Saudi jeweler Ayat Dahi designs pieces from the heart of Jeddah’s Al-Balad alleys

Saudi artist and jeweler Ayat Dahi at work. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Saudi artist and jeweler Ayat Dahi at work. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Saudi artist and jeweler Ayat Dahi at work. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Saudi artist and jeweler Ayat Dahi at work. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 06 August 2021

Saudi jeweler Ayat Dahi designs pieces from the heart of Jeddah’s Al-Balad alleys

Saudi jeweler Ayat Dahi designs pieces from the heart of Jeddah’s Al-Balad alleys
  • Ayat Dahi opened her jewelry studio in 2020 and though the pandemic was a worldwide crisis, she remained optimistic and focused on her art
  • Ayat Studio offers weekly jewelry making and pottery workshops for beginners and advanced levels for both genders

JEDDAH: The art of jewelry design is complex and requires a keen eye for details, achieved with time and effort. What better than to bring the beauty of such art from the heart of Jeddah’s old town.

Making jewelry might seem a bit intimidating as it requires dealing with solid materials, sharp tools, and a lot of patience. But despite any difficulties, Ayat Dahi, a young Saudi Arabian artist and jeweler from Jeddah, decided to unleash her artistic skills and open her own jewelry studio. At the same time, she also wanted to educate and inspire art among the youth of her society.

Dahi received her master’s degree in jewelry making from Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia in 2017. She told Arab News that her interest in the craft was already there, but working toward a degree helped her grow.

“I started making jewelry 10 years ago but I was only a beginner back then,” she said. “The real spark for making jewelry was ignited once I was back from the US.”

Dealing with craft tools, such as a torch, sandpaper, hammers, and saws require a bit of strength and confidence.

“Although the tools I am dealing with are considered dangerous and sharp, you have to be very careful and precise when dealing with them,” Dahi said. “However, the fine result will always leave me surprised and in awe.”

She participated at the annual Atlanta jewelry show in 2017.

“The exhibit gathered jewelry makers from everywhere in one place,” said Dahi, who was inspired by her love for coffee. “The pieces on display were derived from the coffee culture. I would use a coffee bean in a ring instead of a precious stone and I also had dual rings that can be worn by couples or friends.”

A woman with many talents, Dahi also works as a barista at one of Jeddah’s well-known cafes and was among the very first females to do so in the Kingdom.

She said that she always tries to incorporate new items and designs into her jewelry pieces to make them more contemporary and artsy. “Generally, I like to produce jewelry that can be worn as a jewelry item and sometimes I opt to produce art pieces with the same tools and techniques used for jewelry,” Dahi said. “However it does not matter if the piece is wearable or not. It is the process and the piece itself that ends up being beautifully made and designed.”

HIGHLIGHTS

Ayat Dahi received her master’s degree in jewelry making from Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia in 2017. She told Arab News that her interest in the craft was already there, but working toward a degree helped her grow.

A woman with many talents, Dahi also works as a barista at one of Jeddah’s well-known cafes and was among the very first females to do so in the Kingdom. She said that she always tries to incorporate new items and designs into her jewelry pieces to make them more contemporary and artsy. 

Inspired by her surroundings, the jewelry designer is working on a souvenir project of a wearable jewelry collection motivated by Al-Balad’s many historic sites and architectural designs.

She further went on to explain how there are endless techniques in jewelry making. It starts with pitching an idea, researching and sketching the design, then cutting, polishing, and soldering.

“I believe having an artistic imagination for the design is one of the most valuable assets of the craft,” Dahi said. “Once I finish designing and crafting any piece, I really feel accomplished knowing that I am the one behind it.”

In 2019, Dahi earned her traditional arts diploma at Jameel House of Tradition Arts, located in the old Jeddah downtown, known as Al-Balad. It is also where her studio is located, near the Nassif House Museum, built by Omar Nassif in 1881.

“I choose to have a studio in Al-Balad because it is one of the dearest historic areas to my heart, and I believe it is a very inspiring place for so many people, too,” she said.

“I want visitors to experience the true meaning of an art workshop, and thus I chose the Al-Balad area, where they will have to walk between the old streets and alleyways to reach the studio.”




