Inmates serve their sentences in this collection of personal essays written by UAE prisoners

Inmates serve their sentences in this collection of personal essays written by UAE prisoners
‘Tomorrow, I Will Fly’ is a collection of personal essays from Dubai prisoners. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 06 March 2020

Inmates serve their sentences in this collection of personal essays written by UAE prisoners

Inmates serve their sentences in this collection of personal essays written by UAE prisoners
  • British novelists Annabel Kantaria and Clare Mackintosh host a one-week writers program for 12 male and 15 female prisoners in a project organized by Dubai Police and the Emirates Literature Foundation

DUBAI: A new book released at the Emirates Literature Festival last month gives voice to 27 inmates of Dubai Central Prison. “Tomorrow, I Will Fly” is a first-of-its-kind initiative in the region, and saw British novelists Annabel Kantaria and Clare Mackintosh host a one-week writers program for 12 male and 15 female prisoners in a project organized by Dubai Police and the Emirates Literature Foundation.

The results of the workshop — a series of short personal, often poignant essays — were compiled and edited by Kantaria and Mackintosh and have now been published in the book, which was initially launched at the prison and will be available in digital format, as well as being distributed to other English-speaking prisons.

Its title is taken from one of the essays — written by a Ugandan housemaid named Cathy. The only time she has been on an airplane was to come to Dubai — “the city of opportunities.” The inmates were not allowed to write about why they are in prison, but Cathy wrote, “I made a bad choice of girlfriend and she put me behind bars. Because of her I had to bury the dreams of my husband and me.”




Its title is taken from one of the essays — written by a Ugandan housemaid named Cathy. (Supplied)

Still, her spirit remains strong. “I know we can’t turn back time, but we can create new memories,” she wrote. “It’s never too late to sit down at the same table with my family and share a meal and laugh together. That’s what I’m looking forward to. My next flight will be back home to my country, my motherland, the pearl of Africa… Today I am here. Tomorrow, I will fly.”

According to Kantaria and Mackintosh, the workshops taught the participants how to come up with ideas, mind map, structure and plan their work, assess newspaper articles and improve their use of language. It was an emotionally charged project for them both.

“It was very humbling being there with them,” Dubai-based Kantaria told Arab News. “It was lovely that they put their trust in me to tell me their stories. It’s a very unique thing to be able to go into a prison and help people who really need and appreciate it.”

Mackintosh’s former profession as a police officer helped her to engage in the project without any prejudices about the inmates. “We perhaps like to think of ourselves as being morally correct and that we would never do anything that would land us in prison,” she said. “But things happen in life — people make mistakes. I went into the prison just thinking about these people as people, and I have the same amount of respect for them as I have for anyone else.”  

Kantaria was especially struck by the female inmates’ eagerness to learn. And she said she was surprised by the prison’s fairly cordial atmosphere.

“I’ve never been in a prison before and I suppose you imagine people (just) locked up in cells. But, it was more like being inside a school; they were milling about, talking to each other, and there were grassy, open spaces,” she said.

In spite of the prisoners’ difficult circumstances and understandable fear of what might happen to them, it was their hopeful and philosophical attitude that left an impression on Kantaria: “I think if you haven’t been to prison, you imagine it would be the end of your life — you’d be absolutely devastated and destroyed. But they didn’t see it like that. They were sort of reassessing their life, counting their blessings, planning the future. One of them said to me: ‘It’s not that my life is over — my life is on hold. And when I come out, it will start again.’”

Mackintosh noted that one of the major challenges that arose during the sessions was convincing the inmates to open up emotionally.

“When you’re in a difficult situation, there’s a tendency to shut down your emotions because it’s too hard to cope,” she said. “You build up a protective wall around you and that’s something that is very common in prison inmates, who are in self-defense mode and are quite numb. We had to chip away at that wall in order to allow them to write freely.”

Their approach appears to have worked. After the project had finished, one of the inmates wrote: “If you ask me to pick one good patch of comfort (from) my entire prison term, I’d say it was your workshop.”


