London’s renowned Greek favorite Meraki offers Riyadh a taste of Greece

London’s renowned Greek favorite Meraki offers Riyadh a taste of Greece
The restaurant opened in the UK capital in 2017 and recently launched in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)
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Updated 29 April 2021

London’s renowned Greek favorite Meraki offers Riyadh a taste of Greece

London’s renowned Greek favorite Meraki offers Riyadh a taste of Greece
  • Meraki opens its doors in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Ask anyone in London where to find great Greek food and their list will surely include Meraki. The restaurant opened in the UK capital in 2017 and recently launched in Saudi Arabia.

“From the very first day we received an extraordinary welcome from our customers in Riyadh. Given that many people from the Kingdom have visited us at Meraki in London, we felt that they were looking forward to welcoming us in Riyadh too,” Meraki’s chef Athinagoras Kostakos told Arab News.

Meraki’s bright interior calls to mind the warmth and relaxation of the Mediterranean shores and has quickly become a social hub for the city by night — particularly in the lounge area and bar seating where guests can enjoy a mocktail after their meals.




Meraki’s bright interior calls to mind the warmth and relaxation of the Mediterranean shores and has quickly become a social hub for the city by night.  (Supplied)

We’d recommend reserving a table near the floor-to-ceiling windows to enjoy the great views of the Faisaliah tower and the the city lights. They are the most popular seats, and tend to fill up very quickly.

So Meraki has the ambience and views covered, for sure. But the real question for any Greek restaurant is: How authentic is the food?

Meraki’s seafood is extremely fresh, which is always a good start. The excellent salt-crusted sea bass is a perfect example of the level of quality you can expect. The restaurant only orders around 30 fish each night, so if you’re a seafood lover reserve an early slot, because the limited supply sells out quickly.




Garides tiger prawns, served with a tomato mayo and herb lemon oil. (Supplied)

We begin our meal with a mocktail from the Meraki bar — famed for its unique blended concoctions. For those with a sweet tooth, we’d recommend the Anixi — a blood-orange and grapefruit base with butterfly-pea flower tea and peach shrub, topped with roses. The Heraklion is a refreshing, more-tangy option, with a mixed-berry base, oranges, peaches, and soda. Both drinks are not only delicious but definitely Insta-worthy.

Meraki offers hot and cold appetizers. Two highlights for us were the Meraki Tzatziki and the flatbread with tarama and zaatar. Order the pair and dip the extra flatbread in the fresh creamy homemade tzatziki sauce — you won't regret it. The tzatziki — mint, dill, and courgette mixed into fresh greek yogurt — makes the perfect companion to the soft-but-crisp bread.




Athinagoras Kostakos is Meraki’s chef. (Supplied)

As mentioned, if you’re opting for seafood for your main course, then the salt-crusted sea bass — which arrives at your table quite literally in flames for another great photo opp before being taken back to the kitchen for plating — is a great choice, not least because the delicious crisp fish, served with lemon-herb dressing and kale, can easily be shared between two or three people. But be warned: It sells out quick.

We also tried the juicy Garides tiger prawns, which are served with a tomato mayo and herb lemon oil. They were not bad, but nowhere near as good as the bass.

If you’re too late for the fish dishes — or if you’re not a fan of seafood — then you can’t go wrong with the the chargrilled lamb chops served with aromatic quinoa and fresh fennel. Ours were perfectly cooked, the buttery juices flowing out as we cut into the chops. The rib-eye steak is so tender it just melts in your mouth, and the accompanying chimichurri oregano and cherry tomatoes make for a surprising blend of flavors.




The warm cardamom-infused soft-baked cinnamon cookie is served with date ice-cream. (Supplied)

For dessert, we selected the warm cardamom-infused soft-baked cinnamon cookie, served with date ice-cream, the cold sweetness of which is the ideal blend with the chewy warmth of the cookie dough. It was the highlight of our meal.

Throughout the evening, the service was prompt and efficient, even though the restaurant was extremely busy, we were not kept waiting between courses and the staff were knowledgable and welcoming.

Kostakos told us that “each and every one of our team puts their soul, love and creativity” into their work. After eating at Meraki, we believe him.


New York-based photographer Jinane Ennasri’s new photobook is a celebration of Morocco

New York-based photographer Jinane Ennasri’s new photobook is a celebration of Morocco
The 50-page photobook is a collection of images captured in the Northern region of Morocco. Supplied
Updated 16 May 2021

New York-based photographer Jinane Ennasri’s new photobook is a celebration of Morocco

New York-based photographer Jinane Ennasri’s new photobook is a celebration of Morocco

DUBAI: “A gift to Morocco and the rest of the world,” is  how New York-based photographer Jinane Ennasri describes her new photobook, “Live From Morocco.” 

The new photobook focuses on sharing the diverse beauty and culture of the North African country by way of grainy, pastel-tinged film photographs of people and everyday life in the Moroccan cities of Tangier, Fes, Oujda, Berkane, Al-Hoceima and the photographer’s birth city Taza.