Saudi artist and jeweler Ayat Dahi at work. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

Ayat Studio offers weekly jewelry making and pottery workshops for beginners and advanced levels for both genders. The studio also supports other artists by providing them with a space to offer workshops. Dahi also aims to exchange experiences and learn new things through these workshops.

In 2020, she decided to open her jewelry studio and though the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was a worldwide crisis, Dahi remained optimistic and focused on her art.

“During the pandemic, I was keeping myself busy working on various things in my home studio and sharing what I accomplished through social media,” she said. “That caught people’s attention and then many were longing for a visit. After that, I decided to open a studio in the downtown area.”

Inspired by her surroundings, the jewelry designer is working on a souvenir project of a wearable jewelry collection motivated by Al-Balad’s many historic sites and architectural designs.


‘Moulin Rouge! The Musical’ leads early at the Tony Awards

‘Moulin Rouge! The Musical’ leads early at the Tony Awards
Updated 27 September 2021

‘Moulin Rouge! The Musical’ leads early at the Tony Awards

‘Moulin Rouge! The Musical’ leads early at the Tony Awards
  • Alex Timbers won the trophy for best direction
  • Broadway favorite Danny Burstein won a featured acting Tony

NEW YORK: “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” a jukebox adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s hyperactive 2001 movie, took an early lead at the Tony Awards, earning seven trophies at the halfway point.
The pandemic-delayed telecast kicked off with an energetic performance of “You Can’t Stop The Beat” from the original Broadway cast of “Hairspray!”
The optimistic number was performed for a masked and appreciative audience at a packed Winter Garden Theatre. Host Audra McDonald got a standing ovation when she took the stage. “You can’t stop the beat. The heart of New York City!” she said.
“Moulin Rouge! The Musical” won for scenic design, costume, lighting, sound design, orchestrations and a featured acting Tony for Broadway favorite Danny Burstein. Sonya Tayeh won for choreography on her Broadway debut.

