What We Are Buying Today: Singularity

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Updated 31 July 2021

What We Are Buying Today: Singularity

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  • The bars and wafers used are locally made and come in an array of different sizes

Singularity is the creation of Nourah Al-Naim, a young Saudi artist who aims to spread her admiration and love for art through chocolate.
Al-Naim presents chocolate bars and wafers packaged in wrappers decorated with an array of watercolors.
The arty chocolate is entertaining, decorative, and very suitable for use as gifts. Each one has a unique hand-painted wrapper for different occasions and seasons, and Al-Naim also offers customized designs.
The bars and wafers used are locally made and come in an array of different sizes. Larger orders can even be delivered with a platter stand for display. For more information visit Instagram @singularity_chocopaint


Candlestick breaks Sotheby’s record for sale of an ‘Islamic object’ at $9.1 million

The silver-inlaid brass candlestick, which was made in Northern Iraq circa 1275, soared to $9.1 million. (Supplied)
The silver-inlaid brass candlestick, which was made in Northern Iraq circa 1275, soared to $9.1 million. (Supplied)
Updated 28 October 2021

Candlestick breaks Sotheby’s record for sale of an ‘Islamic object’ at $9.1 million

The silver-inlaid brass candlestick, which was made in Northern Iraq circa 1275, soared to $9.1 million. (Supplied)

DUBAI: A 12th century candlestick has broken the record for an Islamic object at auction at Sotheby’s, following its sale as part of the Arts of the Islamic World & India auction this week.

The silver-inlaid brass candlestick, which was made in Northern Iraq circa 1275, soared to $9.1 million during a 25-bidding battle on Wednesday.

The silver-inlaid brass candlestick, which was made in Northern Iraq circa 1275, soared to $9.1 million. (Supplied)

The price represents a new record for an Islamic object at auction at the famed British auction house, beating the previous record for an Islamic object held by the “Debbane" Iznik Charger, which sold at Sotheby's for $6.9 million in 2018.

The auction house said the candlestick the finest example of Islamic metalwork to appear on the market in over ten years, adding that it has been in the same private collection since the 1960s and was recently exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The decorations on the object include a stately parade of courtiers and musicians  


Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts

Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts
Updated 27 October 2021

Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts

Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts
  • The new body will provide an umbrella organization for performers while promoting new talent and expertise

JEDDAH: The curtain is set to rise on a new era for Saudi performing arts with the establishment of a dedicated theater association.

As part of the Kingdom’s cultural transformation, the new body will provide an umbrella organization for performers while also attracting and promoting new talent and expertise.

Saudi Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Ahmed Al-Rajhi said the association would bring together professionals from the worlds of theater, folk arts, circus, stand-up comedy, and dance.

Headed by Saudi actor Nasser Al-Qasabi, the association’s board of directors will include academic researcher Sami Al-Jamaan, actors Rashid Al-Shamrani, Sami Al-Zahrani, and Fatima Al-Banawi, director Khaled Al-Baz, actor and playwright Yasser Madkhali, writer Fahd Al-Hoshani, kinetic arts performer Roaa Al-Sahhaf, comedian Yasser Bakr, and Saudi ballerina Samira Alkhamis.

Performing arts has been a part of human culture down the ages and was even used as a way to inform people about the negative impact of social practices.

However, although well-represented in the West, only recently have theatrical shows and their performers been supported in the Kingdom by official bodies such as the Ministry of Culture’s Theater and Performing Arts Commission, set up under the National Strategy for Culture framework. 

In a tweet, association president, Al-Qasabi said: “I am honored to work with my colleagues in the new association to overcome difficulties and advance this lofty profession. In a few months, the work of the association will be launched, and we look forward to your participation in a new creative journey.”

Performing arts are considered to have benefits on a personal, social, and community level, with live theater helping to encourage social dialogue, highlight issues, and provide an outlet for society to find solutions to problems.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The Ministry of Culture has been behind a number of significant initiatives and organizational developments that have taken place in the Saudi theater sector this year.

• These have included the establishment of the National Theater, and subsequently the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, and partnership projects with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development to improve professionalism in the sector.

Mohammed Al-Subaih, director of the Jeddah-based Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts, described the establishment of the new association as “a most welcome move” that would offer a strong voice for performers in Saudi Arabia.

He told Arab News: “It will definitely contribute to the work of actors and performers and also bring up the level of work of Saudi theater.”

