Wu-Tang Clan rapper releases new song in support of refugees

Wu-Tang Clan rapper releases new song in support of refugees
Wu-Tang Clan rapper RZA has teamed with Italian electronic music duo Parisi. (File photo: AP)
Updated 28 March 2017

Wu-Tang Clan rapper releases new song in support of refugees

Wu-Tang Clan rapper releases new song in support of refugees

DUBAI: Wu-Tang Clan rapper RZA has teamed with Italian electronic music duo Parisi to release a haunting new song about refugees, the proceeds of which will be donated to the United Nations Refugee Agency.
The track debuted on Apple Music’s Beats 1 radio on Monday and comes paired with a powerful video which depicts a group of dancers imitating refugees walking through an apocalyptic expanse.
“I don’t understand how you could ban a man from a land that was said to be a beacon of light for men escaping the plight of tyranny,” RZA raps at the opening of the song “No Refuge.”
In the track, he raps: “I’m an innocent immigrant trying to emigrate/ To the land built by immigrants/ Where the face of a former slave/ Became the face of the president.”
In an interview with Mic.com, the Parisi brothers said: “Every year, especially in the summer, refugees from the Middle East and north Africa cross the Mediterranean from north Africa and land in southern Italy — not far from our home town of Salerno.
“As a country and as a family, we do our best to help and welcome everybody, but it becomes more difficult every day to manage the situation properly…The refugees need support from people like us and from institutions.”
For his part, RZA told Mic.com that he wants to see he US thrive under President Donald Trump but added that the country should remember that it was built by immigrants.
“I’m a patriot, bro,” he said. “I defend my country verbally, musically, my family’s here and all that. But it’s like defending your kid when you know when your kid was wrong.”
Wu-Tang Clan has released seven gold and platinum studio albums since its formation in 1992, with worldwide sales of more than 40 million albums.


Arabic calligraphy’s fusion with Japanese captures beauty of both worlds

Arabic calligraphy’s fusion with Japanese captures beauty of both worlds
Noha Raheem says when she was younger, she discovered the three famous Japanese written scripts — including Kanji, Katakana and Hiragana — and she was awestruck. (Supplied)
Updated 23 June 2021

Arabic calligraphy’s fusion with Japanese captures beauty of both worlds

Arabic calligraphy’s fusion with Japanese captures beauty of both worlds
  • My enthusiasm for Kanji script started six years ago, says Saudi designer and calligrapher Noha Raheem

JEDDAH: Saudi artist, designer and calligrapher Noha Raheem ventured into the world of calligraphy in an unconventional way, fusing her interest in Kanji — the logographic Chinese characters used in the Japanese writing system — with Arabic calligraphy.

The result has been a portfolio of unique and eye-catching works that capture the beauty of both worlds
“I’m fond of Arabic calligraphy and graphics in general. My enthusiasm for Kanji script started six years ago,” Raheem told Arab News.
“Any calligraphic font has its roles and system. When I was younger, I discovered the three famous Japanese written scripts — including Kanji, Katakana and Hiragana — and I was awestruck. The impressive vertical letters, the way they are formed and their meaningful symbols were like a secret code.”

FASTFACT

In Arabic calligraphy, writing proceeds from right to left and forms a horizontal line. Artists rarely confine themselves to convention, though.

In Arabic calligraphy, writing proceeds from right to left and forms a horizontal line. Artists rarely confine themselves to convention, though.
“For Kufic calligraphy and freestyle in Arabic, I was driven by passion. I was inspired by Hajji Noor Deen in my beginnings, and later on, I created Arabic calligraphy in the Kanji style to show the beauty and flexibility of this complex yet innovative mix,” Raheem said.


The self-taught calligrapher discovered the roles and philosophy behind the beauty of Kanji script. “It is said that the only rule for Japanese and Chinese calligraphy is that it is beautiful, no matter what is written. What matters is how it is written. That’s why I believe the Kanji style can be merged and fitted with our Arabic letters to create a masterpiece for both eye and mind,” she said.
She explained that Arabic letters are equally malleable. “They can be shaped in any way, and still keep their form and meaning. Today I wrote my letters in the Kanji style. Later, I might do it in Urdu just to show the world how flexible and beautiful Arabic letters are.”
Raheem’s artworks, including famous sayings and poetry in Arabic, are written freestyle — a tricky task.


