Alicia Keys to return to UAE for Dubai Jazz Festival

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American singer-songwriter Alicia Keys was announced Wednesday as the third and final festival headliner for the 17th edition of the Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival in February. (AFP)
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American singer-songwriter Alicia Keys was announced Wednesday as the third and final festival headliner for the 17th edition of the Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival in February. (Getty)
Updated 28 November 2018
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Alicia Keys to return to UAE for Dubai Jazz Festival

  • The 15-time Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter is scheduled to return to the UAE after appearing in 2013
  • The Dubai Jazz Festival, which started in 2003, is known to bring some of the music industry’s biggest stars to the emirate

DUBAI: American singer-songwriter Alicia Keys was announced Wednesday as the third and final festival headliner for the 17th edition of the Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival in February.
The 15-time Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter is scheduled to return to the UAE to perform for the first time since her “Set the World on Fire Tour” in 2013. She will join the Northern Irish band Snow Patrol, who will be headlining the event on Feb. 20, and Jamiroquai, who will perform on Feb. 21.
Keys’ UAE gig will continue her love affair with the Middle East. The 37-year-old artist, along with her husband, producer Swizz Beatz, and two children, holidayed in Egypt in September this year. Keys posed in front of the pyramids, took a boat trip along the Nile, participated in Arabic lessons and learned local history, all of which she documented on her Instagram page.
The Dubai Jazz Festival, which started in 2003, is known to bring some of the music industry’s biggest stars to the emirate, even if what they play is not strictly jazz.

American singer-songwriter Alicia Keys is the third and final festival headliner for the 17th edition of the Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival in February. (Getty)

Earlier this year, the 2018 edition saw John Legend, Duran Duran and Ricky Martin perform sold-out gigs, while 2017’s performers were Enrique Iglesias, Mariah Carey and Tom Jones.
Keys, best known for tracks such as “A Woman’s Worth,” “Fallin’,” “Girl on Fire” and “Empire State of Mind” with Jay-Z, was seen as a mentor last year on the US version of “The Voice,” winning the show with her contestant, Chris Blue.
The R&B singer, also an actress and best-selling author of “Tears for Water: Songbook of Poems and Lyrics,” has sold over 30 million records. Keys has often collaborated with big names in the industry, such as Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, Justin Timberlake and James Bay.
Tickets for Keys’ performance at Dubai Media City Amphitheater on Feb. 22 start from 350 dirhams ($95) and are on sale at Virgin Megastores and on the Dubai Jazz Festival website.


Manga adventure as Kingdom joins forces with Tokyo studio

Updated 25 min 4 sec ago
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Manga adventure as Kingdom joins forces with Tokyo studio

 

CANNES: Anime, or Japanese animation, has been a favorite with young Saudis for decades and now the Kingdom is about to star in a feature-length production of its own.

Manga Productions, a subsidiary of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Misk Foundation, will collaborate with Tokyo-based Toei Animation to produce a feature film, “The Journey,” which will be partially set in the Kingdom 1,500 years ago. 

Toei, the studio behind animation franchises such as “Dragon Ball Z,” “One Piece” and “Sailor Moon,” will bring top Japanese talent to the project, including character designer Tetsuro Iwamoto (“Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney”) and composer Kaoru Wada (“Inuyasha”).

Manga is keeping many plot and location details secret, but has released a teaser trailer and poster revealing the name of the film’s hero — Aws.

A poster for the upcoming film. (Supplied) 

“The film is talking about old civilizations in the Arabian peninsula — a people who are trying to protect their city from a strong enemy,” Manga CEO Bukhary Essam told Arab News. “The hero has a backstory that no one knows and which will affect the destiny of the city.”

Animation work on “The Journey” will be done in both Riyadh and Tokyo, with 12 Saudis involved in story development, character design, preproduction, storyboards and coloring.  The film will take two years to complete and will employ a production team of over 330 people.

The joint production will help develop Saudi talent so that an industry can be built in the Kingdom, Essam said.

Manga CEO Bukhary Essam. (Supplied)

“Our ultimate goal is to transfer the technology and know-how to Saudi talents so that by 2030 Manga Productions will have the capability to produce animation by itself,” he said.

“Most young Saudis loved Japanese animation when we were kids. We believe it’s time to export our characters and our heroes to Japan and the world. We don’t want to only export oil and petrochemicals, we want to export arts, animation, video gaming and manga to a global audience.”

Essam’s love of anime and Saudis’ passion for the art form helped convince Toei Animation to take on the project.

“It’s not just a movie — it’s about cultural exchange and forming a connection between countries, Shinji Shimizu, Toei’s managing director, said. “Japan is at the top level worldwide, so we can help Saudi Arabia develop its animation industry.

“We Japanese don’t know much about the Middle East or Saudi Arabia, but we know that Saudi people love to watch Japanese animation.”

Manga is employing historical advisers to ensure the film captures Saudi Arabia’s authentic past, while a Japanese team has returned to the Kingdom to scout locations for the production.
 
According to Shimizu, the Japanese team sometimes gets carried away making designs look “cool.”

“The Saudi team will say, ‘no, it should be real.’ We give honest opinions to each other. Everything is being made with the suggestions and opinions of the Saudi team,” says Shimizu. “Japanese people are not familiar with Middle East culture, but as they make animation together, they learn from the Saudi team about their culture, language and traditions.

“It’s really fun for them, too. We have differences, but I realized from making this animation together that we’re all just human — we are all the same.”

The film will be released in both Japanese and Arabic, with an English version possibly to follow.

Manga and Toei’s first joint production was “The Woodcutter’s Treasure,” a 20-minute animation based on Saudi Arabian folklore. The team is also producing a 13-episode animated TV series.