Iraq gets back looted ancient artifacts from US, others

Iraq gets back looted ancient artifacts from US, others
Boxes containing recovered looted artifacts sit temporarily at the foreign ministry before being transferred to the Iraq Museum, in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021. (AP Photo)
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Updated 03 August 2021

Iraq gets back looted ancient artifacts from US, others

Iraq gets back looted ancient artifacts from US, others
  • The majority of the artifacts date back 4,000 years to ancient Mesopotamia and were recovered from the US in a recent trip by PM Mustafa Al-Kadhimi
  • Iraq’s antiquities have been looted throughout decades of war and instability since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein

BAGHDAD: Over 17,000 looted ancient artifacts recovered from the United States and other countries were handed over to Iraq’s Culture Ministry on Tuesday, a restitution described by the government as the largest in the country’s history.
The majority of the artifacts date back 4,000 years to ancient Mesopotamia and were recovered from the US in a recent trip by Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. Other pieces were also returned from Japan, Netherlands and Italy, Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said in a joint press conference with Culture Minister Hasan Nadhim.
Nadhim said the recovery was “the largest in the history of Iraq” and the product of months of effort between the government and Iraq’s Embassy in Washington.
“There’s still a lot of work ahead in this matter. There are still thousands of Iraqi artifacts smuggled outside the country,” he said. “The United Nations resolutions are supporting us in the international community and the laws of other countries in which these artifacts are smuggled to are on our side.”
“The smugglers are being trapped day after day by these laws and forced to hand over these artifacts,” he added.
The artifacts were handed over to the Culture Ministry in large wooden crates. A few were displayed but the ministry said the most significant pieces will be examined and later displayed to the public in Iraq’s National Museum.
Iraq’s antiquities have been looted throughout decades of war and instability since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. Iraq’s government has been slowly recovering the plundered antiquities since. However, archaeological sites across the country continue to be neglected owing to lack of funds.
At least five shipments of antiquities and documents have been returned to Iraq’s museum since 2016, according to the Foreign Ministry.


Mideast films win big at BFI London Film Festival 

Mideast films win big at BFI London Film Festival 
Updated 18 October 2021

Mideast films win big at BFI London Film Festival 

Mideast films win big at BFI London Film Festival 

DUBAI: The BFI London Film Festival unveiled its winners for the 2021 edition on Sunday, and two regional films made the cut —“Hit the Road” and “Costa Brava, Lebanon.”

“Hit the Road” won the Best Film award. 

Iranian director Panah Panahi’s drama, which showed at the Cannes Film Festival, is all about the journey. It follows a chaotic family-of-four that goes on a road trip in a borrowed car.

“Costa Brava, Lebanon” stars Saleh Bakri and Nadine Labaki. (Supplied)

“Costa Brava, Lebanon,” which stars Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri and Lebanese actress Nadine Labaki, won the Audience Award.  

Lebanese director Mounia Akl’s impassioned feature film debut is an eerie family drama set amid a raging climate crisis in near-future Lebanon.

Read on for the full list of awards:

“Hit the Road,” Panah Panahi, Official Competition (Best Film Award)

“Playground,” Laura Wandel, First Feature Competition (Sutherland Award)

“Becoming Cousteau,” Liz Garbus, Documentary Competition (Grierson Award)

“Only Expansion,” Duncan Speakman, Immersive Art and XR Competition

“Love, Dad,” Diana Cam Van Nguyen, Short Film Competition (Short Film Award)

“Costa Brava, Lebanon,” Mounia Akl, Audience Award


Artists, critics join Riyadh Art Memento Exhibition discussion panels

Artists, critics join Riyadh Art Memento Exhibition discussion panels
Updated 18 October 2021

Artists, critics join Riyadh Art Memento Exhibition discussion panels

Artists, critics join Riyadh Art Memento Exhibition discussion panels
  • Exhibition showcases artworks and paintings of Saudi artists over the past five decades

RIYADH: Saudi artists, academics and critics will take part in five discussion sessions as part of the Art Memento Exhibition being held at the National Museum in Riyadh until Nov. 6.

