DUBAI: Although she lives in California, entrepreneur and former educator Silvia Fadel remains closely attached to her native Lebanon. She recalls the good and the bad of spending summer days there in the 1980s during the tumultuous civil war.
“I got to experience the war, and I was even shot in my leg,” Fadel told Arab News. “I was part of that generation who grew to appreciate and love Lebanon so much.”
When the massive explosions erupted at the Port of Beirut on Aug. 4, she decided to do something to make a difference. “Seeing the country go down like that hit me hard,” she said.
In early September, Fadel launched her online initiative “Lebanese Glass,” transforming tons of broken pieces of glass into an elegant and traditional water jug called ‘ibriq.’ With every purchase made, a single dollar is donated to the eco-friendly start-up Live Love Recycle, which gathers the glass.
The pitchers come in varied designs and have become popular, with around 50 items ordered per day. “It’s not just Lebanese who are buying them. You get people from all over the world with non-Arab names,” she added.
Transparent with a hint of green, the handmade, painted pitchers are a familiar and amusing staple of Levantine culture. “I think a lot of people like them because they symbolize gatherings. When we used to go to Lebanon every summer, when it was really hot, you would always find an ice-cold ibriq in the middle of the table at every family gathering,” explained Fadel. “It is entertaining to watch people drinking from it and doing competitions to see who can raise it higher!”
To produce the pitchers, Fadel collaborates with the Hammoud family of glassblowers in Tripoli. “The blue-collar workers make them individually, blowing the glass, pounding it on the ground and twirling it in the oven,” she explained.
What makes the jugs unique is that no two are alike. They sometimes bear small imperfections — such as discoloration, trapped air bubbles and soil grains — that ultimately add to their charm. It is a detail that adequately fits Lebanese Glass’ motto: Every jug tells a story.
Famed opera star Andrea Bocelli among line-up slated for Expo 2020 opening ceremony
Updated 19 September 2021
DUBAI: A stellar lineup of regional talent is set to perform at Expo 2020’s Opening Ceremony on Sept. 30, organizers have announced.
Among those slated to perform are world-famous tenor Andrea Bocelli; Grammy-nominated, Golden Globe-winning actress, singer and songwriter Andra Day; platinum selling British singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding; famed pianist Lang Lang; and four-time Grammy winner Angelique Kidjo.
From the region, Saudi singing sensation Mohamed Abdo, as well as Emirati stars Ahlam Alshamsi and Hussain Al-Jassmi, will perform. Grammy-nominated Lebanese-American singer Mayssa Karaa will also hit the stage, among other talents.
Tareq Ghosheh, Chief Event and Entertainment Officer of Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “As the global spotlight shines on the UAE, this incredible, unforgettable evening will celebrate the collaborative, creative and optimistic spirit of Expo 2020, demonstrating our commitment to hosting a mega-event that will delight the world.
“Combining some of the most sought-after names in the world of music, live events and entertainment with the awe-inspiring, world-first technologies of the iconic Al Wasl Plaza, this is the ‘big bang’ that sets the scene for 182 days of visually striking and emotionally inspiring experiences, as we invite visitors from across the planet to join the making of a new world.”
Middle East Film & Comic Con heads to Abu Dhabi for 2022 edition
Updated 19 September 2021
DUBAI: The organizers behind the Middle East Film & Comic Con have announced that the popular event is set to take place Abu Dhabi for the first time in March 2022.
The festival, which is dedicated toward film, comic book and video game fans, will run from March 3-5 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, as opposed to its traditional location in Dubai’s World Trace Center complex.
Now in its 10th year, the event will feature workshops, a theatre experience, an Artists' Alley and the ever popular cosplay competition.
“The event will no doubt provide awesome excitement to the well-established and loyal fan base, and will prove to be a great addition to Abu Dhabi’s ever-expanding line-up of exciting events for 2022," said Ali Hassan Al Shaiba, executive director of tourism and marketing at the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi.
Moroccan-Italian model Malika El-Maslouhi hits the runway at London Fashion Week
Updated 19 September 2021
DUBAI: Designer-to-the-stars David Koma tapped Moroccan-Italian model Malika El-Maslouhi to showcase his latest collection during London Fashion Week on Friday, and the Spring/Summer 2022 line did not disappoint.
Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, Koma studied Fine Art in St. Petersburg before moving to London in 2003 to take up a place at Central Saint Martins’ College of Art and Design, graduating with an MA Fashion in April 2009.
He launched his eponymous label soon after and has gone on to reach astronomical success, having recently caught the eye of a number of celebrities — including Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B, and Beyoncé — who have all shown off his creations on the red carpet.
