‘It’s Not Complicated’ — new compilation album highlights Palestinian cause

‘It’s Not Complicated’ — new compilation album highlights Palestinian cause
Heba Kadry is a New York-based mastering engineer whose production portfolio is a diverse. (Supplied)
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Updated 15 July 2021

‘It’s Not Complicated’ — new compilation album highlights Palestinian cause

‘It’s Not Complicated’ — new compilation album highlights Palestinian cause
  • ‘It’s a musical projection of how we’re feeling. And we’re angry’

BELGRADE: “Few ask the right questions about Palestine, yet they are answered time and time again,” reads the resolute statement in the liner notes of a new compilation album from Ma3azef — the Arabic-language online music magazine that has been picking up steam across the region and beyond over the past decade.

“When your very existence is disputed, negated and denied, you don't learn the answers, you know them […] We offer a sonic tale of occupation, colonial violence and resistance in the face of an attempt to erase a land, a people, a history and a future,” the compilation’s curators declare.

Earlier this summer, as Israel relentlessly bombarded the Gaza Strip, the Ma3azef collective decided to try and help in the most effective way they knew.




Rami Abadir is a musician, composer, producer, sound engineer, Ma3azef writer, and curator of the compilation. (Supplied)

“It’s Not Complicated” is a 19-track anthology of both established and upcoming regional underground talent, as well as international heavy-hitters, of whom the most distinguished is Brian Eno, the inimitable English composer, musician, producer and visual artist. The title itself serves as a direct challenge to the often-heard narrative that states there are no easy solutions to what is widely portrayed as a ‘conflict,’ and often implies that both sides share equal responsibility for the decades of oppression, violence and disenfranchisement that Palestinians have suffered.

For Rami Abadir — musician, composer, producer, sound engineer, Ma3azef writer, and curator of the compilation — it’s all much simpler than people like to admit. “In media, academia, and other circles, we always hear about the decolonization of music, of literature. OK. But what about the actual decolonization of Palestine?” he asks. “We want to say that there is no skirting around the issue by calling it too hard to address. It’s not complicated and it never has been.”




“It’s Not Complicated” is a 19-track anthology of both established and upcoming regional underground talent. (Supplied)

Abadir, an accomplished electronic music experimentalist and performer in his own right, has been involved with Ma3azef as a writer since 2013, and then as an editor from the summer of 2018. He labels it “a very important, one-of-a-kind platform that supports both regional and internationals artists from a very wide spectrum of musical styles and genres.”

Aside from its specialized music journalism, artist release premieres and Ma3azef Radio, which have been the primary drivers of the platform’s increasing popularity, Abadir says that compilations have been a natural step forward for the webzine. The first came after the Beirut Port explosion last year. “We were sad and frustrated about what happened and didn’t know what to do,” Abadir explains.

Enter Heba Kadry, the prolific, New York-based mastering engineer whose production portfolio is a diverse, star-studded roster of renowned international indie, alternative and experimental rock acts – including Björk, Garbage, The Black Lips, The Mars Volta, Slowdive and Beach House. Ma3azef had been covering her work with artists from across the Arab world for years when she reached out with an ambitious project last year.




Jessika Khazrik. (Supplied)

“The Beirut explosion was horrific, but I was also mortified by the fact that an entire music industry was decimated,” Kadry recalls. “I put myself in their shoes; in the Arab world, artists are on the lower end of the totem pole when it comes to any relief efforts. I felt like something needed to be done.”

The result was “Nisf Madeena”, a delightfully varied compilation that Kadry calls “such an incredible showcase of underground, experimental talent from all over the Middle East.” It raised funds for both on-ground relief work and for Beirut’s devastated artistic community. “I was very proud of what we accomplished,” she says.

As tensions in the Occupied Territories and Gaza escalated in May, Ma3azef got back in touch with Kadry. “As a pan-Arab magazine, we believe in this cause,” emphasizes Abadir. “So, we started reaching out to artists we know are supportive of it too, and all of them were very eager to contribute.”




Ma3azef is the Arabic-language online music magazine that has been picking up steam across the region and beyond over the past decade. (Supplied)

“I’m a believer that music is political and a very strong form of protest,” adds Kadry. “It crosses boundaries and genres, hearts and minds.

“Being silent wasn’t an option,” she says decisively. “The lyrical content of this compilation is dark, very zoned in on the issue. Even the overall tone — it’s heavy, distorted, sonically appropriate. It’s an emotive button, a musical projection of how we’re feeling. And we’re angry, we’re boiling from the inside.”

