Itching to travel? Visit the wonders of AlUla … from home

Itching to travel? Visit the wonders of AlUla … from home
The vast digital library comprising 3D experiences of AlUla sites and ancient rock art. (Supplied)
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Updated 16 April 2020

Itching to travel? Visit the wonders of AlUla … from home

Itching to travel? Visit the wonders of AlUla … from home
  • AlUla residents receive training to create digital record of local rock art

DUBAI: When Saudi Arabia’s ancient heritage site of AlUla announced it would open to the world in late 2020, it was on the bucket list of every fervent traveller. Who wouldn’t want to visit Hegra, the impressive Maraya Concert Hall or watch the sunset at Elephant Rock? As we approach the International Day for Monuments and Sites on April 18, it is worth commemorating these ancient lands with their 200,000 years of history — an area once pivotal for trade and the transmission of cultures, which connected Asia, Africa and Europe.

In December 2018, a new Art Jameel project was launched, training a group of 15 men and women from AlUla to learn photogrammetry, a digital mapping technique, in order to digitally record and document the heritage of the rock carvings in the area. Hosted by the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), the initiative took place over two weeks of intensive training led by Art Jameel, with the Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation, and supported by the Rothschild Foundation.

 

 

Yet no one could have foreseen the effects of the current coronavirus. The work done by these AlUla residents now seems to have been undertaken at just the right time. Individuals from their varying degrees of quarantine around the world will soon be able to admire and learn of the wonders of these most mystical ancient lands in Saudi Arabia.

The vast digital library comprising 3D experiences of AlUla sites and ancient rock art, due to be ready for public viewing in the next several months, will allow viewers momentary escape amidst the beauty of AlUla from the confines of varying degrees of lockdown.

“Photogrammetry allows the team to reconstruct accurate digital copies and 3D models of small immoveable heritage items like inscriptions as well as large monuments and buildings, from this we can build models of the historical sites that are not open to the public,” explained Annette Gibbons-Warren, cultural planning director at the RCU.




Over 9,000 sites of rock art and inscriptions have been located in AlUla. (Supplied)

The technology then enables viewers the ability to experience such heritage sites digitally. “We are moving towards this virtual experience with our Living Museum website and use of digital lenses and 360 videos,” she added.

The benefits of using this technology are twofold: It helps to preserve and protect the heritage of AlUla by aiding its conservation and research through high resolution digital document and it provides training to the local populace, fostering the growth of a heritage economy in AlUla.

“I am looking forward to continuing to develop within the field, and expanding the practice of photogrammetry in AlUla for the benefit of everyone interested in contributing to the preservation of heritage in Saudi Arabia,” said Jawharah Albalawi, one of the first phase students.




Thus far the initiatives have reached 3,500 people in the AlUla community and created more than 900 jobs. (Supplied)

The project demonstrates the RCU’s commitment to serving the local communities of AlUla through a series of community-based programs that prioritize human development. Thus far the initiatives have reached 3,500 people in the AlUla community and created more than 900 jobs.

Over 9,000 sites of rock art and inscriptions have been located in AlUla. Building the capacity to digitally document these sites is thus key to the long-term project of documenting them.

“RCU is revealing, protecting, sharing and celebrating AlUla’s extraordinary cultural heritage with the world,” said Rebecca Foote, director of archaeology and cultural heritage preservation. “Through the archeological programs we are undertaking, we are making this heritage globally accessible, shining a spotlight on AlUla’s ancient cultures and kingdoms, and demonstrating their relevance through the far-reaching cultural exchange that has taken place over millennia.”


Egyptian actress Amina Khalil announced as United Nations Population Fund honorary ambassador

Egyptian actress Amina Khalil announced as United Nations Population Fund honorary ambassador
Updated 16 June 2021

Egyptian actress Amina Khalil announced as United Nations Population Fund honorary ambassador

Egyptian actress Amina Khalil announced as United Nations Population Fund honorary ambassador

DUBAI: Egyptian actress Amina Khalil has been named an honorary goodwill ambassador by the United Nations Population Fund, the star announced on Wednesday. 

Khalil gave an acceptance speech at an an event that took place this week in Cairo, saying: “Now it is time to act for women and girls everywhere.

“Bold steps to improve the lives of women mean a better future for children and families,” she added.

