The new Saudi DJs breaking it down out of lockdown

The new Saudi DJs breaking it down out of lockdown
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Music superstar Enrique Iglesias performs at a 2018 concert held in Riyadh. The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic may have hit the music industry but it has failed to dampen the spirits of music lovers in the Kingdom. (Social media)
The new Saudi DJs breaking it down out of lockdown
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Abdulrahman Hakem. (Supplied)
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Updated 12 January 2021

The new Saudi DJs breaking it down out of lockdown

The new Saudi DJs breaking it down out of lockdown
  • Youth praise the local authorities for helping them explore and express their talents

JEDDAH: The lockdown period of 2020 gave many an opportunity to explore new things, and inspired many Saudis to become DJs. Arab News spoke to newcomers in the field and experts with years of experience.

Saudi industrial engineer Abdulrahman Hakem, 30, has been a DJ for almost a year. “I was always interested in music, and I’ve always had a unique taste in music which made me want to explore being a DJ,” he told Arab News
He purchased a small DJ set and started to learn the craft.
“The lockdown period was a golden opportunity for me, to be free for a few months. I learned so much in my free time, from tutorial videos to programs, and I expanded my playlist,” he added.
Pointing to the social reforms and support from the Saudi General Entertainment Authority and Ministry of Tourism, Hakem said they provided local talents with many opportunities to enter the profession.


“Before the social reforms, we never heard of Saudi DJs or Saudis interested in the field of music, they were only a minority. Now we have many events and a DJ’s presence is required at any event,” he said.
He predicted that many Saudi DJs with great potential will emerge.

I think whenever we are given the time or opportunity, we are able to explore our creative side.

Viva

“The Kingdom is promoting tourism. We are still in the first step in tourism, a country such as Saudi Arabia is big and will have so many events in different areas,” he said, adding: “I see this as a golden opportunity for us Saudis to prove ourselves in this field.”
He added that tourism “will boost the economy in the coming years and we will constantly enhance the industry.”
Hakem said many Saudis are hesitant about becoming DJs, fearing a negative reaction in society, but he found that everyone he encountered respected him and his efforts. “No one tried to bring me down, I’ve only received love, encouragement and joy.”

No one tried to bring me down. I’ve only received love, encouragement and joy.

Abdulrahman Hakem

Hakem’s first supporters were his friends and family, who encouraged him to be enthusiastic about the field and learn more. He said that does not consider himself as someone who has reached the peak yet as he is still learning and improving himself.
The positive feedback he receives on social media brings him joy and encourages him to strive further. “Anyone who thinks about entering this field has my full encouragement and support.”
Egyptian-Saudi student and social media influencer Farouq Al-Adawi, 20, has been a DJ for seven months.
“In 2020, everyone was looking for new hobbies and activities. I loved music all my life and when it came to quarantine, lockdown introduced me to this new hobby,” Al-Adawi told Arab News.
Latin-Canadian and Saudi DJ Viva has been in the industry for just over two years. She is married to DJ Zerone, one of the first Saudi DJs who began in 1999.
“Quite a few ‘COVID-19 DJs’ were born in 2020,” she told Arab News. “I think whenever we are given the time or opportunity, we are able to explore our creative side and see what talents lie beneath the surface of our everyday lives, and the lockdown period provided that opportunity to many.”
She added: “People began reaching out for lessons in DJing and music production, and simply to inquire about a career.”
The artist highlighted the positive outcomes for music producers in 2020, with many finding it therapeutic. “The lockdown also provided many people who were just starting out with the time to practice and hone their skills, and now it’s great watching those individuals playing live and performing, and that’s an entirely positive outcome of the pandemic.”
DJ Viva recently did a remix collaboration with an artist called Nktorious from Riyadh, who said that she finds exploring the effects on a DJ mixer as “therapeutic in such chaotic times.”
She said she saw a rise in the number of women interested in trying DJing. “I believe it’s their time to shine. The Saudi music and entertainment industry has made leaps and bounds with the country’s new Vision 2030, all in a very short time frame. It’s great to see Saudi talent rising and being more respected.”

 


Culture Summit Abu Dhabi to explore new theme amid COVID-19 setbacks

The virtual event will take place from Marcg 8-10. Supplied
The virtual event will take place from Marcg 8-10. Supplied
Updated 24 February 2021

Culture Summit Abu Dhabi to explore new theme amid COVID-19 setbacks

The virtual event will take place from Marcg 8-10. Supplied

DUBAI: “The Cultural Economy and the Economy of Culture” is the theme of the upcoming digital-only Culture Summit Abu Dhabi, set to take place from March 8-10. 

The fourth edition of the virtual forum, which will be open to the public, will bring together cultural leaders, practitioners and experts from the fields of art, heritage, museums, media and technology to generate new strategies and thinking, and identify ways in which culture can transform societies and communities worldwide.

