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.
THE ROUNDUP – Pop-culture highlights from the region
Updated 21 min 9 sec ago
The Dubai-based, UAE-born Somalian MC — one of the leading figures in the Arabic drill scene — released new single, “Kafi,” late last month, ahead of a new album due to drop at the end of May. “Kafi” isn’t typical of Freek’s repertoire, it’s calmer, but with a strong lyrical message. In a press release, he described it as an “emotional” track that “tackles the issue of child abuse … and how children deal with it.”
The veteran Egyptian artist’s latest solo show, “Our Black Thread,” is currently running in Cairo’s Gypsum Gallery. It consists of hand-sewn, embroidered works that began as improvisations on organza teabags. “She asks what form of intentionality separates craft from art,” a gallery statement read. “She (uses) repetition as a formal statement on endurance and resistance.”
The 28-year-old Egyptian rapper released his new track “Mooga” (Waves) this month. It’s a song inspired by the well-known novel “The Life of Pi,” he explained in a press release. “As lonely and emotional as one can get when leaving your home and the ones you love, sometimes you have to let go and just go with the waves,” Gad said.
The Egyptian MC and trap pioneer formerly known as Dama made an unexpected comeback from his ‘retirement’ (announced last year) in late February, releasing a hard-hitting new song called “Ghaba” (Jungle), the video for which has now racked up more than 13 million views on YouTube. It was followed up in late March by the release of “CTRL” — a five-track EP.
Editor, co-writer Hind Shoufani discusses Oscar-nominated short ‘The Present’
‘We created something that speaks to what an occupation takes away from people,’ Shoufani says
Updated 31 min 15 sec ago
BEIRUT: “It’s immensely surprising, and a step in the right direction for the Academy,” says
Palestinian-American filmmaker, writer and poet, Hind Shoufani, of this year’s list of Oscar-nominated short films. “They’re looking at diversity, women’s voices, underrepresented minorities; they’re paying attention to intense, conflict-driven and truthful stories.”
One such story was crafted by Shoufani and compatriot Farah Nabulsi. “The Present” — directed by Nabulsi — has already won a BAFTA in the British Short Film category and is nominated for Best Live Action Short Film at this month’s Academy Awards.
Available on Netflix, “The Present” chronicles a day in the life of Yousef, compellingly depicted by renowned Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri, who sets out across the West Bank to buy a birthday gift for his wife. His 10-year-old daughter, played by the talented Mariam Kanj, joins him on a journey peppered with the injustice and humiliation emblematic of the daily plight of people living in the Occupied Territories.
Shoufani — a Fulbright scholar born to Palestinian parents in 1978 in Lebanon who has lived between Damascus, Amman, Beirut, New York and Dubai — explains that the partnership between Nabulsi and herself was “collaborative and fruitful.” The director supplied the film’s overarching themes and inspiring narrative threads and Shoufani fleshed them out in script and dialogue, introducing crucial plot elements, such as the daughter as a character.
“We had long sessions where we would go through different drafts of the script, talk through scenes and negotiate ideas,” says Shoufani, who also edited the film. “We ended up creating something that speaks to the heart of what an occupation takes away from people, in terms of agency and the ordinary ability to have freedom of movement and dignity.”
Shoufani believes that “The Present” owes much of its capacity to resonate with so many people to its authenticity (it was shot in the West Bank) and the simplicity of the story.
“Most people nowadays don’t want to sit for two hours and watch a highly nuanced, socioeconomic/class-driven, ethnographically correct, anthropologically dense film,” she says. “We don’t try to explain the past 70 years of Zionism, we don’t moralize or make grandstanding political statements... Instead, you have this ordinary man with a beautiful daughter whom anyone would only want to protect and love. Your natural human instinct is to want to keep this little girl safe and make sure she’s okay.”
And while Bakri’s Yousef is seemingly the protagonist, it is ultimately Kanj’s portrayal of Yasmine that steals the show and infuses the film with a powerful message. “She has a strong hand in how the story resolves. It’s about the power of youth and women. It’s inspiring but also heartbreaking. And it gives us an opportunity to appreciate the strength and determination of this 10-year-old kid.”
Shoufani passionately praises everyone involved, especially Palestinian producer Ossama Bawardi. “I introduced Ossama to Farah, and I couldn’t be happier for him — he put this crew together in the West Bank and did all he could to get this film out into the world. He really believed in it, and I want to give him a shout-out because he’s just awesome.”
