Syrian artist Khaled Barakeh’s show of solidarity

Syrian artist Khaled Barakeh’s show of solidarity
Khaled Barakeh recently launched an initiative called “Through Solidarity, We Survive.” (Supplied)
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Updated 28 July 2020

Syrian artist Khaled Barakeh’s show of solidarity

Syrian artist Khaled Barakeh’s show of solidarity
  • The Berlin-based Syrian artist is highlighting the talent of his compatriots in the diaspora through several projects

DUBAI: In a bid to support exiled Syrian artists, many of whom have fled their homeland since the outbreak of the civil war in 2011, Berlin-based artist and activist Khaled Barakeh — who was born in Syria in 1976 — recently launched an initiative called “Through Solidarity, We Survive.”

Managed by Barakeh’s non-profit organization “coculture,” which he founded to promote displaced cultural producers, “Through Solidarity, We Survive” was mainly triggered by the economic effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has had a huge impact on revenue for creatives in all areas of the arts. It is just one of several projects Barakeh and his team have initiated to boost the profiles (and, hopefully, bank balances) of Syrian artists around the world.




‘[Sob-hiy-eh] while keeping a social distance’ by Michael Daoud. (Supplied)

Coculture has also been developing an online platform called “Syria Cultural Index (SCI)” that is set to go live later this year. Its objective is to map and connect Syrian artists around the world. Each artist in the index will have their own profile page, displaying their resumé and a selection of their artwork. “I thought, ‘How can we reconnect these dispersed communities and this cultural fabric, which is not even visible?’” Barakeh explained. 

Barakeh is also busy arranging the inaugural Syria Biennale (another of coculture’s key projects), which is scheduled for summer next year. The plan is that it will become a mobile exhibition, with each edition taking place in a different city on the ‘refugee route’ — including Berlin, Beirut and Istanbul — and showcasing works by contemporary artists from Syria and abroad. “I hope that with these small initiatives we can show a different image of ourselves, because we (are) portrayed so poorly in the media,” Barakeh said.




‘We appreciate your sacrifice’ by Ala Hammameh. (Supplied)

For “Through Solidarity, We Survive,” Barakeh invited Syrian artists to contribute a digital artwork in the form of a poster, which will be displayed in public spaces in Berlin and Oslo, and were exhibited at the Berlin University of the Arts earlier this month. 

Coculture specified that the artists “should reach out to a person from their surroundings (a neighbour, relative, friend, or other) to develop and produce a visual artwork with a thematic focus on shared experiences, thoughts, concerns or feelings — translating their dialogue into an artwork that serves as a visual document.” 

Twenty-five artists submitted designs from across the Syrian diaspora — including France, Germany, Belarus, Sweden, Ireland, and Lebanon. In addition, coculture launched a crowdfunding campaign to support the participating artists. 




‘Intimacy’ by Diala Brisly. (Supplied)

“I think it will be a nice gesture for Berlin to have posters created by Syrian artists, showing that they’re part of this community,” Barakeh told Arab News. 

He knows from personal experience just how difficult it can be settling into a new country. “Imagine you arrive in a new country that has a complex, bureaucratic system. And you don’t speak its language and you lost your instrument and network. Maybe you were the most famous Syrian artist in your country, but you arrive here and you are no one. You have to start from scratch,” he said. 

Obstacles include legal procedures — including registration, the language barrier, and, on a deeper level, identity concerns. 




‘Zarqaa al Yamama’ by Zena El Abdalla. (Supplied)

“I personally don’t like people introducing me as a ‘Syrian artist’, because my identity is an artist, not Syrian,” Barakeh said. “It sounds very simple, but it’s really more complex, because the moment you say that a work is by a ‘Syrian artist’, it’s being looked at with a different lens.”