In a lengthy Instagram post, which she shared alongside images from the event, Khalil wrote: “It is truly an honor to be a UNFPA Honorary Goodwill Ambassador. I hope I make my family proud. I hope I make my loved ones and friends proud. And I hope to make my country proud.”

The actress has been an active advocate of women and their health in Egypt.  

“I promise to do all I can on this journey to bring positive change to my country,” her post read. “I promise to wholeheartedly put all the effort I can to show women and girls, that yes we have a voice, yes we have rights, and yes we all stand united.” 

The announcement came after UNFPA’s open-air ceremony held on Monday. The event was attended by international co-operation minister Rania Al-Mashat, president of the National Council for Women Maya Morsy and more. 


US actress Tracee Ellis Ross sparkles in Ana Khouri earrings

US actress Tracee Ellis Ross sparkles in Ana Khouri earrings
Tracee Ellis Ross wearing Ana Khouri earrings. Instagram
Updated 16 June 2021

US actress Tracee Ellis Ross sparkles in Ana Khouri earrings

US actress Tracee Ellis Ross sparkles in Ana Khouri earrings

DUBAI: US actress Tracee Ellis Ross was spotted wearing a pair of gold earrings from Brazilian-Lebanese fine jewelry label Ana Khouri this week. 

Ross, who is known for her role in sitcom “Black-ish,” posted a photo on Instagram on Wednesday championing the Lebanese brand, beloved by A-listers Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba and Charlize Theron. 

In the photo, the 48-year-old can be seen wearing a mustard-colored Valentino skirt with cut-out floral motifs, a sleeveless, sequined turtleneck, rose pointed-toe pumps and Ana Khouri’s thick gold hoops. 

It’s not her first time championing the part-Arab jeweler’s designs either. The actress and producer also donned a pair of Ana Khouri earrings to complement her black Schiaparelli gown at the 2020 NAACP Image Awards. 


London Fashion Week: Designer Dahlia Razzook hones in on dresses for Fall 2021

London Fashion Week: Designer Dahlia Razzook hones in on dresses for Fall 2021
Dahlia Razzook Fall 2021 ready-to-wear. Supplied
Updated 16 June 2021

London Fashion Week: Designer Dahlia Razzook hones in on dresses for Fall 2021

London Fashion Week: Designer Dahlia Razzook hones in on dresses for Fall 2021

DUBAI: Dahlia Razzook is an US-Lebanese luxury womenswear designer who was born and raised in Houston, Texas, before moving to London to pursue her studies in fashion design.

During her first year at the London College of Fashion, she was offered an internship at Alexander McQueen. She would go on to cut her teeth at prestigious labels such as Ralph & Russo and Marchesa.

After honing her skills at other design houses, she decided it was time to launch her own namesake contemporary ready-to-wear label shortly after obtaining  her Bachelor’s in “Fashion Design Technology: Surface Textiles.” Thus the label Dahlia Razzook was born.

Dahlia Razzook Fall 2021 ready-to-wear. Supplied

For her Fall 2021 collection, which she showcased digitally during London Fashion Week — which took place between June 12-14 — the designer decided to churn out a perfectly timed lineup of dresses as COVID-19 restrictions ease and we’re able to enjoy a night out again.

Featuring just five pieces, Razzook focuses on stylish, fashion-forward pieces that can transition from day to night with ease. 

The babydoll looks are relatively pared back, sans any kind of embellishment or intricate handiwork, save for a sleeveless black dress with a lace bodice. 

Dahlia Razzook Fall 2021 ready-to-wear. Supplied

The designer relied on comfortable, luxurious materials such as satin and silk as well as feminine colors like red and peach to uplift the offering.

In addition to these ready-to-wear pieces, the designer also offers custom haute couture pieces tailored specifically for her clients.

Razzook first made a name for herself with her Spring 2018 ready-to-wear collection, which was inspired by the Epic of Gilgamesh – a poem from ancient Mesopotamia.

Dahlia Razzook Fall 2021 ready-to-wear. Supplied

According to the designer, the collection was also a tribute to her Arab roots: “It’s also the same place where my ancestors are from,” she said.

The made-in-England collection featured trousers, tops, dresses, cocktail and evening dresses, scarves and accessories that were all either digitally printed and/or exquisitely hand-embroidered from silk, down to the lining.

