Meet Moroccan music sensation Abir Haronni

Meet Moroccan music sensation Abir Haronni
The 26-year-old singer is noted for challenging the way that Arab women are perceived throughout the world. (Supplied)
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Updated 04 September 2020

Meet Moroccan music sensation Abir Haronni

Meet Moroccan music sensation Abir Haronni
  • The 26-year-old on her latest EP, ‘Heat,’ and ‘iiving her truth’ by highlighting her Arab roots

BEIRUT: “When we love, we love like fire,” Moroccan pop artist Abir Haronni passionately proclaims. The singer is talking about Arab women, a subject that’s extremely important to her.

Aside from her compelling voice and dedication to showcasing her cultural heritage through the range of pop music that she creates, the 26-year-old singer is noted for challenging the way that Arab women are perceived throughout the world.

“When people anywhere hear the words ‘Arab woman,’ they have one idea in their minds — you can Google it and you’ll see what that image is,” she says with a laugh, although she is clearly not amused. “I’ve never felt represented in that. Arab women are multifaceted, we come in variety, we come from different faiths, we’re a diverse group of human beings.




In “Inferno,” one of the singles off the latest release, she challenges the notion that “women often take the role of the heartbroken ones in a relationship.” (Supplied)

“We have different experiences, perspectives... we are also evolving. We have to feel represented, we have to change that image, to have a different picture popping up on Google,” she adds, with another laugh — this one a little more lighthearted.

“We have to start sharing our unique experiences. That’s what I’m trying to do with my music: it’s all about being able to live in my truth, so that other women can hopefully live in theirs.”

And when it comes to her music, Abir is just as uncompromising in her desire to “brag about” where she is from.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

‘I be getting to this money’ - Shakespeare @dailypaper

A post shared by ABIR (@abir) on

“I want to use my platform to highlight my culture and identity,” she says. “I don’t think that there has been a mainstream pop artist talking loudly and proudly about being Arab and Muslim. Growing up, I would have loved to have a figure like that to look up to,” Abir explains. “So, I would love to be that person, who truly provides representation for people that come from where I come from.”

The singer was born in Fez, Morocco, and even though her family moved to Arlington, Virginia in the US when she was six, “we never left Morocco behind. I was always connected. We didn’t move to the States to forget who we were.”

It was around the same time that music started to become a permanent fixture in her life. “I always say I owe it to my dad, and his huge collection of music. He’d play it for me in the car when picking me up from school or my friends’ houses. On the weekends, we’d be listening to everything from jazz and soul to Arabic music.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Best place

A post shared by ABIR (@abir) on

“I just became so attached to the idea of singing, and I’d mimic the people that I was listening to until I eventually found my own voice,” Abir says.

“Throughout high school and college, I was doing everything I could to get on stage — talent shows, county fairs, bars, open mics... and once I graduated, I was interning in a music studio in (Washington) D.C. when I realized that there would be no way that I was going to live my life without music.”

Indeed, ever since her first release in 2013, and up to her brand new EP “Heat,” Abir has been crafting a unique identity for herself as an artist. In “Inferno,” one of the singles off the latest release, she challenges the notion that “women often take the role of the heartbroken ones in a relationship. That’s nonsense! Because all the women I know are heartbreakers.”

“I wanted to portray the woman and her love as a fire. When we love, we love very hard, but we can also be strong in our wrath when we’re angry. It’s like everything that encompasses a woman’s love is an inferno,” she says.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

INFERNO IS FINALLY YOURS!!!!!! Out everywhere now!!!!!!! RUNNNNN IT UP #LinkInBio

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Everything on the seven-track Heat is a powerful reminder of Abir’s proclivity for honoring her roots — from the seamless fusion of string arrangements and distinctive vocal melodies with earworm pop and western beats to her effortless leaps from English to Arabic and even French lyrics. “That bit of self-celebration is owning who you are despite it being different than other people; not even with my binaries, but who I am as a person, my views, my lens. The things I care about and live for. On this project, I’m speaking about how I love, and not just in relationships. No. It’s how I love life. When you love something, you care for it,” she declares.

“Heat” is Abir’s second EP released by Atlantic Records. “I find working with them so great. When they signed me, I made sure to share my long-term vision. That’s so important — they let me do me. They introduced me to Mick (Schultz, the producer of “Heat”), the guy who’s integral to the sound of the EP — so I’m forever grateful,” she says enthusiastically.