French-Algerian singer Lolo Zouai performs new single on Vevo CTRL

French-Algerian singer Lolo Zouai performs new single on Vevo CTRL
The French-Algerian singer dropped the music video for “Galipette” a couple of weeks ago. YouTube
Updated 26 July 2021

French-Algerian singer Lolo Zouai performs new single on Vevo CTRL

French-Algerian singer Lolo Zouai performs new single on Vevo CTRL

DUBAI: This week, French-Algerian singer Lolo Zouai performed her latest single “Galipette” on Vevo CTRL, Vevo’s performance series that highlights both emerging and established musicians making an impact on the industry. 

During the live session, the Brooklyn-based artist began singing her new hit while holding an oversized blue teddy bear before tossing it aside when the beat dropped. 

She joins other artists such as French Montana, Common, Lil Baby and Giggs, who have all stepped up to the mic in Vevo’s online musical series. 

“Really proud of how this came out,” she wrote, sharing a clip of the performance on Twitter. 

The 26-year-old’s live session comes just a couple of weeks after she dropped the electrifying official music video for “Galipette.”

Wild and disruptive, the clip is directed by Amber Grace Johnson and is a visual trip, featuring the artist boxing underwater — Zouai admits she trained for almost two months before to make sure she was in good shape for this scene — crashing a mattress store and a synchronized dance routine performed by the UCLA champion gymnastics team.

With lyrics in both French and English, the track is a reminder of the artist’s rich cultural roots.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Lolo Zouaï (@lolozouai)

Born Laureen Zouai in France to a French mother and an Algerian father, the singer relocated to San Francisco with her family when she was three-months-old.

“Galipette” was recorded in New York and produced by the up-and-coming singer’s long-time collaborator Stelios, who has worked with the likes of Young Thug and MIA among others.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Lolo Zouaï (@lolozouai)

It has been a busy few months for the rising star, who released her debut album “High Highs to Low Lows” in 2019, appeared in global campaigns for Coach shot by Juergen Teller and became a face of Tommy Hilfiger and Adidas France’s new Superstar campaign all in one year.

And it appears that the singer isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

This year seems to be just as promising for the artist, whose highly anticipated second album is on its way and who is also set to open up for British crooner Dua Lipa on her “Future Nostalgia” European tour.


Enduring style of the sandal: From traditional staples to Yeezy Slides, put your best foot forward

Enduring style of the sandal: From traditional staples to Yeezy Slides, put your best foot forward
Instagram/@tamashee
Updated 26 July 2021

Enduring style of the sandal: From traditional staples to Yeezy Slides, put your best foot forward

Enduring style of the sandal: From traditional staples to Yeezy Slides, put your best foot forward

DUBAI: There can’t be a more beloved item of footwear in the Middle East than the sandal, and while increasing numbers of Arab men are rocking collectible sneakers with their thobes in 2021, deep down, the open-toed classic will always remain the footwear of choice. The question is, just how should you wear them?

First things first, did you know that the sandal is actually the OG of all footwear? In 1938 a 10,000-year-old pair was discovered in Fort Rock Cave in Oregon, US. That makes it the oldest shoe going. Sandals in the Middle East are always open-toed and have a leather covering across the front of the foot—meaning that there’s no need for a strap at the heel to keep them in place. While in many parts of the region they would evolve from free open toes to a na’l—featuring another piece of leather to separate the big toe—there was also a need to leave room for a sock, so bedouins could wear them as the desert evenings grew colder.

Sandals in the Middle East are always open-toed and have a leather covering across the front of the foot. Instagram/@tamashee

However, when it came to Western fashion, things were a little more complicated and they quickly become the footwear of choice for uncool, suburban dads. Amazingly, what nearly killed it actually saved its life. Thanks largely to the normcore fashion movement, suddenly the sandal was back in the game. Whether it was David Beckham wearing them with sports socks and a Tom Ford suit or Justin Bieber sporting something with a chunky sole, the sandal was reborn. Not that the Arab world needed such a renaissance, of course, here it had always been on-point.

Now, with luxury brands crafting new editions each year—not to mention elevated streetwear options like the impossible-to-cop Yeezy Slides—it becomes clear: The sandal is no longer a dull, lifeless addition to your wardrobe — right now it’s the star of the show.

“For price and design Birkenstock is great and very reliable,” GQ Middle East’s Fashion Editor explains. File/Getty Images

Here, GQ Middle East’s Fashion Editor, Keanoush Zargham, explains how, when and where you should go open-toed.