The candid photos were shot betewen 2016 and 2019. Supplied

The candid photos, which were shot and collected between 2016 and 2019, capture the Northern region of Morocco in its rawest and purest form. “I find it beautiful that modernization and imported technology have not distorted Morocco to the extent of losing its substance or its essence,” shares Ennasri with Arab News. “Morocco has accepted these things and made a place for them, while safeguarding its sense of values and its history.”

Its 50-pages take readers on a journey through tiny villages, where older Moroccan men congregate with their bicycles, and through the turquoise Mediterannean waters where young sun-drenched men are diving from rocks. 

The candid photos depict the Northern region of Morocco in its rawest and purest form. Supplied

But the photobook does much more than depict everyday street life. By simply capturing the country how it is, Ennasri’s photo-journalistic approach encapsulates Moroccan people as complex subjects while challenging the false idea of the monolithic Arab experience. 

The author and shutterbug is in the throng of new Moroccan photographers who are redefining what it truly means to be Moroccan while pushing back against stereotypes.

“Live From New York” is Ennasri’s second photobook. Supplied

The 25-year-old, who first picked up a camera in 2012, reveals that “Live From Morocco” is a deeply personal project for her. “I’ve always felt obligated to make sure people knew where I came from,” says Ennasri, who identifies as a Moroccan-American-Muslim. “I keep in mind to reflect it in my work somehow.”

Ennasri immigrated with her family from Morocco to the United States in 1999. Her family settled in Queens, New York, before relocating to Jersey City.

The photobook is available online and at both 255 centre street and 185 mulberry street in Soho, New York. Supplied 

The creative attended Pace University in Lower Manhattan where she pursued a degree in Finance & Economics. Shortly after graduating, she worked at a prestigious law firm in New York before leaving the 9-5 life behind to pursue her passion, photography, as a full-time career.

“Live From New York” is Ennasri’s second photobook. She released “Perspective,” which consists of 60 photographs of subjects in France, Morocco and the UAE in 2017.


Miss Philippines stuns in gown by Dubai-based designer on Miss Universe stage

Miss Philippines stuns in gown by Dubai-based designer on Miss Universe stage
The 24-year-old beauty queen wore a yellow, gem-encrusted Amato gown. Supplied
Updated 16 May 2021

Miss Philippines stuns in gown by Dubai-based designer on Miss Universe stage

Miss Philippines stuns in gown by Dubai-based designer on Miss Universe stage

DUBAI: Filipino model and beauty pageant titleholder Rabiya Mateo represented the Philippines at the Miss Universe 2020 Preliminary Show on Friday wearing a creation by Dubai-based couture house Amato. 

The beauty queen strutted down the runway wearing a single-shoulder, yellow gown that was hand-embroidered with thousands of tiny Swarovski crystals that shone even brighter underneath the stage lights. 

The caped tulle dress, which was inspired by the radiance of the Philippine sun which symbolizes positivity and optimism, marked Amato’s debut on a Miss Universe stage.

The gown was inspired by the radiance of the Philippine sun. Supplied

Mateo’s choice of color was not lost on pageant fans, who pointed out that the two previous Filipina Miss Universe winners wore the other colors of the Philippine flag when they won. Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach wore royal blue while Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray opted for red.

The 69th Miss Universe pageant finals will be held in Florida on May 16. Furne One, the Filipino designer behind Amato, is designing the gown which Mateo will wear during the finals.

Mateo will wear Amato during the Miss Universe pageant finals held on May 16. Supplied

“This is just the start of a more fruitful partnership with the Miss Universe organization,” said Josh Yugen, the CEO of the PR company that represents Amato. “We are excited to see more creations of the talented Furne One in the Miss Universe stage, and we can’t wait to see Rabiya slay the runway with another creation of Furne. I'm sure she's gonna make all the Filipinos proud,” he added.

If the 24-year-old wins, she will become the fifth woman from the Philippines to take home the prestigious crown.

 


Part-Palestinian model Bella Hadid joins rally in New York

Part-Palestinian model Bella Hadid joins rally in New York
Bella Hadid is no stranger to speaking out about Palestine. File/AFP
Updated 16 May 2021

Part-Palestinian model Bella Hadid joins rally in New York

Part-Palestinian model Bella Hadid joins rally in New York

DUBAI: Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets across the world on Saturday to protest the Israeli airstrike attacks on Palestinians living in Gaza. Demonstrations took place across the Middle East, Europe, Canada, Australia and the US, with thousands of protestors marching on the streets with pro-Palestine signs. Some celebrities and influencers even decided to take part in the demonstrations, including part-Palestinian model Bella Hadid. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid)

The 24-year-old catwalk is the daughter of real estate developer Mohamed Hadid, whose family fled Palestine as refugees in 1948. She joined a crowd of protesters in New York on Saturday who took to the streets of Bay Ridge for a demonstration.

The outspoken model wore a keffiyeh — a scarf with the traditional Palestinian print — around her head and shoulders and a face mask and waved a large Palestinian flag as she marched along with thousands of others.