Alex Timbers won the trophy for best direction of a musical for “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.”
It is Timbers’ first Tony. The show is about the goings-on in a turn-of-the-century Parisian nightclub, updated with tunes like “Single Ladies” and “Firework” alongside the big hit “Lady Marmalade.”
Timbers has been nominated twice before, for directing “Peter and the Starcatcher” in 2012 and directing and writing “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.” He has been a production consultant on David Byrne’s “American Utopia,” directed “Rocky” and “The Pee-wee Herman Show” and is directing “Beetlejuice” for the second time next spring.
He picked up a Lucille Lortel Award for directing the off-Broadway production of “Here Lies Love” and went on to direct the show at London’s National Theatre. Other notable off-Broadway credits include the “Love’s Labour’s Lost” in Central Park and the Roundabout Theatre Company’s 2016 revival of “The Robber Bridegroom.”
For the Tony, he beat Phyllida Lloyd of “Tina — The Tina Turner Musical” and Diane Paulus of “Jagged Little Pill.”
Burstein, who won for featured actor in a musical for “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” thanked the Broadway community for supporting him after the death of his wife, Rebecca Luker, ReDavid Alan Grier won featured actor in a play for his role in a “A Soldier’s Play.” “To my other nominees: Tough banana, I won,” he said.
Lois Smith won her first Tony for best performance by an actress in a featured role in a play for “The Inheritance.” And Lauren Patten edged out her co-stars from “Jagged Little Pill” to win the award for best featured actress in a musical.
“A Christmas Carol” was cleaning up with five technical awards: scenic design of a play, costumes, lighting, sound design and score. No one from the production was on hand to accept the awards.
Sunday’s show has been expanded from its typical three hours to four, with McDonald handing out Tonys for the first two hours and Leslie Odom Jr. hosting a “Broadway’s Back!” celebration for the second half, including the awarding of the top three trophies — best play revival, best play and best musical.
While other entertainment industries like TV and film found ways to restart during the pandemic, Broadway was unable until now due to financial and physical impediments. The lifting of all capacity restrictions was crucial to any reopening since Broadway economics demand full venue capacity.
The sobering musical “Jagged Little Pill,” which plumbs Alanis Morissette’s 1995 breakthrough album to tell a story of an American family spiraling out of control, goes into the night with a leading 15 Tony nominations.
Nipping on its heels is “Moulin Rouge!,” a jukebox adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s hyperactive 2001 movie about the goings-on in a turn-of-the-century Parisian nightclub that has 14 nods.
“Slave Play,” Jeremy O. Harris’ ground-breaking, bracing work that mixes race, sex, taboo desires and class, earned a dozen nominations, making it the most nominated play in Tony history.
Other shows to keep an eye on are “The Inheritance” by Matthew Lopez, which nabbed 11 nominations. It’s a two-part, seven-hour epic that uses “Howards End” as a starting point for a play that looks at gay life in the early 21st century. And “Tina — The Tina Turner Musical,” which tells the rock icon’s life with songs that include “Let’s Stay Together” and “Proud Mary,” earned 12 nods.
This season’s nominations were pulled from just 18 eligible plays and musicals from the 2019-2020 season, a fraction of the 34 shows the previous season. During most years, there are 26 competitive categories. This year there are 25 with several depleted ones. But theater insiders think an awards show is even more vital now.
“I would argue it’s more important than ever, in a way,” said James Corden, who hosted the Tonys in 2016. “If there’s a year that we should ever celebrate them, it’s this year, where people’s entire lives have just been ripped away and turned upside down.”
Some intriguing races include whether Karen Olivo wins best leading actress in a musical, despite quitting her show, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” in frustration with Broadway.
Six-time Tony-winner McDonald is not just a host. She’s up for best actress award in a play, which, if she won, would give her seven awards, breaking her own record for the most Tonys won by a performer. And something bizarre has to happen to deny Aaron Tveit winning for best leading actor in a musical; he’s the only person nominated in the category. Voting for the nominees was done in March.
The last Tony Awards ceremony was held in 2019. The virus forced Broadway theaters to abruptly close on March 12, 2020, knocking out all shows and scrambling the spring season. Several have restarted, including the so-called big three of “Wicked,” “Hamilton” and “The Lion King.”
“Jagged Little Pill” goes into the telecast on the defensive, dogged by two controversies.
A former cast member, Nora Schell, a Black nonbinary actor who made their Broadway debut in the chorus in 2019, posted a statement this week on social media describing repeated instances early in the run of the show in which they were “intimidated, coerced, and forced by multiple higher ups to put off critical and necessary surgery to remove growths from my vagina that were making me anemic.”
“Jagged Little Pill” producers — saying they are “deeply troubled” by the claims — have hired an independent investigator, and the union Actors Equity Association said Sunday it was also commissioning “a thorough, independent investigation” of the show’s workplace.
In another controversy, the show’s producers have apologized to fans for changing a character from gender-nonconforming to cisgender female after the show moved from Boston to Broadway.
Two original stars — Celia Rose Gooding and Antonio Cipriano — have announced that they are leaving after Sunday’s performance, with Cipriano on Sunday citing “the harm that many trans + non-binary, and all marginalized folks, in-stage cast members and off have endured.” He wrote he took responsibility “for being part of the cause harmed.”

 


Painting the words: ‘Sauce of Mango’ mixes between the beauty of Arabic fables and art

Painting the words: ‘Sauce of Mango’ mixes between the beauty of Arabic fables and art
Updated 27 September 2021

Painting the words: ‘Sauce of Mango’ mixes between the beauty of Arabic fables and art

Painting the words: ‘Sauce of Mango’ mixes between the beauty of Arabic fables and art
  • The book fits all age groups but primarily caters to an older audience as some stories have dark themes

JEDDAH: Finding the right art to represent literary work is a challenge. With so much to choose from, one Saudi author decided to get help through an art platform for diversity and inclusion.

Saad Almotham mixed with his literary work with artwork provided by a group of 56 Saudi and Arab artists to create a book that is an art project in itself, titled “Sauce of Mango.”

Made up of a hundred short fables, written in Arabic and showcasing 96 artworks, it began in 2012 when Almotham found his niche, initially using Twitter to share the stories in 140 and, later, 280 characters. 

