One in five Americans believe Aladdin’s Agrabah is real place, Arab News poll reveals

One in five Americans believe Aladdin’s Agrabah is real place, Arab News poll reveals
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Updated 12 October 2020

One in five Americans believe Aladdin’s Agrabah is real place, Arab News poll reveals

One in five Americans believe Aladdin’s Agrabah is real place, Arab News poll reveals

Huffpost reports that a joint Arab News and YouGov poll showed that over 80 percent of Americans cannot identify the Arab world on a map, and one in five believe Agrabah — the fictional city from Disney film Aladdin — is a real part of the Middle East.

The poll also found that 65 percent of those surveyed said they did not know much about the Arab world, 19 percent could correctly identify the region’s geography, and 51 percent believed the US media’s coverage of the area was insufficient.

Arab News’ poll findings were revealed at an Arab Media Forum event discussing the Arab world’s image in the West, moderated by Arabs News’ Editor-in-Chief Faisal J Abbas and attended by other senior journalists and US politicians.

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Choi wins at Pebble Beach for 1st PGA Tour Champions victory

Choi wins at Pebble Beach for 1st PGA Tour Champions victory
Updated 27 September 2021

Choi wins at Pebble Beach for 1st PGA Tour Champions victory

Choi wins at Pebble Beach for 1st PGA Tour Champions victory
  • Bernhard Langer, who has 41 PGA Tour Champions wins, had an uneven final round of 4-under 68 that included seven birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey

PEBBLE BEACH, California: K.J. Choi shot a closing 4-under 68 Sunday for a two-shot victory over Bernhard Langer and Alex Cejka at the PURE Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach for his first PGA Tour Champions win.
The 51-year-old Choi reeled off four consecutive birdies from Nos. 5-8 and played the front nine in 5 under. The South Korean had eight pars and a bogey on the back nine for a 13-under 203 total in his first victory since 2011, at The Players Championship.
“So very special ... my dream is winning,” Choi said.
The 64-year-old Langer, who has 41 PGA Tour Champions wins, had an uneven final round of 4-under 68 that included seven birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey.
The 50-year-old Cejka, who has two victories on the over-50 tour, started quickly, opening with three straight birdies, and four in the first five holes. He went on to bogey Nos. 6 and 8 and played the back nine in 2 under for a 68.
Choi, an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour, had a previous best finish on the senior circuit of tie for second at the 2020 Sanford International, where he lost in three-man playoff.
Ending the long winless run made this victory more special for Choi.
“The first win is exciting,” he said. “It’s a not easy still.”
With his second-place finish, Langer, the event’s 2017 champion, moved past Jim Furyk and Jerry Kelly into first place atop the Charles Schwab Cup standings as the season winds down.
“It’s fun,” said Langer, who last won at the Cologuard Classic in March 2020. “It’s fun to be in contention for the Schwab Cup once more. That’s what really everybody wants to be at here, I think. And especially we didn’t have one last year. If we had, I would have won that one, maybe. But we didn’t.”
“So it’s a very tight race, considering we’re having a two-year season, and there’s like eight guys in the running, or seven, or whatever. That’s pretty unusual. So it will be interesting the next few weeks and see who’s going to end up on top.”
Scott Dunlap finished fourth at 10 under after a final round of 6-under 66. Steven Alker (67) and Paul Stankowski (68) tied for fifth another stroke back.

 


‘Swift chariots of democracy’: all aboard Washington’s secret subway

‘Swift chariots of democracy’: all aboard Washington’s secret subway
Updated 27 September 2021

‘Swift chariots of democracy’: all aboard Washington’s secret subway

‘Swift chariots of democracy’: all aboard Washington’s secret subway
  • The Capitol Subway System has been ferrying politicians back and forth for more than a century
  • Famous patrons have included actors Richard Gere, Chuck Norris and Denzel Washington and the rock star Bono