Though “bewildered” and “astounded” by the industry’s acclaim for “The Present,” Shoufani is equally thrilled by many of her other endeavors, including two personal projects that are close to her heart.
One is “They Planted Strange Trees,” her upcoming film that documents “the various identities of the Christian minorities in the Galilee,” where Shoufani’s family is from. While being intrigued “to explore indigenous communities that people don’t really talk about much around the world,” the journey is also very personal. “It’s also about reconnecting with my family, and what it means to not belong, and yet very much belong there.”
The other is a four-part series that captures the stories of four female Arab poets and draws its working title — “Poeticians” — from a group that Shoufani founded. “We’ve filmed in five or six Arab countries for eight years, and I’m trying to create a purely video-art-driven essay on taking poetry into a visual language. I can’t imagine anything more beautiful than making films that are based on poems.”
In the short term, however, she is very much looking forward to seeing how “The Present” does at the Oscars.
“I think it is vital that global audiences see this film, and I’m proud to be part of that experience,” she says. “As Palestinians, we have an unending array of stories to bring to life, because of our diaspora, our fight, our complex history and our strength. And, yes, our profound beauty as people.”
Deyaar profits rise, sees Dubai property demand growing
Profit grew on higher demand for Deyaar’s ready and off-plan residential units
Updated 33 min 30 sec ago
DUBAI: Deyaar, one of Dubai’s biggest property developers, reported a rise in first quarter profit, the company said in a statement.
The shares rose 0.8 percent in early trade.
The developer that is majority-owned by Dubai Islamic Bank, reported first quarter net profit of 15.1 million dirhams ($4.1 million) – up from 2.6 million dirhams from the same period last year.
Sales also rose to 149.2 million dirhams, compared to 98.8 million dirhams in 2020.
Profit grew on higher demand for Deyaar’s ready and off-plan residential units, Saeed Al-Qatami, its CEO said.
"We expect this demand to grow even more with the economic recovery in the emirate and the effort that the government takes towards executing the Dubai Urban Master Plan 2040,” he said.
Deyaar recently handed over its Bella Rose development in Dubai Science Park. It has 478 residential units and 12 shops.
The company also began construction work on the third and fourth phases of its residential Midtown project in Dubai Production City, where it plans to add 11 more buildings.
Qatar may allow 100% foreign ownership of listed companies
Updated 43 min 21 sec ago
DUBAI: The Qatari cabinet approved a draft law on Wednesday that would allow non-Qatari investors to own up to 100 percent of the capital of companies listed on the Qatar Stock Exchange, according to a statement on Qatar News Agency.
Should the law be implemented, companies would have to approve increases in foreign ownership on a case-by-case basis, Bloomberg News reported.
Such a change could lead to inflows of about $1.5 billion into listed Qatari companies, with beneficiaries potentially including Qatar Islamic Bank, Masraf Al Rayan and Commercial Bank of Qatar, Bloomberg cited investment bank EFG-Hermes as saying.
Foreign ownership of many Qatari companies currently sits way below the 49 percent limit. Qatar General Insurance had 32 percent foreign ownership as of April 14, Gulf Warehousing 30 percent and Commercial Bank of Qatar 21 percent, Qatar Stock Exchange data shows.
Saudi Arabia dropped its cap on ownership of publicly traded companies by foreign strategic investors in June 2019, while the UAE said in July of the same year it would allow the emirates to set their own foreign-ownership limits.
Qatar eased rules on foreign property ownership in October last year in an attempt to make the sector more attractive to expatriates, foreign investors and real estate funds.
Turkish lira trades flat ahead of central bank rate decision
Last month, the lira weakened to near its record lows after President Tayyip Erdogan appointed Sahap Kavcioglu as central bank governor
Updated 40 min 20 sec ago
ISTANBUL: Turkey’s lira traded flat against the dollar on Thursday, ahead of the new central bank governor’s first rate decision, where the bank is expected to maintain its policy rate at 19 percent.
The lira stood at 8.0530 against the dollar at 0647 GMT, near Wednesday’s close of 8.0655. Last month, the lira weakened to near its record lows after President Tayyip Erdogan appointed Sahap Kavcioglu as central bank governor, replacing his predecessor in a shock decision.