“I had a word limit and I had to tell a story within that limit, and that’s quite a challenge,” he said. “I often had to go back and forth through the stories I wanted to tweet as I wanted them to be meaningful and short at the same time.”

It was after posting 200 stories that Almotham got the idea of compiling them in a book. He selected 100, and decided on the title after the main character from one short fable.

“The main character is afraid of trying new things and I too was experiencing something new, so I chose his name as a reference to my own story in writing as we’re both trying to create something new and different,” said Almotham. 

The book fits all age groups but primarily caters to an older audience as some stories have dark themes.

For the artwork, the author wanted to select things that would accommodate the storyline best. With the help of artists through the Fitrh Art platform, he was able to have a unique and distinct piece of art for most of his literary works.

Fitrh Art is a platform that serves as a home to Arab artists interested in being part of a storytelling adventure. 

Selected artists were given the stories and worked on the ones that attracted them the most. “I didn’t interfere much with the artists past the initial rough sketch, I wanted to preserve their style and what they were comfortable with. I didn’t want it to look like a comic book, I wanted it to be a work of art,” said Almotham.

Hana Kanee, a 29-year-old Saudi artist, was part of the creative set that contributed to the book.

“I didn’t know the author beforehand; I found this opportunity through Instagram and the way they showcased it was ‘as a collection of stories where animals will be expressing themselves through Arabic poetry,’ it sounded very creative and made me imagine the possibilities,” she artist told Arab News. 

Kanee chose the stories that resonated with her most. She described the process as fun, saying that “the stories made me laugh immediately and the artist’s description of the stories was very colorful, which is perfect for my artwork. It reminded me of my childhood as well.”

The artists had the freedom to bring their creative talent to the mix and were given enough space to pursue it.

Bringing the book together proved to be quite a challenge for Almotham; he said he felt like it was impossible at times. The pandemic did not help this initial dread, and he added: “The fact that we were able to pull it off and put this project out in the world makes me feel very proud.” 

Once the book was complete, the author organized an online art exhibition in collaboration with the Fitrh Art platform, where they showcased the artwork with the stories as a description. 

Almotham is currently working on the English translation of the book, and hopes to publish it soon.

“During the exhibition we roughly translated the stories and those too were very well received, so I thought I should work on the translation for English readers to enjoy.”


AlUla events promise months-long feast of arts, culture music and wellness

Organizers have revealed that the highly anticipated Winter at Tantora event is set to return. (SPA)
Organizers have revealed that the highly anticipated Winter at Tantora event is set to return. (SPA)
Updated 27 September 2021

AlUla events promise months-long feast of arts, culture music and wellness

Organizers have revealed that the highly anticipated Winter at Tantora event is set to return. (SPA)
  • The mane event: Equine fashion show at AlUla
  • AlUla Skies will give tourists the chance to float over the Hegra in a hot air balloon

JEDDAH: The winter season of events at AlUla prides itself on having everything from astronomy to gastronomy, but this year it will excel itself.

Among the events planned for the jewel in Saudi Arabia’s heritage crown is an haute couture fashion show — for horses.

Other equestrian highlights this year will be the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Race and AlUla Desert Polo.

Events will begin on Dec. 21 this year and run until March 30, 2022, and fall into four categories — Winter at Tantora, AlUla Arts, AlUla Skies, and the AlUla Wellness Festival, all providing a feast of arts, culture, music, and wellness.

Most musical performances will take place in the beautiful Maraya Center, and a candlelit symphonic concert at the UNESCO world heritage site of Hegra will begin proceedings.

 

Amira Abbas, who visited the festival in 2020, was thrilled to hear the announcement: “When I first went to AlUla it was magical, truly one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I am already excited to get back to the calm and quiet of the place. I will take at least a week off my schedule and plan a trip.”

The visitors will add to their knowledge of the site and the Kingdom through archaeology and cultural workshops taking place at the heritage sites.

AlUla Arts festival will commence February 2021, bringing together events centered around artistic talents. The “art of our time”  exhibition will boast cutting-edge contemporary art created by Saudi artists. Alongside the exhibition is the Cinema El Housh, an outdoor cinema that will be showing the beauties of the oasis and other landscapes within AlUla. Saudi filmmakers will also contribute to these projects.