WASHINGTON: Frequented by presidents, Supreme Court justices and even the occasional movie star, it is the transport of choice for some of the world’s most powerful movers and shakers — yet few Americans know it exists.
The Capitol Subway System, a network of trolleys in the fluorescent-lit bowels of the labyrinthine, 600-room US Congress in Washington, has been ferrying politicians back and forth for more than a century.
It has made headlines as the scene of a botched assassination bid, an impromptu off-Broadway stage and a hiding place for a president who disappeared from the Oval Office without telling anyone.
“Children love it so there are always senators who are willing to bring family members with young children, nieces and nephews, to ride on it,” Dan Holt, an assistant historian at the Senate Historical Office, told AFP.
“And so I think there’s just something kind of special about it.”
The track stretches 3,100 feet — a shade under a kilometer — with the 90-second hop between stations just enough for serious political debate, idle gossip, an impromptu press conference or a moment of quiet reverie.
“Think about getting on the train to ride to work in other contexts, where you have that moment where you can just sit for a minute and think — or sit and have casual conversation,” Holt said.
“The train in the Capitol has served that purpose as well over time.”
It has also provided useful photo opportunities for presidential hopefuls looking to show the common touch, such as Ronald Reagan, although a boyish JFK — then just plain old Senator Jack Kennedy — was once refused entry and scolded to “stand aside for the senators, son.”

Assassination attempt

Today, the bustling main station is abuzz whenever the Senate is in session, with journalists waiting patiently to swarm legislators as they disembark to vote in the upper chamber.
But the cut-and-thrust of political discourse isn’t always as convivial below ground as it is on the Senate floor.
In 1950, Maine senator Margaret Chase Smith was preparing to deliver a rebuke to fellow Republican Joe McCarthy when the intimidating anti-communist crusader and smear-artist saw her in a subway car.
“Margaret, you look very serious,” Smith later recalled McCarthy saying, according to Holt. “Are you going to make a speech?“
“Yes,” she responded, “and you’re not going to like it very much.”

Capitol Hill staffers are seen on a subway car at the US Capitol on Sept. 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Olivier Douliery / AFP) 

Three years earlier the subway had seen its only recorded assassination attempt, when disgruntled ex-Capitol Police officer William Kaiser opened fire from a .22-caliber pistol on presidential hopeful John Bricker.
The Ohio senator dived for cover into the waiting subway car, yelling at the driver to whisk him away, as a second bullet whistled over his head.
“Only good fortune and the bad marksmanship of his assailant saved the senator,” The New York Times reported after the gunman fled the scene, only to be arrested later.
In less querulous times, political leaders have seen the subway as something of a refuge from the frenetic pace of Washington politics.
William Howard Taft, the 27th president, alarmed aides one Saturday in January 1911 when he went missing for around an hour to go see the trains.
“A keen thrill of fear swept over the city when anxious inquiries at the White House brought forth the reply that the president could not be found. The alarm spread like a forest fire,” the Washington Times reported at the time.

First subway

The first subway was opened on March 7, 1909 for senators hoping to avoid the punishing Washington heat as they went between their offices and the upper chamber.
Electric Studebaker automobiles were replaced by a monorail with its own track three years later and, in 1960, officials added four $75,000 electric subway cars — dubbed “swift chariots of democracy” by the Senate chaplain.
A House line connected the Rayburn House Office Building to the Capitol five years after that and, in 1993, an $18 million Disneyland-style driverless train was introduced to great fanfare.
Not everyone supported these improvements. Some senators grumbled about bumpy rides while others complained that their delicately coiffured hair was being ruined by gusts of wind. Ohio’s Mike DeWine banned his staff from riding in protest against government waste.
Future presidents aside, the system’s famous patrons have included actors Richard Gere, Chuck Norris and Denzel Washington, satirist Jon Stewart and the rock star Bono.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Tony Award-winning creator of hit musical “Hamilton,” decided to take a midnight ride and belt out show tunes for his Twitter following when he was in the building to receive an award in 2017.
Some Capitol Hill staff see the gentility of subway interactions becoming rarer as health-conscious politicians with step-counting devices increasingly take to walking between buildings.
But the clientele will never truly disappear as long as the urgent task of running the country requires busy people to be in 10 places at once.
“If you’re in a rush, it’s great,” Holt told AFP.


