Culinary celebrations: Where to eat in Riyadh this Saudi National Day

Culinary celebrations: Where to eat in Riyadh this Saudi National Day
Perfect for family brunch, La, Gais will be open from 4:30am-7:00pm during the National Day weekend. (Instagram)
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Updated 22 September 2021

Culinary celebrations: Where to eat in Riyadh this Saudi National Day

Culinary celebrations: Where to eat in Riyadh this Saudi National Day

RIYADH: A host of restaurants in Riyadh are celebrating Saudi Arabia’s National Day in style with special menus and entertainment.

The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh

The hotel is offering its usual festivities with a twist, inviting a Saudi celebrity chef to cook for guests in Al-Orjouan restaurant. Social media-famous chef Abdulelah AlRabiah is set to host a cooking station while guests will be serenaded by live Saudi music.

Lunch will be held from 12:30pm - 5pm, priced at $120 (450 SAR)

The dinner buffet runs from 6:30pm-12am, priced at (450 SAR) $120 for adults and $60 (224 SAR) for children.

Four food trucks will be stationed outside serving coffee, ice cream and burgers along with face painting and gifts for children.

Yauatcha Riyadh

The dim sum restaurant and tea house is offering a special set menu inspired by the Kingdom’s national colors until Oct. 2.

The $66 (250 SAR) per person menu features chicken spinach soup, a section of dim sum, and main dishes consisting of chicken, seabass, and pak choi, as well as dessert.

La Brasserie

Riyadh’s La Brasserie is offering their traditional international brunch and dinner buffets with additional Saudi dishes to celebrate National Day.

The brunch buffet will run from 12:30pm-3:30pm and is priced at $101 (379 SAR).

The dinner buffet will be held from 7:00pm-11:00pm and is priced at $73 (275 SAR), excluding drinks.

Al-Bustan Restaurant

Al-Bustan restaurant in the Intercontinental Hotel in Riyadh is offering a dinner buffet that includes a clutch of international favorites, including grilled lamb with traditional Saudi spices.

Running from 7:00pm-12:00am on Thursday, a local performer will entertain guests to celebrate the occasion and dinner priced at $89 (335 SAR) per person.  

Four Seasons

Elements restaurant in the Four Seasons hotel in Riyadh is offering an international buffet with a focus on regional favorites, including lamb kabsa rice, mandi varieties, mixed grills, cold mezze and, of course, Um Ali.

Live music will be played during the Thursday night dinner buffet between 7:00pm-12:00am.  

The dinner buffet is priced at $83 (311 SAR), excluding beverages.  

La, Gais

The Instagram-perfect, newly opened breakfast and specialty coffee spot will offer a selection of Saudi-themed breakfast and brunch items, along with live music.

Perfect for family brunch, the restaurant will be open from 4:30am-7:00pm during the National Day weekend.

Each menu item is priced separately, including tax.


Nicole Scherzinger, Halima Aden head to the UAE 

Nicole Scherzinger, Halima Aden head to the UAE 
Updated 9 sec ago

Nicole Scherzinger, Halima Aden head to the UAE 

Nicole Scherzinger, Halima Aden head to the UAE 

DUBAI: US singer Nicole Scherzinger is set to head to the UAE for the Global Citizen Forum, which will take place in the emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah on Dec 12. and 13. 

And she’s not the only star slated to attend the event — US-Somali model Halima Aden landed in Dubai on Monday ahead of the forum, and promptly took to Instagram to share snaps with her 1.4 million followers. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Halima (@halima)

The two-day event invites artists, entrepreneurs, economists, changemakers and leaders to discuss “human mobility and steps towards a more sustainable future.”

Aden, 24, shared a sneak peak of her beach view at the Mandarin Oriental Jumeirah hotel in Dubai on her Instagram Story on Monday. 

Global Citizen Forum’s annual summits – previously hosted in Dubai, Toronto, Monaco and Sveti Stefan – have each welcomed more than 500 guests from more than 65 countries.

