Actress Gal Gadot responds to ‘whitewashing’ criticism over Cleopatra role

Actress Gal Gadot responds to ‘whitewashing’ criticism over Cleopatra role
Gal Gadot revealed plans to play Cleopatra in October. (AFP)
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Updated 25 December 2020

Actress Gal Gadot responds to ‘whitewashing’ criticism over Cleopatra role

Actress Gal Gadot responds to ‘whitewashing’ criticism over Cleopatra role

DUBAI: “Wonder Woman 1984” actress Gal Gadot has responded to criticism about her plans to play the role of the legendary queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, in a new historical drama based on her life. 

After Gadot revealed plans to play Cleopatra, critics and social media users accused filmmaker Patty Jenkins of “whitewashing” for casting an Israeli actress instead of an Arab or African talent for the role of Cleopatra, who was of Greek and Macedonian descent. 

In an interview with BBC Arabia, the star responded saying: “First of all if you want to be true to the facts then Cleopatra was Macedonian.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Diana Prince (@gal_gadot)

“We were looking for a Macedonian actress that could fit Cleopatra. She wasn’t there, and I was very passionate about Cleopatra,” she explained. “People are people, and with me I want to celebrate the legacy of Cleopatra and honor this amazing historic icon that I admire so much.”

Gadot was not against other productions. She said: “You know, anybody can make this movie… I’m very passionate that I’m going to do my own too.”

The news of the casting proved to be divisive on social media, with some users expressing their discontent. 

“The casting of Gal Gadot is just another stroke in the long history of whitewashing and the legacy of colonial Egyptology that strives to sever all connections between Egyptians (widely defined) and the history of their land,” wrote one Twitter user.

Meanwhile, others on social media believe that Gadot’s casting is appropriate.

“I’m going to say this once and I'm not going to say it again, Cleopatra was Greek,” wrote one user on Twitter. “Yes, she was an Egyptian ruler but she was Greek with Persian and Syrian ancestry. The people who are reacting negatively to this are uneducated and uninformed. Gal Gadot deserves this role.”

The Egyptian queen was famously portrayed by Elizabeth Taylor in director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s 1963 epic, “Cleopatra.”

Arabic calligraphy: Ancient craft, modern art
For the Saudi Ministry of Culture's Year of Arabic Calligraphy in 2020/21, we take an in-depth look at how the craft has developed from ancient to modern times.

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Architect sheds light on Expo 2020 Dubai’s ‘monument to the living’

The monument is located at Expo 2020 Dubai’s Jubilee Park. (Supplied)
The monument is located at Expo 2020 Dubai’s Jubilee Park. (Supplied)
Updated 17 October 2021

Architect sheds light on Expo 2020 Dubai’s ‘monument to the living’

The monument is located at Expo 2020 Dubai’s Jubilee Park. (Supplied)

DUBAI: It took more than 200,000 workers and 240 million hours of combined labor to bring the vast Expo 2020 Dubai site to life.

Now, to express thanks to the workforce, a colonnade of 38 columns has been installed at the site’s Jubilee Park, with individual worker’s names carved in stone.

Reem Al-Hashimi, Expo 2020 Dubai’s director-general, had the idea for the Workers’ Monument and asked London-based architect Asif Khan to design the project.

“It’s such a powerful form of recognition, positive energy and kindness. It’s a very human statement, and a reminder that human beings are at the heart of what has been achieved,” Khan told Arab News.

The monument is located at Expo 2020 Dubai’s Jubilee Park. (Supplied)


 “In general, the people who build all these projects that transform the world and our culture are rarely thanked or, if they are, it’s in an impersonal, general way,” he said.

“What we forget when people are working on projects is that their family and friends are part of the process. They make sacrifices.”

Khan, who also designed the Expo’s massive entry portals, met many of the workers on site during the past five years.

“They are from every corner of the world, especially South Asia, and they all got on together,” he recalled.

However, detailing the tribute was no easy task, with spreadsheets that listed hundreds of names — a challenge that Khan saw as a “fascinating anthropological study.”

Duplicate names, alternative spellings, and names that ranged between one and five words were all honored in the final structure. Each circular, two-meter-high column, made of Omani limestone, is like “a book in a library,” where individual workers can find their name.

