DUBAI: As Haute Couture Fashion Week in Paris winds down, we are still daydreaming about the dazzling display designers from the region showcased in the culture capital.
Lebanese designer Rabih Kayrouz put on a vibrant show on Monday, sending models down the catwalk in Dorothy-inspired ginghams and daring pop art-style primary colors. Over exaggerated, frilled sleeves and a devil-may-care attitude toward mixing prints made his Spring 2019 ready-to-wear collection stand out — it was fun and instantly wearable.
Countryman Georges Hobeika took things in precisely the opposite direction, and it was breathtaking to behold. The Beirut-based designer unveiled a Fall/Winter collection that was teeming with feathers, tea-length skirts and frequent visual references to nature’s most elegant bird, the swan. Soft, pale pinks melted into luscious, deep violets and cobalt blues in a line that was feminine and not without its quirks.
Meanwhile, Bollywood favorite Rami Kadi unveiled an Aztec-inspired collection of pastel-hued ballgowns, as well as a wedding dress that twinkled with embedded fairy lights, iridescent ostrich feathers and wispy metallic fronds. Peaches, forget-me-not blues and cream colors, along with holographic sequins and delicate crystal embellishments, marked this collection.
Catwalk star Gigi Hadid celebrates ‘World Keffiyeh Day’
Updated 12 May 2021
DUBAI: Gigi Hadid decided to celebrate her Palestinian roots this week. The half-Arab model took to her Instagram Stories to celebrate “World Keffiyeh Day,” an initiative launched by the Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, on May 11, 2016, in an effort to shed light on the ongoing Palestine-Israel conflict.
The premise of the unofficial event is to show solidarity with Palestinians by donning the checkered black-and-white scarf around the neck or head.
In honor of the annual day, the catwalk star posted a throwback photo of herself wearing a keffiyeh-style top from Chanel’s 2015 cruise collection, which was staged in Dubai.
“It’s #worldkeffiyehday,” wrote Hadid, alongside the Palestinian flag and red heart emojis.
She also reposted an infographic highlighting the significance of the keffiyeh patterns.
“Thank you @GiGiHadid for participating in World Keffiyeh Day and raising your voice,” wrote the initative on its official Twitter account.
The 26-year-old is the daughter of Dutch model and “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Yolanda Hadid and US-Palestinian real estate developer Mohammed Hadid, whose family fled to Lebanon from Palestine as refugees in 1948.
The model occasionally takes to social media to speak about her paternal Palestinian heritage and celebrate her Arab roots.
“I’m as Palestinian as I am Dutch. Just because I have blonde hair, I still carry the value of my ancestors and I appreciate and respect that,” she previously said during a promotional campaign for Reebok in Sydney.
Gigi and her younger sister Bella also often use their platforms to voice their support for Palestinian people by sharing posts explaining the rising tensions in the region.
“You will not erase Palestine,” read one of the illustrations that Gigi shared on her Instagram stories following the Al-Aqsa Mosque attack this week.
She also shared a photograph of her father’s long-expired US passport, which states his birthplace as Palestine. Bella had previously shared the same picture last year, but Instagram had taken it down. After the model publicly criticized the platform for its move, Instagram eventually apologized to Bella and restored her post.
Other celebrities to voice their support for Palestine include British-Albanian pop star Dua Lipa, Algerian model Younes Bendjima, singer The Weeknd and “Avengers” star Mark Ruffalo.
Model Imaan Hammam donates to causes close to heart
Updated 12 May 2021
DUBAI: Moroccan-Egyptian-Dutch model Imaan Hammam made donations to three causes as Ramadan came to an end.
Writing on Instagram, she said: “It’s so important to remember to give back and support the communities and people who need it.”
Among the initiatives the 24-year-old donated to was Preemptive Love, a non-profit organization that helps with emergency relief on the frontlines of conflict and supports displaced communities by selling refugee-made goods.
Hammam also revealed that she donated funds to Islamic Relief USA and Muslims of the World to “give humanitarian aid to Palestine, sustain clean water and sanitation, feed orphans in Yemen and Afghanistan, and provide support and relief for refugees.”
She added: “I’m so happy to lend my platform to bring awareness to the humanitarian crisis happening throughout Islamic states.”
Pop stars, key workers gather for BRIT Awards in London live music return
Updated 12 May 2021
LONDON: Some 4,000 people watched singers Dua Lipa and Arlo Parks triumph as well as perform at the BRIT Awards this week, in the first major indoor music event with a live audience held in London in over a year.
Britain’s pop music honors, for which the audience did not have to wear masks or socially distance, took place at the O2 arena on the River Thames as the country emerges from COVID-19 lockdown.
The ceremony, during which Billie Eilish and The Weeknd were also winners, is part of the British government’s Events Research Programme aimed at establishing whether big events can be held in closed environments without social distancing.