Saudi actor Abdullah Al-Sinani said: “(The association is) a wonderful step that reinforces our permanent ambition toward the status of Saudi theatrical superlatives. I wish the association and its members success in enriching the local theatrical movement.”

In a tweet, Wael Al-Harbi said: “I was honored to be chosen as a founding member of the first association for theater and performing arts.”

And Sultan Al-Bazie, chief executive officer of the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, said: “We expect the association to be an active element in the development of the sector.”

The Ministry of Culture has been behind a number of significant initiatives and organizational developments that have taken place in the Saudi theater sector this year.

These have included the establishment of the National Theater, and subsequently the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, and partnership projects with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development to improve professionalism in the sector.

In 2016, the General Entertainment Authority was formed, followed by the Literature, Publishing, and Translation Commission last year. The current registration of the Cinema Society will represent the first specialized civil body of its kind in the Kingdom concerned with the film industry.


Muslim comedians tour UK to help people get over the pandemic

Headliner Azeem Muhammad, from St. Louis in Missouri, joined the Penny Appeal tour in 2018 and has been a growing success since. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)
Headliner Azeem Muhammad, from St. Louis in Missouri, joined the Penny Appeal tour in 2018 and has been a growing success since. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)
Updated 26 October 2021

Muslim comedians tour UK to help people get over the pandemic

Headliner Azeem Muhammad, from St. Louis in Missouri, joined the Penny Appeal tour in 2018 and has been a growing success since. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)
  • Starting in London, the Super Muslim Comedy Tour heads north and stops in 10 locations, including Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow
  • This year’s lineup brings back some of the old favorites, along with some new performers, but none of them were interested in centering their jokes around the pandemic

LONDON: After almost two years of lockdowns, restrictions, isolation, and highly contagious variants, could laughter be the best medicine?
The UK Super Muslim Comedy Tour hopes to prove just that, while celebrating the powers of Muslim comedy in aid of charity.
“We weren’t able to do the tour last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and it was difficult for a lot of people because they couldn’t get their entertainment fix that they would normally get — their therapy,” the show’s host, British-Pakistani actor and comedian Abdullah Afzal told Arab News on the sidelines of the tour in Wembley.
“Also for us comedians, because we’re so used to being on stage and performing and suddenly, that was taken away from us, so all the energy that we missed out on last year, we’re bringing it forward into this year, so double the amount of energy, and hopefully we can entertain the crowd double the amount as well.”
Afzal, who is 32 and from Manchester, has hosted the show, which is in its sixth year, but it was canceled in 2020, much like everything else, due to the pandemic. 

(L-R) Comedians Salman Malik, Prince Abdi, Abdullah Afzal, and Fatiha El-Ghorri performed for crowds in east and west London. (Supplied)

Starting in London, the tour heads north and stops in 10 locations, including Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow — with all tickets sold out.
“We really hope people come out and really celebrate the diversity in our routine, in our stand up, and the people that come on the stage as well,” said Afzal, who features heavy audience participation in his sets and uses his origin to blend jokes about conventional marriage and modern romance.
This year’s lineup brings back some of the old favorites, along with some new performers, but none of them were interested in centering their jokes around the pandemic.
British-born Fatiha El-Ghorri, originally from Morocco, was back for the second time. Her career has taken off since 2019. She has performed on the Jonathan Ross show “Comedy Club” and on Comedy Central at the Edinburgh Fringe. And then, when the pandemic hit, she took on Zoom.
“The pandemic has been really difficult, but during that time, I was doing a lot of Zoom and online gigs,” she said. “It’s a completely different format, the stage is different, the audience is not in front of you, so it’s really odd when you first do it.”
Relieved and excited to be back to performing physical shows, the 40 year-old from east London is known for pushing the boundaries with her comedy and jokes about her experiences and observations of marriage, relationships, dating, and wearing the hijab.
“I do like to challenge people in my comedy and I like to break stereotypes, but obviously they’re halal jokes because it’s a Muslim tour,” she said, adding that she decided she was not going to use coronavirus as a basis for her jokes during the tour “because it was quite a difficult time for everybody, so I couldn’t see any humor in anything that was happening and I’m just glad it’s starting to get better.”
However, she admitted it was really nerve-wracking because they had not been performing live for a long time.
“You’ll always have nerves because we care about what we do so I’m always nervous on stage, but now I feel like we are all quite nervous being back on stage, but it’s nice to see that it’s packed out, lots of people are here, people have come to laugh.” 
Salman Malik, from south London, was relieved that Zoom shows were now reverting back to live ones, and he was happy to see audiences come out in “great numbers.”
In his first time participating in the tour, the 35 year-old Bahraini-Pakistani, who moved to the UK in 2004, uses his Arab-Asian background as a base for most of his material, along with his immigration experience, interracial marriage, and fathering three children.
“I perform comedy in four languages. I do Urdu, English, Punjabi, Hindi and it’s really nice to see that the opportunities are endless and working on my craft, (so) my comedy is basically about my journey coming into the UK, legally.” 

