Exploring Malaga’s rich history

This Andalusian city has much more to offer than its famous beaches. (Shutterstock)
Updated 02 September 2019

Exploring Malaga’s rich history

DUBAI: The coastal city of Malaga in the south of Spain is principally known as an ideal summer destination, a top choice for those wanting to lounge on the beach and bask in the Mediterranean sun. But this Andalusian provincial capital offers more than just the joy of leisure. This is a city steeped in history — both ancient and modern — as evidenced by its warm-hued, charming, and often-colossal architecture, which hides delightful surprises and breathtaking views.

In the city’s historic center, consider starting your day with a visit to the Alcazaba, a limestone, palm tree-lined fortress that was built under Arab rule — which lasted for nearly 700 years — during the 11th century. Derived from the Arabic term ‘Al qasba’ (citadel), this leafy fortress is a gem of Moorish design with its characteristic horseshoe arches, refreshing fountains and airy gardens.  

Al qasba (citadel). (Shutterstock)

A few minutes walk away stands the grand Malaga Cathedral, which took around two centuries to construct, and is apparently still not complete. Building started in the 1500s, and this Renaissance- and Baroque-style monument was actually converted from a mosque into a cathedral under the patronage of Spain’s Catholic monarchs, who conquered the city in 1487. The tall interior — topped with ornate domes and stained-glass windows — is hugely impressive. Before leaving the cathedral, make sure to take a look at the intricately carved figures of saints, apostles, and other founders of religious orders around the choir’s wooden seating.

Malaga Cathedral. (Shutterstock)

Malaga is also home to a mélange of art museums that are scattered around the city. We would recommend the Carmen Thyssen Museum. Housed in the former home of a nobleman, which was built in the 16th century, this small, tranquil cultural institution showcases paintings created predominantly by Spanish masters — from the Romantic to the Fin-de-siècle periods — portraying remarkable imagery of Andalusian nature, architecture, and cultural traditions.

To unwind for a few moments, head to the museum’s patio — located on the second floor — where you will be charmed by the view of terracotta rooftops and church towers, the bells of which chime in the far distance.  

If you are a fan of Pablo Picasso, then you are in for a surprising treat. The radical 20th-century artist was born in Malaga in 1881, although he lived here for just the first decade of his life and eventually settled in France, never to return to his native city. You can visit the apartment in which he was born in at the Casa Natal Museum, situated in the Plaza de la Merced. The apartment was turned into a museum in 1988, and its intimate setting is meant to paint a picture of Picasso’s upbringing and family life. It includes personal mementos such as his delicate baptism robe, monogrammed undershirt, his sister Dolores’ tortoiseshell comb, and a selection of his father José Ruiz-Blasco’s artworks.

Casa Natal Museum is situated in the Plaza de la Merced. (Shutterstock)

Malaga’s officials also honored their most famous son (apologies Antonio Banderas) through the opening of the Picasso Museum. The museum’s collection — donated by Bernard and Christine-Ruiz Picasso (the artist’s grandson and daughter-in-law) —boasts nearly 200 artworks, covering eight decades of Picasso’s highly experimental artistry — his academic painting, Cubism, ceramics, etching, and much more. Through his striking portraits, you will encounter individuals from Picasso’s intimate circle, including his romantic partners, the Russian dancer Olga Khokhlova, French artist Françoise Gilot, and his most-painted muse — and last wife — Jacqueline Roque.

Malaga is principally known as an ideal summer destination. (Shutterstock)

You can grab a bite to eat at any of the casual food bars on every other corner of the city. Near the shopping district on Calle Marqués de Larios, La Taberna del Pintxo is famous for its varied and delicious open sandwiches — a staple of Basque cuisine. For cold pintxos, help yourself at the bar, which offers fish-stuffed croissants, caviar-topped smoked salmon, creamed Roquefort and walnuts spread generously on small portions of bread. For warm pintxos, servers rotate around tables serving the likes of fried Camembert drizzled with raspberry jam, entrecote sprinkled with sea salt, and baked béchamel-infused mushrooms.

If you’d rather grab your own ingredients, head to the bustling Mercado de Atarazanas, located in a former shipyard that originally dates back to the 14th century, and renowned for its wide array of fresh produce — local vendors provide the best of olives, cheese, fruits, fish and meat.

And after all that food and culture, there should still be time to head to the beach.

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.”