On Friday, the designer showcased his latest ready-to-wear collection at the London Aquatics Centre, which was designed by the late architect Dame Zaha Hadid.
The lineup began with a fresh take on traditional one-piece swimsuits that soon turned into the designer’s immediately identifiable partywear, complete with cutouts galore and a strong color palette. The showcase ended with a series of ultra-glam gowns, featuring glitz, feathers and neon shades aplenty.
For her part, El-Maslouhi showed off a number of looks, including a form-fitting gown in fluorescent pink complete with thin spaghetti straps and a heavily feathered bodice. A hip-high slit finished off the daring look.
Next up, the model showed off a black oversized hooded sweatshirt and matching leggings, both adorned with large reflective sequins.
When it came to the models’ beauty looks, Koma opted for shimmery makeup and heavily gelled locks, which made his cohort of catwalkers seem as though they had just stepped out of a swimming pool in a fitting nod to the show’s location.
“London calling! @davidkomalondon thank you for having me (and) congrats on the show,” El-Maslouhi wrote on Instagram after the show.
The model is hot off a series of runway showcases at New York Fashion Week, where she walked for the likes of Ulla Johnson, Prabal Gurung and Peter Dundas’s collaboration with online retailer Revolve.
The breakout star has been taking the industry by storm since making her modelling debut when she was 18-years-old.
In addition to gracing the runways of storied fashion houses such as Dior, Chanel, Valentino and Jacquemus, among others, the fashion star has also appeared in international campaigns for the likes of Off-White, Lanvin, Calvin Klein Swim and Zadig & Voltaire.
Australian model Miranda Kerr shows off Arab gown in Ecuador
Updated 18 September 2021
DUBAI: Australian model Miranda Kerr showed off a sleek dress by Lebanese designer Nicolas Jebran on Instagram on Friday, giving fans a sneak peek of the outfit she wore to celebrate model Jasmine Tookes’s wedding earlier this month.
Earlier in September, Victoria’s Secret model Tookes married Snapchat’s Juan David Borrero in his home country of Ecuador in the presence of family and friends, including co-founder and CEO of Snap Inc. Evan Spiegel and his wife, Kerr.
For the occasion, Kerr, 38, wore a silky, rouched dress by Jebran. Chosen by celebrity stylist Jessica Paster, the beige, form-fitting gown boasted a thigh-high slit and an off-the-shoulder neckline. Kerr finished off the look with glittering Jimmy Choo heels and a gem encrusted clutch. When it came to her beauty look, Kerr opted for natural makeup and loose hair, styled in beach waves.
And she wasn’t the only one to choose a Lebanese design. The most important dress of the evening came courtesy of Lebanese couturier Zuhair Murad.
Tookes showed off a custom wedding gown by Murad that featured an illusion, lace-embroidered neckline, a fitted bodice and a voluminous skirt with a train. She paired the exquisite wedding dress with a sheer, floor-trailing veil. With its long sleeves and its high mandarin neck, the gown was equal parts chic and conservative.
The 30-year-old, who got engaged to the current Vice President of Ecuador’s son last year in Utah, first hinted at wearing a Zuhair Murad creation on her big day during the designer’s Fall 2021 couture show in Paris in July.
In a social media post, she wrote: “Such a pleasure to be in Paris and watch my favorite designer @zuhairmuradofficial. Ten years ago, I used to walk his couture shows and now I wear his dresses on almost every red carpet. Something even more special is coming very soon.”
The couple tied the knot in the presence of family and friends-slash-bridesmaids, which included fellow Victoria’s Secret models Shanina Shaik, Sara Sampaio and Lais Ribiero, in the Church of San Francisco in the city of Quito on Sept. 5, after putting their plans on hold due to the pandemic.
Saudi barista Sara Al-Ali, a runner-up in the 2016 MENA Cezve/Ibrik coffee-making competition and a World Cezve/Ibrik championship finalist the same year, now owns and runs That coffee shop in her hometown Riyadh. (Supplied)
Causing a stir: A generational shift in Saudi relationship with coffee
Specialty flavors are fueling billion-dollar cafe growth as the ancient brew gets a modern makeover
Updated 18 September 2021
JEDDAH: Tea or Arabic coffee? For growing numbers of Saudis, the choice is more likely to be a latte, cappuccino, frappe or macchiato served in one of the many cafes that have popped up around the Kingdom in recent years.
In every region of Saudi Arabia today, coffee is replacing traditional beverages as a central part of the modern lifestyle.
Grabbing an early morning and lunchtime coffee has become a part of office workers’ daily routine, while others visit a cafe to enjoy their favorite cup while sitting and chatting.