‘Moulin Rouge! The Musical’ leads early at the Tony Awards

‘Moulin Rouge! The Musical’ leads early at the Tony Awards
Updated 27 September 2021

‘Moulin Rouge! The Musical’ leads early at the Tony Awards

‘Moulin Rouge! The Musical’ leads early at the Tony Awards
  • Alex Timbers won the trophy for best direction
  • Broadway favorite Danny Burstein won a featured acting Tony

NEW YORK: “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” a jukebox adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s hyperactive 2001 movie, took an early lead at the Tony Awards, earning seven trophies at the halfway point.
The pandemic-delayed telecast kicked off with an energetic performance of “You Can’t Stop The Beat” from the original Broadway cast of “Hairspray!”
The optimistic number was performed for a masked and appreciative audience at a packed Winter Garden Theatre. Host Audra McDonald got a standing ovation when she took the stage. “You can’t stop the beat. The heart of New York City!” she said.
“Moulin Rouge! The Musical” won for scenic design, costume, lighting, sound design, orchestrations and a featured acting Tony for Broadway favorite Danny Burstein. Sonya Tayeh won for choreography on her Broadway debut.

Alex Timbers won the trophy for best direction of a musical for “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.”
It is Timbers’ first Tony. The show is about the goings-on in a turn-of-the-century Parisian nightclub, updated with tunes like “Single Ladies” and “Firework” alongside the big hit “Lady Marmalade.”
Timbers has been nominated twice before, for directing “Peter and the Starcatcher” in 2012 and directing and writing “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.” He has been a production consultant on David Byrne’s “American Utopia,” directed “Rocky” and “The Pee-wee Herman Show” and is directing “Beetlejuice” for the second time next spring.
He picked up a Lucille Lortel Award for directing the off-Broadway production of “Here Lies Love” and went on to direct the show at London’s National Theatre. Other notable off-Broadway credits include the “Love’s Labour’s Lost” in Central Park and the Roundabout Theatre Company’s 2016 revival of “The Robber Bridegroom.”
For the Tony, he beat Phyllida Lloyd of “Tina — The Tina Turner Musical” and Diane Paulus of “Jagged Little Pill.”
Burstein, who won for featured actor in a musical for “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” thanked the Broadway community for supporting him after the death of his wife, Rebecca Luker, ReDavid Alan Grier won featured actor in a play for his role in a “A Soldier’s Play.” “To my other nominees: Tough banana, I won,” he said.
Lois Smith won her first Tony for best performance by an actress in a featured role in a play for “The Inheritance.” And Lauren Patten edged out her co-stars from “Jagged Little Pill” to win the award for best featured actress in a musical.
“A Christmas Carol” was cleaning up with five technical awards: scenic design of a play, costumes, lighting, sound design and score. No one from the production was on hand to accept the awards.
Sunday’s show has been expanded from its typical three hours to four, with McDonald handing out Tonys for the first two hours and Leslie Odom Jr. hosting a “Broadway’s Back!” celebration for the second half, including the awarding of the top three trophies — best play revival, best play and best musical.
While other entertainment industries like TV and film found ways to restart during the pandemic, Broadway was unable until now due to financial and physical impediments. The lifting of all capacity restrictions was crucial to any reopening since Broadway economics demand full venue capacity.
The sobering musical “Jagged Little Pill,” which plumbs Alanis Morissette’s 1995 breakthrough album to tell a story of an American family spiraling out of control, goes into the night with a leading 15 Tony nominations.
Nipping on its heels is “Moulin Rouge!,” a jukebox adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s hyperactive 2001 movie about the goings-on in a turn-of-the-century Parisian nightclub that has 14 nods.
“Slave Play,” Jeremy O. Harris’ ground-breaking, bracing work that mixes race, sex, taboo desires and class, earned a dozen nominations, making it the most nominated play in Tony history.
Other shows to keep an eye on are “The Inheritance” by Matthew Lopez, which nabbed 11 nominations. It’s a two-part, seven-hour epic that uses “Howards End” as a starting point for a play that looks at gay life in the early 21st century. And “Tina — The Tina Turner Musical,” which tells the rock icon’s life with songs that include “Let’s Stay Together” and “Proud Mary,” earned 12 nods.
This season’s nominations were pulled from just 18 eligible plays and musicals from the 2019-2020 season, a fraction of the 34 shows the previous season. During most years, there are 26 competitive categories. This year there are 25 with several depleted ones. But theater insiders think an awards show is even more vital now.
“I would argue it’s more important than ever, in a way,” said James Corden, who hosted the Tonys in 2016. “If there’s a year that we should ever celebrate them, it’s this year, where people’s entire lives have just been ripped away and turned upside down.”
Some intriguing races include whether Karen Olivo wins best leading actress in a musical, despite quitting her show, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” in frustration with Broadway.
Six-time Tony-winner McDonald is not just a host. She’s up for best actress award in a play, which, if she won, would give her seven awards, breaking her own record for the most Tonys won by a performer. And something bizarre has to happen to deny Aaron Tveit winning for best leading actor in a musical; he’s the only person nominated in the category. Voting for the nominees was done in March.
The last Tony Awards ceremony was held in 2019. The virus forced Broadway theaters to abruptly close on March 12, 2020, knocking out all shows and scrambling the spring season. Several have restarted, including the so-called big three of “Wicked,” “Hamilton” and “The Lion King.”
“Jagged Little Pill” goes into the telecast on the defensive, dogged by two controversies.
A former cast member, Nora Schell, a Black nonbinary actor who made their Broadway debut in the chorus in 2019, posted a statement this week on social media describing repeated instances early in the run of the show in which they were “intimidated, coerced, and forced by multiple higher ups to put off critical and necessary surgery to remove growths from my vagina that were making me anemic.”
“Jagged Little Pill” producers — saying they are “deeply troubled” by the claims — have hired an independent investigator, and the union Actors Equity Association said Sunday it was also commissioning “a thorough, independent investigation” of the show’s workplace.
In another controversy, the show’s producers have apologized to fans for changing a character from gender-nonconforming to cisgender female after the show moved from Boston to Broadway.
Two original stars — Celia Rose Gooding and Antonio Cipriano — have announced that they are leaving after Sunday’s performance, with Cipriano on Sunday citing “the harm that many trans + non-binary, and all marginalized folks, in-stage cast members and off have endured.” He wrote he took responsibility “for being part of the cause harmed.”

