MENART fair points to Paris as new hub for Arab art

MENART fair points to Paris as new hub for Arab art
Eiwan Al-Gassar Gallery, MENART Fair 2021. (Supplied)
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Updated 02 June 2021

MENART fair points to Paris as new hub for Arab art

MENART fair points to Paris as new hub for Arab art
  • Middle East and North Africa art finds temporary new home in France through boutique fair

PARIS: When French-born Laure d’Hauteville launched the Beirut Art Fair in 2010 it was because she had fallen in love with Lebanon and Middle East art.

She was determined to contribute to the Mediterranean country that had become her second home.

Due to the catastrophic port explosion on Aug. 4 last year and the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Beirut Art Fair was unable to take place.




Esther Woerdehoff, MENART Fair 2021. (Supplied)

Instead, d’Hauteville decided to use the French capital as a base for her new art fair, MENART, until Lebanon had managed to rebuild itself.

The fair took place from May 27 to 30 at Cornette de Saint Cyr on Paris’ upmarket Avenue Hoche and saw galleries positioned in different rooms across three floors of the private residence and auction house.

Marking the first international contemporary art fair dedicated to artists from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region after months of COVID-19 lockdowns, MENART opened the artistic season in Paris with a reception for more than 2,500 visitors, of which around 90 percent were French.




Athr Gallery, MENART Fair 2021. (Supplied)

The 22 participating galleries hailed from throughout the Middle East and included Athr Gallery from Jeddah, Tunis and Dubai-based Elmarsa Gallery, Beirut’s Galerie Tanit, Saleh Barakat Gallery and Mark Hachem, Mono Gallery from Riyadh, Wadi Finan Art Gallery from Amman, New York and Dubai-based Leila Heller Gallery, Tehran and New York-based Shirin Art Gallery, Nathalie Obadia from Paris, and Galleria Continua from Italy.

“The fair took visitors on an oriental journey, with artistic stops made from Morocco to Yemen. This market is new for Europeans who are not used to viewing art from the MENA region,” d’Hauteville told Arab News.

She said the fair’s artistic director, Joanna Chevalier, and herself were on site to explain to visitors the various facets of the works on display.




Ayn Gallery, MENART Fair 2021. (Supplied)

Sale prices ranged between 5,000 euros ($6,092) and 18,000 euros with the highest reaching 40,000 euros. Out of the 22 galleries, 16 reported sales. The fair has a virtual component enabling galleries to sell their works online via Artsy until June 16.

“It was a well-organized boutique fair with a great turnout of institutional groups and collectors; our booth was always busy,” Lebanese art expert Saleh Barakat told Arab News.

“The works by Arab artists are still new, so people here are still discovering them. We sold a few works but not a lot but it’s of no surprise given that France is still a new market for Middle Eastern art.”




By Lara Sedbon x Durazzo Projects, MENART Fair 2021. (Supplied)

While Lebanese galleries admit the fair did not replace the Beirut Art Fair, it had “opened new doors.”

Individuals from 27 major international institutions were in attendance, including representatives from the Cartier Foundation, LVMH, Jeu de Paume Museum, Center Pompidou, Palais de Tokyo, the Arab World Institute, the Institute of Islamic Culture, the French Ministry of Culture and Foreign Affairs, and the French agency for the development of AlUla.

“The show was lovely and very diverse,” said Naila Kettaneh-Kunigk, owner of Galerie Tanit in Beirut, which sold two works by Lebanese artists Ghassan Zard and Chafa Ghaddar, each for around 8,000 euros. Galerie Nathalie Obadia sold a work by Egyptian photographer Youssef Nabil and a piece by Iranian painter Hoda Kashiha.




Galerie Cheriff Tabet, MENART Fair 2021. (Supplied)

French collector Jean-Marc Decrop, who bought a work by Zard, told Arab News: “What was remarkable was the attendance. It is one of the few fairs that has opened this year. There’s a great appetite now among collectors to discover art from new places.”

