Meet Noura Sulaiman, the breakout Saudi designer to watch

Meet Noura Sulaiman, the breakout Saudi designer to watch
Portrait of Noura Sulaiman. Supplied
Short Url
Updated 04 September 2021

Meet Noura Sulaiman, the breakout Saudi designer to watch

Meet Noura Sulaiman, the breakout Saudi designer to watch

DUBAI: Noura Sulaiman is one of the very few Saudi designers to have their creations featured in a large-scale Hollywood production after she created the white, off-the-shoulder dress with cascading Russian tulle sleeves worn by award-winning US singer Halsey in the movie poster for her first feature film, “If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power.” 

According to the designer, the Moiré dress, from her debut collection, was especially hand-picked for the feature film by LA-based celebrity stylist Law Roach. “Roach is a mainstay on the industry’s most influential stylists’ lists, and it was a high-point in my design career when he decided to include me in his vision,” Sulaiman told Arab News.

The designer had initially designed the dress to wear to her own baby’s reception party last year. However, due to popular demand from clients, she decided to include the piece in her debut ready-to-wear collection, which launched December 2020.

“This piece holds a special place in my heart as I designed it while having pregnant and postpartum bodies in mind as a reason to be embraced and celebrated,” she said.

Sulaiman was born and raised in Riyadh. Hailing from a family of artists, the designer first developed an interest in fashion when she was just a little girl. In fact, the first dress she ever designed was for her cousin’s wedding when she was only 12-years-old.

“Fashion design is one of the most complicated and deep relationships I have encountered in my life,” she said. “Ever since I was a little girl, I had an artistic nature and loved to create, from recreating my school bag out of an old skirt, to designing my first wedding gown.”

Since then, she knew she was destined for a career in fashion. That’s why after graduating high school, Sulaiman enrolled in a fashion design course at the Arts and Skills Institute in Riyadh to sharpen the skills needed to launch her own label. On the side, she worked part-time at a local boutique, styling the store and offering styling services to clients. It was during this time that she discovered she was more fascinated by the craftsmanship of a garment than putting together looks.

In 2020, she debuted her first offering — a collection of timeless vests, farwas, dresses and abayas with a sustainable aspect.

“When I was pregnant, I used to joke that I am pregnant with two babies: My debut collection and my daughter,” shared Sulaiman. “A memorable moment for me was when we were taking pictures for the debut collection and my daughter was crawling behind the scenes. I had given birth to two loves in my life and I would not have it any other way.”

Meanwhile, the designer’s Saudi heritage plays a big role in the inspiration behind her namesake contemporary brand.

“There is high attention to detail in the cuts that we apply in our designs,” she explains. “The beautiful fluid designs give a sense of Arabian luxury coupled with relaxed modesty, which creates a timeless and alluring balance.”

The standout piece from her debut offering is undoubtedly the abaya suit — a long, loose-fitting, double-breasted blazer made out of silk.

“I see it rising in popularity amongst our clients to wear at work,” shared the designer. “I would love to see my suit creations worn by successful and aspiring businesswomen who feel confident and empowered when wearing Noura Sulaiman.”

Review: ‘Convergence: Courage in a Crisis’ takes on a gargantuan challenge

‘Convergence: Courage in a Crisis’ is now streaming on Netflix. (Supplied)
‘Convergence: Courage in a Crisis’ is now streaming on Netflix. (Supplied)
Updated 16 October 2021

Review: ‘Convergence: Courage in a Crisis’ takes on a gargantuan challenge

‘Convergence: Courage in a Crisis’ is now streaming on Netflix. (Supplied)

LONDON: For the most part, British director Orlando von Einsiedel’s new Netflix documentary, “Convergence: Courage in a Crisis,” manages to strike a balance between poignant and harrowing without straying too far into self-indulgence. But only for the most part. The filmmaker, the creative voice behind the excellent “White Helmets” and “Skateistan: To Live and Skate Kabul,” has created a new documentary that is equal parts loving tribute and critical dissection, as he weaves together a series of different story threads, all following those impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

‘Convergence: Courage in a Crisis’ is now streaming on Netflix. (Supplied)


The movie’s subjects are varied and diverse — from a first responder in the Brazilian favelas to a couple under lockdown in Tehran. An expectant mother and father in India tell their story, while a Syrian filmmaker volunteering at a hospital in London is also highlighted, alongside a young driver transporting staff and drugs in Wuhan and a doctor and activist working in Miami. Each story has something unique about it. Von Einsiedel’s greatest creative stroke in this movie is giving his subjects the room to tell their own stories, because each is heartbreaking and life-affirming in its own way.