This is the first time that Bahraini-Pakistani comedian Salman Malik, from south London, joined the Super Muslim Comedy Tour. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)
 

Organized by the UK-based Penny Appeal, this year’s proceeds and funds raised will go toward the international humanitarian charity’s Thirst Relief campaign, which helps to provide safe and clean drinking water for deprived communities around the world.
Comedian Prince Abdi, 32, who is known for working with some of the biggest names in the game including Dave Chappelle, Trevor Noah and Chris Rock, wowed the crowd with his impressions and anecdotes of his pranks and antics.
“I’m Somali-British, so I talk about growing up in the ghetto of south London, which is not really a ghetto because I’m from Somalia, you know,” he said.
Abdi came into comedy as part of a bet with friends and, after several failed attempts at the same brutal comedy club, he finally got his first laugh and then “never looked back.”
He has toured Africa, including Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya, and has also performed in the UAE, and said he would love to go all around the Middle East and tell some Arab jokes one day.
“Nothing is easy in life, you have got to work for it, and even now, comedy is still hard and you’re only as good as your last show,” he said.
Abdi joked about his experience of being bored during the pandemic and playing pranks on people to test their racial and cultural curiosity, including walking around town with a picture of himself and asking white people if “they had seen this man?”

Headliner Azeem Muhammad, from St. Louis in Missouri, joined the Penny Appeal tour in 2018 and has been a growing success since. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)

“Everyone’s coming together, which is good because laughter is the best medicine. We all need to laugh, especially with all that’s going on around the world.”
Headliner Azeem Muhammad, from St. Louis in Missouri, joined the Penny Appeal tour in 2018 to see if his comedy would “transcend” from the US to Britain, and he has been a growing success ever since.
The fast-talking father-of-seven had the audience in stitches with his family-orientated jokes and audience interactions — and those “who could not keep up (it) was their own fault as they should have gone to university.”
Muhammad, 48, converted to Islam at the age of 17 and, nine years, later embarked on his comedic career. 
In 2004, he became one of the founding members of the very first Muslim comedy tour in the world called “Allah Made Me Funny,” which also featured Preacher Bryant Moss and Azhar Usman.
He said that, throughout the years with the tour, he had developed nuances to better translate to the UK’s predominantly Muslim audiences about what it’s like to be a Muslim from the US.
“And then to realize that no matter where we are from, the things that I talk about, which are marriage, divorce, children, jobs, health, the Sunnah (traditions and practices of Prophet Muhammad), those particular things are relatable, they’re universal, and so what normally would separate us now brings us that much closer together.”

Organized by the UK-based Penny Appeal, this year’s proceeds and funds raised will go toward the international humanitarian charity’s Thirst Relief campaign. (AN Photo/Sarah Glubb)

Keyaan Hussain, who is 13 and from London, said he found the show really enjoyable, very funny, and quite entertaining, adding his favorite was Muhammad “because of how he interacted more with the audience.”
Ifrah Quraishi, also from London, said it was the first comedy show she had ever been to and was already inquiring about next year’s tour.
“I thought it was amazing, genuinely, my cheeks are hurting (because) I couldn’t stop laughing,” Quraishi, 26, said. “For sure I am definitely up for going to more comedy events like this (and) definitely hoping to come to the next one.”


Three-Michelin starred chef Jason Atherton to open fine dining restaurant in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla

Three-Michelin starred chef Jason Atherton to open fine dining restaurant in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla
The restaurant is located inside the Maraya Hall. Supplied
Updated 26 October 2021

Three-Michelin starred chef Jason Atherton to open fine dining restaurant in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla

Three-Michelin starred chef Jason Atherton to open fine dining restaurant in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla

RIYADH: AlUla is set to get its first-ever permanent fine-dining restaurant. Maraya Social, helmed by three-michelin star English chef and restaurateur Jason Atherton, will cut the ribbon on its newest location at Saudi Arabia’s UNESCO World Heritage Site on Oct. 27, 2021.

