Giving eidiya persists as a tradition in the GCC

Giving eidiya persists as a tradition in the GCC
Updated 28 August 2013

Giving eidiya persists as a tradition in the GCC

Giving eidiya persists as a tradition in the GCC

Distributing eidiya — money gifts to children during Eid — is a tradition throughout the GCC area. The amount differs from one family to another and some families do not only give children but the older generation as well.
Muslims start their Eid with a special prayer called Al-Mashhad. Families go to the nearest mosque and perform their prayers either indoors or outdoors. Traditional Muslims dress in their finest clothes usually newly bought or tailor-made especially for Eid.
“Eid prayer is the perfect opportunity for Muslims to ask Allah to accept our Ramadan fasting and thank him for Eid. We usually go in big groups to perform the prayer and bring our children along with us to share the happy moment,” said Mariam Mansi, a stay-at-home mother. “It is a beautiful scene where one can see a large number of people dressed in their best Eid clothing,” she added.
One of the most important Saudi traditions is Eid breakfast. Families gather with their nearest and dearest under one roof and eat traditional foods. “Usually the whole family meets at the grandfather’s house or at the eldest member of the family’s residency for Eid breakfast,” said 72-year-old Madiha Seif. “When I was younger we used to gather at my grandmother’s house. Now that I am the grandmother, all my grandchildren and my sister’s grandchildren visit me for Eid. We eat and talk for long hours,” she added.
Seif said after the breakfast and right before her guests leave, she starts distributing eidiya. “It is a long celebrated tradition where the older generation gives young ones money or expensive gifts, just like Christmas, only it is for Muslims,” she said. “One does not have to give a lot of money, I usually give SR100 for my grandchildren and SR500 for my children,” she added.
Eidiya are not only distributed after Eid breakfast. They can be given while going door-to-door to greet the neighbors and friends. Usually during Eid families are always ready to welcome family and friends anytime of the day where they pass by for a cup of Arabian coffee and chocolate. “We go around knocking on one door after the other to greet families and friends and celebrate Eid with them. You can always find them ready to welcome us with great hospitality,” said Nadia Abdulatif, a 39-year-old teacher. “Right before you leave, you will find your elder family member or friend giving your children an envelop with money or sometimes a golden coin,” she added.
Some Saudis also give eidiya for Eid Al-Adha, but they are most commonly given for Eid Al-Fitr.


French star Omar Sy gives magical touch to season two of ‘Lupin’ on Netflix

French star Omar Sy gives magical touch to season two of ‘Lupin’ on Netflix
Omar Sy plays the artful protagonist Assane Diop (right). Netflix
Updated 12 June 2021

French star Omar Sy gives magical touch to season two of ‘Lupin’ on Netflix

French star Omar Sy gives magical touch to season two of ‘Lupin’ on Netflix

CHENNAI: The second season of Netflix’s “Lupin” is exhilarating, high on style and full of swagger. Its lead star Omar Sy, who plays protagonist Assane Diop, is a classy master of disguise and disappearance, modelled on the “gentleman burglar” Arsene Lupin, a fictional character created in 1905 by French novelist and short-story writer Maurice Leblanc. Loved to bits by international viewers — the French show’s first season entered Netflix’s Top 10 in most countries around the globe in 2021 — Lupin seems a good contemporary counter to Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories.

Season one, which premiered in January, had all the excitement to banish pandemic lockdown blues. Netflix

Season one, which premiered in January, had all the excitement to banish pandemic lockdown blues, beginning with a daring heist in the Louvre in Paris, going on to narrate the ups and downs of a Senegalese immigrant, who dies in prison after being falsely accused of a crime he never committed. 

His son, Assane, swears to clear his father’s name and take vengeance on the rich and nefarious aristocrat, Hubert Pellegrini (Hervé Pierre), responsible for the tragedy. Director Louis Leterrier and creator George Kay left the season on a nail-biting cliff-hanger centering on Assane’s son, Raoul (Etan Simon), and his ex-partner Claire (Ludivine Sagnier). 

Director Louis Leterrier and creator George Kay left the season on a nail-biting cliff-hanger centering on Assane’s son and his ex-partner Claire. Netflix

The five-episode second season, with screenplay by François Uzan, takes off from where it left off, with whirlwind chases and a touching love story between Assane and his childhood sweetheart Juliette (Clotilde Hesme) on the banks of the Seine, and his emotional bonding with Raoul. 

