TV star Muna Abusulyam to launch app to capture ad revenues for “good intentions”

TV star Muna Abusulyam to launch app to capture ad revenues for “good intentions”
Updated 10 April 2018

TV star Muna Abusulyam to launch app to capture ad revenues for “good intentions”

TV star Muna Abusulyam to launch app to capture ad revenues for “good intentions”
  • Arab television star to launch new app that will send money to non-profit organizations
  • 13 organizations including orphan support groups have already signed up

KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia: Muna Abusulyman, the media personality and entrepreneur, is to launch a new app designed to lure away some of the billions of dollars in advertising spent each year in Saudi Arabia with the the big social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google Ads.

Revenue raised from the initiative will be spent instead on Saudi non-profit organizations (NPOs) as a way of enabling them to capture more financial resources. It will be called Niya - the Arabic phrase for “good intentions” - and she plans to launch it during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Arab Women Forum in King Abdullah Economic City near Jeddah, Abusulyman told Arab News: “All that money spent online on social media is going out to the Kingdom, so I would like to divert that back to Saudi Arabia. That way we can use the goodwill of the Saudi population and their social media use to create social revenue streams for NPOs.”

Some 13 organizations have already signed up, like charities and support groups for orphans, female employment and autism. There are around 1400 such NOPs in the Kingdom. 

She said the initiative was being launched in support of the Vision 2030 strategy to diversify the economy away from oil dependency and the public sector. “The idea behind Vision 2030 is to encourage businesses that will create value for the country. Niya would keep money, that at the moment goes outside, inside the Kingdom. I’m tired of giving other people our money.”

She said full details would be revealed on the company website and social media at time of launch.
She is believed to have secured financing for the project from a Saudi investor.

Abusulyman was speaking after appearing on a panel devoted to the role of women entrepreneurs in the Saudi economic transformation. She said that the Kingdom’s female workforce was adept at running small start ups, often based in their own homes, but that was often the limit.

“It’s very difficult for women to take the next step. There are a lot of constraints on them - social, cultural and financial - towards going further. And they have the responsibility of the family and home too.”

She continued: ‘The number of Saudi women who apply for and get government funding is low. The banks, a lot of the time, don’t provide entrepreneurial funds anyway. But men who want to raise capital have an easier time because of their circle of friends and contacts, which women do not have.

“In Saudi, we’re creating a lot more opportunities for women who want income, a job outside the home, and all the other opportunities of a more modern economy,” she added.

She said that her TV show Kalam Nawaem on MBC channel  was “all about the energy of social change and innovation,” and that she was aiming to air more content concerning the digital and hi-tech sectors. “It is all about giving the right information to the right people at the right time,” she added.


‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and some of the best videogames coming your way this year

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and some of the best videogames coming your way this year
Updated 25 June 2021

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and some of the best videogames coming your way this year

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and some of the best videogames coming your way this year

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy

Due Oct. 26

The standard of games based on Marvel franchises has varied wildly over the years. 2018’s “Spider-Man” was widely acclaimed and great fun, but last year’s “Avengers,” despite its great production values, was something of a damp squib. Still, there will be plenty of fans waiting to play as Peter Quill/Star-Lord leading his team through a series of missions to save the universe. While the rest of the Guardians — Gamora, Rocket, Groot and Drax — aren’t playable characters, you can utilize their skills by giving them orders. And you’ll need them: the heroes for hire will face some formidable opponents from the Marvel canon along the way. Narrative developer Mary DeMarle has promised surprises too. “They all have that weird, eccentric nature, bumbling around and so darned optimistic that they’ll improvise and find their way out of everything,” she told Space.com. “They get along so well, they care and have heart. Their interaction results in some really fun and exciting twists and turns and unexpected stuff.”

