Saudi crime drama ‘Rashash’ breaks new ground

Saudi actor Yagoub Al-Farhan played the role of Rashash Al-Otaibi in the true-life story of a Saudi bandit, drug trafficker and murderer who terrorized the population in the 1970s and 1980s. (Supplied)
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Saudi actor Yagoub Al-Farhan played the role of Rashash Al-Otaibi in the true-life story of a Saudi bandit, drug trafficker and murderer who terrorized the population in the 1970s and 1980s. (Supplied)
The series outlines Rashash’s life of crime, beginning with his entry into the underworld and ending with his arrest and execution. (Supplied)
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The series outlines Rashash’s life of crime, beginning with his entry into the underworld and ending with his arrest and execution. (Supplied)
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Updated 19 August 2021

Saudi crime drama ‘Rashash’ breaks new ground

Saudi crime drama ‘Rashash’ breaks new ground
  • The show, promoted as the biggest Saudi production, has attracted a wide-ranging audience

JEDDAH: The Saudi thriller series “Rashash” has generated an unusual amount of public reaction in the Kingdom, establishing a benchmark for local cinema’s flourishing and diverse future. 

The eight-episode show, promoted as the biggest Saudi production with a multimillion-dollar budget and made by Saudi-owned MBC Group, has attracted a wide-ranging audience. It has conquered every Saudi household, setting a challenging standard for future productions.

Saudi actor Yagoub Al-Farhan played the role of Rashash Al-Otaibi in the true-life story of a Saudi bandit, drug trafficker and murderer who terrorized the population in the 1970s and 1980s. The show has ignited heated discussions on social media over the past few weeks with the release of each episode every Thursday. The series outlines Rashash’s life of crime, beginning with his entry into the underworld and ending with his arrest and execution. 

Al-Farhan previously played Juhayman Al-Otaibi in the Alasouf series in 2019 and portrayed a militant terrorist leader who seized Makkah’s Grand Mosque in 1979. 

HIGHLIGHTS

Distinguished by its production values, ‘Rashash’ is a collaboration between the internationally recognized crew and Saudi talent. It features an all-Saudi cast in leading roles, including Nayef Al-Dhufairi as Officer Fahd, Khalid Yaslam as Chief Azam, and dozens of other Saudi actors.

It was directed by British filmmaker Collin Teague, whose credits include the sci-fi series ‘Doctor Who’ and is written by Sheikha Suha Al-Khalifa, the daughter of a former Bahraini ambassador, and Richard Bellamy, a political scientist. 

Despite Shahid’s disclaimer that the series is only for those above 18-years-old, many teenagers watched the show and became obsessed with the main character.

The controversy began as soon as MBC’s Shahid streaming platform started promoting the series in January, with promo views exceeding 2.5 million. Some members of the audience questioned whether highlighting the life of a criminal was appropriate, and worried that it might incite tribal tensions since the criminal belonged to one of the most prominent tribes in the Kingdom. 

Rashash’s family also objected to the release of the series on local media, saying that it was denigrating for the family and would “open old wounds,” his sister told a local newspaper. 

Distinguished by its production values, “Rashash” is a collaboration between the internationally recognized crew and Saudi talent. It features an all-Saudi cast in leading roles, including Nayef Al-Dhufairi as Officer Fahd, Khalid Yaslam as Chief Azam, and dozens of other Saudi actors.

It was directed by British filmmaker Collin Teague, whose credits include the sci-fi series “Doctor Who” and is written by Sheikha Suha Al-Khalifa, the daughter of a former Bahraini ambassador, and Richard Bellamy, a political scientist. 

Despite Shahid’s disclaimer that the series is only for those above 18-years-old, many teenagers watched the show and became obsessed with the main character. 

The platform is not directed at a young audience, but the show has created a social phenomenon where teenagers’ rebellious nature celebrated the criminal as a hero. Many videos circulated across social media of teenagers adopting Rashash’s personality and attitude and sometimes making threats of violence to the public; even Rashash’s messy hairstyle has become a trend. 

The owners of a café in Alkhobar city have used the popularity of “Rashash” as a marketing strategy to promote their business, hanging huge photos from the series on the walls and printing phrases from the show on their cups. They also labeled some of their drinks with the criminal’s name and with the names of other members of his gang.