The narrative is tightly edited and the episodes are knitted together seamlessly, taking us back and forth between Assane’s boyhood and adulthood. Mamadou Haidara, who plays Assane in his schooldays, is delightfully mischievous, and carries all the attributes of the adult “gentleman burglar.” A scene where he “borrows” an expensive violin to help a very young Juliette is moving. In fact, the one big difference between the two seasons is that the second is high on emotions, which makes it even more appealing. 

The five-episode second season, with screenplay by François Uzan, takes off from where it left off. Netflix

Shot in Paris, the city becomes a character itself. Warmly glowing during the day and twinkling brightly at night, it has irresistible romanticism. The grand finale leaves us craving a third season, and more of the brilliant lead character so wonderfully portrayed by Sy.

 


Saudi artist’s paintings helping sell luxury Hollywood properties

Saudi artist’s paintings helping sell luxury Hollywood properties
Abdulrahman Hamdi, backed by his mother, his biggest supporter, secured an ‘amazing opportunity’ to work for Premier Stagers, a leading US luxury staging and interior design company. (Supplied)
Updated 12 June 2021

Saudi artist’s paintings helping sell luxury Hollywood properties

Saudi artist’s paintings helping sell luxury Hollywood properties
  • Abdulrahman Hamdi’s artwork has been decorating homes up for sale in the film capital of the world, and some of the residential properties his pieces hang in are on the market for more than $14 million

JEDDAH: A Saudi artist is making a name for himself in Hollywood after his paintings were selected to adorn the walls of some of the famous Los Angeles neighborhood’s most luxurious properties.

Abdulrahman Hamdi’s artwork has been decorating homes up for sale in the film capital of the world, and some of the residential properties his pieces hang in are on the market for more than $14 million.

Every day, one sees something new in an abstract painting and feels more of it.
Abdulrahman Hamdi

Hamdi, backed by his mother, his biggest supporter, secured an “amazing opportunity” to work for Premier Stagers, a leading US luxury staging and interior design company, a breakthrough that has helped to provide a shopwindow for his paintings.
And his American success story does end there: A Los Angeles-based real estate magazine has published one of his works on its front cover, and Vogue Arabia ran an article about Hamdi accompanied by a picture of another of his paintings.
His artistic talents were first spotted by his kindergarten teachers but at elementary school he said students paid more attention to football and his tutors often frowned on his drawings.
Now living in Los Angeles, Hamdi, who gained a master’s degree in law, told Arab News that he had been obsessed with fine art from an early age.
“At the time, my kindergarten peers were waiting for the physical education class, while I was counting hours for the arts class to begin. I used to save up money (to buy painting tools) from the amounts I received from my relatives on Eid occasions.”
Abstractionism slowly began to capture his interest and he started displaying his artwork on social media platforms, such as Instagram, with the hope of one day becoming a professional artist.
“I consider abstract art, with its broad scope, as an interesting art. Every day, one sees something new in an abstract painting and feels more of it,” he said.

HIGHLIGHTS

• At first, Hamdi felt apprehensive about displaying his abstract paintings in public, fears that were soon to be justified as exhibition halls rejected his approaches. But he said the reforms now taking place in Saudi society had changed attitudes and art had been given a raised profile through the support of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and bodies such as the Misk Foundation.

• Hamdi’s first participation in an exhibition came at the Misk Historic Jeddah event in 2017, and the following year he took part in Misk Art, which encouraged artists to promote their cultural identity in their works.

However, in late 2014, Hamdi was involved in a traffic accident that completely changed his outlook on life.
“I was locked up in memories and pains. I even failed to express my feelings in words. I became completely destroyed. I then realized that drawing was the only way to take me out of my sufferings.
“When the unpleasant event was over, colors began to mean something else to me, and I began to deal with them differently,” he added.
At first, he felt apprehensive about displaying his abstract paintings in public, fears that were soon to be justified as exhibition halls rejected his approaches. But he said the reforms now taking place in Saudi society had changed attitudes and art had been given a raised profile through the support of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and bodies such as the Misk Foundation.
Hamdi’s first participation in an exhibition came at the Misk Historic Jeddah event in 2017, and the following year he took part in Misk Art, which encouraged artists to promote their cultural identity in their works.


