Architect Hani Rashid: ‘We should design things that elevate our sense of what it is to be human’

Architect Hani Rashid: ‘We should design things that elevate our sense of what it is to be human’
Hani Rashid recently designed a large sports complex to be built in Qiddiya Entertainment City — Qiddiya Sport Park. (Supplied)
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Updated 09 April 2021

Architect Hani Rashid: ‘We should design things that elevate our sense of what it is to be human’

Architect Hani Rashid: ‘We should design things that elevate our sense of what it is to be human’
  • The acclaimed architect discusses the importance of cultural heritage in design

LONDON: Architect Hani Rashid has a clear-sighted view of what his profession entails.

“For me our job is to bring out the best in people and their culture and put it into permanent reality — into buildings that might last for many lifetimes. That’s a big responsibility. Everything else we think we ‘must’ do as architects — help make clients wealthy, design icons as shrines to individuals or large entities, or embellish skylines — is all nonsense. That’s not really our job,” he told Arab News.

Rashid stressed the importance of societies retaining their own unique identities.




Hani Rashid. (Nick Kova)

“Every culture carries beautifully rich and powerful traditions. Unfortunately, at times, we see that a self-inflicted neurosis and sense of misplaced shame sets in with certain cultures, and that (often) has a great deal to do with the dominance of another more powerful culture at its doorstep that makes people feel their roots and heritage need to be questioned and at times discarded. It happened historically in countries like India and Egypt under British rule, and in many ways American culture has prevailed throughout the world and at times impacted places not necessarily always for the better,” he said.

Rashid’s father’s work as an artist meant his family moved around a lot. Rashid was born in Cairo to an Egyptian father and English mother, but lived in Italy, Algeria, the UK and Canada as a child. He credits this experience for developing his sensitivity to other cultures.

“I had to speak Italian fluently as a kid in Rome. I had to speak French in Algeria. I had to get along with the kids in the playground in London. In my teenage years in Canada, I played hockey and picked up a Canadian accent,” he said. “Now, after almost three decades of living in New York, I have essentially become a New Yorker. I am a sort of cultural sponge with a desire to understand and immerse myself in places as deeply as I can.”




Hani Rashid and his partner Lise Anne Couture designed the W Abu Dhabi –Yas Island hotel. (Supplied)

He recalled, for example, how on his first visit to Madinah he was captivated by the “surreal and impressive” urban atmosphere. “I arrived at four in the morning during Eid and the streets and mosques were teeming with people from all over the world. I was overwhelmed and fascinated by the whole place, its remarkable spirituality and celebration of the beauty and power of the human spirit,” he said.

When Rashid and his partner Lise Anne Couture, co-founders of the New York based architectural firm Asymptote, designed the W Abu Dhabi –Yas Island hotel, which spans the UAE capital’s Formula One racetrack, they paid special attention to local traditions and culture. Their design, Rashid explained, incorporated rich abstract artistry “taken in particular from looking at the nomadic traditions of movement across the desert combined with the precision of ancient Islamic art and craft traditions, as well as architecture.”

“When the Grand Prix runs every year, about 700 million people around the world tune in to watch the spectacle,” he added. “With each lap, the building is featured in live feeds and I feel this brings civic pride to the region.”




Asymptote Architecture's design for Qiddiya Sport Park. (Supplied)

His work has taken him all over the world with projects in the Middle East, the US, China, Russia, Azerbaijan, South Korea, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Belgium, and Asymptote Architecture has won numerous awards in recognition of its contributions to the progress and merging of art and architecture.

Progress has its drawbacks, though, Rashid warned. While he is impressed with the ambition to utilize advanced technological innovation in architecture — a trend that is increasingly prevalent in the Gulf region — he believes there also needs to be a better understanding of the nature of the buildings and the relationship people will have with their immediate surroundings.

“I am a very big believer that architecture has to inspire — has to be powerful and beautiful. I think for the moment there is a little bit too much of an emphasis on the technological aspects and not enough on the human side of the equation,” he said. “It’s one of my pet peeves that many architects are too busy justifying their work through technology and catchphrases like ‘environmental sustainability’ and ‘intelligent’ building. As a profession we need to stand back and realize that we owe it to the world to design some remarkably beautiful things that not only solve problems but inspire and elevate our sense of what it is to be human.”




Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture in New York in 2008. (Getty Images)

Rashid recently designed a large sports complex to be built in Qiddiya Entertainment City — Qiddiya Sport Park — and said he has been approached for possible hotels and hospital projects in NEOM, but that discussions are still in the early stages.

In March, Rashid participated in Healing Arts London, a five-day cultural program in response to the mental health crisis caused by COVID-19, presented by Culturunners’ “The Future is Unwritten” as part of the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Series of Events.