The dialogue sessions, organized by the Saudi Ministry of Culture, will focus on the history of visual arts in the Kingdom and the factors that influence artistic development, along with the role of what was previously known as the General Presidency of Youth Welfare in supporting art and artists over five decades.

The first of the dialogue sessions will be held on Monday under the title “The Journey of Art Collections from Youth Welfare to the Ministry of Culture.” Dr. Suzan Al-Yahya and Dr. Hanan Al-Ahmed will take part in this session as panelists, while Dr. Maha Al-Senan will be the facilitator.

The second session, “Towards a Better Organization of the Acquisition of Artworks,” will be held on Tuesday, with visual artists Mohammed Al-Saawi, Sara Al-Omran and Abdulrahman Al-Sulaiman as panelists and Hafsa Al-Khudairi as facilitator.

The third session will be held next Sunday under the title “The Features of Saudi Visual Arts from Modern to Contemporary,” and will feature Dr. Mohammed Al-Resayes, Dr. Eiman Elgibreen and Faisal Al-Khudaidi as panelists and Dr. Khulood Al-Bugami as facilitator.

“Fostering Arts and the Extent of their Cultural Impact on Society,” the fourth session, will be held next Tuesday, with Ehab Ellaban as panelist and Dr. Hanan Al-Hazza as facilitator.

The fifth and final session will take place on Nov. 2 under the title “The Journey of a Saudi Artist Between the Local and International Scenes.” It will feature Dr. Ahmed Mater, Bakr Shaikhoun and Maha Malluh as panelists and Dr. Noura Shuqair as facilitator.

The Art Memento Exhibition showcases artworks and paintings of Saudi artists over the past five decades, documenting the history of the Kingdom’s visual arts for public display.

Saudi artistic development is highlighted in terms of form, subject and ideas, while the exhibition also celebrates the efforts of leading artists and founders, preserves their history and presents their work to a new generation.


US actress Yara Shahidi to guide young filmmakers in new role with Ghetto Film School

Actress Yara Shahidi has been announced as the Ghetto Film School’s Dell XPS International Thesis Advisor. (File/ Getty Images)
Actress Yara Shahidi has been announced as the Ghetto Film School’s Dell XPS International Thesis Advisor. (File/ Getty Images)
Updated 17 October 2021

US actress Yara Shahidi to guide young filmmakers in new role with Ghetto Film School

Actress Yara Shahidi has been announced as the Ghetto Film School’s Dell XPS International Thesis Advisor. (File/ Getty Images)

DUBAI: Actress Yara Shahidi has announced that she is joining hands with the US-based Ghetto Film School as the organization’s new international thesis advisor.

The 21-year-old star of hit TV show “Grown-ish,” who is also a student at Harvard University, will be on hand to guide students who are based in New York, Los Angeles, and London through the educational program.

During the 30-month program, students will research the cinematography and culture of a specific country and will complete a script based on their findings.

Shahidi, whose father is US-Iranian, shared the announcement via a previously recorded video message that was aired during the nonprofit’s fall benefit, which was held in Los Angeles late last week.

“When I think of the impact of Ghetto Film School, I reflect on my own career. Here I sit before you, not only as an actress but as a producer, as a director, an advocate, an entrepreneur and so much more,” she said in a pre-recorded message.

“And the reason why I know all of this is possible is precisely because of one thing, which is opportunity. The opportunities that have been given to me by people within my support network who actively believed in me, who invested in me and were ready to see me to my next step and my next evolution.

“It is surreal at the age of 21 to be able to partake in any work that is seen as helping to (make) this industry more equitable,” she said in a statement reported by People magazine. “I know the stories of our Brown and Black filmmakers are stories that are necessary on screen, and not just from an artistic standpoint, but from a point of being cultural disruptors who are guiding us to new futures.”

The star went on to explain a little bit about her role as the Dell XPS International Thesis Advisor. There will be roughly 30 fellows in each location and Shahidi will be on hand for advice as they write, shoot, and edit their project.

“Being an international thesis advisor basically means that I’m helping in this process, giving my expertise where possible, being of service where possible,” she said, according to Yahoo News.