A collection of works of female writers of Arab heritage sets out to ‘win hearts, change minds’

A collection of works of female writers of Arab heritage sets out to ‘win hearts, change minds’
Updated 12 June 2021

A collection of works of female writers of Arab heritage sets out to ‘win hearts, change minds’

A collection of works of female writers of Arab heritage sets out to ‘win hearts, change minds’
  • A spirited new anthology of poems and stories by Arab women down the ages overturns common expectations of gender 
  • ‘We Wrote in Symbols’ celebrates the literary works of 75 female writers of Arab heritage spanning five millenia

DUBAI: British-Palestinian author Selma Dabbagh hopes a new book featuring 75 stories of love and desire penned by Arab women will help pave the way for more female authors to emerge from the Middle East region.

The English-language anthology “We Wrote in Symbols,” edited by Dabbagh, was published in April this year, marking a literary first in showcasing the works of women from the region on subjects many might consider bold.

Spanning several millennia, the volume includes the works of classical poets, award-winning contemporary authors and emerging writers.

“It brings together a diverse range of voices who are writers in English, French and Arabic, coming from all of the three main monotheistic religions, as well as those that are not religious at all,” Dabbagh told Arab News.

‘We Wrote in Symbols’ editor Selma Dabbagh. (Courtesy of Sussana Baker Smith)

The idea arose after Dabbagh stumbled on an anthology called “Classical Poems by Arab Women,” which contained writings from the pre-Islamic period up to the fall of Andalusia in 1492.

The collection left a lasting impression. “Some were what you would expect. There were poems lamenting the loss of a brother in battle,” Dabbagh said.

“But other women were talking about sexuality in a way that was very self-assured. Some were being a bit provocative, but others were just content with that aspect of their life. The voices were surprising, but they also felt fresh, contemporary and spirited.”

Dabbagh began to notice similar themes in the work of contemporary female authors discussing issues of love and desire — in some cases dealing with the disconnection between the two in relationships, which were portrayed with remarkable sensitivity.

As a fiction writer, Dabbagh had always found this a difficult topic to handle, partly due to self-censorship stemming from her own notions of shame.

“There is a universal insistence on associating the actions of a character with the behavior of an author, which we need to be freed from,” she said.

Sabrina Mahfouz. (Courtesy of Greg Morrison)

“To be a writer who is able to depict those delicate shifts in mood and connections between people takes an enormous amount of skill and imagination. So, the collection is basically a combination of the older, classical poets and the newer voices looking at this difficult terrain.

“A lot of them are very funny, some are quite daring and explicit, and it’s just a different way for women identified with the region to have their writing viewed — through matters of the heart and the body.”

Dabbagh said there is an expectation among English readers that most Arab fiction is slightly depressing, political or downbeat. In the words of Nathalie Handal, one of the poets featured in the anthology, “people think Arabs don’t love with a beating heart.” The book aims to challenge this misconception.

“It tries to bring that sense of emotional excitement and tenderness to a vast, diverse and varied region through the writing of women,” Dabbagh said.

Indeed, there is much to celebrate about women in Arab literature, which actually predates anything published by a female author in the English language. One of the earliest poems included in the anthology dates back almost 5,000 years.

“You have this tradition, mainly in poetry, of writing and letter writing by Arab women before women started writing in Europe,” Dabbagh said. “I really wanted to show that, because it’s not something that is associated with the Arab world in terms of having higher levels of advancement in female literacy.”

Hanan Al-Shayk. (Supplied)

For Dabbagh, whose debut novel “Out of It” was nominated as a Guardian book of the year in 2011-12, navigating the affairs of the heart is not something that necessarily becomes easier with age.

Although she read the works of Hanan Al-Shaykh and Ahdaf Soueif avidly in her 20s, she wishes there had been more Arab women writers in her youth. “Sadly, I only read fluently in English,” she said.

“It was really radically life-changing for me to read accounts by women of a similar background. I grew up between the Gulf and Europe mainly, and I always found it such a difficult subject matter for me to find my voice.”

Reading their stories made Dabbagh more articulate about her own feelings.

“It just gives you a set of tools with which to negotiate this tricky emotional terrain,” she said. “I think (my book) might help to provide a level of self-knowledge because there are so many different characters in it that readers should be  able to relate to.”

Having read the works of critically acclaimed American writers, whose brash depiction of the hook-up culture she found dulling, her interest returned to the writings of women of Arab heritage to see how their interpretations of romance, sentimentality, vulnerability and desire affected her.

Laura Hanna. (Supplied)

In these works, she found creativity, humor and craft. “We’re always being told to see these two worlds I come from (the West/Europe and the Arab world) as almost antithetical to one another,” Dabbagh said.

