‘People who love life and music’ — dance parties return to Baghdad

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Young people dance and cheer as they attend electronic music concert with western tunes at closed Hall in Shaab Stadium for the first time in Baghdad, Iraq August 16, 2019. Picture taken August 16, 2019. (Reuters)
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A biker wheelspins on his motorbike during a car and motorbike show outside the closed Hall of Shaab Stadium in Baghdad, Iraq August 16, 2019. Picture taken August 16, 2019. (Reuters)
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Young people dance and cheer as they attend electronic music concert with western tunes at closed Hall in Shaab Stadium for the first time in Baghdad, Iraq August 16, 2019. Picture taken August 16, 2019. (Reuters)
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Young people attend electronic music concert with western tunes at closed Hall in Shaab Stadium for the first time in Baghdad, Iraq August 16, 2019. Picture taken August 16, 2019. (Reuters)
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Young women dance as they attend electronic music concert with western tunes at closed Hall in Shaab Stadium for the first time in Baghdad, Iraq August 16, 2019. Picture taken August 16, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 18 August 2019
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‘People who love life and music’ — dance parties return to Baghdad

  • The Mongols Motorcycle Club dance circle was one of several at the Riot Gear Summer Rush event
  • Friday’s was the first open to the public

BAGHDAD: Members of rival Iraqi biker gangs, clad in studded leather and black berets, burst out of their semi-circles to break dance, their tattoo-covered arms waving neon glowsticks.
The Mongols Motorcycle Club dance circle was one of several at the Riot Gear Summer Rush event, a car show and concert held at a sports stadium in the heart of Baghdad.
The scene was a far cry from the usual images broadcast from the city of violence and mayhem. But nearly two years since Iraq declared victory over the
Daesh, the capital has been quietly remaking its image.
Since the blast walls — a feature of the capital since a US-led invasion in 2003 toppled Saddam Hussein — started coming down, a less restrictive way of life has emerged.
“We held this party so people can know that Iraq has this kind of culture, and has these kinds of people who love life and music,” said Arshad Haybat, a 30-year-old film director who founded the Riot Gear events company.
Riot Gear has thrown similar parties in Iraq before, but Friday’s was the first open to the public.
The day started with young men showing off imported muscle cars and motorcycles. By nightfall, it had turned into a pulsating electronic dance music (EDM) show.
Iraqi hip-hop collective Tribe of Monsters played a mix of EDM and Trap music as young men, clasping elaborate vape pens, danced through strobe lights and smoke machines, livestreaming their moves on Snapchat and Instagram.
It was a heady mix of Baghdad’s burgeoning subcultures: bikers, gamers, EDM enthusiasts. What most had in common was they’d never been to a party like this in Iraq.
“We have only ever seen this kind of concert on TV and films,” said 21-year-old Mustafa Osama. “I can’t describe my feelings to see such a thing in Iraq.”
Though dominated by young men, lots of women attended, with some dancing near the main stage. But event organizers ensured a “family section” was available, so groups of women, families and couples out on dates could dance, away from the lively crowd.
“All the young people are happy here,” said Ain, one of the female partygoers who declined to give her last name. “I hope there will be more and more of these events in Iraq.”


Rita Ora shows love for Arab fashion in London 

The singer was spotted wearing a shirt dress by Rami Kadi. (Getty Images)
Updated 18 September 2019

Rita Ora shows love for Arab fashion in London 

DUBAI: Earlier this week, celebrities descended on YouTube & LOVE magazine’s London Fashion Week party, including the likes of Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Rita Ora — who chose to sport a Lebanese minidress on the occasion. 

Models and pop stars partied the night away at London’s The Standard Hotel on Monday night and Ora dazzled in a Pied-de-Coq patterned outfit from Lebanese designer Rami Kadi’s Fall/Winter 2019 collection, dubbed “Ometeo.”

The semi-sheer shirt dress featured pale yellow and ice blue patternwork and Ora paired the outfit with a wide brimmed hat and knee-high black boots. 

The outfit was styled by Rob Zangardi and Mariel Haenn. 

Rita Ora is no stranger to the Middle East and has performed in the Gulf a few times. (Getty Images)

Young Lebanese designer Kadi has become known for his cutting-edge style and often uses unexpected materials in his work — his latest collection features plexi glass in neon shades. The talent is becoming more and more popular with international celebrities and has already dressed the likes of pop legend Jennifer Lopez and Portuguese model Sara Sampaio, with Ora becoming the latest in a long list of leading ladies to turn to Kadi for sartorial advice. 

Besides her fashion choices, Ora has shown love for the Middle East in other ways — including filming her latest music video in Dubai. 

The singer unveiled the video for her single “New Look” in July and Dubai residents were quick to spot their stomping grounds in the clip. 

One of the neighborhoods to feature in the music video was Meydan — home to Dubai’s premiere racecourse, as well as a clutch of popular party spots.

Ora also performed at The Assembly - the Global Teacher Prize Concert in Dubai in March and at Base, the open-air club in the artsy Dubai Design District, last year.

In 2018, the award-winning singer found time for a quick Instagram-friendly workout in the gym of her Bahrain hotel before going on to wow crowds at the island’s annual Spring of Culture Festival.

The 27-year-old rose to fame in 2012 when she featured on DJ Fresh’s UK Number One “Hot Right Now.” Her self-titled debut album, released in August that year, also went to Number One and featured hits including “How We Do (Party),” “R.I.P.” and “Shine Ya Light.”