The series by MBC outlines Rashash’s life of crime, beginning with his entry into the underworld and ending with his arrest and execution. (Supplied)

The series also sheds light on a young and dedicated officer, Fahd, who makes it his mission to capture Rashash and his accomplices.

“Rashash was not introduced as a hero. The story delivered an explicit message that differentiates between the criminal and the military man from the same tribe who chose to serve his country and protect land and lives from a defector’s barbarism. Each one had an ambition; one was patient and faced his challenges with courage and deliberation. At the same time, the other chose ease with drugs, rebellion, disobedience, and confrontation,” Refaa, 31, from Riyadh, told Arab News.

She continued, “Teenagers shouldn’t have watched the show in the first place because it is for an adult audience, the blame is on the parents; however, in case a teenage boy watched it and became a fan of Rashash, then parents must discuss his character and story with him to develop his critical thinking skills and learn to distinguish between right and wrong and the choices we may make in life.”

Refaa was encouraged to watch the series because it was based on a true story, which she said was a blessing in disguise. It was the reason behind the Saudi government establishing a road police force to protect travelers from bandits. 

“This is an unusual story in the Saudi cinema, where many of the shows were social dramas focusing on the status of women and Saudi families,” she said, “Action is a preferred genre among a large group of society, the youth, many of whom are enthusiastic about movies.”

Actor Yagoub Al-Farhan, who played Rashash, said in an interview with Al-Arabiya TV that Saudi production throughout its history had ranged between drama, comedy and dark comedy, a few attempts at the history genre, but never action.  

Al-Farhan said that the basic idea behind this show was to introduce a series within a popular genre of drama in society inspired by a story from Saudi history, which allowed the viewer to interact with it and relate to it.

Another viewer, Faris Baker, 33, from Riyadh, told Arab News.“The series started an important initiative because it broke the routine of the Saudi drama calendar; we are used to expecting seasonal shows premiered during the holy month of Ramadan, which kept the scene dead for the rest of the year and even marginalized some shows that did not get deserved attention due to overcrowded schedule of releases in one month.” 

Baker preferred the action over drama in the series.

“Having a renowned British filmmaker, Collin Teague, has enormously upgraded the level of production as a Saudi series especially in its active part in fighting scenes, which is related to any societal specificity. On the other hand, I spotted a clear gap in the dramatic part of the story which was more related to the nature of relationships in Saudi society, in which the director normally lacks a realistic vision of as a non-Saudi,” he said.


Dolce & Gabbana unveil tribute to Italian artistry at Expo 2020 Dubai

Each tile is made from a mixture of clay and Sicilian lava stone powder. (Supplied)
Each tile is made from a mixture of clay and Sicilian lava stone powder. (Supplied)
Updated 25 October 2021

Dolce & Gabbana unveil tribute to Italian artistry at Expo 2020 Dubai

Each tile is made from a mixture of clay and Sicilian lava stone powder. (Supplied)

DUBAI: Italian luxury fashion label Dolce & Gabbana has designed an installation that celebrates Italian artistic heritage at the country’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The undulating baroque-style structure is typical of the architecture of the 18th century gardens of southern Italy and it stands near the pavilion’s botanical garden.

The elegant octagonal columns and the seats are made from brickwork covered with 1200 finely crafted and hand-painted majolica tiles by Sicilian master potters with images of floral interweaving, bougainvillea fronds, citrus fruits and bucolic landscapes.

Each tile is made from a mixture of clay and Sicilian lava stone powder and decorated with natural colors obtained from mineral oxides.

The installation aims to be a symbol of the skills of Italian artistic masters — something the founders consider to be a priceless intangible heritage that is under threat of being lost with the advance of new technologies.


Four Arab films submitted for the 2022 Oscars so far

Four Arab films submitted for the 2022 Oscars so far
“Heliopolis” has been selected for the second time to represent Algeria at the prestigious awards. Supplied
Updated 24 October 2021

Four Arab films submitted for the 2022 Oscars so far

Four Arab films submitted for the 2022 Oscars so far

DUBAI: One of the toughest contests at the Oscars is for the honor of Best International Feature Film. Competing with the best movies from all over the world, it is a tremendous accomplishment to be named one of the five films that make it into the final round — and the process starts by a country submitting its official choice, before the organization behind the Academy Awards whittles down the official selection at a later date.  