“But with the language of love and looking at the Mediterranean as a kind of sea of stories, we can see how there’s been influence over time between Europe and the Arab world.

“In the 19th century, you had a lot of writers and explorers who came to the Arab world because it was a place of freer sensuality. It seemed to be less restrictive than the puritanical backgrounds these writers came from.

“Now that pattern has, to some extent, been reversed.”

During the Abbasid period, the topic  was written about and seen almost as a scientific study. “You could have a book which dealt with astrology and physics as well as expounding on sensuality, because sensuality and getting that harmony right between a couple was something that was indicative of how you can have harmony in the society as a whole,” Dabbagh said.

Elif Shafak. (Supplied)

“So, it was a way of ensuring that the community was in balance and that, to me, is such a beautiful idea. But it’s something that is rarely associated with the religion anymore.”

Nowadays, any associations between religion, women and sexuality appears to be overwhelmingly negative. “I wanted to show that range, to try to break up that stereotype,” she said.

And although one book is unlikely to change opinions overnight, Dabbagh believes women’s voices are gradually subverting traditional methods of censorship.

“The region has been engulfed with images, films and TV for the past 70 years, and most of it was state-run,” she said. “But now with Netflix and online streaming, we have a lot more content coming in and it’s hugely influential.”

Nevertheless, the depiction of Arabs and the Islamic world in Hollywood has improved little in the past century. “There is a kind of mass absorption of negative images of the region from outside, which is going to influence behavior,” Dabbagh said.

“We need to find ways of writing stories which are connected to regional history, cultures, which are exciting, dramatic, sleek and sexy. It’s just about being trained up, opting into it and starting to influence the way these stories are told.”

___________

Twitter: @CalineMalek


British actor Riz Ahmed leads bid to change way Muslims seen in movies

British actor Riz Ahmed leads bid to change way Muslims seen in movies
Riz Ahmed, 38, who was born in London to Pakistani parents, said that offering funding would be game changing in getting more Muslim actors, writer and producers into the movie and TV business. File/AFP
Updated 12 June 2021

British actor Riz Ahmed leads bid to change way Muslims seen in movies

British actor Riz Ahmed leads bid to change way Muslims seen in movies
  • Ahmed is the first Muslim to get a best actor Oscar nomination
  • The $25,000 fellowships for young Muslim artists will be decided by an advisory committee

LONDON: British actor Riz Ahmed on Thursday launched an effort to improve the way Muslims are depicted in movies after a study showed that they are barely seen and shown in a negative light when they do appear.

Ahmed, the "Sound of Metal" star and the first Muslim to get a best actor Oscar nomination, said the Blueprint for Muslim Inclusion would include funding and mentoring for Muslim story tellers in the early stages of their careers.

"The representation of Muslims on screen feeds the policies that get enacted, the people that get killed, the countries that get invaded," Ahmed said in a statement.

"The data doesn't lie. This study shows us the scale of the problem in popular film, and its cost is measured in lost potential and lost lives," he added.

Titled "Missing and Maligned," the study by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that less than 10% of top-grossing films released from 2017-2019 from the U.S., the U.K., Australia and New Zealand featured at least one speaking Muslim character.

When they did, they were shown as outsiders, or threatening, or subservient, the study showed. About one-third of Muslim characters were perpetrators of violence and more than half were targets of violence.

"Muslims live all over the world, but film audiences only see a narrow portrait of this community, rather than viewing Muslims as they are: business owners, friends and neighbors whose presence is part of modern life," said Al-Baab Khan, one of the report's authors.

Ahmed, 38, who was born in London to Pakistani parents, said that offering funding would be game changing in getting more Muslim actors, writer and producers into the movie and TV business.

"Had I not received a scholarship and also a private donation, I wouldn't have been able to attend drama school," he said.

The $25,000 fellowships for young Muslim artists will be decided by an advisory committee that includes actors Mahershala Ali and Ramy Youssef and comedian Hasan Minhaj.