“When I first visited the site, it was desert. Through the works of these people — brick by brick, centimeter by centimeter — this site was transformed,” Khan said.

“They are like magicians who changed the state of matter.”

The celebratory Dubai tribute is believed to be the first of its kind, with similar monuments traditionally associated with solemnity and loss.

“It’s a monument to the living. In our research, we found no monument of this scale which names every worker individually,” Khan said. “I hope it’s the beginning of being thankful, globally.”

Expo may last for only six months, but the overall site and Workers’ Monument are here to stay, according to Khan, “making sure that future generations knew who made it.” 

 


Arab Fashion Council names Barbie as its 2021 Fashion Icon

The Arab Fashion Council has named Mattel doll Barbie as the Fashion Icon 2021. (Supplied)
The Arab Fashion Council has named Mattel doll Barbie as the Fashion Icon 2021. (Supplied)
Updated 17 October 2021

Arab Fashion Council names Barbie as its 2021 Fashion Icon

The Arab Fashion Council has named Mattel doll Barbie as the Fashion Icon 2021. (Supplied)

DUBAI: The Arab Fashion Council has named Mattel doll Barbie as the Fashion Icon 2021.

In a tribute to the much-loved doll, designer Jeremy Scott will present fashion label Moschino’s archive collection inspired by Barbie and receive the Council’s Medal of Honor at the Fashion Icon Awards on Oct. 24 in Dubai.

Lebanese superstar Maya Diab, who was named the first Fashion Icon last year during a digital celebration streamed Beirut, will present the trophy to Kim Culmone, Mattel’s senior vice president of global Barbie design.

Accepting the award on Barbie’s behalf, Culmone said: “Barbie has always been more than a toy, she is an international icon deeply connected to culture. With fashion being a critical component of our brand DNA, we are inspired by the fashion community, and at times, Barbie has even been a source of inspiration for the very same talented community. For Barbie to receive the prestigious Fashion Icon Award 2021 from the Arab Fashion Council is a true honor and I look forward to the privilege of witnessing the incredible talent showing during Arab Fashion Week.”

“A Fashion Icon is a role model that inspires ideology, change and setting trends,” Mohammed Aqra, chief strategy officer of the Arab Fashion Council, said. “Barbie is this Icon that has been and still inspiring generations of children to embrace the best of over 200 careers. In reference to Fashion, Barbie is always a main figure that ignites the sense of creativity and love of fashion from the early journey of designers’ career. For over 60 years Barbie has been inspiring designers from around the globe including legacy creative directors. It is time for Barbie to be named the Fashion Icon in tribute to its lifetime achievement.”


World’s oldest ghost image found on British Museum Babylon tablet

World’s oldest ghost image found on British Museum Babylon tablet
Updated 16 October 2021

World’s oldest ghost image found on British Museum Babylon tablet

World’s oldest ghost image found on British Museum Babylon tablet
  • Artefact, nearly 3,500 years old, never exhibited as male and female figures so faint
  • Curator: ‘It is a Guinness Book of Records object, because how could anybody have a drawing of a ghost which was older?’

LONDON: The oldest depiction of a ghost recorded in human history has been discovered at the British Museum.

The image, on an ancient Babylonian clay tablet nearly 3,500 years old — acquired in the 19th century — shows a bearded man being led to the afterlife by a woman, with his hands held out before him, tied together.

Dr. Irving Finkel, curator of the Middle East department at the museum, said the tablet — which has cuneiform text accompanying the image, and which has never been on public display — was meant to help the living remove unwanted spirits by aiding them to settle unfinished business.

The nature of the tablet, Finkel said, had been missed for years because the image of the ghosts is so faint and only visible under certain light, while it is also significantly damaged. 

“You’d probably never give it a second thought because the area where the drawings are looks like it’s got no writing,” he told The Guardian.

“But when you examine it and hold it under a lamp, those figures leap out at you across time in the most startling way. It is a Guinness Book of Records object, because how could anybody have a drawing of a ghost which was older?”


