Cast of Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ takes a ride to Jordan

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Director Guy Ritchie and the cast of Aladdin. (Disney)
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Will Smith, Naomi Scott, and Menna Massoud. (Disney)
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Aladdin hits the theaters next week. (Disney)
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The cast and crew attended a press junket in Amman. (Disney)
Updated 14 May 2019

Cast of Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ takes a ride to Jordan

  • Director Guy Ritchie was joined by actors Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott and Will Smith at a press junket in Amman
  • The team attended a screening after the press conference

DUBAI: The cast of the upcoming live-action version of Disney’s “Aladdin” visited Jordan on Monday to promote the film, ahead of its wider Gulf release.

Director Guy Ritchie was joined by  actors Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott and Will Smith at a press junket in Amman, where the actors talked about their experiences shooting the film.

The press event also saw Egyptian-Canadian actor Massoud speaking in Arabic: “Inshallah, may God bring more happy days to the Arab and Muslim communities and Ramadan Kareem” he said.

Jordan’s Wadi Rum, a famous desert destination in the country’s south, was one of the locations where some major scenes were shot.

Smith, who plays the iconic Genie character, took to Instagram to thank the “Royal Family and the People of Jordan for allowing our Aladdin family to film in your gorgeous country.”

A short video showed four of them at the Amman Citadel, another tourist destination in Jordan.

Massoud echoed Smith’s gratitude to the people of Jordan and the royal family on his Twitter account.

The team attended a screening after the press conference, and they were joined by Prince Ali bin Hussein, the chairman of Jordan’s Royal Film Commission.

They will head to Mexico and Japan as part of their international press tour. 

Tonda delivers authentic Italian flavors at the double

The Italian establishment’s first GCC branch is a welcome addition to the Dubai scene. (Supplied)
Updated 19 August 2019

Tonda delivers authentic Italian flavors at the double

DUBAI: With organic ingredients and an eye-popping variety of authentic Italian dishes, the Dubai-based Tonda Pizza is a perfect choice for fast-casual dining.

The roots of the business lie as far back as 1948. The Italian founders apparently used to sell pizza to holidaymakers on the beach in Pescara, by the Adriatic Sea. The small-pan pizzas were ideal for people who wanted to grab a snack on the go.

Tonda Pizza has multiple branches around the world and is planning to bring its concept to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, but its first regional outlet opened recently in Index Tower, in Dubai International Financial Center.

At the doorstep of the restaurant, you will be welcomed by the friendly staff who are enthusiastic and happy to serve you. Some of the Italian words may be hard to understand, but the waiters will be able to answer any questions.

The interior is cosy and just as welcoming as the staff. The atmosphere is classy, relaxed, and quiet. For the many employees in the area, this is a great spot to take your mind of work for a while.

The restaurant serves a seemingly endless variety of pasta and pizza made with organic flour, olive oil, and tomatoes imported from Italian farms. It also offers a range of special homemade starters and desserts.

Tonda, meaning ‘round,’ offers “guilt-free” pizzas. The thin crispy slices are full of authentic Italian flavor, but the dough does not contain animal fats, and it’s gluten-free.

It always fun to watch your food being cooked right in front of you, and Tonda’s open kitchen means you can do just that. The service is impressively fast, too.  The meal is best accompanied by one of Tonda’s traditional Italian drink offerings, which include Chinotto, Gassosa, Limonata, and Spuma. 

The tasty burrata salad was a more-than-generous and delicious starter. Fresh balls of cheese decorated the bowl, which was overloaded with mixed tomatoes and fresh basil.

Next up was a delightful range of pizza. Thick mozzarella cheese (10 out of 10 on the cheese-pull test), shreds of well-cooked beef, and a sprinkling of rocca leaves coated each slice of the thin-crust bresaola, while the tartufo boasted a delicious truffle spread and mushroom topping.

The undeniable highlight of the meal, however, was the salamino pizza. Its spiciness might make your eyes water as well as your mouth, but it was well worth it. The salamino was topped with organic peeled tomatoes, spicy beef salami, extra virgin olive oil, and decorated with oregano leaves.

The pasta that accompanied the bolognaise gave a good firm bite — perfect for those who like their Italian cooked al dente. The portion was ideal for one person. 


Once you are done with the main course, the restaurant offers a tasty selection of desserts too. We’d recommend its unique Nutella pizza topped with sliced bananas as a must-try.   

Tonda may be a little on the expensive side for what is, essentially, fast food (albeit high-quality fast food) — an appetizer, main course and beverage could cost up to $21 — but we’d say it’s worth the price for some tasty, healthy fresh Italian fare.