Egyptian puppet Abla Fahita poses for sportswear giant Adidas 

Egyptian puppet Abla Fahita poses for sportswear giant Adidas 
The puppet’s latest venture is a collaboration with German sportswear giant Adidas. (Instagram)
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Updated 06 April 2021

Egyptian puppet Abla Fahita poses for sportswear giant Adidas 

Egyptian puppet Abla Fahita poses for sportswear giant Adidas 

DUBAI: From a widely popular satirical show to a Netflix series, Egyptian puppet Abla Fahita has been making headlines in the region. 

The puppet’s latest venture is a collaboration with German sportswear giant Adidas, which was revealed on Monday. 

Fahita, in the campaign images shared on the puppet’s Instagram account, posed wearing the label’s famous Stan Smith sneakers that have now become “more sustainable,” according to the brand.

 

The puppet also championed Adidas socks and a jacket, which were paired with a pink skirt. To complete the look, Fahita opted for a green wig to match the brand’s initiative to go green and to “end plastic waste.” 

Just last month, Fahita’s first Netflix series, “Drama Queen,” arrived on Netflix. The six-episode series sees the puppet star in an action-packed comedy adventure alongside her children Caro and Boudi, and actors Bassem Samra, Donia Maher, and Osama Abdallah. 

The puppet character was created and is voiced by Egyptian Hatem El-Kashef. The character Fahita is a housewife with two sons and first appeared on screens in 2011.


‘Art is central to social change’ says Saudi Arabia’s Princess Lamia bint Majed Al-Saud

‘Art is central to social change’ says Saudi Arabia’s Princess Lamia bint Majed Al-Saud
Updated 15 min 7 sec ago

‘Art is central to social change’ says Saudi Arabia’s Princess Lamia bint Majed Al-Saud

‘Art is central to social change’ says Saudi Arabia’s Princess Lamia bint Majed Al-Saud

DUBAI: In honor of World Art Day — celebrated on April 15 — Saudi Arabia’s Princess Lamia bint Majed Al-Saud, secretary-general and member of the Board of Trustees at Alwaleed Philanthropies, shared her view on how art and creativity have “the power to shape our future; whether social, cultural, or economic.”

In an article she wrote, published on Vogue Arabia on Thursday, the daughter of Prince Majed bin Saud, son of King Saud bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, said: “Art is central, not peripheral, to social change.”

Princess Lamia bint Majed Al-Saud and Princess Sama bint Faisal Al-Saud at Prince Sultan University, which is one of the first two universities to be onboard. (Supplied)

“Art, in all of its forms, enhances cultural understanding while addressing social issues, increasing economic opportunities, and contributing to a more tolerant, prosperous world,” she said. “Today, on the occasion of World Art Day, we celebrate art as a veritable catalyst for social action, one that continues to facilitate local action and broader social change.”

She penned the article as Saudi Arabia’s art scene continues to grow with the successful participation of Saudi galleries at Art Dubai 2021 and a slew of local art fairs and initiatives by the Misk Art Foundation.  

Muhannad Shono’s piece called “The Fifth Sun” was on display at Jeddah’s Athr Gallery. (Supplied)

The princess also discussed the goals of Alwaleed Philanthropies — a charitable organization, chaired by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al-Saud, which collaborates with a range of philanthropic, governmental and educational institutions to combat poverty, empower women and youth, develop communities, provide disaster relief and create cultural understanding through education.

Princess Lamia said: “We understand the important role that the creative industries play in meeting the sustainable development agenda…We believe that art inspires feeling and emotion while providing a window through which people can explore different perspectives.”

“A Blink of an Eye” by Fatima Al-Banawai was on display at Jeddah’s Athr Gallery. (Supplied)

The princess added that through the organization’s partnership with the Louvre Museum in Paris and the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Alwaleed Philanthropies has built the Islamic Learning Centers, donating $26 million to provide that window. 

“We enable people to peer into the deep history and culture of the Islamic world, a realm that has been historically overlooked,” she explained. 