There will also be a curated selection of artist talks, film screenings and performances all taking place during the summit.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the culture and creative industries were one of the fastest growing sectors in the world economy. But the sector was one of the hardest struck by COVID-19.

Mohamed Khalifa Al-Mubarak, chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, in a statement” “The global challenges of the past year have truly demonstrated the vital power of culture to improve our personal and collective wellbeing. Yet, cultural institutions worldwide continue to struggle to achieve funding structures to continue operating. It is now more important than ever to shed light on the critical role that the culture sector plays as an essential driver of sustainable economic and social development.

“We are proud to collaborate with top global cultural partners to convene renowned professionals from a variety of fields, ensuring the level and breadth of expertise needed for fruitful discussions and effective, goal-oriented outcomes.”


TV wildlife star Robert Irwin on keeping dad’s legacy alive as show set to launch in Middle East

Robert Irwin pictured with a tiger cub at the Australia Zoo. Supplied
Robert Irwin pictured with a tiger cub at the Australia Zoo. Supplied
Updated 24 February 2021

TV wildlife star Robert Irwin on keeping dad’s legacy alive as show set to launch in Middle East

Robert Irwin pictured with a tiger cub at the Australia Zoo. Supplied

DUBAI: The family of the late Australian wildlife expert Steve Irwin, known as The Crocodile Hunter, has been keeping the television personality’s legacy alive.

His wife Terri and their children Robert and Bindi run the Australia Zoo and their work there is featured in the popular reality TV series, “Crikey! It’s the Irwins.”

Irwin died in 2006 after receiving a stingray injury in a freak accident, but his family has followed in his footsteps by taking care of animals from around the world.

And now season one of their hit TV show has launched on discovery+ via Starzplay in the Middle East and North Africa region.

The Irwin family is passionate about nature and Terri, Robert, and Bindi have dedicated their lives to promoting wildlife conservation and inspiring the next generation of young people to take an active part in protecting and preserving the natural world.

“Dad’s passion and enthusiasm and love for wildlife was just absolutely contagious,” Robert, 17, told Arab News.

“That’s why I am so passionate about wildlife conservation. It’s hard not to be passionate about wildlife when you had a dad like mine. So, I definitely think it is a really big honor to get to continue that legacy.”

Robert Irwin photographed with his mother Terri Irwin and his sister Bindi Irwin. Supplied

Growing up at the Australia Zoo, Irwin’s son has been surrounded by animals for as long as he can remember. “When I was young, my parents nicknamed me The Moth Hunter. I was just super transfixed with chasing and catching moths,” he said.

Now in his late teens, the wildlife activist and award-winning photographer is responsible for a string of diverse and equally important tasks that include traveling around the globe to advocate for conservation, feed saltwater crocodiles, and check up on the zoo’s injured koalas at the family’s wildlife hospital.

“Life in the Australia Zoo is absolutely 100 miles an hour every single day,” he added.

When the Irwin family originally opened the Australia Zoo, it was a small reptile park, but it has since grown into a vast conservation area.

“We’ve really broadened our conservation reach, helping to support wildlife protection programs all over the world. We’ve secured over half-a-million acres of natural habitat and it’s become a really big, big program and a big hub for conservation,” Robert said.

When the family was forced to shut down the zoo for 78 days due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, a change in focus was required.

Supplied.

“The pandemic had a really big effect on what we do here in Australia. We had to close our doors for the first time in 50 years. It was a really challenging and very stressful time for all of us, my whole family and for our whole routine.

“We had about an $80,000 a week food bill just to feed our animals alone. And, of course, no money coming in with no patrons. And so, it was really tough for a while there,” he added.

With the green light from the Australian government, the family was able to re-open the zoo’s gates with COVID-19 health and safety restrictions in place.

“We’ve now got social distancing signs everywhere and we have had to change our wildlife experiences to make sure everything is completely COVID-19 safe. But still, when people come into the Australia Zoo, they can still have a really fun and exciting day. You can still cuddle with koalas and rhinos – you just can’t cuddle with each other,” he said.

In addition to re-opening the wildlife sanctuary, the family is looking forward to welcoming the arrival of Bindi and her pro wakeboarder husband Chandler Powell’s first child, a baby girl.

Bindi, 22, announced her pregnancy to the world in January by recreating a maternity throwback photo her parents posed for while they were expecting Robert. Her family discovered she was expecting in an equally special way.

Supplied.

“After she called my mom and I and told us she was pregnant, Bindi wanted to share the news with the rest of the family and team. We were actually on our annual crocodile research expedition in remote bushland in northern Queensland, which is a three-day drive from the zoo and many kilometers away from any sort of civilization,” her brother said.