Where the movie gets harder to follow is when the director tries to do too much in too short a time. In less than two hours, we get commentary on governmental mismanagement, the Black Lives Matter movement, institutional racism, nationwide inequality, and a handful of other topics made all the more pressing during the pandemic. There are also tantalizing glimpses inside the World Health Organization, and the Oxford University vaccine development program. But we must make do with just a few minutes of each, before we are whisked off to the next story. There is deep, resonant and powerful storytelling running throughout “Convergence” — if only we were given a little more time to take it all in.

Actress Salma Hayek shows off Elie Saab suit in Los Angeles

The actress showed off a leopard-print suit by Elie Saab in Los Angeles. (Getty Images)
The actress showed off a leopard-print suit by Elie Saab in Los Angeles. (Getty Images)
Updated 16 October 2021

Actress Salma Hayek shows off Elie Saab suit in Los Angeles

The actress showed off a leopard-print suit by Elie Saab in Los Angeles. (Getty Images)

DUBAI: US-Mexican actress Salma Hayek made an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” in Los Angeles this weekend wearing a feisty leopard-print suit by Lebanese designer Elie Saab.

The actress, who is of Spanish and Lebanese descent, appeared on the TV show alongside fellow actor Kumail Nanjiani to talk about their latest film, Marvel’s “Eternals.”

For the occasion, she looked glamorous in a coordinating set by Saab, hailing from the designer’s pre-Fall 2021 collection.

The wide-legged animal-print pants featured a single black stripe on each leg, while the fitted blazer boasted black lapels and was worn over a sheer black top with a high collar.

(Getty Images)

The film’s star-studded cast includes Hayek, Nanjiani, Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden and teen Syrian refugee-turned-actor Zain Al-Rafeea, among others.

Directed by Oscar-winner Chloe Zhao, the plot centers on an immortal alien race with superhuman powers who have secretly lived on Earth for thousands of years. The film is set to be released in theaters in November.

While chatting with show host Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday, Hayek revealed why her co-star Jolie smashed her face into a birthday cake in a video that went viral online in September.

When the show host asked about her 55th birthday celebration last month, Hayek said: “There was no birthday party. All of those people were crashers. I said, ‘I don’t want a birthday party this year.’ I had to work all day. Twenty-five people, that I told them there is no birthday party, showed up anyway,” she said, referring to the party documented in her September Instagram post. 

The actress then explained that it’s a Mexican birthday tradition to push a person’s face into their cake — and Jolie was tasked with the job.

In the video, a group of friends are gathered around the actress chanting, “Mordida!” as Jolie pushes Hayek’s face into her birthday cake.

“After you blow the candles, you have to mordida,” Hayek explained to Kimmel. “It means a bite. You have to bite the cake with your mouth, without your hands holding or anything. Then, there’s always one that comes and hits you and sticks your face inside the cake.

“We were starting, ‘Mordida!’ She’s like, ‘What’s happening?’” Hayek said of Jolie’s apparent confusion over the tradition, before she got in on the fun and smashed Hayek's face into the coconut cake.

World’s largest floating nightclub opens on Dubai’s historic QE2 cruise liner

World’s largest floating nightclub opens on Dubai’s historic QE2 cruise liner
Updated 16 October 2021

World’s largest floating nightclub opens on Dubai’s historic QE2 cruise liner

World’s largest floating nightclub opens on Dubai’s historic QE2 cruise liner
  • Float Dubai, billed as ‘the world’s largest floating nightclub,’ still faces COVID-19 restrictions
  • Ship, launched by namesake Queen Elizabeth II in 1967, has sailed over 6m nautical miles

LONDON: The world’s largest floating nightclub has opened onboard the retired Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise ship in Dubai.

The luxury Float Dubai venue, which can accommodate 1,000 people, hosted an opening party on Thursday ahead of its first weekend.

Celebrities including American actress Lindsay Lohan, rapper DaBaby and British boxer Amir Khan are expected to appear aboard the ship this weekend, which once hosted the likes of Hollywood stars Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.

But due to the coronavirus pandemic, partying will be limited, with tables needing to be booked in advance, security guards preventing people from standing up and dancing, and plainclothes police officers patroling the venue to prevent infringements. 

Dubai extended the strictest anti-COVID-19 measures in the UAE, with seating rules in many hospitality venues only relaxed in August this year.

Many are now allowed to stay open until 3 a.m., but social distancing measures remain in place.

Rob Smith, a British expat who attended Float Dubai’s opening night, told The Times: “It feels so good to see things opening back up again. It feels like things are getting back to normal.”