All proceeds from the compilation will go to Medical Aid for Palestine and Grassroots Al-Quds. But Kadry also recommends “It’s Not Complicated” as a great resource for those interested in music that is genuinely pushing the artistic envelope in the region. “I always get people asking me about the experimental underground artists from our part of the world that they should be listening to — this compilation is basically it.”

Will she collaborate with Ma3azef again? “I sure hope so,” she says enthusiastically. “I think we’ve put our fingers on something unique.”


UAE show sees 38 artists take part in experiment based on childhood game

The 38 artists were each given just 48 hours to complete their artwork. (Maria Daher)
The 38 artists were each given just 48 hours to complete their artwork. (Maria Daher)
Updated 31 July 2021

UAE show sees 38 artists take part in experiment based on childhood game

The 38 artists were each given just 48 hours to complete their artwork. (Maria Daher)

DUBAI: Curators Sarah Daher and Anna Bernice just unveiled a playful exhibition in Dubai’s Alserkal Avenue featuring 38 UAE-based artists.

The exhibition, titled “After the Beep,” was the culmination of a two-month long creative exercise with the artists, in which they were asked to participate in a reactive creative exercise where they responded with new work to the work of another artist in the spirit of the childhood game “Broken Telephone.”

All artists only saw the one work that was produced directly before them in the chain and were given 48 hours from seeing the work to submit their new artworks.

The show, which closed on July 31 and was staged at Satellite gallery, featured 40 artworks from artists including Andrew Riad, Athoub Albusaily, Rabab Tantawy, Danabelle Gutierrez, Mashael Alsaie and Maryam Al-Huraiz, among others.

The 38 artists were each given just 48 hours to complete their artwork. (Maria Daher)

Co-curator Daher is a Lebanese curator, researcher and writer who graduated with a BA in Theater and Economics from New York University Abu Dhabi and recently completed her Masters in Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art in London. Meanwhile, Bernice is an independent arts and culture writer, culture researcher and curator based in Dubai who also graduated with a BA from New York University Abu Dhabi.

According to the press release, “the organizers were intrigued to discover what creating looks like without the pressure of perfection, and to explore how creative inspiration transcends through different artworks and artists.”

The open call for artist participation was released in May 2021 via Instagram under the title “Telephone.”

From graphic works depicted on TV screens, to large-scale works on mounted boards, the show featured a variety of mediums. (Maria Daher)

“Three months of working with a very special group of 38 artists has produced a fantastically rich body of new work culminating in what might be the largest group show Dubai has seen in recent years,” Daher commented on Instagram about the show.

From graphic works depicted on TV screens, to large-scale works on mounted boards, the show featured a variety of mediums.

From graphic works depicted on TV screens, to large-scale works on mounted boards, the show featured a variety of mediums. (Maria Daher)

 


British presenter Maya Jama steps out in Lebanese look in London

British TV and radio star Maya Jama has co-presented several BBC shows. (Getty Images)
British TV and radio star Maya Jama has co-presented several BBC shows. (Getty Images)
Updated 31 July 2021

British presenter Maya Jama steps out in Lebanese look in London

British TV and radio star Maya Jama has co-presented several BBC shows. (Getty Images)

DUBAI: British TV and radio presenter Maya Jama showed off a creative look by Lebanese fashion house Azzi & Osta at an event in London late last week.

Jama, 26, opted for a sage green jumpsuit by the Lebanese design duo when she attended a launch event hosted by sports streaming service DAZN Boxing in London.

Featuring a ribbed bodice with semi-sheer, cuffed sleeves and a sharply tailored lower half, the creative design hails from Azzi & Osta’s Ready-to-Wear Collection 6, which “reimagines nineties grunge and glamour for the modern woman,” according to the label’s website.

The presenter showed off a jumpsuit by Lebanese fashion house Azzi & Osta. (Getty Images)

“Put my glad rags on for (the) @daznboxing event last night and I cannot wait to start this weekend,” Jama captioned a photo of the outfit on Instagram, where she boasts 2.3 million followers.

Jama’s stylist, Kyle De’Volle, paired the outfit with jewelry by designers Diane Kordas and Lara Heems.

It is not the first time the presenter, who is of Swedish-Somali origin, has stepped out in a design from the Middle East.

In February, she stunned at the Vogue x Tiffany Fashion & Film after party for the 73rd edition of the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) in another look by Azzi & Osta.