Four Arab countries have so far submitted their candidates for the Oscars before the 94th Academy Awards take place on March 27, 2022.

They are “Casablanca Beats” by Moroccan filmmaker Nabil Ayouch, Palestinian director Ameer Fakher Eldin’s “The Stranger,” Abdelhamid Bouchnak-directed “Golden Butterfly,” which is Tunisia’s entry, and Algerian director Djafar Gacem’s “Heliopolis.”

“Casablanca Beats” by Moroccan filmmaker Nabil Ayouch. Supplied

A shortlist of 15 finalists will be announced on December 21, with five nominees announced on February 8, 2022.

Meanwhile, "The Gravedigger’s Wife” by Somali-Finnish writer-director Khadar Ayderus has been submitted as Somalia's entry, marking one of many to come from the African continent.

“The Gravedigger’s Wife,” which tells the story of a gravedigger trying to find ways to pay for his sick wife’s treatment, is the first Somali film to be submitted for the Oscars.

“The Gravedigger’s Wife” by Somali-Finnish writer-director Khadar Ayderus. Supplied

As for the Arab submissions so far, Ayouch’s “Casablanca Beats,” which had its world premiere in July, is based on the director’s own childhood experience and was the first fully Moroccan film to compete for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

Meanwhile, Eldin’s debut feature is about an unlicensed doctor who encounters a wounded man in the war in Syria. The film won the Edipo Re Award for Inclusion at the Venice Film Festival this year.

“Golden Butterfly” is the Tunisian filmmaker’s third feature.

As for Gacem’s “Heliopolis,” it has been selected for the second time to represent Algeria at the prestigious awards, after its nomination was withdrawn last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. the Algerian drama is based on the real-life events of May 8, 1945, where French colonial forces attacked thousands of Algerians in the city of Guelma (called Heliopolis in ancient times). If “Heliopolis” is selected, it would be Algeria’s first entry since Costa-Gavras’s 1970 film “Z,” which was also the first Arab film to win an Academy Award.

 


Your guide to the 2021 RUSH Festival in Riyadh

Your guide to the 2021 RUSH Festival in Riyadh
Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News
Updated 24 October 2021

Your guide to the 2021 RUSH Festival in Riyadh

Your guide to the 2021 RUSH Festival in Riyadh

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s inaugural gaming and esports extravaganza, RUSH Festival, is currently underway in Riyadh. The five-day event, which wraps up on Oct. 26 as part of Riyadh Season 2021, is not short on entertainment.

Enjoy games

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

Video game lovers can compete in more than 18 different gaming tournaments, including Tekken 7, Peggy, Overwatch, FIFA 2022, Call of Duty and many more.

Dress up

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

Visitors are encouraged to dress up as their favorite video game or anime characters. Fans of the fictional universe who registered for the cosplay contest will compete for “best costume” and stand to win a grand prize of $18,662.

Shop

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

You can buy a souvenir for yourself or your loved ones from the many pop-up shops dotted throughout the venue.

Eat local

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

If you’re looking to fuel up, there is no shortage of restaurants and cafes to pick and choose from, including local eateries such as Ahal Al-Deera.

Live Music

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

Catch live performances from a lineup of Saudi Arabia-based DJs, including DJ Vegas, DJ Bassel and DJ Memo Max, who will be setting the mood throughout the esports event.

Discover the latest in tech

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

Explore the latest in gaming technology, with hyper-realistic virtual reality games, mobile games and more.


Chloe Bailey shows off courtside style by Osman Yousefzada

Chloe Bailey shows off courtside style by Osman Yousefzada
The singer wore a jumpsuit designed by Osman Yousefzada. Instagram
Updated 24 October 2021

Chloe Bailey shows off courtside style by Osman Yousefzada

Chloe Bailey shows off courtside style by Osman Yousefzada

DUBAI: US singer Chloe Bailey turned Atlanta’s State Farm Arena into her own personal runway this week as she was spotted sitting courtside with rapper Gunna at the Hawks vs. Mavericks basketball game. For the game, the 23-year-old brought her signature style to the arena.