While d’Hauteville hopes to restage the Beirut Art Fair, possibly in 2023, when the situation in Lebanon improves, for the time being she is building a base for Middle Eastern art, with a special focus on supporting artists and galleries from Lebanon.

Never short on innovative ways forward, the next edition of MENART will take place in Brussels, with dates to be announced, and will feature displays from the Middle East, notably by designers such as Lebanon’s Nada Debs.


’Historic night’ as Somalia screens first film in 30 years

Somalian scriptwriter and actress Kaif Jama speaks to media representatives ahead of the first screening of Somali films at The Somali National Theatre in Mogadishu, on September 22, 2021. (AFP)
Somalian scriptwriter and actress Kaif Jama speaks to media representatives ahead of the first screening of Somali films at The Somali National Theatre in Mogadishu, on September 22, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 53 min 26 sec ago

’Historic night’ as Somalia screens first film in 30 years

Somalian scriptwriter and actress Kaif Jama speaks to media representatives ahead of the first screening of Somali films at The Somali National Theatre in Mogadishu, on September 22, 2021. (AFP)
  • Although Mogadishu was home to many cinema halls during its cultural heyday, with the national theater also hosting live concerts and plays, the seaside capital fell silent after civil war erupted in 1991

MOGADISHU: Somalia hosted its first screening of a movie in three decades under heavy security on Wednesday, as the conflict-ravaged country hopes for a cultural renewal.
Built by Chinese engineers as a gift from Mao Zedong in 1967, the National Theatre of Somalia has a history that reflects the tumultuous journey of the Horn of Africa nation.
It has been targeted by suicide bombers and used as a base by warlords.
And it has never screened a Somali film. Until now.
"This is going to be a historic night for the Somali people, it shows how hopes have been revived... after so many years of challenges," theatre director Abdikadir Abdi Yusuf said before the screening.
"It's a platform that provides an opportunity to... Somali songwriters, storytellers, movie directors and actors to present their talent openly."
The evening's programme was two short films by Somali director IBrahim CM -- "Hoos" and "Date from Hell" -- with tickets sold for $10 (8.50 euros) each, expensive for many.
According to sources contacted by AFP, the evening passed off without any security incidents.
Although Mogadishu was home to many cinema halls during its cultural heyday, with the national theatre also hosting live concerts and plays, the seaside capital fell silent after civil war erupted in 1991.
Warlords used the theatre as a military base and the building fell into disrepair. It reopened in 2012, but was blown up by Al-Shabaab terrorists two weeks later.
The Al-Qaeda linked terrorist group launches regular attacks in Mogadishu and considers entertainment evil.

After a painstaking restoration, the authorities announced plans to hold the theatre's first screening this week.
For many Somalis, it was a trip down memory lane and a reminder of happier times.
"I used to watch concerts, dramas, pop shows, folk dances and movies in the national theatre during the good old days," said Osman Yusuf Osman, a self-confessed film buff.
"It makes me feel bad when I see Mogadishu lacking the nightlife it once had. But this is a good start," he told AFP.
Others were more circumspect, and worried about safety.
"I was a school-age girl when my friends and I used to watch live concerts and dramas at the national theatre," said a mother-of-six, Hakimo Mohamed.
"People used to go out during the night and stay back late if they wished -- but now, I don't think it is so safe," she told AFP.
The jihadists were driven out of Mogadishu a decade ago, but retain control of swathes of countryside.
Attendees had to pass through several security checkpoints before arriving at the theatre, inside a heavily guarded complex that includes the presidential palace and the parliament.
But for some, the inconvenience and the risks paled in comparison to the anticipation of seeing a film in a cinema after such a long wait.
"I was not lucky to watch live concerts and or movies in the theatre (earlier)... because I was still a child, but I can imagine how beautiful it was," NGO employee Abdullahi Adan said.
"I want to experience this for the first time and see what it's like to watch a movie with hundreds of people in a theatre."


