The Palestinian artist’s exhibition, according to the brochure, “explores … the melancholy of the urban environment as a byproduct of military occupation.” In one series of works, including this one, he uses Lego blocks and concrete “as if a colorful dream of the future is trying to take over the grim reality.”
One of a series of Abu Salameh’s artworks that focus on high-rise towers. Here, he imagines them buried underground “as a way of rejecting what has become of Palestinian towns as a result of the occupation.” Like many of his works, Abu Salameh uses a circle here, to draw the eye to a focal point on the canvas.
At the heart of Abu Salameh’s work there remains an optimism that things can get better. This piece is based on the late, great Mahmoud Darwish’s poem “Why Did You Leave The Horse Alone?” which refers to resistance and its potential to spark a lasting change in circumstances for his homeland.
Saudi online platforms bridge gap between creatives, inquisitive minds
Offering people easy ways to learn new skills, explore methods to promote self, business
Updated 27 July 2021
JEDDAH: Online platforms are helping smaller creative businesses to pass on their knowledge to interested parties. Two such platforms that have been attracting attention from Saudi locals are Suplift and Upgrade.
These online platforms began popping up on social media a few years ago with experiences and activities offered with a registration fee.
Fadi Yahya, the founder of Suplift, told Arab News that the question that inspired Suplift was “How can I ask people with skills to share them with other people who are interested in learning?”
I started noticing that people here didn’t have easy access to activities and workshops or a platform to access these activities.
Fadi Yahya, Founder of Suplift
“I started noticing that people here didn’t have easy access to activities and workshops or a platform to access these activities,” he said. “It was extremely hard for an average person to try any activity they like.”
This led to Yahya giving over a few years of his life to build a business from scratch that allowed profits to be given back to a talented person rather than an organization. “Our job was to make the structure simple.”
• Suplift extends across 18 cities in Saudi Arabia, with more than 1,000 experiences on offer. This has helped 10,000 people to make money simply by following their passion.
• Upgrade-sa.com’s targeted audience is people who want to learn new hobbies and explore different worlds, as well as business owners who want to build more connections and move toward expanding their work.
He said there were many challenges as the team was building a new market. “We are not running away or finding the easy way out. One thing we had trouble with was the lack of experience.”
Yahya said that to enable the experiences, the team had to find locations, work out the structure, marketing, customer service, technology, management, as well as ways of working with the government.
The aim of Suplift is to promote the idea of having hobbies. “The thing I am most proud of is that we help so many people make money. Many people say that passion can not help you make money, but I think it is needed in order to help the Saudi economy move further.”
Suplift extends across 18 cities in Saudi Arabia, with more than 1,000 experiences on offer. This has helped 10,000 people to make money simply by following their passion.
“Now that people understand that they can make money doing what they love, we will have more artists, golfers, divers, archers and so many more,” he said. “This makes me proud of my team and myself.”
When we started, we were the ones designing the workshops and we used to seek out the trainers — training and being creative are two different things.
Mohammad Mujahid, COO of Upgrade-sa.com
Mohammad Mujahid, COO of Upgrade-sa.com, told Arab News that their platform’s targeted audience is people who want to learn new hobbies and explore different worlds, as well as business owners who want to build more connections and move toward expanding their work.
The early days of the business were very challenging, Mujahid said. “When we started, we were the ones designing the workshops and we used to seek out the trainers — training and being creative are two different things. So now when the trainers or upgraders, as we call them, come to us, we provide them with guidelines so they can spread their knowledge.”
These two platforms helped local entrepreneurs to work in the creative sector to achieve their goals. This will ultimately contribute to the Kingdom’s goals for the private sector — supporting Saudi economic diversification objectives and building a prosperous future.
French-Algerian singer Lolo Zouai performs new single on Vevo CTRL
Updated 26 July 2021
DUBAI: This week, French-Algerian singer Lolo Zouai performed her latest single “Galipette” on Vevo CTRL, Vevo’s performance series that highlights both emerging and established musicians making an impact on the industry.