“I may have my cultural heritage, but I am by no means an expert on the music. I needed to learn — about what thoughts and emotions certain instruments evoke, what melodies and rhythms and scales are being used in order to get this type of feeling. Bringing Arabic music to American music requires experience and experimentation. So, I was teaching Mick things he didn’t know, and he was teaching me things that he’d learned. It was all very inspiring,” Abir continues. “Mick is incredible.”

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Herding goats with a hair flip (swipe to see them jet before we could get our scene )

A post shared by ABIR (@abir) on

Ultimately, Abir stresses that her new release “is about marginalized people. It’s almost like me saying ‘Yallah’ (the title of another single off “Heat”), be who you want to be and let’s ride it out till the end.”

She is looking forward to where that journey will take her next. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting global moratorium on live performances have not dampened her enthusiasm. “I’ll be going live on Instagram and doing as many private shows on Zoom as possible. With these tools, you’re not limited to one place — you’re in the Middle East, you’re in Michigan, all at the same time. You can be anywhere you want.

“At the end of the day, I’m grateful and happy to connect with the Middle East and North Africa, whether through this interview or my music” she concludes. “The mission is to have Arab voices heard. To add to the global conversation. To be part of the story.”


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. 


Algerian director Mounia Meddour joins Cannes’ Un Certain Regard jury

Algerian director Mounia Meddour joins Cannes’ Un Certain Regard jury
Updated 15 June 2021

Algerian director Mounia Meddour joins Cannes’ Un Certain Regard jury

Algerian director Mounia Meddour joins Cannes’ Un Certain Regard jury

DUBAI: The Cannes Film Festival announced this week that Algerian director Mounia Meddour will be part of the Un Certain Regard jury at the 74th edition of the event set to take place from July 6-17.

The other jury members are UK director Andrea Arnold – the president, French actress Elsa Zylberstein, Argentinian director, producer and screenwriter Daniel Burman and US writer, director, producer and actor Michael Covino.

After making several documentaries — “Elementary Particles” (2007), “La Cuisine en héritage” (2009) and “Algerian Cinema: A New Breath” — Meddour directed her first short fiction film “Edwige” in 2011, which received a special mention at the Journées Cinématographiques in Algiers. 

In 2019, she created a sensation with her first feature film “Papicha.” 


Gigi Hadid: ‘I’m sometimes made to feel too white to stand up for my Arab heritage’

Gigi Hadid: ‘I’m sometimes made to feel too white to stand up for my Arab heritage’
The model recently sat down with i-D magazine. Instagram
Updated 15 June 2021

Gigi Hadid: ‘I’m sometimes made to feel too white to stand up for my Arab heritage’

Gigi Hadid: ‘I’m sometimes made to feel too white to stand up for my Arab heritage’

DUBAI: Part-Palestinian model Gigi Hadid recently opened up about a host of personal topics in an interview with i-D magazine, shedding light on her experience of giving birth during the COVID-19 pandemic, feeling “weird” during her pregnancy during fashion month, her multi-cultural roots and how she intends to help her daughter embrace her different heritages, something, she reveals,  she  previously faced difficulty standing up for when it comes to her Arab roots.

Hadid and Zayn Malik, father of her nine-month-old daughter Khai, are both from mixed race households.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Gigi Hadid (@gigihadid)

The 26-year-old model was born to Dutch supermodel and “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Yolanda Hadid and Palestinian property mogul Mohamed Hadid. Meanwhile, the former One Direction singer’s father is British-Pakistani, while his mother is English and Irish.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Gigi Hadid (@gigihadid)

The parents of Khai revealed that their multicultural roots are something they talk about a lot as partners as it’s “something that we first experienced ourselves because both of our parents are their own heritage.”

Hadid went on to note that she sometimes felt that she was “too white” to stand up for her Arab heritage.

“In certain situations, I feel — or I’m made to feel — that I’m too white to stand up for part of my Arab heritage. You go through life trying to figure out where you fit in racially. Is what I am, or what I have, enough to do what I feel is right? But then, also, is that taking advantage of the privilege of having the whiteness within me, right? Am I allowed to speak for this side of me, or is that speaking on something that I don’t experience enough to know? Do you know what I’m saying?” she said.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Gigi Hadid (@gigihadid)


She added that she thinks it will “be nice" to have such conversations with Khai someday, "and see where she comes from… without us putting that onto her.