Barakeh — who was formerly a calligrapher — remembers his first trip to Europe in 2005, which eventually led him to pursue his education there, studying in Odense and Frankfurt. He recalled visiting the renowned contemporary art museum Palais de Tokyo on that first visit: “I didn’t understanding anything because everything was connected to contemporary art. And back in Syria, we were still using the local art language.” 

He eventually settled in Berlin in 2008. His work then has centered, thematically, on issues of self-identity, movement, and the concept of ‘home’ — often through conceptual art featuring, for example, visa stamps and embroidered life jackets.

“Everything is socially and politically rooted,” Barakeh said. “I’m trying to tell my personal story through the collective story, and vice-versa.”


Egypt unearths 250 tombs dating back 4,200 years

Egypt unearths 250 tombs dating back 4,200 years
Updated 12 May 2021

Egypt unearths 250 tombs dating back 4,200 years

Egypt unearths 250 tombs dating back 4,200 years
  • Tombs ranged in age from the end of the Old Kingdom to the end of the Ptolemaic period
  • Tombs contained small alabaster vessels, animal and human bones, as well as limestone remnants thought to be funerary plates

CAIRO: Around 250 tombs dating back around 4,200 years have been unearthed by archaeologists in Egypt.

The country’s archaeological mission of the Supreme Council of Antiquities made the finds in the southern province of Sohag.

The graves, discovered in Sohag’s Al-Hamidiyah cemetery, included “some with a well or several burial wells and other cemeteries with a sloping corridor that ends with a burial room,” the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry said in a statement.

Officials added that the tombs ranged in age from the end of the Old Kingdom to the end of the Ptolemaic period.

The Old Kingdom lasted for around 500 years until 2200 B.C., while Egypt’s Ptolemaic dynasty ruled for 300 years to about the time of Cleopatra’s death in 30 B.C., according to AFP.

Mostafa Waziri, head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said one tomb dating back to the Old Kingdom had faint remains of hieroglyphic inscriptions and a chamber for sacrifices.

He noted that the graves were of multiple styles and were discovered at several levels of the mountain, adding that more were likely to be uncovered.

Mohammed Abdel-Badie, head of the Central Department of Upper Egypt Antiquities, said pottery and votive objects had also been found, dedicated to ancient Egyptian deities.

He said some of the pots had been used in daily life and others within the funerary foundation as miniature symbolic deposits, which were small spherical vessels with traces of yellowish paint on the outside.

Small alabaster vessels, animal and human bones, as well as limestone remnants thought to be funerary plates dating back to the Sixth Dynasty, were also discovered, he added.

As part of the project, more than 300 tombs were recorded and documented in the area, which stretches from Nag Al-Sheikh in the south to Al-Khazendarah in the north.

Egypt has announced several major new archaeological discoveries in recent months, in the hope of helping to revive a vital tourism sector battered by a 2011 uprising, ongoing political unrest, jihadist attacks, and the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.


Catwalk star Gigi Hadid celebrates ‘World Keffiyeh Day’ in honor of signature Arab print

Catwalk star Gigi Hadid celebrates ‘World Keffiyeh Day’ in honor of signature Arab print
Gigi Hadid is the daughter of Dutch model Yolanda Hadid and US-Palestinian real estate developer Mohamed Hadid. File/AFP
Updated 12 May 2021

Catwalk star Gigi Hadid celebrates ‘World Keffiyeh Day’ in honor of signature Arab print

Catwalk star Gigi Hadid celebrates ‘World Keffiyeh Day’ in honor of signature Arab print

DUBAI: Gigi Hadid decided to celebrate her Palestinian roots this week. The half-Arab model took to her Instagram Stories to embrace “World Keffiyeh Day,” an initiative launched by the Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, on May 11, 2016, in an effort to shed light on the ongoing Palestine-Israel conflict. 

The premise of the unofficial event is to show solidarity with Palestinians by donning the checkered black-and-white scarf around the neck or head.

