DUBAI: Culture has a unique way of bridging cultures and nations. This is why in an effort to foster cultural exchange between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Image Nation Abu Dhabi has teamed up with the Israel Film Fund (IFF) on a series of webinars that aim to support filmmakers in both countries.
Titled “Film Exchange: Abu Dhabi - Israel,” the new series will explore critical areas within production, talent development and filming in both Abu Dhabi and Israel to encourage collaboration between Image Nation and IFF.
The first webinar will debut on March 24. It will feature industry experts spanning from the Abu Dhabi Film Commission, Israel Film Fund, the Israel Film and TV Academy as well as renowned film directors.
Those tuning in to the webinars can expect to learn about an array of different topics relating to feature film funding, such as tax rebates, film funds and opportunities for filmmakers in the two countries, among others aspects.
Speakers include Emirati filmmaker Abdullah Al-Kaabi, “City of Life” director Ali F. Mostafa and the Israeli filmmaker who gave us “The Syrian Bride,” Eran Riklis, to name a few.
“This series of webinars is a key cultural and business initiative held in partnership with the IFF,” said Michael Garin, CEO of Image Nation, in a released statement.
“We are ultimately promoting and informing audiences on the many production and investment opportunities that have resulted from the partnership between the UAE and Israel. Through collaboration on content creation, we will deepen the ties between the two countries to the benefit of the media industry in the entire region.”
Echoing on Garin’s statement, Lisa Shiloach-Uzrad, Executive Director of the Israel Film Fund, added: “We are excited to begin what we hope will be a long and fruitful relationship between Israeli and UAE filmmakers. We believe there is much that unites our two nations and are proud and happy to be the stepping stone for cultural collaboration that will bring us closer together while creating innovative and fascinating films, which is what we're all about.”
The IFF was established in 1979 in order to assist Israeli filmmakers realize their vision and talent and produce their full length feature film.
Meanwhile, Image Nation Abu Dhabi creates films, TV series, documentaries and entertainment for consumers throughout the world. It is also the first UAE company to have multiple productions stream globally on streaming giant Netflix.
Italian designer Giorgio Armani puts on a flamboyant show in Dubai
Updated 27 October 2021
DUBAI: Italian designer Giorgio Armani put on a flamboyant show in Dubai on Tuesday night, with a stellar guest list to match.
The well-heeled crowd included US actress Sharon Stone, Italy’s 100m Olympic gold medalist Marcell Jacobs, and musician Eric Nam. For the evening’s entertainment — besides the bevvy of gorgeous gowns that were paraded down the runway — the audience was serenaded by Coldplay front man Chris Martin, who jokingly dedicated a song to “everyone here who owns a skyscraper, even if it’s only one skyscraper.”
The silver, palm-tree lined runway, which was located at the Armani hotel at the Burj Khalifa, played host to a showcase of Armani’s Spring 2022 collection and pieces from the Armani Privé couture line.
Menswear also made a strong appearance, with sharp blazers and quirky accessories on show — from liquid velvet workwear to tailored pants perfect for work-to-play needs.
Muslim comedians tour UK to help people get over the pandemic
Starting in London, the Super Muslim Comedy Tour heads north and stops in 10 locations, including Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow
This year’s lineup brings back some of the old favorites, along with some new performers, but none of them were interested in centering their jokes around the pandemic
Updated 26 October 2021
LONDON: After almost two years of lockdowns, restrictions, isolation, and highly contagious variants, could laughter be the best medicine?
The UK Super Muslim Comedy Tour hopes to prove just that, while celebrating the powers of Muslim comedy in aid of charity.
“We weren’t able to do the tour last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and it was difficult for a lot of people because they couldn’t get their entertainment fix that they would normally get — their therapy,” the show’s host, British-Pakistani actor and comedian Abdullah Afzal told Arab News on the sidelines of the tour in Wembley.
“Also for us comedians, because we’re so used to being on stage and performing and suddenly, that was taken away from us, so all the energy that we missed out on last year, we’re bringing it forward into this year, so double the amount of energy, and hopefully we can entertain the crowd double the amount as well.”
Afzal, who is 32 and from Manchester, has hosted the show, which is in its sixth year, but it was canceled in 2020, much like everything else, due to the pandemic.
Starting in London, the tour heads north and stops in 10 locations, including Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow — with all tickets sold out.
“We really hope people come out and really celebrate the diversity in our routine, in our stand up, and the people that come on the stage as well,” said Afzal, who features heavy audience participation in his sets and uses his origin to blend jokes about conventional marriage and modern romance.
This year’s lineup brings back some of the old favorites, along with some new performers, but none of them were interested in centering their jokes around the pandemic.
British-born Fatiha El-Ghorri, originally from Morocco, was back for the second time. Her career has taken off since 2019. She has performed on the Jonathan Ross show “Comedy Club” and on Comedy Central at the Edinburgh Fringe. And then, when the pandemic hit, she took on Zoom.