During the live session, the Brooklyn-based artist began singing her new hit while holding an oversized blue teddy bear before tossing it aside when the beat dropped.
She joins other artists such as French Montana, Common, Lil Baby and Giggs, who have all stepped up to the mic in Vevo’s online musical series.
“Really proud of how this came out,” she wrote, sharing a clip of the performance on Twitter.
The 26-year-old’s live session comes just a couple of weeks after she dropped the electrifying official music video for “Galipette.”
Wild and disruptive, the clip is directed by Amber Grace Johnson and is a visual trip, featuring the artist boxing underwater — Zouai admits she trained for almost two months before to make sure she was in good shape for this scene — crashing a mattress store and a synchronized dance routine performed by the UCLA champion gymnastics team.
With lyrics in both French and English, the track is a reminder of the artist’s rich cultural roots.
It has been a busy few months for the rising star, who released her debut album “High Highs to Low Lows” in 2019, appeared in global campaigns for Coach shot by Juergen Teller and became a face of Tommy Hilfiger and Adidas France’s new Superstar campaign all in one year.
And it appears that the singer isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
This year seems to be just as promising for the artist, whose highly anticipated second album is on its way and who is also set to open up for British crooner Dua Lipa on her “Future Nostalgia” European tour.
Enduring style of the sandal: From traditional staples to Yeezy Slides, put your best foot forward
Updated 26 July 2021
DUBAI: There can’t be a more beloved item of footwear in the Middle East than the sandal, and while increasing numbers of Arab men are rocking collectible sneakers with their thobes in 2021, deep down, the open-toed classic will always remain the footwear of choice. The question is, just how should you wear them?
First things first, did you know that the sandal is actually the OG of all footwear? In 1938 a 10,000-year-old pair was discovered in Fort Rock Cave in Oregon, US. That makes it the oldest shoe going. Sandals in the Middle East are always open-toed and have a leather covering across the front of the foot—meaning that there’s no need for a strap at the heel to keep them in place. While in many parts of the region they would evolve from free open toes to a na’l—featuring another piece of leather to separate the big toe—there was also a need to leave room for a sock, so bedouins could wear them as the desert evenings grew colder.
However, when it came to Western fashion, things were a little more complicated and they quickly become the footwear of choice for uncool, suburban dads. Amazingly, what nearly killed it actually saved its life. Thanks largely to the normcore fashion movement, suddenly the sandal was back in the game. Whether it was David Beckham wearing them with sports socks and a Tom Ford suit or Justin Bieber sporting something with a chunky sole, the sandal was reborn. Not that the Arab world needed such a renaissance, of course, here it had always been on-point.
Now, with luxury brands crafting new editions each year—not to mention elevated streetwear options like the impossible-to-cop Yeezy Slides—it becomes clear: The sandal is no longer a dull, lifeless addition to your wardrobe — right now it’s the star of the show.
Here, GQ Middle East’s Fashion Editor, Keanoush Zargham, explains how, when and where you should go open-toed.
“A relaxed, cosy fits work best,” Zargham said when explaining what look you should style your sandals with. “This could range from an oversized tailored suit to a pair of wide slacks with a tank top and cardi thrown on to complete the look.”
While sandals are the norm in professional environments if you’re wearing regional attire, what about pairing them with Western clothes at work?
“That depends on where you work,” Zargham noted. “The other day I wore a pair of Toga Virilis sandals to the office and nobody said a word. Do wear them with socks, though. Nobody wants to see your bare feet in a meeting.
“For price and design Birkenstock is great and very reliable. If you’d like to splash a little more cash, splurge on some Bottega Veneta sandals with intrecciato weaving detail,” he added.
When it comes to slides, the fashion expert says it’s all about how you wear them.
“They’re a little more relaxed, but I love them. Yeezy Slides have become a real powerhouse. Add some socks, a pair of oversized shorts, a relaxed tee and hoodie and you have a great look going on.”