For four decades, Alwaleed Philanthropies has supported and spent more than $4 billion on social welfare, initiating over 1,000 projects in 189 countries, managed by 10 Saudi female members and reaching more than 1 billion beneficiaries around the world.


World Art Day: How creativity can add a little color to your child’s life – and help development

World Art Day: How creativity can add a little color to your child’s life – and help development
Updated 10 min 44 sec ago

World Art Day: How creativity can add a little color to your child’s life – and help development

World Art Day: How creativity can add a little color to your child’s life – and help development
  • Some experts believe that art can enhance a child’s skill sets and add color to their development
  • Practicing art at home can both keep children busy and help to build more meaningful connections with parents

DUBAI: Children enter this world as blank slates, which is what makes parenting both exciting and daunting – and to mark World Art Day on April 15 we look at the importance of helping your child appreciate the arts.

It can be hard to figure out what to teach your child, and ensuring they explore, appreciate and connect with art – in all its forms – can end up taking a backseat.

However, some experts believe that art — from drawing to dancing to visiting galleries — can enhance a child’s skill sets and add color to their development.

(Shutterstock)

Jessica Rosslee, a clinical psychologist at Dubai’s Thrive, said artistic expression should be part of all children’s upbringing, as it is a universal language.

“Creativity doesn’t have any set requirements, it doesn’t need a specific language, skill or any qualification, it ultimately meets the child where they are at,” she said.

Rosslee said it is vital to incorporate art in children’s learning experience as it has a positive impact on their emotional, social and cognitive development.

“Art serves as a creative outlet for children’s emotions, so in essence art helps children to regulate their emotions.”

(Shutterstock)

When kids practice art, they are also engaging in conversations with their peers and adults, which helps hone their social skills, Rosslee said.

But art also helps kids’ brains develop better.

“Research mentions that neural connections are being made at a rapid rate during the brain’s early years. So activities such as drawing, painting... these wire the brain for successful learning, so ultimately the brain gets the opportunity of developing and getting strengthened,” Rosslee said.

The benefits of incorporating art into your child’s life extends beyond practice, as looking at and examining art can also have a great impact on development.

(Shutterstock)

“It exposes them to a rich and educational environment, it serves as an opportunity to explore the child’s curiosities, children learn a whole new vocabulary when they enter the world of art, they build their cultural awareness, they learn to observe, describe and analyze and interpret the art that’s in front of them, they are utilizing critical thinking skills,” Rosslee said.

As the pandemic continues and we are still confined by social distancing rules, practicing art at home can both keep children busy and help to build more meaningful connections with parents.

For that reason, KidzLoveArt in Dubai will soon launch art boxes for children, which are filled with all the required materials and equipment to work at home.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Kidz Love Art (@kidzloveart)

We spoke to the founder Denise Schmitz about the inspiration behind creating a children’s chapter of her adult-focused company WeLoveArt.

“I really believe, like Picasso, that we are all born as artists, and it is our responsibility as adults to positively nurture that creative spark,” she said.

Schmitz believes that art can help to instil confidence in children, but it is the parents’ responsibility to make that work.

“When you teach children with positivity and encouragement, they will feel safe, confident and proud of every work they create,” she said.

Schmitz said parents can encourage their children by showing admiration for their work and putting it up on display.

Nausheen Shamsher, an independent PR consultant and the mother of 12-year-old Amatullah, said enrolling her daughter with a private art tutor was “the best decision ever.”

“It helped her to refine her work, as well as focus and channel her energies to think out of the box. It has also helped improve her concentration, her approach to things is more positive and she sees and identifies colors and life in everything around her,” she said.

Encouraging children to engage in artistic expression at home can open up their world and help to build more meaningful connections, while they strive to reach their full potential.