The canary-colored, bejeweled gown boasted long, billowing sleeves and a smattering of hand-embroidered purple, blue and white sequins on the bodice.

The designers, Assaad Osta and George Azzi, most recently decided to pay homage to the art of perfumery for their joint label’s Fall 2022 couture collection.

Released in June, the 23-piece offering boasts custom-made floral fabric, printed in 3D with verbena and patchouli and dresses cut in the shape of a vase, as well as gowns embroidered with precious ingredients including orange blossom, peach bud, patchouli, magnolia, fig, neroli and myrtle.

In an effort to incorporate eco-conscious practices into their designs, the couturiers opted for faux fur and feathers in the collection. Adding to this conscious practice, the couturiers also utilized raffia, a natural and renewable woven fiber, in the looks.

The label has been worn by the likes of Beyonce, Cardi B, Kendall Jenner and Queen Rania of Jordan.


5 fall 2021 couture dresses with wow factor from Arab designers

5 fall 2021 couture dresses with wow factor from Arab designers
Zuhair Murad Fall 2021 couture. Supplied
Updated 30 July 2021

5 fall 2021 couture dresses with wow factor from Arab designers

5 fall 2021 couture dresses with wow factor from Arab designers

DUBAI: The recent Paris Haute Couture Week brought with it an array of wedding dresses that brides-to-be – and even those not yet engaged – will surely have their hearts set on.

For this year’s fall, Middle Eastern couturiers have presented a range of ethereal dresses for the big day. Here are the best wedding dresses by the industry’s top Arab designers from fall 2021 couture shows.

Zuhair Murad

The Lebanese fashion designer closed out his fall 2021 couture show with a glamorous, heavily embellished bridal gown embroidered with intricate pearls that evoked the opulent chandeliers of a palazzo on Venice’s Grand Canal.

Elie Saab

The embroidered buds and petals that emerge and unfold across the princess-worthy gown are emblematic of rebirth and renewal.

Rami Kadi

Fit for royalty, Kadi’s couture bridal gown is delicately embellished with crystals, sequins, and beads in a baroque design.

Georges Chakra

The ethereal, pure white gown is adorned with symmetrical crystals and a cape nouveau pouring from the shoulders in white tulle with ribbons of satin.

Georges Hobeika

As with every Georges Hobeika creation, embroidery and embellishments played a big role in amping up the glamour on this off-the-shoulder gown.


In conversation with Kuwaiti chef Ahmad Al-Bader

In conversation with Kuwaiti chef Ahmad Al-Bader
Portrait of Kuwaiti chef Ahmed Al-Bader. Supplied
Updated 30 July 2021

In conversation with Kuwaiti chef Ahmad Al-Bader

In conversation with Kuwaiti chef Ahmad Al-Bader
  • The Kuwaiti chef and entrepreneur on cheese-melt goodness, the brilliance of butter, and taking inspiration from his dad

LONDON: On a fine London afternoon, Kuwaiti chef Ahmad Al-Bader sits in Chestnut Bakery. It is one of four successful food ventures he’s co-founded and currently co-manages — the other three being the beef canteen Habra, and Lunch Room — a “social-dining venue” — both in Kuwait, as well as GunBun in Riyadh.

Al-Bader has made a name for himself in the regional and international culinary scenes thanks largely to the consistent quality of his food, which is partly down to his systematic approach to cooking and baking. 

Al-Bader has made a name for himself in the regional and international culinary scenes. Supplied

“This is the core of success,” he says. “Things have to be written down. For the past 10 years I’ve been writing my recipes, not cooking them. When you reach this point, you have to be very experienced and to know exactly what is right. Recipes are written based on the palette — the acidity, sourness, bitterness, and sweetness; that’s how I create the balance.”

Q: What’s one ingredient that can instantly improve any dish? 

A: Butter. It’s has a fatty flavour. It’s soothing and it hits the palette. Sometimes you can have a loaf of white bread and still feel empty. But on other days you can have two or three spoons of peanut butter and some honey and feel happy.

What’s your favorite cuisine?

I love Chinese food, and Indian. Anything that (Wagamama founder) Alan Yau does always inspires me. He’s one of the ‘guru’ concept developers I’ve met. I respect how he thinks and works and I’ve learned a lot from him. The same applies to Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (co-owners of six delis and restaurants in London). I have the greatest respect for them. 

Supplied.

What’s the most common issue you find when you eat in other restaurants?