 


A year later, stc-Vodafone Egypt deal still making headlines despite fallout

A year later, stc-Vodafone Egypt deal still making headlines despite fallout
Updated 27 September 2021

A year later, stc-Vodafone Egypt deal still making headlines despite fallout

A year later, stc-Vodafone Egypt deal still making headlines despite fallout
  • Telecom Egypt doesn't have any knowledge of stc resuming acquisition negotiations with Vodafone Egypt

CAIRO: Almost a year passed since talks between stc, and Vodafone International Group ended without reaching an agreement on stake sales in the Egyptian unit to the Saudi largest mobile operator, however, the deal still makes headlines.

Few days ago, CNBC Arabiya TV quoted sources saying that negotiations between STC and the Vodafone Group are back on the table after negotiations fell through in December.

The network said that the Saudi company is looking to secure a soft loan of about $1.1 billion to finance the deal using part of the liquidity available to it, and another part of the global debt markets.

Telecom Egypt - the largest telephone operator in Egypt - denied knowledge of renewed negotiations between stc and the Vodafone Group to acquire its stake in Vodafone Egypt.

In a bourse filing, Telecom Egypt attached four previous statements it issued regarding the deal during the period from January 29, 2020 to June 7, 2021, denying its knowledge of any recent developments.

Ayman Essam, head of the External and Legal Relations Sector at Vodafone Egypt, denied the existence of any ongoing talks at the present time between the Vodafone International Group and stc.