THE ROUNDUP – Pop-culture highlights from the region

THE ROUNDUP – Pop-culture highlights from the region
Updated 15 April 2021

THE ROUNDUP – Pop-culture highlights from the region

THE ROUNDUP – Pop-culture highlights from the region

FREEK

The Dubai-based, UAE-born Somalian MC — one of the leading figures in the Arabic drill scene — released new single, “Kafi,” late last month, ahead of a new album due to drop at the end of May. “Kafi” isn’t typical of Freek’s repertoire, it’s calmer, but with a strong lyrical message. In a press release, he described it as an “emotional” track that “tackles the issue of child abuse … and how children deal with it.”

HUDA LUTFI

The veteran Egyptian artist’s latest solo show, “Our Black Thread,” is currently running in Cairo’s Gypsum Gallery. It consists of hand-sewn, embroidered works that began as improvisations on organza teabags. “She asks what form of intentionality separates craft from art,” a gallery statement read. “She (uses) repetition as a formal statement on endurance and resistance.”

DB GAD

The 28-year-old Egyptian rapper released his new track “Mooga” (Waves) this month. It’s a song inspired by the well-known novel “The Life of Pi,” he explained in a press release. “As lonely and emotional as one can get when leaving your home and the ones you love, sometimes you have to let go and just go with the waves,” Gad said.

MARWAN PABLO

The Egyptian MC and trap pioneer formerly known as Dama made an unexpected comeback from his ‘retirement’ (announced last year) in late February, releasing a hard-hitting new song called “Ghaba” (Jungle), the video for which has now racked up more than 13 million views on YouTube. It was followed up in late March by the release of “CTRL” — a five-track EP.


Editor, co-writer Hind Shoufani discusses Oscar-nominated short ‘The Present’

Editor, co-writer Hind Shoufani discusses Oscar-nominated short ‘The Present’
Updated 15 April 2021

Editor, co-writer Hind Shoufani discusses Oscar-nominated short ‘The Present’

Editor, co-writer Hind Shoufani discusses Oscar-nominated short ‘The Present’
  • ‘We created something that speaks to what an occupation takes away from people,’ Shoufani says

BEIRUT: “It’s immensely surprising, and a step in the right direction for the Academy,” says

Palestinian-American filmmaker, writer and poet, Hind Shoufani, of this year’s list of Oscar-nominated short films. “They’re looking at diversity, women’s voices, underrepresented minorities; they’re paying attention to intense, conflict-driven and truthful stories.”

One such story was crafted by Shoufani and compatriot Farah Nabulsi. “The Present” — directed by Nabulsi — has already won a BAFTA in the British Short Film category and is nominated for Best Live Action Short Film at this month’s Academy Awards.

Shoufani believes that “The Present” owes much of its capacity to resonate with so many people to its authenticity (it was shot in the West Bank) and the simplicity of the story. (Supplied)

Available on Netflix, “The Present” chronicles a day in the life of Yousef, compellingly depicted by renowned Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri, who sets out across the West Bank to buy a birthday gift for his wife. His 10-year-old daughter, played by the talented Mariam Kanj, joins him on a journey peppered with the injustice and humiliation emblematic of the daily plight of people living in the Occupied Territories.

Shoufani — a Fulbright scholar born to Palestinian parents in 1978 in Lebanon who has lived between Damascus, Amman, Beirut, New York and Dubai — explains that the partnership between Nabulsi and herself was “collaborative and fruitful.” The director supplied the film’s overarching themes and inspiring narrative threads and Shoufani fleshed them out in script and dialogue, introducing crucial plot elements, such as the daughter as a character.

“We had long sessions where we would go through different drafts of the script, talk through scenes and negotiate ideas,” says Shoufani, who also edited the film. “We ended up creating something that speaks to the heart of what an occupation takes away from people, in terms of agency and the ordinary ability to have freedom of movement and dignity.”

“The Present” is available on Netflix. (Supplied)

Shoufani believes that “The Present” owes much of its capacity to resonate with so many people to its authenticity (it was shot in the West Bank) and the simplicity of the story.

“Most people nowadays don’t want to sit for two hours and watch a highly nuanced, socioeconomic/class-driven, ethnographically correct, anthropologically dense film,” she says. “We don’t try to explain the past 70 years of Zionism, we don’t moralize or make grandstanding political statements... Instead, you have this ordinary man with a beautiful daughter whom anyone would only want to protect and love. Your natural human instinct is to want to keep this little girl safe and make sure she’s okay.”