Over the past year, Rashid has been looking at the design of future hospitals and how medical networks could function better. He has researched this subject with his students at the Institute of Architecture at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, where he holds the post of International Dean.




Over the past year, Rashid has been looking at the design of future hospitals and how medical networks could function better. (Supplied)

“When we design luxury hotels or residential towers, we spend a lot of time on the public lobbies and spaces and consider what a person feels when they enter a building,” Rashid said. “That thinking should be the same for a hospital — you should feel welcome in a well-designed, beautiful environment with all the amenities you would need in any public realm.”

He believes the pandemic will cause some major shifts in both working and living patterns.

“All of us are going to come out of this pandemic and realize we have to make the most of our surroundings. In architecture and design we are going to see a drive to make the most of our local situation and not see the local as something of less value than places that are far away,” he said.

“Also, there is no doubt we will see less focus on the office environment as we have known it. The idea that to be productive you have to work in a 50-plus-story skyscraper and sit shoulder-to-shoulder in a room full of other people with potentially no operable windows, is a scene we will one day look back on in the same way that today we look back on people crammed into factories in the late 19th century,” he concluded.    


UAE-based designer Lina Mane faces challenges head on in fashion competition

UAE-based designer Lina Mane faces challenges head on in fashion competition
Updated 28 September 2021

UAE-based designer Lina Mane faces challenges head on in fashion competition

UAE-based designer Lina Mane faces challenges head on in fashion competition

DUBAI: UAE-based designer Lina Mane’s passion for fashion led her to challenge herself by joining an international competition with online fashion retailer Shein.

Hundreds of designers from around the world joined the SHEIN X program, which challenges designers to compete for a chance to win $100,000 and be featured in the retailer’s Fall/Winter 2021 fashion showcase. 

Featuring a star-studded panel of judges including Khloé Kardashian, Law Roach, Christian Siriano, Jenna Lyons and Laurel Pantin, the SHEIN X 100K Challenge is a program that supports young, diverse creatives and designers. For the competition, participants go through the process of designing, from the inception phase to sampling, production, and distribution.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by L’MANE (@lmanedesigns)

“I was really excited to be part of this competition because it allows me to share my knowledge and my designs with others,” Mane, who was among 30 designers shortlisted for the competition, said in an interview with Arab News. 

The designer, who is of Indian descent, launched her label L’Mane in 2015. 

With design experience in diverse fashion capitals like Mumbai and Milan, Mane said she tries to adapt her work to both the global market needs and her design interests. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by L’MANE (@lmanedesigns)

Although the designer did not win the competition, she said that SHEIN X taught her a lot. 

“The aesthetics of L’Mane is believing in slow fashion,” she said. “When Shein approached me, I found it to be a good experience to understand the fast fashion industry.”

The theme of the competition was “be bold,” said Mane. Mane and the contestants had a few weeks to bring their designs to life.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by L’MANE (@lmanedesigns)

“I learned how to manage things in very little time,” she said. Mane created the designs, printed the fabrics, executed the designs, did a photoshoot and delivered the pieces in the span of three-and-a-half weeks.

She designed a pair of pants, a shirt, a kimono and two dresses.

“It was tough, but it was a really great experience,” she explained. “Fashion is not just clothes, it has a lot of meaning behind it and a lot of hard work.” 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by L’MANE (@lmanedesigns)

The winner, announced earlier this week, is the Canadian founder Sasha Ruddock of the brand Flaws of Couture. The brand’s collection was showcased during the live broadcast of Shein Fall/Winter 2021 fashion showcase on Sept. 27. 

Mane is currently preparing for her Spring/Summer 2022 collection, which will launch in October. 

Her designs have so far been worn by stars from around the world, including Bollywood superstar Kareena Kapoor and Syrian singer Farah Yousef. 


Newly premiered ‘The Devil’s Drivers’ follows West Bank outlaws

Newly premiered ‘The Devil’s Drivers’ follows West Bank outlaws
Updated 28 September 2021

Newly premiered ‘The Devil’s Drivers’ follows West Bank outlaws

Newly premiered ‘The Devil’s Drivers’ follows West Bank outlaws

TORONTO: The Toronto International Film Festival recently hosted the premiere of the documentary thriller “The Devil’s Drivers,” which follows Hamouda, leader of a group of drivers smuggling Palestinian men looking for work into Israel.

“He’s working for everyone and taking everyone’s burden,” filmmaker Daniel Carsenty told Arab News. “I think that’s something that I or we as filmmakers can identify a lot because in a way, he’s a tragic figure. But he’s also a hopeful, strong character and this makes us just fall in love with him.”