“The pandemic has been really difficult, but during that time, I was doing a lot of Zoom and online gigs,” she said. “It’s a completely different format, the stage is different, the audience is not in front of you, so it’s really odd when you first do it.”
Relieved and excited to be back to performing physical shows, the 40 year-old from east London is known for pushing the boundaries with her comedy and jokes about her experiences and observations of marriage, relationships, dating, and wearing the hijab.
“I do like to challenge people in my comedy and I like to break stereotypes, but obviously they’re halal jokes because it’s a Muslim tour,” she said, adding that she decided she was not going to use coronavirus as a basis for her jokes during the tour “because it was quite a difficult time for everybody, so I couldn’t see any humor in anything that was happening and I’m just glad it’s starting to get better.”
However, she admitted it was really nerve-wracking because they had not been performing live for a long time.
“You’ll always have nerves because we care about what we do so I’m always nervous on stage, but now I feel like we are all quite nervous being back on stage, but it’s nice to see that it’s packed out, lots of people are here, people have come to laugh.”
Salman Malik, from south London, was relieved that Zoom shows were now reverting back to live ones, and he was happy to see audiences come out in “great numbers.”
In his first time participating in the tour, the 35 year-old Bahraini-Pakistani, who moved to the UK in 2004, uses his Arab-Asian background as a base for most of his material, along with his immigration experience, interracial marriage, and fathering three children.
“I perform comedy in four languages. I do Urdu, English, Punjabi, Hindi and it’s really nice to see that the opportunities are endless and working on my craft, (so) my comedy is basically about my journey coming into the UK, legally.”
Organized by the UK-based Penny Appeal, this year’s proceeds and funds raised will go toward the international humanitarian charity’s Thirst Relief campaign, which helps to provide safe and clean drinking water for deprived communities around the world.
Comedian Prince Abdi, 32, who is known for working with some of the biggest names in the game including Dave Chappelle, Trevor Noah and Chris Rock, wowed the crowd with his impressions and anecdotes of his pranks and antics.
“I’m Somali-British, so I talk about growing up in the ghetto of south London, which is not really a ghetto because I’m from Somalia, you know,” he said.
Abdi came into comedy as part of a bet with friends and, after several failed attempts at the same brutal comedy club, he finally got his first laugh and then “never looked back.”
He has toured Africa, including Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya, and has also performed in the UAE, and said he would love to go all around the Middle East and tell some Arab jokes one day.
“Nothing is easy in life, you have got to work for it, and even now, comedy is still hard and you’re only as good as your last show,” he said.
Abdi joked about his experience of being bored during the pandemic and playing pranks on people to test their racial and cultural curiosity, including walking around town with a picture of himself and asking white people if “they had seen this man?”
“Everyone’s coming together, which is good because laughter is the best medicine. We all need to laugh, especially with all that’s going on around the world.”
Headliner Azeem Muhammad, from St. Louis in Missouri, joined the Penny Appeal tour in 2018 to see if his comedy would “transcend” from the US to Britain, and he has been a growing success ever since.
The fast-talking father-of-seven had the audience in stitches with his family-orientated jokes and audience interactions — and those “who could not keep up (it) was their own fault as they should have gone to university.”
Muhammad, 48, converted to Islam at the age of 17 and, nine years, later embarked on his comedic career.
In 2004, he became one of the founding members of the very first Muslim comedy tour in the world called “Allah Made Me Funny,” which also featured Preacher Bryant Moss and Azhar Usman.
He said that, throughout the years with the tour, he had developed nuances to better translate to the UK’s predominantly Muslim audiences about what it’s like to be a Muslim from the US.
“And then to realize that no matter where we are from, the things that I talk about, which are marriage, divorce, children, jobs, health, the Sunnah (traditions and practices of Prophet Muhammad), those particular things are relatable, they’re universal, and so what normally would separate us now brings us that much closer together.”
Keyaan Hussain, who is 13 and from London, said he found the show really enjoyable, very funny, and quite entertaining, adding his favorite was Muhammad “because of how he interacted more with the audience.”
Ifrah Quraishi, also from London, said it was the first comedy show she had ever been to and was already inquiring about next year’s tour.
“I thought it was amazing, genuinely, my cheeks are hurting (because) I couldn’t stop laughing,” Quraishi, 26, said. “For sure I am definitely up for going to more comedy events like this (and) definitely hoping to come to the next one.”
Three-Michelin starred chef Jason Atherton to open fine dining restaurant in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla
Updated 26 October 2021
RIYADH: AlUla is set to get its first-ever permanent fine-dining restaurant. Maraya Social, helmed by three-michelin star English chef and restaurateur Jason Atherton, will cut the ribbon on its newest location at Saudi Arabia’s UNESCO World Heritage Site on Oct. 27, 2021.
Atherton said in a statement that he “jumped at the chance to be one of the first permanent fine-dining venues in AlUla.”
He added: “My team and I are so impressed by the natural beauty, history and culture of AlUla. I jumped at the chance to be one of the first permanent fine-dining venues in AlUla. The beauty of the Ashar Valley, the native produce and the iconic Maraya architecture are all the ingredients we need for what is sure to be a sought-after destination dining experience.”
