two consecutive nights last week, and brought with it a keen sense of nostalgia.

Even the title is important, taken as it is from Youssef Wahbi’s 1944 film “Gharam Wa Intiqam” (Love and Revenge), the last movie to feature the singer and actress Asmahan, a Druze princess who died in mysterious circumstances before the film was finished. It is Bek’s mid-tempo, beat-heavy reinterpretation of Asmahan’s “Emta Hataraf” that is arguably the project’s standout track.

Yet, for all the perceived freedom depicted in “Love & Revenge,” with the possible exception of Asmahan the movie scenes chosen by Mirza represent a man’s vision of women. Even now, that cinematic vision is only slowly changing.

UAE-based designer creates modest fashion at a modest price

Updated 21 August 2018

UAE-based designer creates modest fashion at a modest price

DUBAI: For many modest fashion designers, it was the difficulty of finding stylish, high-street staples that played a role in why they initially set up shop. For Mosika Zeid, it was during her transition to hijab that she had her very own “a-ha” moment.
“[It] was honestly a fashion disaster,” the designer says of her time when she first started to wear a headscarf. “Being someone who was very fashion-conscious, and who loved to keep up with the latest trends and always look their best, I was shocked that I could not find everyday, on-trend modest fashion that had a reasonable price tag.”
Zeid, 33, is founder and CEO of the UAE-based modest fashion brand Desert Cove. It was as a lawyer that the Australian designer of Palestinian descent made her foray into the world of fashion.
“I was exposed to the fashion industry when I first started working as a lawyer over 12 years ago in Sydney and had some of the largest luxury fashion houses as my clients,” Zeid said. “When I came to the UAE, I consulted for some of the largest retailers. Through this I got an even greater insight into the business of fashion, as well as apparel production, sampling, fabrics and the whole process. And I just loved it.”
In July 2016, Desert Cove was born.
“This was a very soft launch,” Zeid said.
“The idea was just to test the market response to the concept.”
Receiving “an amazing response” encouraged Zeid to continue, and now she’s working on her third collection. Most recently, her team headed to Indonesia to show at Jakarta Modest Fashion Week. “It was an amazing experience to connect with our South East Asian customers and to confirm that our sisters in that region are interested in Desert Cove,” she continued.
Another location that’s exciting to the designer at the moment is the Kingdom. “Saudi women have an impeccable sense of fashion and style. They are world class, so their requirements for fashion are also world class,” says Zeid.
“The fashion scene in Saudi Arabia is undergoing huge changes [and] this means that women are looking for day-to-day fashion inspiration, which meets their amazing fashion sense, while still not compromising on their modesty requirements.”
For Zeid, Desert Cove’s unique selling points are two-fold. “Firstly, we are one of the few brands dedicated to providing hijabis modest versions of the hottest mainstream fashion trends. Plus, we have a $50 price promise on our main collection items, and $100 on our exclusive retailer collections.”
Looking ahead, Zeid is now focusing on Desert Cove’s upcoming spring-summer 2019 collection, as well as distribution deals and Dubai Modest Fashion Week at the end of 2018. “We have just launched in House of Fraser in Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi and will be having a launch event in store in early October, which we are very excited about,” she revealed.
Needless to say, Zeid doesn’t have any regrets about setting up. “I am so happy that I did launch Desert Cove, as I really do feel that I am contributing to solving a problem that women are facing, helping them to feel better about themselves and lead their most active and productive lives that they can.”