The film took eight years to make, with the first year just spent building trust and eventually being accepted by the secretive group.

“They come to us with crazy stories,” fellow documentarian Mohammed Abugeth shared. “That the wheel of the car was damaged and six or seven workers took up the car and changed the wheel and then a pursuit with the police and we understand why he didn’t answer us for three days.”

Filming was unpredictable, with the drivers on the run from the Israeli authorities. Many went to prison, including Hamouda, who missed the birth of his son.

“They caught seven out of nine,” said Carsenty. “We were in car number two. Car three to car nine all disappeared on that day.”

“For one or two years,” Abugeth added. “We’re looking, ‘how can we film this stuff?’”

Carsenty continued, “we returned two years later, one year later and the people were like ‘Oh, we just returned too.’”

The filmmakers hope that the documentary will be seen by Israeli audiences and make a difference in the region.

“Hamouda always asked me ‘what will change for me with this film, for us?’ And I always didn’t know what to answer him. How can I change the situation, the region’s situation?” Abugeth said. 

“Let’s see if this film changes something or not but for me I did my best to show the reality.”


Food trends to spot in 2022: Seasonal offerings, healthy choices and more

As time flies by and we near the end of 2021, those in the food and beverage industry are beginning to anticipate what’s in the pipeline for 2022. (Instagram: @CASSETTE)
As time flies by and we near the end of 2021, those in the food and beverage industry are beginning to anticipate what’s in the pipeline for 2022. (Instagram: @CASSETTE)
Updated 28 September 2021

Food trends to spot in 2022: Seasonal offerings, healthy choices and more

As time flies by and we near the end of 2021, those in the food and beverage industry are beginning to anticipate what’s in the pipeline for 2022. (Instagram: @CASSETTE)

Haider Madani is one of the co-owners and founder of Cassette, a creative hub and café in Dubai’s Al Quoz.

DUBAI: As time flies by and we near the end of 2021, those in the food and beverage industry are beginning to anticipate what’s in the pipeline for 2022. From trends to get on board with and trends to ditch to shifts in produce sourcing, ingredients and people’s dining habits, there are a few key changes bubbling behind the scenes that are set to become the norm when the new year comes.  

At Cassette, we have always aligned our offering with what our customers want, while staying true to our ethos of providing an artistic hub for great food, coffee and vibe. 2022 will be no different, but here are 3 trends you’ll see at our café, the UAE and beyond.

Haider Madani is one of the co-owners and founder of Cassette, a creative hub and café in Dubai’s Al Quoz. (Supplied)

Seasonal is key

As owners and operators of restaurants, cafés and eateries in the UAE, we have a duty of care to support local producers and farmers by using seasonal produce as much as possible. This will become even more important as we head into 2022, with increased efforts being put on organic, sustainably-grown seasonal produce within farms and greenhouses — something we all need to get behind in order for the region’s “farm to table” revolution to take flight.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by CASSETTE (@cassettedxb)

Nutrient-rich menus

Perhaps another ongoing trend is that people have become more balanced in their eating habits and as a result, how they approach dining out. At Cassette, we are often asked about the calorie count in dishes, which we have readily on-hand to share. This allows our diners to make choices that fit with their lifestyle without having to compromise on a tasty and memorable dining experience.

With this in mind, restaurants and cafes need to rethink how they cater to these changes, particularly when it comes to offering diverse menus with plenty of healthy options. The past two years have been about compromise and balance in all aspects of life — with food being no exception to this rule.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by CASSETTE (@cassettedxb)

Bring back favorites

Everyone has a family recipe, passed on from generation to generation and shaped into a core dish loved by all. Restaurants and cafés are no different. All food and beverage outlets – whether it’s a fine dining restaurant or a hole-in-the-wall establishment – have dishes that bring people back time and time again.

While fleeting trends will always have their place in the food world (I’m talking cronuts and croffles), it’s the reliable menu staples that are most important to retain customers and help form a loyal community that will make your restaurant or café their own.