She showcased the collection during New York Fashion Week, and received praise from prestigious fashion publications such as British Vogue.


Part-Tunisian star Sonia Ben Ammar poised to make her Hollywood debut sooner than you think

Part-Tunisian star Sonia Ben Ammar poised to make her Hollywood debut sooner than you think
Sonia Ben Ammar is almost ready to make her Hollywood debut in 'Scream 5.' File/ Getty Images
Updated 16 June 2021

Part-Tunisian star Sonia Ben Ammar poised to make her Hollywood debut sooner than you think

Part-Tunisian star Sonia Ben Ammar poised to make her Hollywood debut sooner than you think

DUBAI:  It appears that Sonia Ben Ammar is almost ready to make her Hollywood debut. “Scream 5,” starring the part-Tunisian actress, model and singer, has completely finished production, meaning that the hotly-anticipated sequel in the beloved horror franchise is one step closer to hitting the big screen.

This week, co-director Tyler Gillett took to Instagram to reveal that the film is “picture locked.” To the film uninitiated, this means that the edit of the movie is now set as it moves into other stages of post-production. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by tylergillett (@tylergillett)

The post included a photo of Fox’s famed Newman Scoring Stage, where the movie’s score was being recorded, prompting Ben Ammar to comment: “All the feeeels right now (sic),” alongside the pleading face emoji.

In a similar post, the film’s other co-director, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, announced that the score is also complete, showing a closeup of sheet music.

“Picture is locked and we just finished scoring on the Newman Stage! Thank you so much to all of the amazing artists who have worked so tirelessly on this movie,” the filmmaker captioned the post.

The posts offer a rare glimpse behind the scenes of a project whose details have been kept under lock and key. In fact, the co-directors worked on multiple cuts of the film simultaneously to prevent leaks.

The plot details of the film have also been kept completely under wraps, so it is not yet known what role Ben Ammar will be taking on in the upcoming relaunch of the horror film franchise set to debut on Jan. 14, 2022. 

Paris-born Ben Ammar, along with other young franchise newcomers, joined returning cast members David Arquette, Courteney Cox and Neve Campbell, who are reprising their iconic roles as Dewey Riley, Gale Weathers and Sidney Prescott in the new film. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sonia Ammar (@itsnotsonia)

It will be Ben Ammar’s first high-profile Hollywood gig as an actress — however, it’s not the multi-hyphenate model’s first foray into the film industry.

Ben Ammar, who is the daughter of Tunisian film director Tarek Ben Ammar and actress Beata, previously starred in Guillaume Canet’s French-language film “Jappeloup,” as well as the stage musical “1789: Les Amants de la Bastille.”


Morocco’s Casablanca to stage physical show at Paris Fashion Week 

Morocco’s Casablanca to stage physical show at Paris Fashion Week 
Updated 15 June 2021

Morocco’s Casablanca to stage physical show at Paris Fashion Week 

Morocco’s Casablanca to stage physical show at Paris Fashion Week 

DUBAI: Moroccan-helmed label Casablanca is among six other fashion houses set to present a physical show during Paris Men’s Fashion Week, the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode – which organizes Paris Fashion Weeks – announced on Monday.

After two seasons of digital presentations, the hybrid event will return with a selected number of brands showcasing their Spring 2022 collections in person and others presenting digitally from June 22-27.

Casablanca was founded by Charaf Tajer. The menswear, Paris-based label is known for its ultra-wearable clothing made out of luxe silks and cashmeres that is inspired by Tajer’s Moroccan roots. 

His debut runway during Paris Men’s Fashion Week in 2018 was a love letter to his parents who met while working side by side in a clothing atelier in the fashion district of Casablanca.

Besides Casablanca, Dior, Hermès, Bluemarable, LGN Louis-Gabriel Nouchi and Officine Générale are also listed to present physical shows. 

Digital presentations will feature runways for Louis Vuitton, Rick Owens, Dries Van Noten, Loewe, Dunhill, and more. 

Just last week, the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode announced that Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad will present his Autumn/ Winter 2021 couture collection in person at Paris Fashion Week, among seven other renowned labels including Dior, Azzaro Couture, Chanel, Giorgio Armani Privé, Balenciaga, Jean Paul Gaultier and Vaishali S. 

A limited number of guests will be allowed to attend the physical shows to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.