FASTFACTS

• The Winter at Tantora Festival will run from Dec. 21 to Feb. 12. Musical performances will be taking place in the beautiful Maraya Center, with a Candlelit Symphonic Concert at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hegra kicking off proceedings.

• AlUla Arts festival will commence February 2021, bringing together events.

Another festival that will take flight is AlUla Skies, which will give tourists the chance to float over the Hegra in a hot air balloon, glide in a vintage plane over the oasis, and take a helicopter above the Madakheel. Back on land, adventurers can take the star-gazing tour titled “Constellations.”

Ohoud Abdallah, 27, spent three days touring the heritage sites of AlUla last year and told Arab News that she was not able to enjoy the skies on her visit: “It is a childhood fantasy of mine to go ride in a hot air balloon; last time I couldn’t because my timing was off. I am absolutely thrilled to see that it is coming back and there is nothing more I want to do than to float off in a balloon or just sit under the stars after being cooped up in my house for so long.”

Alula Wellness Festival, running from March 17 to 27, will focus on the well-being of the mind and body, including yoga, meditation, mindful practices, and an exhibition that will use space, light, and sound to provoke the senses.


The Comedy Club in Jeddah is back in business 

The Comedy Club in Jeddah is back in business 
Updated 25 September 2021

The Comedy Club in Jeddah is back in business 

The Comedy Club in Jeddah is back in business 
  • For almost 500 days, the club was left empty because of government regulations to fight COVID-19

JEDDAH: After a prolonged interruption due to the ongoing coronavirus disease pandemic, The Comedy Club in Jeddah is back in business, and fans are flocking to it for some comic relief.
For almost 500 days, the club was left empty because of the pandemic and government regulations to fight COVID-19, preventing all live shows and mass gatherings that could put people at risk. But with restrictions easing, more people are aware of the rules and regulations and the decline in daily cases, and the club is back in full swing.
“The General Entertainment Authority reached out to us to return comedy shows, and we are one of the activities of the summer season festival in Jeddah,” Majed Al-Amoudi, comedian and content manager at The Comedy Club, told Arab News. “We perform live shows four days a week now: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.”
Al-Amoudi explained that because the shows are primarily theatrical, the pandemic significantly affected the ability to operate, and everything was put on indefinite hold. However, as with everything going digital nowadays, he said the club managed to provide entertaining content on its YouTube channel.

“The Comedy Club channel (has) a lot of programs like ‘Althalothiyat’ where we host famous people or influencers, but now, we are back to theater and going live.”
He said the club is planning for future events after the summer season is finished on Sept. 25. “We will return to our regular programing and we have major projects in the works with different parties, both in the government and private sectors, but can’t reveal at the moment.”
Mohammed Saleh, a 40-year-old private sector worker, said: “It feels good to be back in the theater. The comedians are brilliant and every month I would look forward to attending a show. 
“Watching shows on YouTube can only provide some relief; the live atmosphere is something else. The night is filled with laughter to almost tears, and that’s what you want in a comedy show, belly laughs and tears,” he added.

With plans for bigger and better shows in the works, Al-Amoudi highlighted that the club was sponsored by the GEA and received special attention from its governor, Turki Al-Sheikh, for three years, with the GEA the primary sponsor of the club during the Jeddah and Sharqiya seasons in 2019.
Founded in 2012, it was initially called the Jeddah Comedy Club. Located in Al-Shallal Theme Park, it hosts theatrical shows, stand-up comedy, improvisation, and musical nights. “We also perform theatricals and sketches, we write, edit, act it, and perform it all,” Al-Amoudi said.
He revealed that he is also on the hunt for female comics as part of the club’s future expansion. “We are always looking for female comedians, or even girls who want to be professional stand-up comedians, so that we can give them courses and prepare them for the entertainment world. We are talent hunting throughout the Kingdom for sure.
“Vision 2030 supports all arts in various fields and supports the development of the youth of the country. Of course, all our goals are in line with Vision 2030, and it is great supporter for us,” he added.