She also writes Qur’anic verses in Kanji: “I love to write words that anyone can relate to, including poetry and short verses with iconic and universal messages. I can apply this art to any word, as long as it makes sense to me.”
Raheem is faithful to the cultures she draws inspiration from, using traditional Sumi ink and off-white, antique-style background colors with black script, or vice versa, to mirror the essence of the Japanese style.
She also uses Japanese calligraphy brushes, Xuan rice paper, and Kakejiku, a Japanese hanging scroll used to display and exhibit paintings and calligraphic inscriptions and designs.
Her love for and dedication to Japanese art drove her to share her knowledge and display her works at art cafes, galleries, and sushi restaurants in Saudi Arabia and Dubai.
She encourages other Arab artists to explore the beauty and flexibility of the Arabic language and preserve it through art. Raheem can be found at her Instagram account @noha_raheem.


The ‘Quaranteen’ Project: Dubai photographer unites international teenagers during the pandemic

The ‘Quaranteen’ Project: Dubai photographer unites international teenagers during the pandemic
Updated 22 June 2021

The ‘Quaranteen’ Project: Dubai photographer unites international teenagers during the pandemic

The ‘Quaranteen’ Project: Dubai photographer unites international teenagers during the pandemic

DUBAI: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has sparked new ideas for many entrepreneurs, creatives and artists. One such creative is Dubai-based photographer Tanya Rex.

The South African lenswoman launched The Quaranteen Project, which is ongoing to this date, when lockdowns began last year.   

She sent 30 disposable cameras to 30 teenagers across the world and asked them to document their quarantine experience. The results are unedited and moving realities of the pandemic as seen through the eyes of teenagers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Belarus, Afghanistan, Latvia, South Africa, India, the US, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan and more. 

“I wanted it to be as raw as possible and capture the simplicity of what people see every day,” she said in an interview with Arab News.

This image was taken by a teenager in the United States. (Supplied)

“I didn’t really know what to expect. I remember speaking to my husband, and he said: ‘You don’t know these people. They aren’t photographers, and you really don’t know what you are going to get back. Maybe you could use pictures from five of the cameras that come back.’ And I accepted that,” Rex added.

She has so far received 24 rolls of film back, with around 300-400 images. 

Not all rolls of film came back as properly exposed pictures. “Some of them came back with very little effort put in, and some of them came back absolutely exceptional,” she said. 

“It didn’t really matter if I got one photo or 20. Each time, it was like receiving a gift,” Rex added. 

When enough cameras came back to the photographer, she sent the films to South Africa so they could be developed and scanned. 

This image was taken by a teenager in Latvia. (Supplied)

According to Rex, who came to the UAE 17 years ago, it was not easy to deliver the cameras to the teenagers. 

She lost some cameras due to theft, while others took time to be delivered due to the COVID-19 restrictions in some countries.

When discussing the inception of her idea, Rex said that lockdown was exciting for her when it first started.

“I remember seeing an initiative called ‘Together at Home,’ where celebrities invited you into their homes for their private concerts. I thought the idea was incredible. It meant the world was stepping up and we were all uniting,” she said.  

“After two weeks, though, the novelty wore off, and we all settled into the reality of what COVID-19 was,” she added.

This image was taken by a teenager for The ‘Quaranteen’ Project. (Supplied)

The photographer said she went from being enthusiastic at the prospect of having time off to realizing that all her work had been canceled and that there was nothing to look forward to for an indefinite amount of time. It was then that she had the idea to start The Quaranteen Project.

Rex is currently looking into turning her project into a coffee table book. “I think it would be a great way to show these teenagers’ stories in a simple format,” she said. 

Rex has worked for campaigns with international brands including fast-food company McDonald’s and makeup brands Maybelline, Bourjois and Max Factor, among others.   

Her latest campaign was with Adidas — a shoot for the German sportswear giant’s “Run for the Oceans” campaign. 

“It was a great project because, firstly, I got to shoot underwater again, which I haven’t done for a very long time,” she said. “It was also empowering because we were shooting women who have perceived disabilities and differences. They are all proud, strong women who are moving forward with their lives.” 