• Amid growing demand for new cafes and restaurants, official statistics show that investment in the sector has reached SR221 billion ($58.9 billion), with growth rates of about 8 percent expected by the end of the year.
• Meanwhile, as coffee’s popularity soars in the Kingdom, the value of imports has risen to SR1.16 billion annually, or SR3.18 million per day, authorities say. Saudi Arabia imported about 80,000 tons of coffee in 2019-2020.
The global market is feeling the effects of this change in taste as well. According to Wail Olia, trainer and member of the Specialty Coffee Association, Saudi Arabia is among countries where consumers are developing a taste not only for robusta, the beans mainly used in instant coffee, but also the high-quality arabica bean.
Olia told Arab News that Saudi Arabia’s love of coffee goes back to the days of the Ottoman empire when coffee houses in Makkah were used as religious meeting places.
“Later, religious leaders thought that coffee was an intoxicating beverage, so the governor of Makkah ordered all cafes to close,” he said.
“Cafes are the fast-growing segment of the hospitality industry worldwide. Five years ago, in my city neighborhood in Jeddah, I could count the number of cafes on one hand. Now there are so many.”
Olia has studied and trained in Milan and Florence, and is now a certified instructor for the SCA, which allows him to teach young Saudis and share his insights into coffee — something he enjoys immensely.
As more Saudi women enter the private sector, some are deciding to work as baristas and waitresses in coffee shops.
Saudi barista Sara Al-Ali, a runner-up in the 2016 MENA Cezve/Ibrik coffee-making competition and a World Cezve/Ibrik championship finalist the same year, now owns and runs That coffee shop in her hometown Riyadh and is an authorized SCA trainer.
Coffee culture in the Kingdom is changing rapidly, she told Arab News. “Specialty coffee started only recently, but it is catching up surprisingly quickly. More coffee shops are opening. It’s at a high this year and is predicted to grow even more next year,” she said.
“As for me, specialty coffee is a product that follows quality standards at every stage of production.”
Al-Ali said that in Arab societies, coffee is part of an ancient cultural heritage.
“The big demand for coffee among all segments of our society is a healthy phenomenon and a reflection of what the Kingdom is witnessing in terms of development, prosperity and openness to different cultures,” she said.
Many Saudis are looking for innovative coffee flavors and new tastes to complement traditional styles. Al-Ali studied coffee-making in Canada after falling in love with the drink, then went to France to study further.
“It began as a habit, but after I returned to Saudi Arabia I decided to focus on coffee. The moment I made my first espresso, I realized that was what I wanted to do with my life.”
Al-Ali said that she is happy to see many cafes become places for family gatherings, business deals, or to study and even surf the internet.
Meanwhile, the growing taste for coffee in the Kingdom is also highlighting a divide between the generations when it comes to their favorite brew.
According to tea-maker Saleh Al-Husaiki, 53, older people still view Saudi Arabia as a tea-drinking nation.
I can see that the new-style coffee shops have opened side by side across the town, and more young people go to specialty cafes. But lots of people still come to us and enjoy the old tea prepared on fire.
Saleh Al-Husaiki, Tea-maker
Al-Husaiki serves the famous Taifi tea (with mint) and normal dark tea on the street, all brewed on an open coal fire.
“I can see that the new-style coffee shops have opened side by side across the town, and more young people go to specialty cafes. But lots of people still come to us and enjoy the old tea prepared on fire,” he told Arab News.
The older generation is still loyal to traditional hot drinks such as tea, Turkish coffee or espresso, according to Al-Husaiki, who is also a government employee.
“I agree that Saudis’ attitudes to coffee has changed recently with a new generation, but for me and others who belong to the old school, things are still the same — we prefer the Saudi traditional coffee, the regular black tea and the Turkish coffee,” he said.
Mohammed bin Abdul Hakim Al-Saadi, a Saudi businessman and investor in restaurants and cafes, said that the sector has fully recovered from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, thanks to various support packages provided by the government, which mounted 150 initiatives for the private sector and its workers.
Amid growing demand for new cafes and restaurants, official statistics show that investment in the sector has reached SR221 billion ($58.9 billion), with growth rates of about 8 percent expected by the end of the year.
According to recent statistics, the Ministry of Commerce has received applications for 30,000 licenses to establish cafes in the Kingdom.
Meanwhile, as coffee’s popularity soars in the Kingdom, the value of imports has risen to SR1.16 billion annually, or SR3.18 million per day, authorities say. Saudi Arabia imported about 80,000 tons of coffee in 2019-2020.