Little Devil Inside

Due in July

What was originally conceived as a modest indie game grew into something of a monster itself when its 2015 Kickstarter campaign raised more than $300,000. A little over six years later, Neostream Interactive’s action-adventure is finally ready for release. Set in the 19th century, the game follows Billy, a swordsman hired by Professor Vincent, Dr. Oliver and their research team to travel the game’s open world in search of the supernatural and “all phenomenal existence.” Don’t be fooled by the game’s stripped-back visuals — this is an incredibly ambitious exercise by the developers. Players will have to take careful note of their characters’ body language and behavior to ascertain what is necessary: characters may limp when wounded, for example, or shiver if they’re too cold, while those with a one-track mind will have limited vision. There’s satirical humor here too, with pointed remarks about financial inequality and a look into the more-mundane side of Billy’s life.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

Due Aug. 28

One of numerous titles delayed from 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this action-adventure game has stirred up considerable excitement ahead of its release. For one thing, it’s visually stunning — resembling a high-quality Japanese anime. You play as Kena, a young Spirit Guide searching for a mountain shrine. You can enlist the help of some incredibly cute little critters called Rot who can help you transform the overgrown jungle into a navigable environment. But you’ll also have to face off against more-threatening inhabitants too.

Life is Strange: True Colors

Due Sept. 10

Deck Nine’s third-person graphic adventure series returns, allowing the user to once again play as Alex Chen, the psychic empath who is able to read and manipulate emotions (at a price — she must take on those emotions herself) and thus understand and relieve trauma and stress. The latest iteration of the game is once again set in the beautiful (fictional) mountain town of Haven Springs. However, unlike previous versions that were released in ‘chapters,’ “True Colors” will be released in its entirety.

Deathloop

Due Sept. 14

Having also been heavily delayed by the pandemic, this intriguing game is finally coming out in September. The player takes the role of a multi-talented assassin, Colt, who’s stuck in a time loop at a party on an island. The loop resets at the end of every night, and the partygoers have no memories of the previous loop. But you do. Your task is to take out eight targets before midnight. Fail to take them all out and the loop resets. Die before you take them all out and the loop resets. You’ll have to fail multiple times before you have all the necessary information on your targets to succeed.

Ghostwire: Tokyo

Due in October

Tokyo’s citizens have almost all mysteriously disappeared, leaving deadly ghosts and specters known as Visitors to take over the city. The player’s character in this creepy action-adventure game is, according to the game’s combat director Shinichiro Hara, “a badass, spell-casting, high-tech ninja exorcist defeating countless evil spirits,” which sounds like a pretty good thing to be. He also stressed in the same presentation that the developers wanted to move away from the cliché of spell casters and magic users in video games not being physically strong. “That isn’t the case with ‘GhostWire,’” he said. “In ‘GhostWire’ you’re casting magic with martial arts movements.”

Stray

Due October

Given the ubiquitous popularity of cats online, it’s amazing that “Stray” didn’t appear years ago. The game allows you to play as a lost cat, stealthily sneaking (or occasionally deliberately making a nuisance of itself) through a run-down and seedy cybercity populated by droids (generally not too threatening, in fact one of them — the flying drone B12 — will help you on your way) and a number of far more dangerous creatures, in the hope of escaping and finding your kin.

Dying Light 2: Stay Human

Due Dec. 7

With its mix of thrilling parkour, brutal zombie-killing action, and genuinely frightening jump-scares, the original “Dying Light” is one of the masterpieces of the overcrowded post-apocalyptic survival genre. So hopes are high for this sequel, which, judging by the previews, appears to have retained the elements that made the original so successful. Set 20 years after the original, the new protagonist, Aiden Caldwell, must navigate the open world of The City — an unspecified location in Europe — while deciding which of several factions to assist or fight, all while avoiding getting caught by the undead, especially at night.


THE ROUNDUP – Regional pop-culture highlights

THE ROUNDUP – Regional pop-culture highlights
Updated 25 June 2021

THE ROUNDUP – Regional pop-culture highlights

THE ROUNDUP – Regional pop-culture highlights

Hadi Sarieddine

‘Clarity’

The Dubai-based singer-songwriter, who goes by the artist name Hadi, just released his debut album “Clarity.” Hadi told Arab News that the record “blends elements of pop, rock and some soul/hip-hop.” Lyrically, it’s about “mental health and navigating through some of the heaviness that we may experience in life. But it’s also about celebrating being alive.” The title track was produced by Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park as part of his #ShinodaProduceMe project.