Echoing his statement, Phillip Jones, chief destination management and marketing offices, royal commission for AlUla adds: “Maraya Social is set to be a destination restaurant for Middle East and the world. We are delighted for AlUla to be the home of Chef’s first restaurant in Saudi Arabia. AlUla presents a unique opportunity both in terms of the historical setting as well as the untapped pantry of produce and flavors.”
The venue will be located on the rooftop of the mirrored Maraya Hall, offering diners unparalleled 360-degree views of the stunning rock-strewn valleys and canyons of the Ashar Valley as they enjoy a hearty menu featuring seasonal fruits, vegetables and locally-produced ingredients.
“AlUla has an amazing diversity of produce unique to the region and an incredible history and culture which I am excited to explore both in the landscape and in the menu,” said Chef Atherton.
The not-yet-opened restaurant will feature an open-plan design with bespoke furniture made out of luxe fabrics and materials such as silk and cotton in a harmonic color palette, selected to reflect its environment.
Maraya Social will be the newest addition to the Michelin-starred chef’s portfolio of international restaurants as well as his first foray into the Kingdom.
Those who wish to dine at the new venue will be able to make reservations online.
Highlights from Arab Fashion Week so far: From evening gowns to celebrity appearances
Updated 26 October 2021
Arab Fashion Week returned to a physical format this week in Dubai Design District. Read on for everything you may have missed from the first day of the five-day event.
Amato opens the season
The latest iteration of Arab Fashion Week started with a bang, with Dubai-based Filipino designer Furne One of Amato opening the season with a glamorous fashion show punctuated with dramatic evening gowns and heavily-embellished jumpsuits.
Emirati label Euphoria steals the show
Red carpet silhouettes, a harmonious pastel color palette and sparkling sequins made up Emirati label Euphoria’s latest offering, which stole the show on Monday evening.
Ihab Jiryis’s first IRL show
Palestinian designer Ihab Jiryis debuted his first show on calendar last month during the digital edition of Arab Fashion Week. Yesterday, the couturier presented his eponymous eveningwear brand’s first physical fashion show.
Barbie is the new Fashion Icon
Lebanese singer Maya Diab presented the Fashion Icon award to Kim Culmone, Mattel's Vice President of Barbie Design. Diab, who performed on Sunday night, was last year’s recipient of the accolade.
American designer Jeremy Scott receives honor
Moschino designer Jeremy Scott scooped up the Council’s Medal of Honor for Lifetime achievement followed by a fashion show presenting Moschino’s Barbie Spring 2015 ready-to-wear archive collection on Sunday.
The 13-year-old Soprano, who is the winner of the fifth season of Arab Got Talent and finalist of the fourteenth season of America’s Got Talent, took to the stage, wowing audiences with a performance of two Opera songs on Sunday.
Jeddah arts hub Hayy Jameel announces 5-month opening season
Updated 26 October 2021
DUBAI: Jeddah’s new arts hub Hayy Jameel is set to open with a five-month opening season on Dec. 6, 2021, the Art Jameel foundation announced on Tuesday.
The opening season will run from Dec. 6 to April 30, 2022, and will feature a roster of exhibitions and art programs, including “Staple: What’s on your plate?” co-curated by Art Jameel and Delfina Foundation; “Illuminate: a Noor Riyadh Capsule,” featuring major light works by 11 Saudi artists; “Paused Mirror,” a newly-commissioned collection of portraits of Saudi artists by Osama Esid; and the inaugural Hayy Jamel Façade Commission, awarded to Nasser Almulhim.
Workshops, tours and talks will also take place throughout the five-month season.
The opening season includes more than 45 artists and researchers from around 20 countries and features existing and newly-commissioned works by 19 Saudi artists.
Hayy Jameel, a 17,000-square-meter cultural complex, is designed by waiwai, an award-winning multidisciplinary architecture studio with offices in Dubai and Tokyo. Hayy Jameel’s building design has received multiple architectural accolades, including Gold in the Hong Kong Design Awards and Silver in the New York Design Awards.
Fady Jameel, Chairman and Founder of Art Jameel, commented: “Hayy Jameel’s opening has been 20 years in the making and marks the celebration of over three-quarters of a century of Jameel philanthropic and community activities – manifesting at a dynamic moment and exceptionally exciting time for cultural life in Saudi Arabia.”
Director of Art Jameel Antonia Carver added: “Hayy Jameel opens in concert with a robust cultural calendar in Saudi, from coast to coast, including the launch of the first Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale, Red Sea International Film Festival, Misk Art Week, Tuwaiq International Sculpture Symposium and many more. Since its early days, Art Jameel’s working model has always been collaborative, dynamic and cross-disciplinary, complementing existing infrastructures while creating opportunities for alignment and expansion. Hayy Jameel has come at the right time, in the right city where contemporary art meets a history shaped by trade and tradition.”