One way to celebrate the creativity of your culinary talent in the kitchen is through a rotation menu of weekly specials. At Cassette, we use our specials to shake things up and see what flavor combinations and ingredients are resonating with people at the moment. For example, a humble yet flavor-packed duck sandwich on a weekly specials menu received so much hype that we left it on the menu for a second week, showing that your customer’s feedback should be a guiding light as you move into 2022.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by CASSETTE (@cassettedxb)


Lebanese influencer Nathalie Fanj shows off street style at Paris Fashion Week

Lebanese influencer Nathalie Fanj has attended Paris Fashion Week a number of times. (File/ Getty Images)Lebanese influencer Nathalie Fanj has attended Paris Fashion Week a number of times. (File/ Getty Images)
Lebanese influencer Nathalie Fanj has attended Paris Fashion Week a number of times. (File/ Getty Images)
Updated 28 September 2021

Lebanese influencer Nathalie Fanj shows off street style at Paris Fashion Week

Lebanese influencer Nathalie Fanj has attended Paris Fashion Week a number of times. (File/ Getty Images)Lebanese influencer Nathalie Fanj has attended Paris Fashion Week a number of times. (File/ Getty Images)

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia-based Lebanese influencer Nathalie Fanj hit the streets of Paris on Monday, just in time for the city’s fashion week.

The style influencer kicked things off with a visit to the Hermes workshop to get a behind-the-scenes tour of how the luxury bags are made and restored, just before the French label celebrated the launch of a new product line, which was announced earlier this year.

Titled Les Mains Hermes, the collection features hand and nail care products. The line boasts a hand cream with white mulberry extract, a nourishing oil for nails and cuticles, a protective base coat, nail enamels in 24 shades, a top coat, and a set of nail files.

Fanj took to Instagram Stories to share footage of the workshop tour, as well as the buzzing post-tour cocktail reception, with her one million followers. She also posted a carousel of photographers on her feed, showing off her outfit for the day.

The influencer and mother-of-two looked chic in Paris in a black-and-green ensemble courtesy of Italian label Bottega Veneta, which she paired with a Hermes bag in a suitably on-trend shade of sharp green.

While she is no stranger to showing off luxury designs in front of street style paparazzi, Fanj also has experience of designing her own accessories and recently worked with Lebanese jewelry label L’Atelier Nawbar on a 1990s-inspired capsule collection of six unique rings.

Titled “Jem Pop,” the vibrant capsule was released in April and is a chic spin on the plastic jewelry trend that has taken over social media feeds as of late.

The six rings in the nostalgic collection are gold-plated statement pieces that are handmade by fine jewelry artisans. Featuring enameling techniques and intricate detailing, the collection drew inspiration from nostalgic ‘90s elements such as cassette tapes, yin-yangs and smiley faces.

Fanj and the L’Atelier Nawbar’s creative directors, sisters Dima and Tania Nawbar, are ‘90s kids who grew up loving and admiring the decade’s trends.

“I remember growing up in the ‘90s and being so inspired by my sisters who were teenagers then and how they dressed,” said Fanj in a released statement. “I own a lot of clothing items and jewelry from the ‘90s that I will never stop wearing,” she added.


Saudi-led fashion label Ramzen presents new collection in Milan

Saudi-led fashion label Ramzen presents new collection in Milan
Updated 27 September 2021

Saudi-led fashion label Ramzen presents new collection in Milan

Saudi-led fashion label Ramzen presents new collection in Milan

DUBAI: Saudi fashion house Ramzen presented its Spring/Summer 2022 collection this week on the sidelines of Milan Fashion Week. 

The collection, according to the brand, celebrates “Gioia di Vivere” which means “the Joy of Life.” 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by R A M Z E N (@ramzenworld)

The brand’s new offerings for women and men feature luxurious, contemporary designs in bright colors. 

The show was inspired by the new Italy-based brand’s shared “global experience of joy after a difficult time of sacrifice.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by R A M Z E N (@ramzenworld)

Earlier this month, the label, who’s designer and creative director is Abdul Al-Romaizan, announced that the US pop singer Jack Gilinsky was selected to be the face of men’s Spring/Summer 2022 campaign. 

The fashion house’s first collection was released for Fall/Winter 2021. It featured casual and formal designs that are inspired by the 80s.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by R A M Z E N (@ramzenworld)

Al-Romaizan’s brand offers fashion and lifestyle products that are inspired by his early-80s childhood. 

Al-Romaizan was born in Saudi Arabia, raised in Milan and studied in the US.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by R A M Z E N (@ramzenworld)

“I am driven by passion and filled with optimism as we prepare to unveil this collection, which honors my heritage as well as the current vision for Saudi Arabia,” said Al-Romaizan in a statement ahead of his show. 

“Arab men are powerfully discriminating and elegant in both attitude and appearance; Saudi women were among the first to dress in haute couture, and they have a commanding presence in the fashion and beauty industry worldwide,” he added. “I am fully devoted to defying their expectations for quality of construction, elegance and sheer uniqueness, while offering men and women the world over contemporary evening wear unlike anything they’ve ever worn.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by R A M Z E N (@ramzenworld)

According to the label’s website, Ramzen is the first European fashion house to be run by a Saudi designer, “and its debut represents the realization of a long-held dream for Al-Romaizan.”