In April, Shahidi announced she is developing a new television series via her production company, 7th Sun Productions. The part-Middle Eastern star is set to executive produce and develop an on-screen adaptation of Cole Brown’s critically-acclaimed debut book “Greyboy: Finding Blackness in a White World,” alongside her mother and business partner Keri Shahidi and Brown for ABC Signature.


Architect sheds light on Expo 2020 Dubai’s ‘monument to the living’

The monument is located at Expo 2020 Dubai’s Jubilee Park. (Supplied)
The monument is located at Expo 2020 Dubai’s Jubilee Park. (Supplied)
Updated 17 October 2021

Architect sheds light on Expo 2020 Dubai’s ‘monument to the living’

The monument is located at Expo 2020 Dubai’s Jubilee Park. (Supplied)

DUBAI: It took more than 200,000 workers and 240 million hours of combined labor to bring the vast Expo 2020 Dubai site to life.

Now, to express thanks to the workforce, a colonnade of 38 columns has been installed at the site’s Jubilee Park, with individual worker’s names carved in stone.

Reem Al-Hashimi, Expo 2020 Dubai’s director-general, had the idea for the Workers’ Monument and asked London-based architect Asif Khan to design the project.

“It’s such a powerful form of recognition, positive energy and kindness. It’s a very human statement, and a reminder that human beings are at the heart of what has been achieved,” Khan told Arab News.

The monument is located at Expo 2020 Dubai’s Jubilee Park. (Supplied)


 “In general, the people who build all these projects that transform the world and our culture are rarely thanked or, if they are, it’s in an impersonal, general way,” he said.

“What we forget when people are working on projects is that their family and friends are part of the process. They make sacrifices.”

Khan, who also designed the Expo’s massive entry portals, met many of the workers on site during the past five years.

“They are from every corner of the world, especially South Asia, and they all got on together,” he recalled.

However, detailing the tribute was no easy task, with spreadsheets that listed hundreds of names — a challenge that Khan saw as a “fascinating anthropological study.”

Duplicate names, alternative spellings, and names that ranged between one and five words were all honored in the final structure. Each circular, two-meter-high column, made of Omani limestone, is like “a book in a library,” where individual workers can find their name.

“When I first visited the site, it was desert. Through the works of these people — brick by brick, centimeter by centimeter — this site was transformed,” Khan said.

“They are like magicians who changed the state of matter.”

The celebratory Dubai tribute is believed to be the first of its kind, with similar monuments traditionally associated with solemnity and loss.

“It’s a monument to the living. In our research, we found no monument of this scale which names every worker individually,” Khan said. “I hope it’s the beginning of being thankful, globally.”

Expo may last for only six months, but the overall site and Workers’ Monument are here to stay, according to Khan, “making sure that future generations knew who made it.” 

 


World’s oldest ghost image found on British Museum Babylon tablet

World’s oldest ghost image found on British Museum Babylon tablet
Updated 16 October 2021

World’s oldest ghost image found on British Museum Babylon tablet

World’s oldest ghost image found on British Museum Babylon tablet
  • Artefact, nearly 3,500 years old, never exhibited as male and female figures so faint
  • Curator: ‘It is a Guinness Book of Records object, because how could anybody have a drawing of a ghost which was older?’

LONDON: The oldest depiction of a ghost recorded in human history has been discovered at the British Museum.

The image, on an ancient Babylonian clay tablet nearly 3,500 years old — acquired in the 19th century — shows a bearded man being led to the afterlife by a woman, with his hands held out before him, tied together.

Dr. Irving Finkel, curator of the Middle East department at the museum, said the tablet — which has cuneiform text accompanying the image, and which has never been on public display — was meant to help the living remove unwanted spirits by aiding them to settle unfinished business.

The nature of the tablet, Finkel said, had been missed for years because the image of the ghosts is so faint and only visible under certain light, while it is also significantly damaged. 

“You’d probably never give it a second thought because the area where the drawings are looks like it’s got no writing,” he told The Guardian.

“But when you examine it and hold it under a lamp, those figures leap out at you across time in the most startling way. It is a Guinness Book of Records object, because how could anybody have a drawing of a ghost which was older?”