‘Adam’: A story of compassion and companionship

‘Adam’ is a poignant film about companionship. (Supplied)
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Updated 09 January 2020

‘Adam’: A story of compassion and companionship

  • Adam takes place in one of Casablanca’s poorer neighborhoods, and a heavily pregnant Samia (Erradi) is unwed

CHENNAI: Maryam Touzani’s Cannes title, “Adam,” is a lovely story of compassion and companionship between two women, and it was also Morocco’s submission for the 2020 Academy Award for Best International Feature Film, but narrowly missed out on being shortlisted. This is the first occasion in the history of the country that a work by a woman has been chosen for the Oscars, and Touzani in her debut feature deftly explores the hurt, humiliation and dilemma faced by a woman who has a child outside of wedlock.

The subject is not terribly original. In the 2018 Moroccan Cannes entry, Meryem Benm’Barek-Aloisi’s “Sofia,” a young, unmarried woman gives birth to a baby but, pushed to the edge, she manipulates the crisis to her advantage. 

However, the distressed woman in “Adam” is very different, and she finds help and understanding in another woman, a total stranger. In a sweetly poignant narrative, the performances by the two topline actresses, Lubna Azabal and Nisrin Erradi, are arrestingly subtle. 




The film is impressively mounted and cinematographer Virginie Surdej artfully uses light to illuminate this low-key drama. (Supplied)

Adam takes place in one of Casablanca’s poorer neighborhoods, and a heavily pregnant Samia (Erradi) is unwed. She goes knocking on doors asking, even begging, for work and a bed. But nobody is willing to help a woman who may be in terrible agony, but is not on the right side of societal expectations. Luck smiles when Samia stands at the door of Abla (a surly Azabal), a single mother who is still getting over the trauma of her husband’s death. Abla will have nothing to do with Samia. But when she spends the night on the street, Abla is overcome with guilt and lets the pregnant woman in. 

Impressively written by Touzani and Nabil Ayouch, the movie offers the two woman enough time to understand each other and get close. The tension soon melts and the climax is executed in such a way that audiences may discard any prejudices. 

The film is impressively mounted and cinematographer Virginie Surdej artfully uses light to illuminate this low-key drama. Pilar Peredo’s sets in Casablanca’s Old Medina are simply elegant, and music by artists such as Warda Al-Jazairia enriches the narrative.


Lebanese luxury soap brand sees boost in sales amid pandemic

Updated 27 May 2020

Lebanese luxury soap brand sees boost in sales amid pandemic

DUBAI: In 1999, Syrian-Palestinian fragrance connoisseur Hana Debs Akkari pursued her passion project in Lebanon by founding a sophisticated soap company called “Senteurs d’Orient,” or “Fragrances of the East” in French.

Akkari envisioned that her handcrafted soaps would symbolize the beloved floral essences of the Middle East, particularly the Levant, which is reportedly the world’s oldest soap-making region.

With the pandemic caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Akkari’s small, family-run luxury soap business has witnessed an increased demand in their natural products nearly twenty years since its founding.

Portrait of Sarah Akkari, CEO of Senteurs d’Orient. (Supplied)

“Since the pandemic was declared, we saw a spike in our online sales,” said Lebanese-Canadian and New Yorked-based Sarah Akkari, Hana’s daughter and CEO of Senteurs d’Orient, to Arab News. “People are washing their hands more often, and their hands are becoming drier as a consequence. So, they’re also looking for a natural soap, such as the ones we offer. Our antibacterial soaps are packed with different nourishing ingredients like glycerin, Shea butter and Vitamin E.”

Operating from Lebanon, Senteurs d’Orient’s factory is run by a diligent team of chemists and artisans, many of whom are women as female education and empowerment in the workforce is at the heart of the company’s ethos.

Engraving soaps at the Lebanon factory. (Supplied)

After mixing the chemical-free ingredients by hand, the soaps are air-dried for 10 ten days and later machine-molded and carefully hand-wrapped. True to the company’s name, the delicate floral scents of gardenia, jasmine, tuberose, and rose of Damascus draw their inspiration from eastern gardens.

To show support for the selfless medical workers, some of whom reached out to Akkari and expressed interest in Senteurs d’Orient’s soaps, she recently donated nearly 500 packages to doctors and nurses from four American hospitals — two in Los Angeles, one in New York and another in New Jersey.

Each package is an ‘Oriental Trio Box’, containing three bars of soap, the shapes and engravings of which are inspired by the decoration of ‘maamoul’, the Levant region’s quintessential pastry.

“When you’re facing this type of crisis and you’re receiving emails from doctors and nurses or anyone on the frontlines, it’s a not a request you can reject,” explained the 32-year-old entrepreneur. “It’s something that we really wanted to be part of and it brought us much satisfaction knowing we could contribute in this way.”

The company has expanded its international presence and line of therapeutic products, creating bath salts, multi-purpose oils and thinly sliced, single-use soap leaves. (Supplied)

Under the leadership of Akkari, the company has expanded its international presence and line of therapeutic products, creating Mediterranean orange blossom bath salts, multi-purpose oils and thinly sliced, single-use soap leaves of amber and tea flower.

It is the authenticity of Senteurs d’Orient’s products that Akkari hopes will come through.

“You feel the fragrance is coming straight from the flower,” she said.