Zuhair Murad celebrates Jennifer Lopez’s birthday with fashion tribute
Updated 25 July 2021
DUBAI: Lebanese designer to the stars Zuhair Murad celebrated US singer Jennifer Lopez on Saturday, taking to Instagram to toast the queen of pop’s special relationship with the fashion house.
The hitmaker is known for her love of Zuhair Murad gowns and regularly hits red carpets, and the stage, in glittering outfits by the designer.
The fashion house celebrated the singer’s birthday on July 24 by releasing a short video of the numerous occasions she has donned a gown by Murad.
“Celebrating the beautiful Jennifer Lopez today, by reminiscing over some of our favorite #ZuhairMurad looks of hers,” the caption read. “Happy birthday @jlo! Cheers to your everlasting youth and to more #ZMxJLOMoments!”
Murad is one of Lopez’s go-to designers for special red carpet events and performances.
The “Let’s Get Loud” singer previously opened up about her affinity for Murad’s designs, describing the couturier as “probably her favorite designer” in a past interview with Venture Lifestyle.
“I discovered him years ago when I was doing a show, and I was so jet-lagged and I was up in the middle of the night watching Fashion TV, which they had in this country I was in,” explained the hitmaker. “He had this beautiful show and I was like, ‘who is this guy?’”
Lopez went on to explain the hurdles she faced when trying to get in touch with Murad, who doesn’t seem to have been a household name at the time.
“I came back (to the US) and I said, ‘Do you guys know Zuhair Murad?’ and nobody knew who he was, none of the stylists, nobody in the United States knew who he was. I was like, ‘You have to get me this dress for the Met Ball,” she said, referring to the Met Gala, an annual fundraising gala for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York and one of the fashion world’s most eagerly anticipated events.
“I wore his dress to the Met Ball and after that, I just started using him for everything — he designed my last tour — we just have a great relationship. He’s a beautiful man, a beautiful designer,” Lopez added.
US-Egyptian jewelry label Jacquie Aiche snaps up celebrity fans
Updated 24 July 2021
DUBAI: From British actress Emily Blunt, to US stars Justin Bieber and Khloe Kardashian, Egyptian-American jewelry designer Jacquie Aiche’s celebrity fan base expanded this week.
The label has quickly managed to emerge as a A-lister-loved brand, with stars like Kylie Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski and Shanina Shaik adorning themselves with the Los Angeles-based jewelry house’s signature diamond-encrusted body chains, anklets and stacked gemstone rings on the red carpet.
This week, Blunt showed off an ornate ring by the label while doing press interviews for Disney’s “Jungle Cruise,” her latest film in which she stars alongside Dwayne Johnson and Edgar Ramirez.
Blunt was dressed by Hollywood stylist Jessica Paster, who made sure to get mileage out of the ring by featuring it in several ensembles on the press tour, including outfits by Gabriela Hearst and Zimmermann.
For her part, Kardashian opted to show off a dainty body chain by the brand during a photoshoot for her label Good American’s latest swimwear release. She paired the jewelry, which wrapped around the torso, with a neon yellow swimsuit.
To wrap things up, Bieber showed off a pair of small hoop earrings by Aiche, which he paired with a red visor.
Aiche, who was born to an Egyptian father and an indigenous American mother, launched her eponymous label from her garage in 2008. She has since amassed an impressive celebrity client list that includes the likes of Rihanna, Selena Gomez and Katy Perry, whose stylists flock to her Beverly Hills showroom in droves to adorn their clients in her signature delicate earrings, finger bracelets and chokers ahead of red carpet events. The jeweler is also the brainchild behind Chrissy Teigen’s bespoke engagement ring from John Legend.
The part-Egyptian jewelry designer’s store in Los Angeles is full of jewelry items made from delicate raw quartz, tourmaline, moonstone and countless other special stones. Her pieces often feature Arab influences like hammered gold, amulets and the evil eye talisman, as well as natural elements such as turquoise, fossils and precious gemstones, which are a nod to her indigenous American ancestors.