In honor of the annual day, the catwalk star posted a throwback photo of herself wearing a keffiyeh-style top from Chanel’s 2015 cruise collection, which was staged in Dubai. 

The 26-year-old posted a throwback of herself wearing a keffiyeh-style top designed by Chanel. Instagram

“It’s #worldkeffiyehday,” wrote Hadid, alongside the Palestinian flag and red heart emojis.

She also reposted an infographic highlighting the significance of the keffiyeh patterns. 

“Thank you @GiGiHadid for participating in World Keffiyeh Day and raising your voice,” wrote the initative on its official Twitter account.

The 26-year-old is the daughter of Dutch model and “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Yolanda Hadid and US-Palestinian real estate developer Mohammed Hadid, whose family fled to Lebanon from Palestine as refugees in 1948.

The model occasionally takes to social media to speak about her paternal Palestinian heritage and celebrate her Arab roots.

“I’m as Palestinian as I am Dutch. Just because I have blonde hair, I still carry the value of my ancestors and I appreciate and respect that,” she previously said during a promotional campaign for Reebok in Sydney.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Gigi Hadid (@gigihadid)

Gigi and her younger sister Bella also often use their platforms to voice their support for Palestinian people by sharing posts explaining the rising tensions in the region.

“You will not erase Palestine,” read one of the illustrations that Gigi shared on her Instagram stories following the Al-Aqsa Mosque attack this week.

Gigi posted a picture of her father’s US passport on Instagram.

She also shared a photograph of her father’s long-expired US passport, which states his birthplace as Palestine. Bella had previously shared the same picture last year, but Instagram had taken it down. After the model publicly criticized the platform for its move, Instagram eventually apologized to Bella and restored her post.

Other celebrities to voice their support for Palestine include British-Albanian pop star Dua Lipa, Algerian model Younes Bendjima, singer The Weeknd and “Avengers” star Mark Ruffalo. 


Model Imaan Hammam donates to causes close to heart

Model Imaan Hammam donates to causes close to heart
Imaan Hammam donated to three important causes. Instagram
Updated 12 May 2021

Model Imaan Hammam donates to causes close to heart

Model Imaan Hammam donates to causes close to heart

DUBAI: Moroccan-Egyptian-Dutch model Imaan Hammam made donations to three causes as Ramadan came to an end.

Writing on Instagram, she said: “It’s so important to remember to give back and support the communities and people who need it.”

Among the initiatives the 24-year-old donated to was Preemptive Love, a non-profit organization that helps with emergency relief on the frontlines of conflict and supports displaced communities by selling refugee-made goods.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Imaan Hammam (@imaanhammam)

Hammam also revealed that she donated funds to Islamic Relief USA and Muslims of the World to “give humanitarian aid to Palestine, sustain clean water and sanitation, feed orphans in Yemen and Afghanistan, and provide support and relief for refugees.”

She added: “I’m so happy to lend my platform to bring awareness to the humanitarian crisis happening throughout Islamic states.”


Pop stars, key workers gather for BRIT Awards in London live music return

Pop stars, key workers gather for BRIT Awards in London live music return
Dua Lipa performs at the 2021 BRIT Awards. AFP
Updated 12 May 2021

Pop stars, key workers gather for BRIT Awards in London live music return

Pop stars, key workers gather for BRIT Awards in London live music return

LONDON: Some 4,000 people watched singers Dua Lipa and Arlo Parks triumph as well as perform at the BRIT Awards this week, in the first major indoor music event with a live audience held in London in over a year.

Britain’s pop music honors, for which the audience did not have to wear masks or socially distance, took place at the O2 arena on the River Thames as the country emerges from COVID-19 lockdown.

The ceremony, during which Billie Eilish and The Weeknd were also winners, is part of the British government’s Events Research Programme aimed at establishing whether big events can be held in closed environments without social distancing.