Atherton said in a statement that he “jumped at the chance to be one of the first permanent fine-dining venues in AlUla.”

He added: “My team and I are so impressed by the natural beauty, history and culture of AlUla. I jumped at the chance to be one of the first permanent fine-dining venues in AlUla. The beauty of the Ashar Valley, the native produce and the iconic Maraya architecture are all the ingredients we need for what is sure to be a sought-after destination dining experience.”

Maraya Social outdoor view. Supplied

Echoing his statement,  Phillip Jones, chief destination management and marketing offices, royal commission for AlUla  adds: “Maraya Social is set to be a destination restaurant for Middle East and the world. We are delighted for AlUla to be the home of Chef’s first restaurant in Saudi Arabia. AlUla presents a unique opportunity both in terms of the historical setting as well as the untapped pantry of produce and flavors.”

The venue will be located on the rooftop of the mirrored Maraya Hall, offering diners unparalleled 360-degree views of the stunning rock-strewn valleys and canyons of the Ashar Valley as they enjoy a hearty menu featuring seasonal fruits, vegetables and locally-produced ingredients.

The interior of Maraya Social. Supplied

 “AlUla has an amazing diversity of produce unique to the region and an incredible history and culture which I am excited to explore both in the landscape and in the menu,” said Chef Atherton.

 The not-yet-opened restaurant will feature an open-plan design with bespoke furniture made out of luxe fabrics and materials such as silk and cotton in a harmonic color palette, selected to reflect its environment.

Maraya Social will be the newest addition to the Michelin-starred chef’s portfolio of international restaurants as well as his first foray into the Kingdom.

Those who wish to dine at the new venue will be able to make reservations online.


Jeddah arts hub Hayy Jameel announces 5-month opening season

Jeddah’s new arts hub Hayy Jameel is set to open with a five-month opening season on Dec. 6, 2021. (Supplied)
Jeddah’s new arts hub Hayy Jameel is set to open with a five-month opening season on Dec. 6, 2021. (Supplied)
Updated 26 October 2021

Jeddah arts hub Hayy Jameel announces 5-month opening season

Jeddah’s new arts hub Hayy Jameel is set to open with a five-month opening season on Dec. 6, 2021. (Supplied)

DUBAI: Jeddah’s new arts hub Hayy Jameel is set to open with a five-month opening season on Dec. 6, 2021, the Art Jameel foundation announced on Tuesday.

The opening season will run from Dec. 6 to April 30, 2022, and will feature a roster of exhibitions and art programs, including “Staple: What’s on your plate?” co-curated by Art Jameel and Delfina Foundation; “Illuminate: a Noor Riyadh Capsule,” featuring major light works by 11 Saudi artists; “Paused Mirror,” a newly-commissioned collection of portraits of Saudi artists by Osama Esid; and the inaugural Hayy Jamel Façade Commission, awarded to Nasser Almulhim.

Workshops, tours and talks will also take place throughout the five-month season.

The opening season includes more than 45 artists and researchers from around 20 countries and features existing and newly-commissioned works by 19 Saudi artists.

Hayy Jameel, a 17,000-square-meter cultural complex, is designed by waiwai, an award-winning multidisciplinary architecture studio with offices in Dubai and Tokyo. Hayy Jameel’s building design has received multiple architectural accolades, including Gold in the Hong Kong Design Awards and Silver in the New York Design Awards.

Fady Jameel, Chairman and Founder of Art Jameel, commented: “Hayy Jameel’s opening has been 20 years in the making and marks the celebration of over three-quarters of a century of Jameel philanthropic and community activities – manifesting at a dynamic moment and exceptionally exciting time for cultural life in Saudi Arabia.”

Director of Art Jameel Antonia Carver added: “Hayy Jameel opens in concert with a robust cultural calendar in Saudi, from coast to coast, including the launch of the first Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale, Red Sea International Film Festival, Misk Art Week, Tuwaiq International Sculpture Symposium and many more. Since its early days, Art Jameel’s working model has always been collaborative, dynamic and cross-disciplinary, complementing existing infrastructures while creating opportunities for alignment and expansion. Hayy Jameel has come at the right time, in the right city where contemporary art meets a history shaped by trade and tradition.”