And while Bakri’s Yousef is seemingly the protagonist, it is ultimately Kanj’s portrayal of Yasmine that steals the show and infuses the film with a powerful message. “She has a strong hand in how the story resolves. It’s about the power of youth and women. It’s inspiring but also heartbreaking. And it gives us an opportunity to appreciate the strength and determination of this 10-year-old kid.”

“The Present” chronicles a day in the life of Yousef, compellingly depicted by renowned Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri, who sets out across the West Bank to buy a birthday gift for his wife. (Supplied)

Shoufani passionately praises everyone involved, especially Palestinian producer Ossama Bawardi. “I introduced Ossama to Farah, and I couldn’t be happier for him — he put this crew together in the West Bank and did all he could to get this film out into the world. He really believed in it, and I want to give him a shout-out because he’s just awesome.”

Though “bewildered” and “astounded” by the industry’s acclaim for “The Present,” Shoufani is equally thrilled by many of her other endeavors, including two personal projects that are close to her heart.

One is “They Planted Strange Trees,” her upcoming film that documents “the various identities of the Christian minorities in the Galilee,” where Shoufani’s family is from. While being intrigued “to explore indigenous communities that people don’t really talk about much around the world,” the journey is also very personal. “It’s also about reconnecting with my family, and what it means to not belong, and yet very much belong there.”

“They Planted Strange Trees” is her upcoming film that documents “the various identities of the Christian minorities in the Galilee.” (Supplied) 

The other is a four-part series that captures the stories of four female Arab poets and draws its working title — “Poeticians” — from a group that Shoufani founded. “We’ve filmed in five or six Arab countries for eight years, and I’m trying to create a purely video-art-driven essay on taking poetry into a visual language. I can’t imagine anything more beautiful than making films that are based on poems.”

In the short term, however, she is very much looking forward to seeing how “The Present” does at the Oscars.

“I think it is vital that global audiences see this film, and I’m proud to be part of that experience,” she says. “As Palestinians, we have an unending array of stories to bring to life, because of our diaspora, our fight, our complex history and our strength. And, yes, our profound beauty as people.”


US-Palestinian actor Mo Amer to star in DC Comics’ ‘Black Adam’

It is still unknown what role Mo Amer will play. (Instagram)
It is still unknown what role Mo Amer will play. (Instagram)
Updated 14 April 2021

US-Palestinian actor Mo Amer to star in DC Comics’ ‘Black Adam’

It is still unknown what role Mo Amer will play. (Instagram)

DUBAI: US-Palestinian stand-up comedian Mohammed Amer, who goes by the name Mo Amer, is set to star alongside US actor Dwayne Johnson in the new superhero movie “Black Adam.”

The action-adventure thriller is DC Comics’ long-awaited follow-up to 2019’s commercial hit “Shazam!” with the two characters, Shazam and Black Adam, being rivals in the DC Universe.

It is still unknown what role Amer will play.

 

 

The talent is famous for his role in the award-winning Hulu sitcom “Ramy,” in which he stars as US-Egyptian actor Ramy Youssef’s Muslim cousin who owns a diner. Amer also has a Netflix comedy special called “Mo Amer: The Vagabond.” 

Amer is not the only Arab actor in the cast. Tunisian-Dutch “Aladdin” star Marwan Kenzari confirmed in February that he is also starring in the movie, alongside actors Noah Centineo, Aldis Hodge and Quintessa Swindell.

 

 

Johnson, otherwise known as “The Rock” from his professional wrestling days, announced he was taking part in “Black Adam” two years ago on Instagram: “This role is unlike any other I’ve ever played in my career and I’m grateful to the bone we’ll all go on this journey together,” he wrote at the time. 

The movie was supposed to be released in December 2021, but was pushed back due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Production is expected to begin in April in Atlanta.

According to Deadline, “Black Adam” is set for release in July 2022.