Zeyada

‘Somewave’

The Egyptian singer-songwriter’s first release of the year is a mellow indie-pop number that is, the artist said in a press release, “meant to describe a state of quietness and surrender.” The accompanying video was shot in Dahab, south Sinai and “embraces the simple beauty and grandeur of the sea.” It has already racked up over 400,000 views on YouTube.

Bunu Dhungana

‘Confrontations’

The Nepali photographer’s series, from which this image is taken, was part of “Growing Like a Tree,” an exhibition at Dubai’s Ishara Art Foundation featuring work from 14 artists and collectives from South Asia. “Together they create a space where multiple voices and experiences are brought into dialogue with one another,” the gallery said in a press release, adding that Dhungana’s work “questions notions of gender and patriarchy.”

Bouziane

‘Till When’

The Moroccan singer-songwriter’s debut release for Universal Music demonstrates his versatility. The label describes him as a “triple-threat … with his abilities to rap, dance and play guitar.” The 29-year-old’s first single takes influences from Western pop and North African R&B to create a track that Bouziane described as being about “the limited opportunities and support (available to) the young people of Morocco.”


Lebanese artist Aya Haider reveals the hidden work of motherhood

Lebanese artist Aya Haider reveals the hidden work of motherhood
Updated 25 June 2021

Lebanese artist Aya Haider reveals the hidden work of motherhood

Lebanese artist Aya Haider reveals the hidden work of motherhood
  • Haider explores women’s often-invisible experiences of parenthood, domesticity, and labor

 

DUBAI: Several washing lines support an assortment of colorful garments between two walls. It’s a scene one would commonly find in a Mediterranean town during spring or summer when the warm rays of sun allow for garments to be easily hung to dry outdoors. Only this time there is no sun overhead and the pieces of clothing have long been dry.

The washing lines are part of British-Lebanese artist Aya Haider’s installation “Highly Strung,” a work that repurposes a domestic space with a powerful message of female empowerment. It was recently exhibited by Jeddah-based Athr Gallery in London’s Cromwell Place.

For 365 days, the artist and mother of three embroidered a piece of fabric she had used — perhaps children’s clothes, a piece of cloth, or her own dresses — then hung it up as physical proof of her daily chores, including  cleaning the house, ensuring school uniforms were clean and ready to wear, pumping milk and feeding her children. The thought-provoking installation celebrates the mundane, and often unrecognized, work that mothers do every day.

The washing lines are part of British-Lebanese artist Aya Haider’s installation “Highly Strung.” (Supplied)

“The labor force of motherhood is round the clock, underpaid and undervalued in society. We are like invisible workers,” Haider tells Arab News. “It’s very much about the physicality of all of these tasks. Sometimes, at the end of the day, I would feel like I had nothing to show for myself. Women do a little bit, a little bit every day and you come away with nothing tangible, so this installation literally quantifies (it) in a tangible way.”

The price of the work also reflects its labor. She took the minimum wage in the UK (£8.36 for those aged 21 or 22, equivalent to $11.59) and multiplied it by 24 hours and 365 days to price the work, arriving at a figure of more than $101,000. “That’s it’s true value,” she says.

Haider has long worked within the interstices of art, politics, and society, with a particular focus on women’s issues.  “My work is all about storytelling, particular the stories of my mother, grandmother and my own,” she says.

“Highly Strung” is a work that repurposes a domestic space with a powerful message of female empowerment.  (Supplied)

Issues relating to displacement, memory and forced migration, particularly in the Middle East, inform much of Haider’s multimedia-based art. “I look especially at survival stories of communities and diasporas,” she explains.

She often repurposes used, recycled, or discarded items, endowing them with new life and meaning. Her 2013 installation “Year of Issue,” for example, consisted of 18 books representing the 18 countries across the MENA region, with each book sharing the same year of publication as its respective country’s year of independence — exploring memory, migration and loss with the irony and humor common to her practice. “These objects are important because they carry many stories,” she says.

