Students tackle complex social, economic problems at MENA Grad Show

Students tackle complex social, economic problems at MENA Grad Show
‘Tabteel’ is a project by Allaa Alhamady from the German University in Cairo. Supplied
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Updated 08 November 2020

Students tackle complex social, economic problems at MENA Grad Show

Students tackle complex social, economic problems at MENA Grad Show

DUBAI: On display at this year’s Dubai Design Week, set to run from Nov. 9-14, the inaugural MENA Grad Show supports impact-driven projects rooted in robust academic research.

The show is a diverse exhibition of student projects from across the Middle East and North Africa region and aims to “give innovators from MENA universities visibility on an international stage and to create exchange and professional development opportunities,” according to Tadeu Baldani Caravieri, the director if the Global Grad Show that usually goes on display during Dubai Design Week.

“The MENA Grad Show mirrors the Global Grad Show’s values and marks the launch of a platform dedicated to academic innovators from the region who are working to solve social and environmental issues,” Caravieri added.

With more than 200 applications from 36 universities tackling the improvement of complex social and economic problems, the selected 50 “demonstrate the student’s ability to understand the nuances of their surroundings, including cultural subtleties,” noted Caravieri. “In many cases, the creative process is permeated by elements pertaining to tradition and heritage, which shows the students care in bridging past, present and future, therefore producing innovation that is easily relatable and adoptable.”

With focus ranging from education to resources management and nutrition, Caravieri notes three key areas. Health, for example, sees Sohaila Alaa Eldin Ramadan from the German University in Cairo propose a toolkit for low-income families with children suffering diabetes that allows for easy blood glucose monitoring. Repurposing of waste, including food containers and natural textile dye made out of date seeds, is explored by Amal Hassan Alsuwaidi from the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation. The third area, he adds, is low-footprint production processes, explored in a project by Maadi Mosa Mohammed Asiri from King Khalid University in Saudi Arabia, who created fertilizers from the by-products of lithium manufacturing plants.

With urgent issues at hand, are young designers under further pressure to innovate?

“The complexity of issues such as COVID-19 certainly brings the realization that, more than ever, collaborative efforts are necessary. And indeed a number of online-based initiatives took place all around the world, bringing young minds together,” Caravieri said. 


Global pop group Now United shoots new music video in Abu Dhabi

Nour Ardakani (right), a 19-year-old singer from Lebanon, became the band’s 16th and first Arab member. Instagram
Nour Ardakani (right), a 19-year-old singer from Lebanon, became the band’s 16th and first Arab member. Instagram
Updated 16 January 2021

Global pop group Now United shoots new music video in Abu Dhabi

Nour Ardakani (right), a 19-year-old singer from Lebanon, became the band’s 16th and first Arab member. Instagram

DUBAI: Global pop group Now United has filmed its music video for “Lean on Me” at Abu Dhabi’s five-star Emirates Palace hotel.

The video starts with a sweeping view of the hotel, before showing band members performing choreographed dance moves in its plush corridors and outside terrace.

The band, made up of 16 members from as many countries, has spent the past few months in the UAE, following the search to find its newest member from the Middle East.

Nour Ardakani, a 19-year-old singer from Lebanon, became the band’s 16th — and first Arab — member.

She was handpicked by Simon Fuller, who founded The Spice Girls and created the “American Idol” TV show.

Since Ardakani’s arrival, the group has been busy recording new music and shooting videos in various locations around the UAE.

The video for its track “Habibi,” released in November to officially welcome Ardakani into the band, was shot partly in Dubai’s historic Al-Fahidi district, and in her native Lebanon.

This is not the first time that an artist or group has turned to the Arab world for inspiring cityscapes.

Cardi B’s breakout single as a rapper, “Bodak Yellow,” was filmed in the UAE. The video, set in Dubai, topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for three consecutive weeks, and received nominations for best rap performance and best rap song at the Grammys.

In 2018, US-Moroccan rapper French Montana went back to his roots for his “Famous” music video, shot in the Moroccan city of Chefchaouen, where he grew up.

British recording artist M.I.A also shot her 2012 music video for “Bad Girls” in Morocco. The video, filmed in the city of Ouarzazate, won the VMA for best cinematography and best direction, and was nominated for a Grammy.