“We were sitting around a fire and Bindi just got up and told everyone about this exciting news. It felt very poignant because where we were is actually where dad used to catch crocodiles. It was his favorite place in the world, so it was very special.

“I just want this little girl to have the most fun, awesome, exciting life. Growing up in a zoo, it’s going to be pretty hectic. And I don’t know if she is ready for what’s about to come, but I want to get her in there, wrestling crocodiles and wrangling snakes and doing all the awesome things that we get to do. I might have to wait until she’s a little bit older, maybe until she can walk,” he added.


Egyptian film ‘One Night Stand’ to screen at the Louvre Museum in Paris

Egyptian film ‘One Night Stand’ to screen at the Louvre Museum in Paris
Updated 24 February 2021

Egyptian film ‘One Night Stand’ to screen at the Louvre Museum in Paris

Egyptian film ‘One Night Stand’ to screen at the Louvre Museum in Paris

DUBAI: Egyptian short film “One Night Stand” is set to screen at the Louvre Museum in Paris on Wednesday.

The screening will be part of the “Les Rencontres Internationales Paris” event, which started on Feb 23, that explores contemporary art and new movies.

“One Night Stand” is directed by Palestinian filmmaker Nour Abed and Egyptian director and producer Mark Lotfy.

The film is based on the directors’ real-life encounter in Beirut with a European man who was about to join the Kurdish militia to fight Daesh in Syria. 

The conversation was secretly recorded on a mobile phone and serves as the script for animated modeled situations and performative reconstructions of that night. 

“Les Rencontres Internationales Paris” will be streamed online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Visitors can watch the livestream, that will also feature films, hosts discussions and performances, here


Hillary Clinton, Louise Penny to publish political thriller

Hillary Clinton, Louise Penny to publish political thriller
Updated 24 February 2021

Hillary Clinton, Louise Penny to publish political thriller

Hillary Clinton, Louise Penny to publish political thriller

DUBAI: Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to publish a suspense thriller with Canadian author Louise Penny in October, publishers Simon & Schuster and St. Martin’s Press said Tuesday.

“State of Terror” will hit bookshelves on Oct. 12, the publishers said, and will tell the story of a novice secretary of state serving in the administration of her political rival as a “series of terrorist attacks throws the global order into disarray.”

Although the book’s blurb makes no explicit mention of former US President Donald Trump, whose “America First” policy reined in the United States’ global leadership role, the book is set “after four years of American leadership that shrank from the world stage.”

Clinton has recently been digging deeper into the entertainment industry. Just last month, her new production company, HiddenLight Productions, acquired the adaptation rights of the Kurdish drama series “The Daughters of Kobani: A Story of Rebellion, Courage, and Justice.”


Tahar Rahim recounts ‘beautiful’ of Golden Globe-nominated role

Tahar Rahim stars in ‘The Mauritanian.’ AFP
Updated 23 February 2021

Tahar Rahim recounts ‘beautiful’ of Golden Globe-nominated role

Tahar Rahim stars in ‘The Mauritanian.’ AFP

LOS ANGELES: French-Algerian actor Tahar Rahim is paving the way for Arab talent with his Golden Globe nominated performance in “The Mauritanian.” Even alongside legendary actor and fellow nominee Jody Foster, Rahim’s portrayal of former Guantánamo Bay detainee Mohamedou Salahi is the centerpiece of the film and has landed him in the running for the best actor award. 

“It was such a beautiful part,” Rahim told Arab News. “It was like I was blown away and when I met him I was like yeah I got a big responsibility to put him on screen. Because it's more than a movie to him. It's his story.”

Tahar Rahim in 'The Mauritanian.' Supplied

“The Mauritanian” is based on Salahi’s memoir, “Guantánamo Diary,” which chronicles his imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba due to his suspected ties to Al-Qaeda. The film follows the story of his defense attorney, her associate and a military prosecutor who uncover a far-reaching conspiracy while investigating his case. 

“Here’s a guy who was abducted from his home… was taken away by a foreign government, subjected to torture — physical, psychological, sexual torture — and was kept from his family from anyone he knew for 15 years. And yet he managed to get through all of that. He was not broken,” Foster, who plays defense attorney Nancy Hollander, told Arab News. 

There are high hopes that Rahim’s nomination marks another step in the right direction for Hollywood’s changing relationship with Arab roles and performers. To him this film was not only a great role, but a responsibility to tell Mohamedou’s story. 

“If we talk about the way (Arab) actors are portrayed usually, it’s kind of a new way to show them like very, very human,” Rahim said. “It's beyond the fact that he is innocent or guilty whether — even if I think he’s innocent in his case, whatever. It’s beyond that. It’s to show a different face (of) these people.”

Directed by Kevin Macdonald, the film also stars actors Shailene Woodley and Benedict Cumberbatch.