Regional designers wow the front row at LFW

Omani label Atelier Zuhra found new ways to update denimwear. (Getty Images)
Updated 16 September 2019

Regional designers wow the front row at LFW

DUBAI: Emirati designer Ahmed Khyeli showed off his ethereal new collection at London Fashion Week on Sunday, just before British-Afghani designer Osman Yousefzada and Omani label Atelier Zuhra showcased their latest lines on Monday.

Yousefzada’s eponymous label OSMAN staged a showcase of the designer’s dreamy Spring/Summer 2020 collection, complete with frothy tulle, vibrant jungle prints and more structured, belted two-piece outfits in bright pastel shades.

Atelier Zuhra — the brainchild of designer Rayan Al-Sulaimani and entrepreneur Mousa Al-Awfi — put on a show of denim creations. Splattered with what looked like cracked white paint and underlain with delicate white tulle, the Omani fashion house found new ways to update denimwear.




Emirati designer Ahmed Khyeli showed off his ethereal new collection at London Fashion Week. (Getty Images)

For his part, London-based Khyeli wowed the front row with a sneak peak of his Spring/Summer 2020 line, full of dramatic silhouettes in a much lighter color palette that the rich dark shades the designer has become known for.

Although the collection still featured a smattering of midnight blacks, hot salmon pinks, milky pea greens and nude shades were out in full force.

A feathered white ballgown and matching jacket was the main event at the show, with its decadent cascading feathers and sweetheart neckline. Peek-a-boo cutouts, tiny sequins and tightly rouched material also made appearances in the collection.

Khyeli is no stranger to spotlight and his designs have been worn by some of the entertainment industry’s leading ladies.

In March, makeup mogul Kylie Jenner sported a daring ensemble by the designer for a photoshoot.




 Ahmed Khyeli presented a sneak peak of his Spring/Summer 2020 line. (Getty Images)

The 21-year-old, who was recently named the youngest ever self-made billionaire by Forbes, wore a custom-made gown by Khyeli.

The dramatic black minidress featured a frilled train running up the side along with an oversized, ruffled collar.

Lady Gaga took to the Jimmy Kimmel Live TV show in early March to talk about her 2019 Oscar win while wearing a gown by Khyeli.

The beaded tulle gown, with a swimsuit-style bodice and strappy shoulders, hailed from the label’s Spring 2019 collection and, according to the fashion house, took more than 200 hours to embroider by hand.


Emirati horror movies explore region's fascination with the supernatural

Updated 19 October 2019

Emirati horror movies explore region's fascination with the supernatural

  • Horror films are fast emerging as a notable genre within the UAE's film industry
  • Horror films need neither big budgets nor marquee names to be effective

DUBAI: Whether it’s an audience need for escapism or a way to explore danger safely, horror films are fast emerging as a notable genre within the fledgeling Emirati film industry.

Several recent films have braved cinematic elements in recent years. Tobe Hooper’s “Djinn,” produced by Abu Dhabi production house Image Nation, broke the mold in 2013, and set new records as it explored the region’s fascination with the supernatural.

Emirati filmmaker Nayla Al-Khaja has recently finished “The Shadow,” a teaser for an extended feature believed to be based on actual events.

UAE-based Lebanese producer-director Rami Yasin is working on a vampire family drama, “Three Four Eternity,” for Image Nation.

Meanwhile, director Tariq Al-Kazim has begun pre-production on a sequel to 2017’s “A Tale of Shadows,” an English-language film about a gardener who is deeply disturbed by his experiences at a farm where he works.

The latest installment, “A Tale of Shadows: Illusions,” follows the story of a young girl who appears in a hospital, her body mysteriously drenched in blood. A local detective teams up with a journalist to investigate, and the pair land up at an eerie farm, where they find themselves enveloped in a world of illusion, chaos and madness.

The film is brought to life by an international cast, including Nigerian actor Chuka Ekweogwu, German actress Arzu Neuwirth and Swedish actor Almer Agmyren.

Emirati artist Samar Al-Shamsi, better known for the “Arab Mona Lisa” painting, also makes her screen debut in the film. 

Al-Kazim told Arab News that the film could reach cinemas early next year.

The filmmaker believes that horror movies allow him to reach audiences beyond his home country without breaking the bank.

“Horror is an interesting topic because regardless of where a person is from, when a movie is scary, it engenders fear,” Al-Kazim said.

The 26-year-old Emirati has been drawn to the genre since he was a child and has created a name for himself among regional horror fans.

Last year he released “Until Midnight,” which told the story of a newly married young man who encounters a stranger with evil intentions.

Horror films need neither big budgets or marquee names to be effective. “The Blair Witch Project,” for example, made $248 million on a budget of $60,000.

While this allows rookie filmmakers room to experiment, shoestring budgets cut both ways.

 Swedish actor Almer Agmyren. (Supplied)

“It’s actually tough to make a horror film. You need to be able to do it correctly without any mistakes, even in the split second of a frame,” Al-Kazim said.

“But that’s a challenge I like and one of the reasons I choose to make horror films.”

Although “A Tale of Shadows” was initially planned as a trilogy, positive response to the first instalment, which premiered in Dubai and played across the UAE, brought Al-Kazim back to the story.

The UAE film industry needs more incentives to make an impact internationally, he said, but Emirati filmmakers can reach broader audiences by tackling universal themes.

“I think we’re on the right track. However, more movies need to be developed. Without an increase in the number of movies, there will be fewer celebrities, a smaller market, fewer stories and less interest, so it all starts with having a big push to really build this industry,” he said.

“There are several ways to achieve a broader range of audiences, but it’s all about the story. It needs to be universally relatable.”

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This report is being published by Arab News as a partner of the Middle East Exchange, which was launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region.