Boyband BTS make K-Pop history topping US album charts

South Korean boyband BTS attend the 2018 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 20. BTS became the first K-Pop group to top the Billboard 200 music charts, which ranks albums via sales, downloads and streams. (AFP)
Updated 28 May 2018
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Boyband BTS make K-Pop history topping US album charts

SEOUL: Korean boyband phenomenon BTS have become the first K-Pop group to rise to the top of the US album charts, a vivid illustration of the genre’s growing global appeal.
Known for boyish good looks, floppy haircuts and meticulously choreographed dance moves, the septet has become one of South Korea’s best known and most lucrative musical exports.
On Sunday, they passed a new milestone — becoming the first K-Pop group to top the Billboard 200 music charts which ranks albums via sales, downloads and streams.
“It’s the first No. 1 for the seven-member group, and the first K-pop album to lead the tally,” Billboard wrote in its online report detailing the latest chart ranking.
While plenty of older music listeners in the West might be asking “who?,” it’s hard to underestimate the popularity of BTS and their seven stars Suga, J-Hope, Rap Monster, Jimin, V, Jungkook and Jin.
According to one data analysis, they were they most talked about phenomenon on Twitter in 2017, with nearly double the number of mentions on the social media platform than US President Donald Trump and Canadian badboy heartthrob Justin Bieber combined.
Throw in their similarly massive appeal across the globe — they have huge social media followings in Japan, China, Southeast Asia and parts of Latin America — and you have a truly global supergroup.
Their new album “Love Yourself: Tear” toppled “Beerpong and Bentleys” by rising hip-hop star Post Malone, whose facial tattoos are the very antithesis of BTS’ wholesome, meticulously manicured image.
While BTS sing in Korean, their style successfully fuses the catchy earworms of K-Pop with hip-hop and R’n’B.
Last year, their previous release “Love Yourself: Her” became the first K-Pop album to make it into the top 10 US album charts, rising to number seven, and hit the number one spot on iTunes in more than 70 countries.


Curious foreigners get rare chance to sample Emirati culture

Updated 19 May 2019
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Curious foreigners get rare chance to sample Emirati culture

DUBAI: No question was off limits for curious tourists and foreign residents of Dubai wanting to learn more about Emirati culture and the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Emiratis make up less than 10% of those living in Dubai, the most populated emirate in the seven-emirate United Arab Emirates federation, making it hard for foreigners to meet them.
Dubai goes to great lengths to market itself as open to different cultures and faiths as the Middle East’s financial, trade and leisure center, and a government cultural center is inviting visitors to find out more about Emirati life.
“There are no offending questions,” said Emirati Rashid Al-Tamimi from the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding.
“How do you worship, what is the mosque, why do you wear white, why do women wear black ... is everybody rich in this country?“
Emirati volunteers gathered at a majlis — the traditional sitting room where the end-of-fast iftar meal is served at floor-level — were asked about dating and marriage, what they think of Dubai’s comparatively liberal dress codes for foreigners, and aspects of the Muslim faith.
“We learn from them, they learn from us. (Foreigners) have been here a long time and I feel they see themselves as Emiratis, and we are proud that they do so,” said Majida Al-Gharib a student volunteer.
Visitors broke the day’s fast with dates and water, before sampling Emirati cuisine, including biryani and machboos rice and meat dishes.
Seven-year-old Anthony from Poland, who goes to school in Dubai, said he came to find out more about the breaking of the fast meal because many of his friends at school do it.
2019 has been designated the Year of Tolerance in the United Arab Emirates and there is a minister of state for tolerance.