Former French first lady enthralls at Beirut’s Beiteddine festival

Carla Bruni performs at the Beiteddine International Art Festival on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 01 August 2018
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Former French first lady enthralls at Beirut’s Beiteddine festival

  • Singer Carla Bruni-Sarkozy's performance was one of the most anticipated at this year’s festival
  • Among the French singer's audience were Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and former French PM Sarkozy

JEDDAH: Singer Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the former French first lady, wowed the Beiteddine Art Festival near Beirut, Lebanon, in a concert on Monday.

Carla performed songs from her fifth album, “French Touch,” to a crowd including  Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, former Lebanese president Michel Suleiman and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is her husband.

On Tuesday, the singer-songwriter posted on Instagram alongside a photo from the concert: “Thank you beautiful Beirut for your warm welcome.” Earlier, with an image of the Beirut sky, she wrote: “Beirut, my heart burns for you already.”

Another image she captioned with: “Looking forward to playing for you tomorrow @beiteddinefestival and so happy to finally discover the beautiful city of Beirut.”

Dressed in black pants and a sequined jacket initially and then a blue jacket, Bruni was seen belting out one number after another in videos posted by her and the festival’s official account on Instagram. She also performed on the piano and guitar.

The French singer’s performance was one of the most anticipated at this year’s festival, which is held every summer at the Beiteddine Palace in Lebanon’s Chouf Mountains, south of the capital Beirut. The 200-year-old Beiteddine Palace is a marvel of Lebanese architecture, with its many courtyards, monumental gates, elegant arcades and levelled galleries. 

The former French president and his wife landed in Beirut on Sunday. They were greeted at the Beirut airport by Beiteddine Art Festival president Noura Jumblatt and the French ambassador to Lebanon, Bruno Foucher.

Sources said Sarkozy met with a number of Lebanese officials, including Suleiman and Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt at his Mukhtara residence.

Since her first album, “Quelqu’un m’a dit,” in 2002, Bruni has sold five million albums and toured the world, including New York, Rio, London and Moscow, singing classic rock, country and jazz standards in English from her fifth album.

The former supermodel married Sarkozy in 2008. The marriage is her first and Sarkozy’s third. In 2010, Forbes magazine ranked Bruni-Sarkozy as the 35th most powerful woman in the world.

The 33rd annual Beiteddine Art Festival, one of the leading ones in the Middle East, began last month, showcasing a series of performers and aiming to draw spectators from around the country and beyond. The festival was launched in the summer of 1985.

This year’s performances include German singer Ute Lemper, Arab composer and singer Kadim Al-Sahir and Montreal-based troupe Cirque Eloize. Shows will continue until August 11.


Blake Lively makes a surprise trip to Abu Dhabi

Updated 19 November 2018
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Blake Lively makes a surprise trip to Abu Dhabi

  • Blake Lively is the wife of Ryan Reynolds who is currently shooting a film in the UAE capital
  • The pair were spotted at various locations across the city by excited fans while Reynolds posted photos of Lively and the crew enjoying dinner in Abu Dhabi

DUBAI: Hollywood actress and style icon Blake Lively jetted into Abu Dhabi over the weekend to pay her equally famous heartthrob husband, Ryan Reynolds, a visit as he shoots scenes for action movie “6 Underground.”

The pair were spotted at various locations across the city by excited fans while Reynolds posted photos of Lively and the crew enjoying dinner in Abu Dhabi on his Instagram stories.

Reynolds, Latin actress Adria Arjona and a host of other famous faces will be in the city for 30 days to shoot scenes for the Netflix/Skydance Media film.

Arjona took to Instagram to post a series of snaps from the UAE, including shots of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The star, who is best known for her role in the HBO television series “True Detective,” is joined in the film by actors Ben Hardy, Lior Raz, Mélanie Laurent, Corey Hawkins and Manuel Rulfo.

There are more than 300 cast and crew in the country working under award-winning director Michael Bay, whose portfolio includes “Bad Boys,” “Armageddon,” the “Transformer” franchise and “The Rock.”

The cast will shoot at four locations, including the Liwa desert, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ras Al-Khaimah.

 “Shooting in Abu Dhabi is going to be one of the highlights of this production, although you’ll have to wait until the movie hits Netflix to find out why,” Reynolds said in a public statement last week.

“We’ve only been here a few days so far, but the welcome from everyone has been amazing and I can’t wait to explore Abu Dhabi more.”

The movie’s production team includes more than 100 Abu Dhabi-based production specialists, who are working closely with media zone twofour54, which is providing production services.

This is just the latest in a string of blockbusters to use Abu Dhabi and the wider UAE as a location.

Others have included the comedy “War Machine,” starring Brad Pitt, in 2015.

In a statement, Michael Bay said: “Abu Dhabi is a unique place to make a movie, with a lot of great looks.  It’s got the diversity and architecture I need in front of the camera, plus the professional facilities, crew and infrastructure to back it up.  I’m very excited to be shooting here over the next few weeks.