"What comes from her is what I'm most excited about," she added, "and being able to add to that or answer her questions."

 


London Fashion Week: Reem Juan’s latest offering pays homage to Egypt-born music icon Dalida

London Fashion Week: Reem Juan’s latest offering pays homage to Egypt-born music icon Dalida
Reem Juan Fall 2021 ready-to-wear collection. Supplied
Updated 14 June 2021

London Fashion Week: Reem Juan’s latest offering pays homage to Egypt-born music icon Dalida

London Fashion Week: Reem Juan’s latest offering pays homage to Egypt-born music icon Dalida

DUBAI: London Fashion Week is hoping to be back on track with the usual line-up of physical shows come September, but until then LFW’s “digital first” approach continued with another selection of online presentations from the capital’s designers alongside a handful of in-person events that took place from June 12-14. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Reem Juan (@reemjuan)

Held over three days, the latest edition saw 32 womenswear, menswear and accessories brands showcasing their collections on the LFW digital platform, including regional label Reem Juan. 

The Abu Dhabi-born womenswear designer presented her eponymous brand’s Fall 2021 collection via a four-minute fashion film as part of the fashion event. 

Reem Juan Fall 2021 ready-to-wear collection. Supplied

Inspired by the late Egyptian-born French icon Dalida, Juan decided to embrace femininity by churning out an ultra-romantic collection that included sparkling miniskirts embellished with tiny beads and worn with jumpers embroidered with famous Dalida lyrics such as “En chantant jusqu'au bout” and “C'était le temps des fleurs on ignorait la peur.”

Flower motifs appeared throughout, whether in the form of beaded appliques on tops or as prints on chiffon dresses and jacquard pant suits and skirts.

Reem Juan Fall 2021 ready-to-wear collection. Supplied

Black turtlenecks got an ultra-feminine touch by way of lace collars while sharply-tailored blazers looked all the more elegant when paired with pussy bow blouses.

1970’s influence seeped into the offering in the form of thick belts cinched around the waist and denim wide-legged jumpsuits.

Reem Juan Fall 2021 ready-to-wear collection. Supplied

If you’re in the market for a pretty frock, Juan’s latest collection provides plenty to choose from. The offering concluded with a lineup of elegant eveningwear that consisted of heavily-sequined, plunging gowns, tulle dresses with voluminous sleeves, beaded taffeta skirts worn with a matching bralet tops and embellished crepe kaftans in salmon, peach, lemon and mint hues.

Reem Juan Fall 2021 ready-to-wear collection. Supplied

By using technology, minimal production waste and sourcing local hand craftsmanship to create her garments, Juan’s collection is as chic as it is sustainable. For instance, the designer utilized recycled taffeta to create one eye-catching yellow shirt dress with open eyelet details.

Reem Juan Fall 2021 ready-to-wear collection. Supplied

Indeed, the designer’s efforts will resonate with the luxury consumer who values ethical clothing.


Producer resigns from movie on New Zealand mosque attacks amid backlash

Producer resigns from movie on New Zealand mosque attacks amid backlash
Flowers and tributes hanging on the fence of the Botanic Gardens on March 17, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. Getty Images
Updated 14 June 2021

Producer resigns from movie on New Zealand mosque attacks amid backlash

Producer resigns from movie on New Zealand mosque attacks amid backlash

DUBAI: A producer for a controversial Hollywood film about New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s response to the Christchurch terror attacks in 2019 has resigned from the project.

 The producer Philippa Campbell’s resignation comes after the Andrew Niccol-directed  film, titled “They Are Us,”  came under fire for not focusing on the victims of the attacks.

“I’ve listened to the concerns raised over recent days and I have heard the strength of people’s views. I now agree that the events of March 15, 2019, are too raw for film at this time and do not wish to be involved with a project that is causing such distress,” she said in a statement released to the media.

“The announcement was focused on film business, and did not take enough account of the political and human context of the story in this country. It’s the complexity of that context I’ve been reflecting on that has led me to this decision,” she added.

Ardern, who is slated to be played by Australian actress Rose Byrne, said on Sunday it felt “very soon and very raw” for New Zealand, and that she was not an appropriate focus for a film about the mosque attacks. 

“There are plenty of stories from March 15 that could be told, but I don’t consider mine to be one of them,” she said. Ardern has stated that she has no involvement with the film, which would be set in the days after the 2019 attacks in which 51 people were killed at two Christchurch mosques.