Dining out is never for competitive purposes. Knowledge is always my objective — I want to learn how to do something. But not to compete. My objective is always to build something with value. 

What’s your go-to dish if you have to cook something quickly? And why?

A cheese melt sandwich. Good cheese and good bread. It’s soothing. And you can play with it — you can put pickles, mustard, or roast beef or chicken. And use a good 60 grams of butter; that will give you a solid foundation.

What’s the most annoying thing customers do?

Customers are never annoying. As long as they’re not insulting one of the waiters or insulting us, I’ll respect whatever they have to say. I’m here to serve them. 

What’s your biggest challenge as a restaurateur?

Food handling, especially critical items like protein and fish that need to be transported. I don’t risk having a lot of them in my concept because of the heat and handling. Freshness is very important in these protein concepts. That’s why I simplify things through process cooking or curing, et cetera. That’s what I do to avoid any bacterial growth. 

Supplied.

What’s your favorite dish to cook? 

Grilling and barbecuing reminds me so much of my dad. Prepping instant salsas is also one of many things I learned from him. He’s probably been making chimichurri for 30 years but in his own way, with a lot of coriander and garlic. He’s always been a host. Hosting is very important to me. 

I also love slow cooking. I love cooking tongue — beef or lamb — and this I also got from my dad. I remember he used to slice it and eat it with mustard. And I always loved that. 

 

Here, Al-Bader offers some cooking tips and a recipe for a tasty beetroot dish (although it requires a sous-vide machine).

Ahmad Al-Bader’s pickled beetroot recipe 

 

INGREDIENTS:

100g boiled beetroot; 100g apple vinegar; 100g white vinegar; 30g honey; 3g roasted coriander seeds; 5g thyme; 3g roasted yellow mustard seeds; 3g whole black pepper; 3g fresh dill; 3g salt; 10g jaggery

 

INSTRUCTIONS: 

1. Set sous-vide machine to 80 C.

2. Mix all ingredients in a bowl, adding the beetroot last.

3. Transfer to a vacuum-sealed bag.

4. Cook in the sous-vide machine for 10 minutes at 82 C.

5. Remove and transfer into a bowl of ice.

6. Transfer to a clean container, cover, and store in refrigerator at 1 C to 4 C until serving. It can be stored for up to three days.


REVIEW: ‘Jolt’ is a whip-smart shot in the arm

REVIEW: ‘Jolt’ is a whip-smart shot in the arm
The action comedy is streaming on Amazon Prime. Supplied
Updated 30 July 2021

REVIEW: ‘Jolt’ is a whip-smart shot in the arm

REVIEW: ‘Jolt’ is a whip-smart shot in the arm
  • Kate Beckinsale unleashes her fists of fury in a silly, fun quest for revenge

LONDON: If, like most people, you checked out the trailer for Amazon Prime’s new action comedy “Jolt,” you’ll have saved yourself from sitting through the first five minutes of this entertaining, if somewhat predictable, beat-em-up movie in which an off-screen narrator explains that seemingly sweet kid Lindy suffers from uncontrollable bouts of rage and cortisone-fueled superstrength that only a self-administered electric shock (the jolt of the title) can quell. 

Flash-forward past the exposition-heavy intro and Lindy, now played by Kate Beckinsale, continues to zap herself out of flashes of unwarranted violence and fantasizes about killing her therapist, played by Stanley Tucci.

Kate Beckinsale is a blast, clearly having fun with upending the tired trope of repressed female fury. Supplied

After such a laborious setup, director Tanya Wexler eventually gets to the good stuff. Lindy meets a nice guy on a blind date, only for him to wind up dead — so she decides to stop zapping herself back to calmness, and instead punch her way to whomever is responsible.

The premise is akin to a zany “Taken” and, thankfully, doesn’t take itself too seriously. Beckinsale is a blast, clearly having fun with upending the tired trope of repressed female fury as she quips and scissor-kicks her way to the men responsible for her murdered beau. What’s more, she’s ably backed by a stellar supporting cast, including Bobby Cannavale, Laverne Cox, Jai Courtney and Susan Sarandon. 

“Jolt” is fun, rather than dumb, because, like Beckinsale, the talented cast see it for what it is — 90 minutes of ass-kicking, physics-defying, nonsensical setups for Lindy to beat the snot out of roomfuls of nameless, cookie-cutter male stooges. There’s a well-signposted twist that won’t surprise many, and a setup for a sequel (probably a franchise) once the dust has, quite literally, settled. But you know what? If it stays this silly, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.