“A relaxed, cosy fits work best,” Zargham said when explaining what look you should style your sandals with. “This could range from an oversized tailored suit to a pair of wide slacks with a tank top and cardi thrown on to complete the look.”

While sandals are the norm in professional environments if you’re wearing regional attire, what about pairing them with Western clothes at work?

“That depends on where you work,” Zargham noted. “The other day I wore a pair of Toga Virilis sandals to the office and nobody said a word. Do wear them with socks, though. Nobody wants to see your bare feet in a meeting.

Yeezy slides have become a real powerhouse. Instagram/@yeezymafia

“For price and design Birkenstock is great and very reliable. If you’d like to splash a little more cash, splurge on some Bottega Veneta sandals with intrecciato weaving detail,” he added.

When it comes to slides, the fashion expert says it’s all about how you wear them.

“They’re a little more relaxed, but I love them. Yeezy Slides have become a real powerhouse. Add some socks, a pair of oversized shorts, a relaxed tee and hoodie and you have a great look going on.”


Zuhair Murad celebrates Jennifer Lopez’s birthday with fashion tribute

ennifer Lopez performed at the Citizen VAX LIVE concert in May wearing a jumpsuit by Zuhair Murad. (Getty Images)
ennifer Lopez performed at the Citizen VAX LIVE concert in May wearing a jumpsuit by Zuhair Murad. (Getty Images)
Updated 25 July 2021

Zuhair Murad celebrates Jennifer Lopez’s birthday with fashion tribute

ennifer Lopez performed at the Citizen VAX LIVE concert in May wearing a jumpsuit by Zuhair Murad. (Getty Images)

DUBAI: Lebanese designer to the stars Zuhair Murad celebrated US singer Jennifer Lopez on Saturday, taking to Instagram to toast the queen of pop’s special relationship with the fashion house.

The hitmaker is known for her love of Zuhair Murad gowns and regularly hits red carpets, and the stage, in glittering outfits by the designer.

The fashion house celebrated the singer’s birthday on July 24 by releasing a short video of the numerous occasions she has donned a gown by Murad.

“Celebrating the beautiful Jennifer Lopez today, by reminiscing over some of our favorite #ZuhairMurad looks of hers,” the caption read. “Happy birthday @jlo! Cheers to your everlasting youth and to more #ZMxJLOMoments!”

Murad is one of Lopez’s go-to designers for special red carpet events and performances.

The “Let’s Get Loud” singer previously opened up about her affinity for Murad’s designs, describing the couturier as “probably her favorite designer” in a past interview with Venture Lifestyle.

“I discovered him years ago when I was doing a show, and I was so jet-lagged and I was up in the middle of the night watching Fashion TV, which they had in this country I was in,” explained the hitmaker. “He had this beautiful show and I was like, ‘who is this guy?’”

Lopez went on to explain the hurdles she faced when trying to get in touch with Murad, who doesn’t seem to have been a household name at the time.

“I came back (to the US) and I said, ‘Do you guys know Zuhair Murad?’ and nobody knew who he was, none of the stylists, nobody in the United States knew who he was. I was like, ‘You have to get me this dress for the Met Ball,” she said, referring to the Met Gala, an annual fundraising gala for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York and one of the fashion world’s most eagerly anticipated events. 

“I wore his dress to the Met Ball and after that, I just started using him for everything — he designed my last tour — we just have a great relationship. He’s a beautiful man, a beautiful designer,” Lopez added.


US-Egyptian jewelry label Jacquie Aiche snaps up celebrity fans

US-Egyptian jewelry label Jacquie Aiche snaps up celebrity fans
Updated 24 July 2021

US-Egyptian jewelry label Jacquie Aiche snaps up celebrity fans

US-Egyptian jewelry label Jacquie Aiche snaps up celebrity fans

DUBAI: From British actress Emily Blunt, to US stars Justin Bieber and Khloe Kardashian, Egyptian-American jewelry designer Jacquie Aiche’s celebrity fan base expanded this week.

 The label has quickly managed to emerge as a A-lister-loved brand, with stars like Kylie Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski and Shanina Shaik adorning themselves with the Los Angeles-based jewelry house’s signature diamond-encrusted body chains, anklets and stacked gemstone rings on the red carpet.

