Moath Alofi opens doors to Madinah’s past

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Photos that show Madinah’s past.
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Updated 12 August 2016
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Moath Alofi opens doors to Madinah’s past

The interpretation of art is always different from one viewer to the other, some might find it interesting, beautiful, ugly, or controversial and others simply wouldn’t care for it. It doesn’t really matter who thinks what about any form of art, as long as there is a sense of respect toward the work and the artist’s vision. Moath Alofi’s participation and contribution to the art scene in the Kingdom came by chance a couple of years ago as a photographer exploring his city of Madinah. The city is his muse, his inspiration and his platform; it’s a city with so much history that has a path to progression through major construction projects with a goal to expand more and accommodate more visitors and residents. As with many cities, Madinah has its own charm, other than it being the city of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) which adds to the charm. Moath is an integrated member of its society doing his part in displaying magnificent images to the world outside the city walls.
His latest project being showcased at the Athr Art Gallery in Jeddah holds the name of “Doors of Barlik”, a project named after a known incident in the city’s historic path to what it is today. The city is at an ongoing stage of demolishing and removing housing units within the holy mosque’s vicinity for the purpose of expansion. Numbers are spray painted on more than 12,000 housing units across the city marking them for demolition. Moath’s exploratory mission of the city documented these homes and found an underlying message through them, he found beauty in these destroyed homes.
“I work in construction and I see structures after massive demolition projects built up from scratch all the time. There is a silent beauty in anticipation of the demolition, I saw that through remnants left over from these homes. The doors to these houses are like windows to the life of the residents of these homes, they tell of their story and background. Each door was different from one another and instead of having them thrown in a dump somewhere after auctions, I bought them, packed them up in my pickup truck and looked at them from an outsider’s point of view, they told of stories,” said Moath.
Doors of Barlik are a representation of social and urban transformation currently undergoing in the holy city. Each door held a story as the photographer explained, there are indentations, graffiti, love notes, prayers and more. The types of doors differ from one another as well, you’ll find the expensive and cheap, you’ll find the simple and the intricately detailed and you’ll find the colorful and the plain. The houses of which these were built were not of concrete and cement like it is now, these houses are old, historic, some even dating back to more than a hundred years, and the people used materials found from their surroundings such as rocks and mud. Upon entering the gallery, visitors can see the doors are placed in random but you’ll find one particularly interesting frame of a door, with the door behind it a few meters away that is set in a way to create the illusion that you’re walking through one door and through another. This one detail shows that there is more to it than just simply doors, there’s a sense of nostalgia that is felt.
“I’ve taken hundreds of pictures using my phone or camera as a means of documenting, but there is another deeper meaning when you actually obtain a piece of something that had history. I didn’t choose to document this by chance, my love for Madinah runs deep and in the years I was in Australia studying, I sensed a vast change from when I first left to when I returned. It is upsetting to see some of the old neighborhoods flattened and its residents uprooted to other areas in the city, but it’s evolution and it’s bound to happen regardless due of the city’s important place in the Islamic world, it needs to accommodate a larger number of visitors but at the price of historical neighborhoods. The generations before us know the history of these neighborhoods, its families and their stories. Through my project with “Doors of Barlik” I am documenting a piece of history and telling its story for not only my generation but also for the next, you can’t erase art,” said Moath.
That couldn’t be any more true, you can’t erase art. Not only does “Doors of Barlik” showcase doors, but also photographs by Moath of some of the houses before demolition, some still have personal remnants still hung such as a framed prayer or hand painted murals of the Haramain, it’s all too personal but truly a vision to behold and admire. We live in a fast evolving world, it’s no wonder not many want to learn about the past, we’re trying to keep up with the now. “Doors of Barlik” is showcased at Athr Art Gallery until Sept. 8, 2016.


Netflix’s latest Arabic original ‘Dollar’ stars Lebanese icon Adel Karam

‘Dollar’ is set for release on Aug. 8. (Supplied)
Updated 17 July 2019
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Netflix’s latest Arabic original ‘Dollar’ stars Lebanese icon Adel Karam

DUBAI: Netflix’s latest Arabic original is set to hit TV screens on Aug. 8 and is called “Dollar,” the streaming company announced this week.  

The drama is set in modern-day Lebanon and stars Lebanese film veteran Adel Karam — who starred in “The Insult,” which was nominated for an Oscar in 2018 — and Algerian-Lebanese actor Amal Bouchoucha.

The fast-paced series tells the story of advertising mastermind, Tarek (Adel Karam), who is tasked with coming up with a million dollar idea for the launch of a new bank. He’s got it, but will only share his idea with the CEO. Something’s off and the bank’s hard-hitting young CFO, Zeina (Amal Bouchoucha), can sense it. The series follows the situation as Zeina tries to piece together exactly what is going on.

Helmed by Syrian director Samer Berkawi, the director behind such regional hit shows as “Al-Hayba” and “Half Day,” the series was produced by Cedars Art Production - Sabbah Brothers and written by Hisham Hilal.

It is latest Middle Eastern series to join Netflix’s cadre of shows and growing roster of Arabic-language productions, but marks a shift from the streaming company’s penchant for Arab thrillers such as “Paranormal” — Netflix’s first Egyptian drama, based on the best-selling Arabic horror series by late Egyptian author Ahmed Khaled Towfik — and “Jinn,” which told the story of teenagers battling supernatural powers and faced backlash over its portrayal of young people in Jordan.

Despite the drama, on and off the screen, “Dollar” will premiere on Aug. 8, with all 15 episodes available to watch immediately.

Director Berkawi lauded the versatility of his cast in a released statement.

“I’m truly excited to be working with Netflix on our new series ‘Dollar’ and am confident that the show will appeal to Netflix’s audiences worldwide. This project is an exciting one, bringing together themes of suspense and drama that showcase Amal Bouchoucha’s onscreen talents, as well as Adel Karam’s versatility beyond the comedy that he is known and loved for,” he said.

“Dollar” will be subtitled in 20 languages.