Arab fans react to first poster of K-Pop supergroup Blackpink’s ‘The Movie’ 

Arab fans react to first poster of K-Pop supergroup Blackpink’s ‘The Movie’ 
Updated 22 June 2021

Arab fans react to first poster of K-Pop supergroup Blackpink’s ‘The Movie’ 

Arab fans react to first poster of K-Pop supergroup Blackpink’s ‘The Movie’ 

DUBAI: Popular K-pop girl group Blackpink unveiled the first poster of their film “The Movie” and Arab fans are over the moon. 

The production, set to premier in August, will mark the band’s fifth anniversary in the music industry.  

After the announcement was made, Arab fans quickly took to Twitter to express their excitement. 

“Another movie, and in the cinema?!” wrote one user. “The film’s poster is amazinggg,” another user wrote. 

Other fans made humorous comments about the name of the film. One tweet read: “The name of the movie is ‘The Movie,’” with a clip of an Arab man saying: “Wow, amazing. This surprised me.”

 

Last week, the production company YG Entertainment announced that this film will be part of the group’s 5th-anniversary project, titled “4+1 PROJECT,” and will drop in August to coincide with band members Jisoo, Jennie, Rose, and Lisa’s debut date, August 8. 


Timeless craft of cane carving sees Saudi statement pieces go global

Visitors to Saudi Arabia are constantly on the hunt for souvenirs such as swords, or canes. (Photos/Supplied)
Visitors to Saudi Arabia are constantly on the hunt for souvenirs such as swords, or canes. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 22 June 2021

Timeless craft of cane carving sees Saudi statement pieces go global

Visitors to Saudi Arabia are constantly on the hunt for souvenirs such as swords, or canes. (Photos/Supplied)
  • Adel Al-Shehri turns handmade sidr pieces into online phenomenon using local talent, materials

MAKKAH: A young Saudi in the south of the Kingdom is bringing back the timeless craft of hand carving wooden canes with a new look to suit modern tastes, driving demand from Hajj pilgrims and online customers from around the world.

Walking canes have always been associated with the elderly and ill, and usually comprise simple designs that focus more on function rather than appearance.
That association has prompted Adel Al-Shehri to give the concept a new life by bringing back an old craft and turning canes into famous statement pieces used by Saudis.
Through his work, he can convey the cultural and historical essence of Saudi Arabia by engraving cultural designs on sidr wood.
Al-Shehri grew up in the southern mountain ranges of the Kingdom and uses the old indigenous tree to create unique intricately designed canes just as his forefathers once did.
The sidr tree, known as Christ’s thorn jujube, is an evergreen species that is a deep-rooted part of the culture. It can be used in medicine and also in the construction of canes and wooden objects found in many homes in the south of the Kingdom.

FASTFACT

The sidr tree, known as Christ’s thorn jujube, is an evergreen species that is a deep-rooted part of the culture. It can be used in medicine and also in the construction of canes and wooden objects found in many homes in the south of the Kingdom.

He told Arab News that he inherited from his ancestors a love of artifacts, such as shiny swords and jambiyas, a type of dagger with a curved blade. Growing up surrounded by architecture adorned in stones and wood, Al-Shehri said that he wanted to bring the rich history of design back using a product found right in his backyard.


“Visitors to Saudi Arabia are constantly on the hunt for souvenirs, swords, or canes. However, shipping swords is a real problem, because they are considered white weapons. Meanwhile, some items lose quality or are damaged during shipping. This is why I shifted my entire focus to making canes,” he added.
Al-Shehri said that while carrying out his Hajj pilgrimage, he used his cane as a “crutch,” engraving his name on it. Soon after, he decided to use the phrase “Made in Saudi Arabia” and focus on the Umrah and Hajj seasons to introduce the product as a souvenir that could be carried back home by pilgrims. Al-Shehri said that some Hajj institutions even reached out to give out his canes as gifts at the end of pilgrimage tours.

The canes I create are enough to stop importing canes that neither accentuate our identity nor highlight our intellectual and cultural message.