Culinary celebrations: Where to eat in Riyadh this Saudi National Day

Culinary celebrations: Where to eat in Riyadh this Saudi National Day
Updated 22 September 2021

Culinary celebrations: Where to eat in Riyadh this Saudi National Day

Culinary celebrations: Where to eat in Riyadh this Saudi National Day

RIYADH: A host of restaurants in Riyadh are celebrating Saudi Arabia’s National Day in style with special menus and entertainment.

The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh

The hotel is offering its usual festivities with a twist, inviting a Saudi celebrity chef to cook for guests in Al-Orjouan restaurant. Social media-famous chef Abdulelah AlRabiah is set to host a cooking station while guests will be serenaded by live Saudi music.

Lunch will be held from 12:30pm - 5pm, priced at $120 (450 SAR)

The dinner buffet runs from 6:30pm-12am, priced at (450 SAR) $120 for adults and $60 (224 SAR) for children.

Four food trucks will be stationed outside serving coffee, ice cream and burgers along with face painting and gifts for children.

Yauatcha Riyadh

The dim sum restaurant and tea house is offering a special set menu inspired by the Kingdom’s national colors until Oct. 2.

The $66 (250 SAR) per person menu features chicken spinach soup, a section of dim sum, and main dishes consisting of chicken, seabass, and pak choi, as well as dessert.

La Brasserie

Riyadh’s La Brasserie is offering their traditional international brunch and dinner buffets with additional Saudi dishes to celebrate National Day.

The brunch buffet will run from 12:30pm-3:30pm and is priced at $101 (379 SAR).

The dinner buffet will be held from 7:00pm-11:00pm and is priced at $73 (275 SAR), excluding drinks.

Al-Bustan Restaurant

Al-Bustan restaurant in the Intercontinental Hotel in Riyadh is offering a dinner buffet that includes a clutch of international favorites, including grilled lamb with traditional Saudi spices.

Running from 7:00pm-12:00am on Thursday, a local performer will entertain guests to celebrate the occasion and dinner priced at $89 (335 SAR) per person.  

Four Seasons

Elements restaurant in the Four Seasons hotel in Riyadh is offering an international buffet with a focus on regional favorites, including lamb kabsa rice, mandi varieties, mixed grills, cold mezze and, of course, Um Ali.

Live music will be played during the Thursday night dinner buffet between 7:00pm-12:00am.  

The dinner buffet is priced at $83 (311 SAR), excluding beverages.  

La, Gais

The Instagram-perfect, newly opened breakfast and specialty coffee spot will offer a selection of Saudi-themed breakfast and brunch items, along with live music.

Perfect for family brunch, the restaurant will be open from 4:30am-7:00pm during the National Day weekend.

Each menu item is priced separately, including tax.


Arab label Mrs. Keepa heads to Paris for fashion week

Arab label Mrs. Keepa heads to Paris for fashion week
Updated 22 September 2021

Arab label Mrs. Keepa heads to Paris for fashion week

Arab label Mrs. Keepa heads to Paris for fashion week

DUBAI: Dubai-based label Mrs. Keepa is set to present its Spring/Summer 2022 womenswear collection on the sidelines of Paris Fashion Week, as part of France’s Féderation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode’s “Welcome to Paris” initiative with the Arab Fashion Council.

The show is slated for Sept. 28 at Paris’s Palais De Tokyo and the label will also take part in Paris Fashion Week’s trade show partner event, TRANOI, which will take place from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3 at the same location.

Mrs. Keepa is known for its strong silhouettes and bold colors, as seen in this look from the label's 2019 show in Dubai. (Getty Images)

Helmed by half-Egyptian half-French designer Mariam Yeya, the label is inspired by a patchwork of evolving identities and her own dual heritage, which she explores through fashion.  

Launched in 2016, the label is a regular on the Fashion Forward Dubai circuit — an annual showcase of regional talent — and is known for its celebration of the female form, with a focus on defining silhouettes, voluminous details, striking patterns and kaleidoscopic colors. 