Bailey has a penchant for curve-hugging designs and is often spotted wearing form-fitting dresses, two-pieces and bodysuits on stage, on the red carpet or simply out and about. The game was no different.

Chloe Bailey and Gunna at the Hawks vs. Mavericks basketball game in Atlanta. Getty Images

The hitmaker offered a stylish masterclass on courtside dressing wearing an abstract blue jumpsuit from British-Afghan-Pakistani designer Osman Yousefzada’s Osman Studios, styled by Nikki Cortez. The eye-catching bodysuit was a collaboration with print artist Alex Beattie.  

The British designer who was born to Pakistani and Afghani immigrants has had his tailored pieces worn by the likes of American singers Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift. In addition to his celebrity-loved eponymous label, that launched in 2008, Yousefzada is also known for his multi-disciplinary artwork.

He often combines his love of fashion and art in his garments by collaborating with various artists such as Asif Khan, Celia Hempton, Christodolous Panayiotou and more.

Bailey accessorized the artsy look with a Gucci belt, black heels and hoop earrings. All together, the look was ready for a red carpet or fashion show appearance.

The singer wore a jumpsuit designed by Osman Yousefzada. Instagram   

The “Have Mercy” singer was also seen in the outfit earlier in the day when she greeted fans outside an appearance at Spelman College.

“I was so happy to speak with you beautiful ladies,” she wrote on Twitter.

Bailey’s courtside appearance with Gunna had fans wondering whether a romance or a possible collaboration is in the works.

The duo, who were sitting side-by-side, were put up on the Jumbotron and eventually their rumored romance became a trending topic on social media.

Ahead of their courtside appearance together, the “Drip Too Hard” rapper previously took to his Instagram to gush over Bailey, reposting her performance of “Have Mercy” at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Neither Bailey or Gunna have commented on the rumors. 


Kingdom’s pavilion at Expo 2020 brings together industry experts for first Saudi Salon

Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai . (Farah Heiba/ Arab News)
Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai . (Farah Heiba/ Arab News)
Updated 24 October 2021

Kingdom’s pavilion at Expo 2020 brings together industry experts for first Saudi Salon

Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai . (Farah Heiba/ Arab News)

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai brought together creative experts for the first session of the “Saudi Salon” late last week.

Organizers brought together a panel of experts on Thursday to discuss the role of creative industries in facilitating cultural transformation.

The discussion was held in the Palm Garden inside the Kingdom’s pavilion and moderated by Yasser Al-Saqqaf. Participants included Robert Frith from the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), Francesca Hegyi from the Edinburgh International Festival, Sarah Al-Omran, deputy director of Art Jameel, Nora Al-Dabal from the Royal Commission for AlUla Governorate and Robert Bock, a representative of the MDLBEAST festival in the Kingdom.

At the beginning of the session, Frith discussed the role that creative industries play in changing societies. He said that Ithra has managed to have a positive impact on Saudi society since its inauguration in 2016 and has also succeeded in adapting to changes around it

For her part, Hegyi emphasized that culture and creativity are the mirror of society and therefore they play an important role in facilitating change in societies in general. She added: “I think this indicates the type of change that can be brought out within societies. For this change to happen, they need to ratify a set of special policies and laws that can speed up the process.”

As for Al-Dabal, she reviewed the experience of AlUla Governorate, saying: “We are all aware of the deep history that AlUla holds and the different civilizations and cultures it has witnessed throughout history. I believe that the qualitative leap that this historical site is currently witnessing shows the impact of the creative industries and their ability to change a society. She also noted the importance of partnerships in creative industries, saying: “Such partnerships are important, as they work to stimulate cooperation on one hand and on the other, contribute to deepening the effects that creative industries have on society”.

Bock, meanwhile, stressed “the power of creative industries and their ability to sharpen the human mind,” saying: “We cannot deny that the Kingdom has witnessed, in recent years, a qualitative leap in the cultural sector, which allowed the creative industries to develop faster and stronger. This created new platforms and partnerships allowing creative talents to reach out to the community and introduce themselves to it.”