Dua Lipa performs at the 2021 BRIT Awards. AFP

The audience, of which 2,500 were key workers with guests, were sat in rows, looking down on two stages - one for presenters and another for performers. Nominees sat at distanced tables.

“This evening we look forward to a brighter future,” host Jack Whitehall said. “We have an audience ... we have pop stars, we are back.”

Ticket holders had to show proof of a negative lateral flow test result to enter the venue, which has a capacity of around 20,000. They will also need to take a test afterwards and provide contact details as part of the UK’s COVID test and trace system.

“It feels surreal because it’s been so long,” Zunaira Faiz, who works at a north London hospital, said upon arriving at the O2. “It almost feels like I'm experiencing something nostalgic because we haven’t been able to do this for so long.”

Olivia Rodrigo performs at the 2021 BRIT Awards. AFP

Like elsewhere, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down music events with live audiences in Britain. Under Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s phased roadmap out of lockdown, entertainment venues can re-open their doors next week.

Lipa, who won two awards - female solo artist and album for “Future Nostalgia,” said she was dedicating her performance to key workers.

“I feel very grateful to be sharing this evening with them,” she told Reuters.

While some performances were live, including those of Lipa, breakthrough artist winner Parks and Olivia Rodrigo, others were pre-recorded.

Little Mix became the first female band to win British group. AFP

Wanting to embrace the community spirit and kindness seen during COVID-19 lockdown, winners were given two awards and encouraged to share one.

American songstress Taylor Swift became the first female artist to be honoured with the Global Icon award. David Bowie, Elton John and Robbie Williams were past recipients.

“I’m really proud to be a part of this musical community especially in a year when we all needed music so much,” Swift, who traveled to London for the awards, said, also paying tribute to frontline workers.

Harry Styles won British single for “Watermelon Sugar,” while Little Mix became the first female band to win British group. 


Eid treat: Moroccan chef Nargisse Benkabbou’s chocolate chip krachel

Eid treat: Moroccan chef Nargisse Benkabbou’s chocolate chip krachel
Chocolate chip krachel. Supplied
Updated 12 May 2021

Eid treat: Moroccan chef Nargisse Benkabbou’s chocolate chip krachel

Eid treat: Moroccan chef Nargisse Benkabbou’s chocolate chip krachel

DUBAI: Moroccan chef Nargisse Benkabbou is on a mission to demystify her country’s cuisine for international foodies, especially those in the UK where she lives.

Here, she shares her recipe for chocolate chip krachel to sweeten up your Eid Al-Fitr celebrations.

Ingredients:

60g unsalted butter

2 ½ tbsp sesame seeds

2 tsp dried active yeast

50g caster sugar

1 tbsp warm water

300g plain flour, plus extra if needed and for dusting

1 tsp aniseed

½ tsp salt

1 egg

80–120ml warm full-fat milk

1 ½ tbsp orange blossom water

100g dark chocolate chips or chunks

Vegetable oil

1 egg yolk, beaten

 

Instructions:

1.      Melt the butter, then leave it to cool. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan over a medium-high heat for about 6 minutes.

2.      In a small bowl, mix the dried yeast with 1⁄4 teaspoon of the sugar and the measured warm water using a fork. Leave the yeast to activate for about 5 minutes.

3.      Mix 2 tablespoons of the toasted sesame seeds, the remaining sugar, the flour, aniseed and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the melted butter, yeast mixture, egg, 80ml warm milk and the orange blossom water together until smooth. Combine both bowls and mix to form a soft dough.

4.      Lightly dust a work surface with flour and knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic and add the chocolate chips. Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for about 45 minutes or until it almost doubles in size.

5.      Divide the dough into 8 equal-sized pieces and shape each into a ball. Place them on a baking sheet, leaving about 5cm between each ball. Cover with cling film and leave the buns to rise for about 30 minutes.

6.      Preheat the oven to 190°C. Brush the buns with the beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with the remaining toasted sesame seeds. Bake for about 17–20 minutes.