The audience, of which 2,500 were key workers with guests, were sat in rows, looking down on two stages - one for presenters and another for performers. Nominees sat at distanced tables.
“This evening we look forward to a brighter future,” host Jack Whitehall said. “We have an audience ... we have pop stars, we are back.”
Ticket holders had to show proof of a negative lateral flow test result to enter the venue, which has a capacity of around 20,000. They will also need to take a test afterwards and provide contact details as part of the UK’s COVID test and trace system.
“It feels surreal because it’s been so long,” Zunaira Faiz, who works at a north London hospital, said upon arriving at the O2. “It almost feels like I'm experiencing something nostalgic because we haven’t been able to do this for so long.”
Like elsewhere, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down music events with live audiences in Britain. Under Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s phased roadmap out of lockdown, entertainment venues can re-open their doors next week.
Lipa, who won two awards - female solo artist and album for “Future Nostalgia,” said she was dedicating her performance to key workers.
“I feel very grateful to be sharing this evening with them,” she told Reuters.
While some performances were live, including those of Lipa, breakthrough artist winner Parks and Olivia Rodrigo, others were pre-recorded.
Wanting to embrace the community spirit and kindness seen during COVID-19 lockdown, winners were given two awards and encouraged to share one.
American songstress Taylor Swift became the first female artist to be honoured with the Global Icon award. David Bowie, Elton John and Robbie Williams were past recipients.
“I’m really proud to be a part of this musical community especially in a year when we all needed music so much,” Swift, who traveled to London for the awards, said, also paying tribute to frontline workers.
Harry Styles won British single for “Watermelon Sugar,” while Little Mix became the first female band to win British group.
Eid treat: Moroccan chef Nargisse Benkabbou’s chocolate chip krachel
Updated 12 May 2021
DUBAI: Moroccan chef Nargisse Benkabbou is on a mission to demystify her country’s cuisine for international foodies, especially those in the UK where she lives.
Here, she shares her recipe for chocolate chip krachel to sweeten up your Eid Al-Fitr celebrations.
60g unsalted butter
2 ½ tbsp sesame seeds
2 tsp dried active yeast
50g caster sugar
1 tbsp warm water
300g plain flour, plus extra if needed and for dusting
1 tsp aniseed
½ tsp salt
80–120ml warm full-fat milk
1 ½ tbsp orange blossom water
100g dark chocolate chips or chunks
1 egg yolk, beaten
1. Melt the butter, then leave it to cool. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan over a medium-high heat for about 6 minutes.
2. In a small bowl, mix the dried yeast with 1⁄4 teaspoon of the sugar and the measured warm water using a fork. Leave the yeast to activate for about 5 minutes.
3. Mix 2 tablespoons of the toasted sesame seeds, the remaining sugar, the flour, aniseed and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the melted butter, yeast mixture, egg, 80ml warm milk and the orange blossom water together until smooth. Combine both bowls and mix to form a soft dough.
4. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic and add the chocolate chips. Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for about 45 minutes or until it almost doubles in size.
5. Divide the dough into 8 equal-sized pieces and shape each into a ball. Place them on a baking sheet, leaving about 5cm between each ball. Cover with cling film and leave the buns to rise for about 30 minutes.
6. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Brush the buns with the beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with the remaining toasted sesame seeds. Bake for about 17–20 minutes.
Renowned US authors Tayari Jones, Brent Weeks join Abu Dhabi Book Fair lineup
Updated 11 May 2021
DUBAI: Renowned US fantasy author Brent Weeks, US author Tayari Jones, Emirati writer Eman Alyousuf and Kuwaiti writer Taleb Alrefai are all set to participate at the upcoming Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.
Organised by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre at the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, the 30th edition of ADIBF will see the participation of more than 800 exhibitors from 46 countries around the world, and will comprise more than 104 virtual and physical sessions.
Dr. Ali bin Tamim, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, said: “Despite the challenges we have faced in the wake of the pandemic, the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair is committed to ramping up its efforts to support the publishing industry and to promote cross-cultural dialogue. We are proud to host this event which reinforces our position as one of the most prominent intellectual and literary forums in region, and gives us the opportunity to highlight Arab literary output while simultaneously celebrating the pioneers of arts and culture from across the world.”
As part of its cultural programme, the fair will feature the artistic and literary works of authors and artists from multiple fields. Among those will be American author Tayari Jones, considered one of the most important writers of her generation, who will hold a session to discuss her latest work. In another session, the fantasy great Weeks will talk about the importance of science fiction novels in transporting readers away from the monotony of their daily lives. Providing a regional perspective, Kuwait’s Alrefai will participate in a dialogue with Emirati writer Alyousuf, to discuss how the pandemic has encouraged reading.
British television presenter and historian Bettany Hughes will join a conversation about the impact of plagues and pandemics on civilisations, while Emirati writer Sultan Al-Amimi will speak about with the importance of short stories and their role in enhancing literary diversity. .