British Museum shines spotlight on MENA artists in new exhibition

British Museum shines spotlight on MENA artists in new exhibition
Updated 12 June 2021

British Museum shines spotlight on MENA artists in new exhibition

British Museum shines spotlight on MENA artists in new exhibition
  • Highlights from ‘Reflections: contemporary art of the Middle East and North Africa,’ which runs until August 15 in London

 

Hengameh Golestan

‘Untitled (1979)’

This image comes from the self-taught photographer’s “Witness ’79” series, which documented a demonstration by more than 100,000 women on the streets of Tehran protesting the recently issued post-revolution ruling that women had to wear the hijab. “The mood was one of anticipation and excitement, and a bit of fear,” she has said of the protest. “We were actively taking part in shaping our future through actions rather than words and that felt amazing.” Even though Golestan developed the film at the time, the photos were not printed until 2015.

Hayv Kahraman

‘Honor Killing’
The Kurdish-American artist — who fled Iraq with her mother and sister at the end of the First Gulf War — incorporates international influences into her work, from European renaissance art to Japanese woodblock prints via Middle Eastern techniques. “Through her distinct vocabulary she evokes her home in Baghdad, exile and war, and wider issues affecting women,” the museum notes state. In 2017, Kahraman told Glass Magazine: “I am concerned with the multitude, not the self. This is not only my story.” This 2006 work — containing hints of calligraphy — in which women wearing the hijab hand from a tree, “tackles a subject that continues to affect women … across the world,” the museum says. “It refers to the killing of a woman because she is considered to have dishonored the family by transgressing social conventions governing gender relations.”

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian

‘Untitled (2005)’

Farmanfarmaian became internationally famous for her minimalist, geometrical works (Andy Warhol, with whom she became friends while studying at Parsons School of Design in New York, reportedly kept one of her famed mirror balls on his desk), and though she is best known for her mirrored sculptures, she also produced minimalist, abstract drawings such as this one, in which, the museum notes state, “the central dodecagon is punctuated by cubes of mirror, with multiple triangular grid patterns emanating from the central point.”

Khalil Joreije and Joanna Hadjithomas

‘Faces’

Much of the Lebanese multimedia artists’ work focuses on the 15-year Civil War, the aftereffects of which continue to shape their homeland. The project from which this 2009 work is taken focuses on the victims of that violence — the ‘martyrs’ whose framed images adorn the streets. Traveling throughout Lebanon, the museum says, “they sought out posters of ‘martyrs from all confessions and political backgrounds,’ particularly choosing those that had been left in place for a long time and that had deteriorated, with the features gradually disappearing so that ‘all that remains is an outline of the face, a sketched and mostly unrecognizable shadow. … They intervened in the image, enhancing the shape of an eye or a mouth with graphite as though reclaiming the figures from the shadows of disappearance.”

Rafa Nasiri

‘A Library Set On Fire’

The influential Iraqi artist made this 2008 silkscreen — one of a series of six — to mark the burning of Iraq’s National Library, one of the many losses to afflict his homeland in the Iraq War of 2003. Each of the silkscreens includes an extract from Al-Mutanabbi’s poem “On Hearing in Egypt that his Death had been Reported to Saif Al-Dawla in Aleppo.” This one contains the lines: “Unhappy I, friendless, homeless/Solitary, cheerless, comfortless.” The words are, the museum says, “placed within a dark abstract composition, the colours echoing the orange and red flames of a fire.” The notes continue: “As the Iraqi writer May Muzaffar has commented, ‘The burning of books and manuscripts is paralleled with the burning of the mystic al-Hallaj, a human body, and announces not only the death of the book as a social thing/being but also the end of civilization and humanity.’”

Sulafa Hijazi

‘Untitled (2012)’
The Syrian artist began his “Ongoing” series — of which this image is part — in 2011, originally publishing the pieces on social media, which, as the museum notes, “became an increasingly significant platform through which artists in Syria were able to share their work.” In Malu Halasa’s 2012 work “Culture in Defiance: Continuing Traditions of Satire, Art and the Struggle for Freedom in Syria,” she quotes Hijazi as saying: “Before I left the country in 2012, people were still trying to do something positive. We had great hopes about the prospect of changing our country through peaceful means. There was still a space in our society for us to do this. Then it started to become violent; … (now) the sound of weapons drowns out the voices of peaceful activism.”

Taysir Batniji

‘Untitled (2016)’

Movement and exile are predominant themes in Batniji’s work, and the suitcase is a recurring symbol of them. “In this watercolor, the suited male figure, dwarfed by the sheer size of the suitcase, can be considered as an insertion of the artist himself,” the museum notes say, adding that the Palestinian artist’s work explores “the notion of being between worlds — in his case the world he lives in, France, and his home, Gaza, which he has not been able to visit since 2012.”