This week, Blunt showed off an ornate ring by the label while doing press interviews for Disney’s “Jungle Cruise,” her latest film in which she stars alongside Dwayne Johnson and Edgar Ramirez.

Blunt was dressed by Hollywood stylist Jessica Paster, who made sure to get mileage out of the ring by featuring it in several ensembles on the press tour, including outfits by Gabriela Hearst and Zimmermann.

For her part, Kardashian opted to show off a dainty body chain by the brand during a photoshoot for her label Good American’s latest swimwear release. She paired the jewelry, which wrapped around the torso, with a neon yellow swimsuit.

To wrap things up, Bieber showed off a pair of small hoop earrings by Aiche, which he paired with a red visor.

(Instagram)

Aiche, who was born to an Egyptian father and an indigenous American mother, launched her eponymous label from her garage in 2008. She has since amassed an impressive celebrity client list that includes the likes of Rihanna, Selena Gomez and Katy Perry, whose stylists flock to her Beverly Hills showroom in droves to adorn their clients in her signature delicate earrings, finger bracelets and chokers ahead of red carpet events. The jeweler is also the brainchild behind Chrissy Teigen’s bespoke engagement ring from John Legend.

The part-Egyptian jewelry designer’s store in Los Angeles is full of jewelry items made from delicate raw quartz, tourmaline, moonstone and countless other special stones. Her pieces often feature Arab influences like hammered gold, amulets and the evil eye talisman, as well as natural elements such as turquoise, fossils and precious gemstones, which are a nod to her indigenous American ancestors.

 


New exhibition in Manchester explores nature through British-Arab eyes

English-Moroccan creator Jessica El-Mal, lead artist and one of the co-producers of the installation, said her inspiration for the project came when the UK was still in lockdown. (Supplied)
English-Moroccan creator Jessica El-Mal, lead artist and one of the co-producers of the installation, said her inspiration for the project came when the UK was still in lockdown. (Supplied)
Updated 24 July 2021

New exhibition in Manchester explores nature through British-Arab eyes

English-Moroccan creator Jessica El-Mal, lead artist and one of the co-producers of the installation, said her inspiration for the project came when the UK was still in lockdown. (Supplied)
  • Manchester-based installation highlights stories of migration, diaspora
  • Lead artist: ‘After the year we’ve just had, this project and exhibition is the lightness we all need’

LONDON: A new mixed-media exhibition exploring the history, achievements and experiences of Arabs in Britain through the lens of people’s relationship with nature and green space has launched in the north of England.

Free to visitors and run by the Arab British Centre, the Manchester-based installation highlights stories of migration, diaspora, and the intricacies of the Arab-British experience in all its intersections and diversity. 

Themed around the idea of nature and named “Jarda” — “garden” in Moroccan Arabic — artists will give audiences a chance to “walk in nature through Arab eyes.”

English-Moroccan creator Jessica El-Mal, lead artist and one of the co-producers of the installation, said her inspiration for the project came when the UK was still in lockdown and when parks, fields and forests became people’s only outing.

The women-led exhibition encourages visitors to appreciate the green spaces available to them, while also exposing audiences to the Arab experience in modern Britain.

“Working with this group of amazing women has made me appreciate Manchester, myself and my femininity in a whole new way. After the year we’ve just had, this project and exhibition is the lightness we all need,” El-Mal said.

Amani Hassan, program director at the Arab British Centre, said: “Since it was first launched in 2019, our Arab Britain theme has set out to explore the history, achievements and experiences of Arabs in Britain.”

The program aims to overturn preconceptions, challenge prejudices, retrace the ways the Arab world has influenced and shaped British culture and society, and celebrate the contributions of Arabs in the country, past and present. 

“Jarda highlights the universal comfort and connection we can all find in nature through intimate and personal reflections on home, belonging and the power of community,” Hassan said.

“We hope that visitors to the museum enjoy their walk in nature through Arab British eyes and are encouraged to reflect on their own connections to it.”

The physical exhibition will be accompanied by a digital offering that will give people free access to a host of creative activities that aim to encourage people to reflect on their own connections with green spaces.

“Jarda” is open now, and will run until Oct. 10 in Manchester’s People’s History Museum.