Hadid took to Instagram to share images from the Free Palestine demonstration that had a turnout of nearly 2,000 protestors, according to reports.

“The way my heart feels... to be around this many beautiful, smart, respectful, loving, kind and generous Palestinians all in one place... it feels whole! We are a rare breed!” Hadid wrote alongside a series of images from the protests.

“It’s free Palestine til Palestine is free! P.S. The Palestinian drip is real (sic),” added Hadid, who memorably attended a Free Palestine rally in London back in 2016.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid)

Earlier in the day, the model shared a throwback photo of her paternal grandparents’ wedding day, along with an image of her father as a boy next to his seven siblings and mom — after whom she was given her middle name Khair — noting how they “were taken out of their homes in Palestine in 1948, becoming refugees in Syria, then Lebanon, then Tunisia.”

“I love my family, I love my heritage, I love Palestine. I will stand strong to keep their hope for a better land in my heart. A better world for our people and the people around them. They can never erase our history. History is history!” she captioned the Instagram post.


Mohamed Hadid, Oscar-nominated Farah Nabulsi join hands for video on Jerusalem

Mohamed Hadid took part in the video. Here, he poses with daugher Gigi Hadid. (File/ AFP)
Mohamed Hadid took part in the video. Here, he poses with daugher Gigi Hadid. (File/ AFP)
Updated 15 May 2021

Mohamed Hadid, Oscar-nominated Farah Nabulsi join hands for video on Jerusalem

Mohamed Hadid took part in the video. Here, he poses with daugher Gigi Hadid. (File/ AFP)

DUBAI: Famous Palestinians have starred in a video expressing their love for the city of Jerusalem.

“Why do I love Jerusalem?” the opening sequence of the short video reads, in a message that is . translated into English, French, Russian and Spanish.

The monochrome clip features Mohamed Hadid, real estate mogul and father of models Gigi and Bella, as well as BAFTA-winning filmmaker Farah Nabulsi, whose short film was also nominated for an Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards, mountaineer Mostafa Salameh and actors Yasmine Al Massri and Eyas Younis, among other celebrities.

From its food, to its people, diversity and “the smell of the morning,” the figures all came together to reminisce about what makes Jerusalem so special.

“O Jerusalem, we love you!  Palestinian Personalities from around the world share their message of love and solidarity for Jerusalem. A message of Unity, love and hope for justice and peace for all. Seventeen Palestinians from different backgrounds get together in a simple message of love to Jerusalem. Actors, artists, musicians, chefs, journalists, sportswomen and men, unite their voices for the love of this historic city,” the caption of the video reads.


British star Sophie Turner shows support for refugees, women in conflict

 Actress Sophie Turner took to Instagram to show support for Women for Women International. (File/ AFP)
Actress Sophie Turner took to Instagram to show support for Women for Women International. (File/ AFP)
Updated 15 May 2021

British star Sophie Turner shows support for refugees, women in conflict

 Actress Sophie Turner took to Instagram to show support for Women for Women International. (File/ AFP)

DUBAI: British actress Sophie Turner took to Instagram this weekend to highlight a heartwarming story about Muslim refugees in Scotland and also took part in a virtual sale of her fashion items for an organization that supports women caught in conflict around the world on Saturday.

Turner, who shot to fame for her role on TV’s “Game of Thrones” and who is married to US pop sensation Joe Jonas, shared a post on Instagram Stories on Saturday that highlights an incident in Glasgow that has gone viral on social media.

Turner shared a post about a deportation attempt that had been foiled by hundreds of Glaswegians this weekend, who surrounded the van of immigration officials in a residential street on Thursday to stop the detention of a group of Muslim male refugees during Eid Al-Fitr.

“These are our neighbors, let them go,” the crowd of protesters shouted.

The actress shared a post about an incident in Glasgow, where a community rallied to support refugees. Instagram

On Thursday, Police Scotland issued a statement saying the men in the van had been released.

It said: “In order to protect the safety, public health and well-being of all people involved in the detention and subsequent protest in Kenmure Street, Pollokshields, today, Chief Superintendent Mark Sutherland, has, following a suitable risk assessment, taken the operational decision to release the men detained by UK Immigration Enforcement back into their community.”

Turner also took part in a virtual car boot sale this weekend, with proceeds from the event going to UK-based charity Women for Women International, for which Turner is an ambassador.

The organization supports women in conflict around the world and operates in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, Kosovo and South Sudan, among other locations.

“As an ambassador for @womenforwomenuk I am proudly supporting their #VirtualCarBoot Sale, taking place this Saturday. Designers and fashion icons are emptying their wardrobes to donate items to raise money for women survivors of war. I will be joining them to sell three items too,” Turner wrote on Instagram before the event kicked off. The Hollywood star donated a suit by Annie Bing, a checkered romper by STAUD and a pair of Louis Vuitton slingback pumps.⁠⁠

The sale included more than 400 fashion and beauty items and experiences from such covete