The QE2 was bought by Dubai government entity DP World, controlled by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, in 2008 for around $88 million.

Parts of the vessel were converted into a hotel in 2018, with plans to base it off the Palm Jumeirah island resort.

The club’s opening was delayed by the onset of the pandemic, with the rooms left vacant and the QE2 subsequently relocated to Rashid Port, where its monthly upkeep is estimated at around £650,000 ($893,424).

British expat Lara Rogers added: “The ship has an eerie vibe to it. It’s a shame to see it like this. It needs some TLC (tender loving care) to bring it back to life because it has so much history here within these walls. Maybe the club can help inject some excitement for it again.”

The QE2 was originally launched in 1967 by Queen Elizabeth II in Scotland. At 963 feet, it is estimated to have carried over 2.5 million passengers over its lifetime, traveled around 6 million nautical miles, circumnavigated the globe 25 times, and even served as a British troop ship during the Falklands War in 1982.

Stars shine on the ‘Casablanca Beats’ red carpet at El Gouna Film Festival

Tunisian actress Dorra Zarrouk arrives for the screening of ‘Casablanca Beats’ at the Festival Plaza, on 2nd day at 5th edition of El Gouna Film Festival, in El Gouna, Egypt, on October 15, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 16 October 2021

Stars shine on the ‘Casablanca Beats’ red carpet at El Gouna Film Festival

Tunisian actress Dorra Zarrouk arrives for the screening of ‘Casablanca Beats’ at the Festival Plaza, on 2nd day at 5th edition of El Gouna Film Festival, in El Gouna, Egypt, on October 15, 2021. (AFP)

EL GOUNA: Egypt’s El-Gouna Film Festival screened its first movie on Friday — the Moroccan film “Casablanca Beats.” 

Stars, including Tunisian actress Dorra Zarrouk and Egyptian actress Amina Khalil, arrived on the red carpet in glamorous gowns. 

Zarrouk opted for a voluminous grey gown by Dubai-based fashion house Maison Yeya. She accessorized her look with jewelry from Yessayan Jewelry, founded in Lebanon. 

Meanwhile, Khalil chose an asymmetric golden dress designed by Egyptian couturier Sara Onsi. She completed her red carpet attire with a clutch from the Egyptian brand, previously championed by Kylie Jenner, Okhtein. 

Amina Khalil. (AFP)

Egyptian actress Youssra wore a hot red satin gown from Egyptian fashion house Nazazy Couture. Her chunky gold earrings and bracelet were custom made by Egyptian label Dima Jewelry. 

Youssra. (AFP)

Lebanese influencer and entrepreneur Karen Wazen was among the guests who attended the event. This is Wazen’s first time attending the festival. 

In an interview with Arab News after the event, she said: “I was so impressed, from the moment I walked in everything was extremely organized. It was such a beautiful venue. We’ve been to a lot of film festivals, a lot of red carpet events, and I don’t think we’ve seen something on this level.

“So, I am super proud to see something like this coming out of the Arab region. I can’t wait to be there again hopefully next year,” she added. 

The eyewear designer wore a one-shouldered golden gown by Lebanese couturier Nicolas Jebran.  

Egyptian actors Jamila Awad, Rogena, Ola Roshdy, Ahmed Dawood and veteran actress Laila Eloui were among other celebrities who posed for pictures before the screening.

“Casablanca Beats,” which was in competition for the prized Palme d’Or, had its world premiere in the official competition of the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.

Directed by renowned French-Moroccan filmmaker Nabil Ayouch, the film tells the story of a former rapper, Anas, who takes a job at a cultural center in a working-class neighborhood in Casablanca.

Encouraged by their new teacher, his students try to free themselves from the weight of restrictive traditions in order to live out their passions and express themselves through hip-hop. 

The director and actors were not able to attend the screening of the film in El Gouna, said the executive producer who attended the red carpet.   

It is competing for the feature narrative award at El Gouna Film Festival.

Silence speaks volumes as Algerian artists explore cultural heritage

Silence speaks volumes as Algerian artists explore cultural heritage
Updated 16 October 2021

Silence speaks volumes as Algerian artists explore cultural heritage

Silence speaks volumes as Algerian artists explore cultural heritage
  • Paris exhibition ranges from poignant paintings of migrants to works based on urban archaeology
  • ‘Algeria is a country that is as familiar as it is unknown,’ says curator

PARIS: “Somewhere between silence and words” revives memories of a journey to Algeria made by Florian Gaite, philosopher, art critic and curator of the exhibition taking place until Nov. 28, 2021 at the Maison des Arts Malakoff center in Paris.