Adel Al-Shehri

He said that many people from across the world have requested their canes through Hajj institutions or on social media.
Most recently, he added, a German citizen requested four canes with different designs inspired by Saudi culture, but some customers request personalized canes or ones that are specifically customized to illustrate a memory.
Al-Shehri said that the canes he designs are delivered in handmade luxurious boxes that serve as a masterpiece to be displayed in a customer’s home. He described the cane as a “sign of prestige, warmth, and hospitality.”
The first thing that caught his attention as a child was how his family stores their ancient swords, guns, and jambiyas — all wrapped in ornate fabrics and stored in old boxes.

I inherited the love of artifacts from my ancestors.
Adel Al-Shehri

Al-Shehri had always wanted to put this heritage in the limelight and share it with other Saudi cities. The public’s broad praise of his initial work was the first building block in his dream toward producing his canes. He stressed that he often uses sidr wood for the canes because the diameter must be more than 40 centimeters.
For the wood fibers to grow, the sidr must also be dried for six months. “The handle is made from the core of sidr wood so that it could bear the grafting, which sometimes may reach a thousand grafts inside,” Al-Shehri said. With no educational experience, his drive to create such masterpieces taught him to push through and learn the craft with time and patience. “The manufacturing stages became an inspiration and taught me the ins and outs of this creative craftsmanship, which shaped the features of my personality and led me towards worlds of magic and beauty,” he said.
“I was first concerned with the metal lathe and mastering its unique way of manufacturing accessories and adding wood to them. I then focused on the element of touch and adding luster in the absence of real manufacturers in this field. I insisted on mastering the metal lathe myself so I would not have to depend on anyone else. My workshop, filled with nickel, chrome, stainless steel, and brass, along with the metal and wood lathes, became my best friend.
“I work for hours on end to meet the various requests, especially if a customer places an order for a special occasion with a tight deadline,” he added.
Al-Shehri said that what he and many other craftsmen in the Kingdom do promotes the Saudi culture and is a sign of pride in the Saudi identity. “The canes I create are enough to stop importing canes that neither accentuate our identity nor highlight our intellectual and cultural message.”


Courage at forefront of World Refugee Day mural by Syrian artist

Courage at forefront of World Refugee Day mural by Syrian artist
Updated 22 June 2021

Courage at forefront of World Refugee Day mural by Syrian artist

Courage at forefront of World Refugee Day mural by Syrian artist
  • Syrian artist Diala Brisly: “It’s very important to show solidarity among refugees”
  • “Courage is having fears, having all this worry, having all this trauma, and still having the energy to keep going”

LONDON: A refugee artist from Syria has created a unique piece of art that captures the spirit and courage of those fleeing war and poverty.
To mark World Refugee Day 2021, which was on Sunday, Diala Brisly created a mural with one key theme: The courage it takes to flee one’s home.
Commissioned by the International Rescue Committee, the piece depicts various people against a backdrop of a bombed city.
Now safe in France, Brisly said her work is about having the “energy to keep going through fear, trauma and upheaval.”
She added that the piece’s message — “refugees are courageous” — captures the essence of what it means to be forcibly uprooted.
“I really like the slogan because it shows strength, regardless of all the troubles that we’re going through,” she said.
The artwork depicts people of various ethnicities and identities, including children, and one man poignantly wearing a life jacket — a staple item of refugee migration across the Mediterranean Sea and elsewhere.
“It’s very important to show solidarity among refugees. I believe in solidarity between all people. When we have this struggle in common, and we understand each other’s pain, we’re able to help each other because we share similar experiences,” said Brisly
“The media puts the spotlight on refugees when they’re in the middle of the sea. But it’s very important to understand that the crisis didn’t start in the Mediterranean, it started before,” she added.
“For me, courage is having fears, having all this worry, having all this trauma, and still having the energy to keep going.”
During the revolution against the Assad regime, journalists shared Brisly’s artwork to supplement their reports.
But this exposure, she said, put her life in danger. She fled Syria via Turkey and ended up in France.
Now she uses her talent to create moving works that support the causes she believes in, and runs art therapy workshops for children affected by war.
According to the UN’s refugee agency, nearly 82.4 million people were uprooted in 2020, fleeing war, violence, persecution and human rights abuses.