Princess Reema hopes global walkathon will raise awareness of plight of big cats

Princess Reema hopes global walkathon will raise awareness of plight of big cats
Updated 24 September 2021

Princess Reema hopes global walkathon will raise awareness of plight of big cats

Princess Reema hopes global walkathon will raise awareness of plight of big cats
  • Global ‘Catwalk’ scheduled for November will ‘form a bridge between cat conservation, the environment, and active lifestyles’

DUBAI: In an effort to raise awareness of endangered big cats and their ecosystems, the US-based independent non-profit foundation Catmosphere is hosting a worldwide ‘Catwalk’ on November 6 in a bid to get people moving and simultaneously benefit the world’s big cats.

Catmosphere was launched in July by Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, who is on a mission to safeguard the lives and wellbeing of big cats. Catmosphere aims to magnify the efforts of Panthera, the only organization in the world devoted to the conservation of 40 species of wild cats.

“Catmosphere is a catalyst for change. Its campaigns and activations are (intended) to build momentum globally around big cat conservation,” Princess Reema told Arab News. “I first understood the threat to the future of big cats when I learned about Panthera’s work in Saudi Arabia with the Royal Commission of AlUla, where they are researching the status of the Arabian leopard in the Kingdom with a view to forging a path for its recovery in the region.”

Catmosphere aims to magnify the efforts of Panthera, the only organization in the world devoted to the conservation of 40 species of wild cats. (Shutterstock)

Many species of big cats are now facing extinction. Catmosphere focuses on Panthera’s conservation efforts covering seven big cat species: Tigers, lions, cheetahs, jaguars, pumas, leopards, and snow leopards.

“The future of big cats is under threat, primarily due to diminishing habitats,” Princess Reema said. “Accordingly, Catwalk is striving for a healthy habitat for big cats, and healthy habitats start at home. A healthy and active lifestyle helps us respect our own bodies, and engaging with our environment gives us an appreciation for the fundamental role it plays in all of life. Catwalk invites us all to ignite physical movement locally, and in doing so trigger the big cat conservation movement globally.”

Princess Reema, who sits on the boards of both the Catmosphere foundation and Panthera’s Conservation Council, is actively involved in Catwalk as part of the leadership team.

Many species of big cats are now facing extinction. (Shutterstock)

It hopes to rally supporters around the world to take part in the global, mass-participation seven-kilometer walk on Nov. 6.

The event is open to everyone and can be completed in whatever way works best for the participant, wherever they are in the world. What is unique about the event is its link between building awareness about big cats, the environment and the importance of one’s own health, wellbeing and physical fitness.

“The global mass-participation activity aims to form a bridge between cat conservation, the environment, and active lifestyles, and brings together my own past experiences in campaign curation,” Princess Reema said. “I’m excited to work with different stakeholders all around the globe to map a path for scalable, inclusive campaign delivery that demonstrates how igniting a movement locally can result in meaningful change, ensuring the wellbeing and continuation of big cat populations globally.”

Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud is on a mission to safeguard the lives and wellbeing of big cats. (AFP)

Princess Reema stressed that the pandemic has impacted the world’s experience of both wildlife and community.

According to the World Health Organization, 24 percent of all human deaths are attributable to environmental factors. A quarter of the world’s population is at risk due to insufficient exercise in increasingly sedentary societies. Big cats are even more dependent on their environments than humans.

Panthera has warned that important species are threatened by habitat loss, and that the tiger, lion, leopard and cheetah have lost between 65 percent and 96 percent of their historical numbers.

The seven-kilometer walk will take place on Nov. 6. (Supplied)

“The reality of the pandemic and the experience that the whole world has just had of separation and isolation from human communities due to COVID-19 is very much what was done to the big cats when we cut off their territorial corridors and isolated them from their natural habitats in nature,” Princess Reema said.

“Just as we have seen that impact on us, imagine what that impact has been on them. Catwalk is hoping to highlight a very simple fact: That our collective wellbeing is interconnected, and so it is incumbent on all of us to operate through empathy and provide spaces that we as humans would want to live and thrive in, and ensure the same for big cats,” she added.

As Princess Reema underlines, given the challenges presented by the pandemic over the past 18 months, now is the time to reassess our relationship with nature and as well as that “between a healthy person and a healthy environment, to showcase the potential that each of us has to ensure a healthy future for big cats, too.”