The exhibition “seeks to make heard the voices and the silence that characterize Algeria so well,” Gaite told Arab News in France

“It’s a listening ear beyond the Mediterranean. Algeria is a country that is as familiar as it is unknown, and whose complexity — social, political and historical — is equivalent to the cultural diversity expressed there.”

Gaite said that he set up the project before the Hirak movement and widespread protests in Algeria in early 2019.

“That upset my vision of the Algerian scene, a country that I did not know, and about which I had prejudices and preconceived ideas from an exclusively Western reading,” he added.



“When I arrived in Algeria, I realized that the sensitive and sensory experience felt there was made of two extremes. On the one hand, it is an extremely talkative country, where multiple languages are spoken, a sort of linguistic tinkering. The same language is not spoken from one city to the next or between generations.

“The older generation speaks Amazigh, their children speak French and Arabic, and the younger generation is more oriented toward Arabic and English. This stratification of languages ​​seemed crazy to me because in Algeria, there is also a lot of silence. It is a country where people whisper, where there is modesty,” he said.

Gaite said that Algeria is a country “marked by many traumas and by a form of detention” because the same wounds are not discussed between generations.

“There are two pitfalls that I wanted to avoid: The first is placing myself as a Western critic coming to evoke the Algerian artistic scene, which I am not specialized in. The second consisted in choosing artists as simple mediators to bear witness to the Algerian artistic scene. In fact, they know their country better than I do and their testimonies are more accurate and more authentic.”

According to the exhibition’s organizer, colonization, Islamism and state authoritarianism are some of the multiple traumas of contemporary Algerian history.

“These are a series of causes, prohibitions, denials, repressions that hinder speech and often prevent it from being transcribed in the form of a story. The presence of the testimonial and documentary function in contemporary Algerian art thus answers this need to bear witness to the past as well as to the present — colonization, the war of liberation, socialism, black decade, the Bouteflika era, Hirak — and to propose rewritings, to exhume what has been erased or falsified, to give a voice to all that is forgotten,” he said.

“Somewhere between silence and words” brings together artists who were born, live or work in Algeria, including Louisa Babari, Adel Bentounsi, Walid Bouchouchi, Fatima Chafaa, Dalila Dalleas Bouzar, Mounir Gouri, Fatima Idiri, Sabrina Idiri Chemloul, Amina Menia and Sadek Rahim.

These Algerian or Franco-Algerian artists were selected by Gaite, who said that some are still poorly represented in French galleries.

“This exhibition, which includes more women than men, displays works made with various materials such as paper, charcoal or even fabric.”

While in Oran, birthplace of Gaite’s grandmother, the curator met Sabrina Idiri Chemloul, a Franco-Algerian director, who introduced him to her mother, Fatima Idiri.

Born in the Aures, in northeastern Algeria, Idiri lived in Nancy in a family that was part of the resistance networks of the National Liberation Front.

Returning to the country after its independence, she is a self-taught artist — from fashion design to painting on silk, mosaic to Berber embroidery — who is strongly influenced by impressionism and orientalism.

“Hirak’s fervor was a game-changer,” she said.

By choosing figurative drawing as an artistic identity, she strives to preserve the memory of one of the traditions of her native region, the Aures, said Gaite.

“By creating her masterpieces out of coffee grounds and acrylic, the artist pays tribute to free and liberated poets and singers who are the Azriat.”

Idiri studied colonial photography and sought to deconstruct the images in order to rediscover the spontaneity of avant-garde artists who were frowned upon, and even marginalized, during the colonial period.

The exhibition also includes works by Mounir Gouri, winner of the Friends of the IMA (Arab World Institute) Prize.

Based in France, Gouri produces moving paintings of “harraga,” or illegal immigrants, transforming their journey into a performance.

Gaite highlights a painting of a starry sky, painted with charcoal. “The message that the artist wishes to convey is that when the harraga are in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea in the dark night, the stars are their only source of light.”

Works by visual artist Amina Menia, who lives and works in Algeria, are also on display. Her art takes the form of an urban archaeology, focusing on places and architectural language.

Menia’s works have been shown in numerous museums, art centers and galleries, including the Pompidou Center in Paris, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, the Museum of African Design in Johannesburg, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Marseille and the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin.

Works by Sadek Rahim, a multidisciplinary artist who has lived in Syria and Jordan, and studied at the Beirut School of Fine Arts, are also being shown.

“Somewhere between silence and words” runs until Nov. 28, 2021 at the Maison des arts of Malakoff, in the Hauts-de-Seine, in Paris.

This story was originally published in French on Arab News en Français