The label is helmed by Egyptian-French designer Mariam Yeya. (Getty Images)

For the Spring/Summer 2022 collection, titled “Harmonious Chaos,” the designer plays with organic shapes and opulent colors. Think cut outs and strappy maxi skirts, wide-leg camouflage cargo pants and larger-than-life sleeves.

 The collection will also feature pieces that traverse the boundary between recognizable separates — kimonos that work as skirts, dresses that can be worn as shirts and scarves that can be styled as waist-synching belts.

The show is slated for Sept. 28 at Paris’s Palais De Tokyo. Pictured is a 2019 show by the label. (Getty Images)

It is not the first time Arab designers have found a platform at Paris Fashion Week. To ensure that regional designers get the recognition they deserve, the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode first teamed up with the Arab Fashion Council in September 2020 to host an exclusive showroom and presentation on the official Paris Fashion Week calendar that shines a light on Middle Eastern designers.

“The project is in line with the Arab Fashion Council’s vision to build an Arab economy based on creativity and to promote the Arab talents on a global scale,” said Mohammed Aqra, chief strategy officer of The Arab Fashion Council, in a statement at the time. “This is the first strategic alliance project with our French counterparts,” he added.


Ithra celebrates Saudi National Day with new cultural programs 

Ithra celebrates Saudi National Day with new cultural programs 
Updated 22 September 2021

Ithra celebrates Saudi National Day with new cultural programs 

Ithra celebrates Saudi National Day with new cultural programs 

DUBAI: In celebration of Saudi Arabia’s 91st National Day, the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) launched a collection of Saudi cultural and heritage programs and activities to highlight the Kingdom’s diversity.

Under the slogan of “Melodies of the Homeland,” the celebratory activities will start on Sept. 22 and will run until Sept. 25. 

The National Day activities aim to present a collection of interactive cultural activities, music and art performances, traditional local crafts, various workshops, knowledge-based games for all age groups and more.   

The activities will include the Coffee Tales exhibition, which will shed light on the practice of farming coffee and the traditions associated with it, particularly in the Jazan region, as well as Saudi Aramco’s efforts to preserve it.

Another exhibition, called Tafaseel, will take its visitors on a cultural journey to embody the unity of the people and their interdependence from north to south and east to west. 

This colorful space will express the diversity of fashion as part of the cultural heritage across the local regions and tell stories about the civilizations that inhabited them.

Arab music sensation Ahmed Alshaiba will perform on Ithra’s stage and is expected to play his unique music that combines Eastern and Western genres.


Emirati artist Aisha Juma takes part in ‘Beyond Belief’ exhibition in Germany 

Emirati artist Aisha Juma takes part in ‘Beyond Belief’ exhibition in Germany 
Updated 21 September 2021

Emirati artist Aisha Juma takes part in ‘Beyond Belief’ exhibition in Germany 

Emirati artist Aisha Juma takes part in ‘Beyond Belief’ exhibition in Germany 

DUBAI: Emirati visual artist Aisha Juma is showcasing her work at an exhibition titled “Beyond Belief” in Berlin, Germany. 

Supported by Abu Dhabi Festival (ADF), Juma is taking part in the exhibition that brings together a variety of artworks from more than 35 artists. 

Aisha Juma is an Emirati visual artist. (aishajuma.com)

Open until Nov. 21, “Beyond Belief” explores the rise of modern-day spirituality, its origins, diverse manifestations and unique contemporary attributes. 

Juma, on her Instagram account, shared images of her drawings that are “inspired by the concept of art and spirituality.

“So happy to be part of this fundamental creative conversation,” she wrote. 

The inauguration of the event was attended by Hafsa Al-Ulama, the UAE ambassador to Germany. 

In her speech at the event, Al-Ulama praised the strong cultural ties between the UAE and Germany, and commended ADF’s commitment to participating in art exhibitions and festivals in Germany. 

She added that the festival’s sponsorship of “Beyond Belief” reflects Abu Dhabi’s role in promoting art worldwide.