Review: ‘Convergence: Courage in a Crisis’ takes on a gargantuan challenge

‘Convergence: Courage in a Crisis’ is now streaming on Netflix. (Supplied)
‘Convergence: Courage in a Crisis’ is now streaming on Netflix. (Supplied)
Updated 16 October 2021

Review: ‘Convergence: Courage in a Crisis’ takes on a gargantuan challenge

‘Convergence: Courage in a Crisis’ is now streaming on Netflix. (Supplied)

LONDON: For the most part, British director Orlando von Einsiedel’s new Netflix documentary, “Convergence: Courage in a Crisis,” manages to strike a balance between poignant and harrowing without straying too far into self-indulgence. But only for the most part. The filmmaker, the creative voice behind the excellent “White Helmets” and “Skateistan: To Live and Skate Kabul,” has created a new documentary that is equal parts loving tribute and critical dissection, as he weaves together a series of different story threads, all following those impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

‘Convergence: Courage in a Crisis’ is now streaming on Netflix. (Supplied)

 

The movie’s subjects are varied and diverse — from a first responder in the Brazilian favelas to a couple under lockdown in Tehran. An expectant mother and father in India tell their story, while a Syrian filmmaker volunteering at a hospital in London is also highlighted, alongside a young driver transporting staff and drugs in Wuhan and a doctor and activist working in Miami. Each story has something unique about it. Von Einsiedel’s greatest creative stroke in this movie is giving his subjects the room to tell their own stories, because each is heartbreaking and life-affirming in its own way.

 

Where the movie gets harder to follow is when the director tries to do too much in too short a time. In less than two hours, we get commentary on governmental mismanagement, the Black Lives Matter movement, institutional racism, nationwide inequality, and a handful of other topics made all the more pressing during the pandemic. There are also tantalizing glimpses inside the World Health Organization, and the Oxford University vaccine development program. But we must make do with just a few minutes of each, before we are whisked off to the next story. There is deep, resonant and powerful storytelling running throughout “Convergence” — if only we were given a little more time to take it all in.


Actress Salma Hayek shows off Elie Saab suit in Los Angeles

The actress showed off a leopard-print suit by Elie Saab in Los Angeles. (Getty Images)
The actress showed off a leopard-print suit by Elie Saab in Los Angeles. (Getty Images)
Updated 16 October 2021

Actress Salma Hayek shows off Elie Saab suit in Los Angeles

The actress showed off a leopard-print suit by Elie Saab in Los Angeles. (Getty Images)

DUBAI: US-Mexican actress Salma Hayek made an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” in Los Angeles this weekend wearing a feisty leopard-print suit by Lebanese designer Elie Saab.

The actress, who is of Spanish and Lebanese descent, appeared on the TV show alongside fellow actor Kumail Nanjiani to talk about their latest film, Marvel’s “Eternals.”

For the occasion, she looked glamorous in a coordinating set by Saab, hailing from the designer’s pre-Fall 2021 collection.

The wide-legged animal-print pants featured a single black stripe on each leg, while the fitted blazer boasted black lapels and was worn over a sheer black top with a high collar.

(Getty Images)

The film’s star-studded cast includes Hayek, Nanjiani, Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden and teen Syrian refugee-turned-actor Zain Al-Rafeea, among others.

Directed by Oscar-winner Chloe Zhao, the plot centers on an immortal alien race with superhuman powers who have secretly lived on Earth for thousands of years. The film is set to be released in theaters in November.

While chatting with show host Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday, Hayek revealed why her co-star Jolie smashed her face into a birthday cake in a video that went viral online in September.

When the show host asked about her 55th birthday celebration last month, Hayek said: “There was no birthday party. All of those people were crashers. I said, ‘I don’t want a birthday party this year.’ I had to work all day. Twenty-five people, that I told them there is no birthday party, showed up anyway,” she said, referring to the party documented in her September Instagram post. 

The actress then explained that it’s a Mexican birthday tradition to push a person’s face into their cake — and Jolie was tasked with the job.

In the video, a group of friends are gathered around the actress chanting, “Mordida!” as Jolie pushes Hayek’s face into her birthday cake.

“After you blow the candles, you have to mordida,” Hayek explained to Kimmel. “It means a bite. You have to bite the cake with your mouth, without your hands holding or anything. Then, there’s always one that comes and hits you and sticks your face inside the cake.

“We were starting, ‘Mordida!’ She’s like, ‘What’s happening?’” Hayek said of Jolie’s apparent confusion over the tradition, before she got in on the fun and smashed Hayek's face into the coconut cake.