Saudi hip-hop host launches The Beat DXB

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Reem Ekay
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Big Hass
Updated 21 March 2018

Saudi hip-hop host launches The Beat DXB

DUBAI: Saudi hip-hop promoter and radio host Hass Dennaoui (aka Big Hass) is known as one of the regional independent music scene’s most influential figures. Big Hass started the Kingdom’s first FM radio hip-hop show — “Laish Hip-Hop?” — in 2011, introducing Saudi listeners to what he calls “real” hip-hop. By which he means socially conscious, smart rap, as opposed to the commercial “bottles-and-girls” tracks that clutter up the charts.

Dennaoui relocated to Dubai from Saudi around 18 months ago “to give my autistic son a better life” and recently revived an events series that he launched in Jeddah in 2013, The Beat.

“Its main aim is to feature local, up-and-coming artists from the community and give them a platform to perform live,” he told Arab News.

Last weekend saw the first The Beat DXB take place. It featured performances from Lebanese singer-songwriter Jamil Jabbour, Sudanese R&B/soul singer Reem Ekay, and Serbian singer and pianist Aleksandra Krstic.

“The main reason I wanted to launch with these artists was simply because they don’t perform that often in Dubai,” Dennaoui explained. “Jamil Jabbour is very talented with a very strong voice, but he rarely gets the chance to do originals. Reem’s vibe is just incredible, but The Beat DXB was her first live performance in two years! And Aleks is one of my favorite singers in Dubai. We also got a special appearance by Double A the Preacherman who freestyled using lyrics we gave him on the spot, which proved to be very entertaining.”

Dennaoui described the night as “amazing,” saying: “What I personally enjoyed was the fact that the audience was there listening to each and every song: There was no talking, no drinking, no distraction, simply a connection made between the artist and the audience, and watching that was a true blessing.

“I received a lot of great feedback,” he continued. “I expect big things for The Beat DXB.”

‘Noura’s Dream’ becomes nightmare dilemma in this raw tale

Hend Sabry plays the lead role in ‘Noura’s Dream.’ (Supplied)
Updated 16 October 2019

‘Noura’s Dream’ becomes nightmare dilemma in this raw tale

CHENNAI: Hinde Boujemaa’s “Noura’s Dream,” which premiered at the recent Toronto International Film Festival and later featured at El Gouna Film Festival, saw the movie’s protagonist, Hend Sabry (Noura), clinch best actress award at the latter.

The director, who also wrote the script, tackles an unusual dilemma for a woman being pulled in three different directions by her husband, lover and three young children, two of them girls.

It is certainly not an easy task to lead a story such as this – emotionally complicated and set in Tunisia – to a closure.

In an interview with Variety, Boujemaa said: “There have been movies about adultery, but very few of them have been wholly empathetic to the woman. There’s often a kind of moral judgement attached. I wanted to make a film without any hint of moralizing.”

“Noura’s Dream” opens with a romantic scene. Working in a prison laundry, she is seen on her phone talking to her lover, handsome garage mechanic Lassaad (Hakim Boumsaoudi), and the two are all set to marry, her divorce just days away.

Her husband, Jamel (Lotfi Abdelli), is in jail having been caught committing petty crimes but when he is freed early after a presidential pardon, things get messy.

The director tackles an unusual dilemma for a woman being pulled in three different directions by her husband, lover and three young children. (Supplied) 

Boujemaa’s film has the feel of a Ken Loach (British director) movie, with its take on the predicament of the working class. There is a certain raw quality about “Noura’s Dream,” devoid of the polish and psychological complexities of “Marriage Story” (screened at Venice), in which auteur Noah Baumbach portrays the pain of a marital split with a degree of levity and sophistication.

A similar approach and treatment cannot be taken with Noura’s story, which is set in a very different kind of social environment that gives little freedom or equality to a woman. Take, for instance, the scene in which Noura’s defense lawyer, a woman, makes her client feel small and guilty, reminding her of the injustice and harm a split would do to her children.

Boujemaa’s film has the feel of a Ken Loach (British director) movie. (Supplied) 

Sabry brings to the fore the quandary of Noura, who is completely lost.

Should she go ahead with the divorce and marry Lassaad, a union that could mean abandoning her children who need their mother? Or should she stick with her wayward husband? There are no easy answers.