Since becoming a mother, women’s issues have been at the forefront of her work. In pieces created for her “Out of Service” exhibition in 2019, she drew parallels between the untold stories of migrant female domestic workers and her own questions regarding the visibility of female labor.

She often repurposes used, recycled, or discarded items, endowing them with new life and meaning. (Supplied)

“During my talks with these migrant domestic workers we spoke of exploitation — being overworked, undervalued, working 20-hour days without a break, all things I relate a lot to motherhood,” says Haider. “It’s a blessing to be a mother but the hardships are often completely invisible or unspoken about.”

“Highly Strung” highlights not only the unsung labors of the female gender but also the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on young mothers.

“The pandemic amplified everything I was feeling as a young mother,” Haider says. “After a day of homeschooling my children (aged 6,4 and 2), I would (work on) my art from 7 p.m. until 1 a.m. Art became my outlet and a way to make sense of the injustices of the world during these trying times.”


Where We Are Shopping Today: LocoSonix

Where We Are Shopping Today: LocoSonix
Updated 25 June 2021

Where We Are Shopping Today: LocoSonix

Where We Are Shopping Today: LocoSonix

LocoSonix bills itself as “a Saudi skate shop and active lifestyle shop.” Founder Safi Marroun first got into skateboarding when he was studying in California, and he was inspired to start LocoSonix — a hybrid of “locomotion” and “ultrasonics” — when he returned to Saudi, to support the local skating community.

LocoSonix sells skateboards, longboards, scooters, roller skates, inline skates, and ice skates, as well as a full range of components, which can all be customized to ensure each customer gets a unique board.

Even non-skaters might be interested in the store’s range of accessories, including bags, footwear and clothing inspired by skate culture.

LocoSonix also provides courses for those interested in taking up skating, as well as a maintenance service.

With its blend of creativity and athleticism, skating — and skate culture in general — is becoming an increasingly popular activity in the Kingdom. Many Saudi cities now have areas suitable for skaters to safely practice.


French-Algerian actor Tahar Rahim to join Spike Lee on Cannes jury

French-Algerian actor Tahar Rahim to join Spike Lee on Cannes jury
Updated 24 June 2021

French-Algerian actor Tahar Rahim to join Spike Lee on Cannes jury

French-Algerian actor Tahar Rahim to join Spike Lee on Cannes jury

DUBAI: French-Algerian actor Tahar Rahim will be part of this year’s Cannes Film Festival jury led by director Spike Lee, organizers announced on Thursday.

“The Serpent” star will be joined by US actress Maggie Gyllenhaal and “Parasite” lead Song Kang-Ho. 

It will be a female-majority jury for the July 6 to 17 festival, which has faced criticism in recent years for its lack of female representation.

Only one woman has ever won the Palme d’Or in its 73 years: Jane Campion for “The Piano” in 1993.

This year’s jury will wade through 24 entries (only four by women) to decide the winner of the arthouse world’s most coveted film prize.

The nine members include French actor-director Melanie Laurent, best known abroad for her role in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.”

The jury also features several international filmmakers: Brazilian Kleber Mendonca Filho, who competed at Cannes in 2016 with “Aquarius”; Austrian Jessica Hausner, who competed with “Little Joe” in 2019; and French-Senegalese director Mati Diop, whose debut “Atlantique” won the Grand Prix the same year.

Egyptian director Sameh Alaa will be part of the short film jury. (Getty)

Rahim made his name with indie favorite “The Prophet” and recently had an award-winning turn in Guantanamo drama “The Mauritanian” and a TV hit with the BBC-Netflix show “The Serpent.”

Rahim is not the only Arab joining the jury for this year’s Cannes. 

Tunisian filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania will be part of the short film jury. (AFP)

Last week, the festival announced that Tunisian filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania and Egyptian director Sameh Alaa will be part of the short film jury.