In an official statement, Essam affirmed Vodafone's commitment to the Egyptian market and work to provide a distinguished service to its customers, pointing out that his company recently obtained a new frequency package to improve the service, in addition to pumping several investments in the field of network, digital transformation and a number of financial inclusion projects in Egypt.

Negotiations to acquire Vodafone’s 55% stake in Vodafone Egypt began in January 2020, for $2.39 billion, according to a non-binding preliminary agreement signed at the time with stc.

Vodafone International agreed to enable the Saudi company to carry out the due diligence process for a period of 75 days, which can be extended, and in April 2020 stc requested an extension until June due to the repercussions of the coronavirus, and then the deadline was pushed again to September 12.

In September of last year, stc said that the period of the memorandum of understanding signed with Vodafone Egypt ended without reaching an agreement but the dialogue was open between the two parties.


Painting the words: ‘Sauce of Mango’ mixes between the beauty of Arabic fables and art

Painting the words: ‘Sauce of Mango’ mixes between the beauty of Arabic fables and art
Updated 27 September 2021

Painting the words: ‘Sauce of Mango’ mixes between the beauty of Arabic fables and art

Painting the words: ‘Sauce of Mango’ mixes between the beauty of Arabic fables and art
  • The book fits all age groups but primarily caters to an older audience as some stories have dark themes

JEDDAH: Finding the right art to represent literary work is a challenge. With so much to choose from, one Saudi author decided to get help through an art platform for diversity and inclusion.

Saad Almotham mixed with his literary work with artwork provided by a group of 56 Saudi and Arab artists to create a book that is an art project in itself, titled “Sauce of Mango.”

Made up of a hundred short fables, written in Arabic and showcasing 96 artworks, it began in 2012 when Almotham found his niche, initially using Twitter to share the stories in 140 and, later, 280 characters. 

“I had a word limit and I had to tell a story within that limit, and that’s quite a challenge,” he said. “I often had to go back and forth through the stories I wanted to tweet as I wanted them to be meaningful and short at the same time.”

It was after posting 200 stories that Almotham got the idea of compiling them in a book. He selected 100, and decided on the title after the main character from one short fable.

“The main character is afraid of trying new things and I too was experiencing something new, so I chose his name as a reference to my own story in writing as we’re both trying to create something new and different,” said Almotham. 

The book fits all age groups but primarily caters to an older audience as some stories have dark themes.

For the artwork, the author wanted to select things that would accommodate the storyline best. With the help of artists through the Fitrh Art platform, he was able to have a unique and distinct piece of art for most of his literary works.

Fitrh Art is a platform that serves as a home to Arab artists interested in being part of a storytelling adventure. 

Selected artists were given the stories and worked on the ones that attracted them the most. “I didn’t interfere much with the artists past the initial rough sketch, I wanted to preserve their style and what they were comfortable with. I didn’t want it to look like a comic book, I wanted it to be a work of art,” said Almotham.

Hana Kanee, a 29-year-old Saudi artist, was part of the creative set that contributed to the book.

“I didn’t know the author beforehand; I found this opportunity through Instagram and the way they showcased it was ‘as a collection of stories where animals will be expressing themselves through Arabic poetry,’ it sounded very creative and made me imagine the possibilities,” she artist told Arab News. 

Kanee chose the stories that resonated with her most. She described the process as fun, saying that “the stories made me laugh immediately and the artist’s description of the stories was very colorful, which is perfect for my artwork. It reminded me of my childhood as well.”

The artists had the freedom to bring their creative talent to the mix and were given enough space to pursue it.

Bringing the book together proved to be quite a challenge for Almotham; he said he felt like it was impossible at times. The pandemic did not help this initial dread, and he added: “The fact that we were able to pull it off and put this project out in the world makes me feel very proud.” 

Once the book was complete, the author organized an online art exhibition in collaboration with the Fitrh Art platform, where they showcased the artwork with the stories as a description. 

Almotham is currently working on the English translation of the book, and hopes to publish it soon.

“During the exhibition we roughly translated the stories and those too were very well received, so I thought I should work on the translation for English readers to enjoy.”