Alongside Aden and Scherzinger, there are a number of guests and speakers who will attend the event, including Grammy-nominated DJ and record producer Steve Aoki, US actress Eva Longoria, part-Saudi supermodel and philanthropist Shanina Shaik, award-winning filmmaker Craig Leeson and more. 

A fundraiser Gala will close the event on Dec. 13, where international talents are set to light up the stage, including Longoria – who has been honored with the 2021 Global Citizen Forum Award, Scherzinger, Aoki, Dutch DJ Afrojack, and Grammy award-winning artist Wyclef Jean.

The event will be hosted by British host and author June Sarpong, US journalist Richard Quest and Emirati entrepreneur Sara Al-Madani. 

Aden’s inspiring story began in a Kenyan refugee camp, where she was raised before emigrating to the US with her family at age seven.

The UNICEF ambassador went on to make headlines as the first woman to wear a hijab in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, where she was a semi-finalist. The Muslim model was also the first contestant to wear a hijab throughout the competition and the first to favor a burkini during the contest’s swimsuit round.

Shortly afterwards, she made history as the first hijab-wearing model in New York Fashion Week after she made her runway debut in 2017 at the Yeezy Season 5 show. 

In November 2020, model made the decision to walk away from the industry, claiming that it did not align with her faith. She announced her return in May 2021, after adding a clause to her contract with IMG Models to ensure she would never have to remove her hijab.  


‘I’m living these stories,’ says Hind Al-Fahhad, one of the Saudi directors behind ‘Becoming’

‘I’m living these stories,’ says Hind Al-Fahhad, one of the Saudi directors behind ‘Becoming’
Updated 07 December 2021

‘I’m living these stories,’ says Hind Al-Fahhad, one of the Saudi directors behind ‘Becoming’

‘I’m living these stories,’ says Hind Al-Fahhad, one of the Saudi directors behind ‘Becoming’

DUBAI: Five Saudi female directors will present their new drama “Becoming” at the Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah.

The 70-minute, Arabic-language film features five short narratives, each reflecting on Saudi society and the changes it is undergoing. 

Produced by the festival, “Becoming” focuses on problems confronting female characters — from a divorced mother struggling with anxiety attacks to a middle-aged hairdresser considering an abortion.

The five filmmakers behind “Becoming” include Hind Al-Fahhad, whose work mostly portrays women and the psychological and physical challenges they face. 

“I feel that their stories are relevant to me,” she told Arab News. “I’m still living them and they’re all around me.”

Al-Fahhad launched a creative career as a photographer in 2006. “I’m attracted to images and the idea of expressing myself visually,” she said.

At the time, there were no opportunities to study film direction in Saudi Arabia, but the self-taught Al-Fahhad trained herself by reading, watching films and attending workshops. 

Hind Al-Fahhad’s work mostly portrays women and the psychological and physical challenges they face. (Supplied) 

Five years later, she began experimenting by directing short films, such as the award-winning “Basta” (“Peddlers”), showcasing her productions in Gulf film festivals.

“Every day, I’m discovering,” she said, explaining what she enjoys most about her artistic profession. “I experience a story, a situation in every film. I feel like I’ve entered people’s homes and their stories.” 

Like most film professionals, Al-Fahhad’s interest in movies began at an early age, watching videotapes and listening to stories of her grandmother visiting local cinemas in the 1970s.

Al-Fahhad is optimistic about the revival of cinema in the Kingdom, as well as the encouragement of aspiring independent filmmakers in her country. (Supplied)

This family story, in particular, inspired Al-Fahhad to work on her upcoming film “Sharshaf” (“Fitted Sheet”), which will be filmed in 2022.

She is optimistic about the revival of cinema in the Kingdom, as well as the encouragement of aspiring independent filmmakers in her country. 

“The situation is different now. We are living the dream,” she said.

“I believe things have gone back to the way they used to be. Saudi society is starting to look like other societies worldwide. It has its dreams, stories and experiences.”


Models pay tribute to Arab designers on Red Sea International Film Festival red carpet

Candice Swanepoel on the red carpet at the Red Sea International Film Festival. (Getty Images)
Candice Swanepoel on the red carpet at the Red Sea International Film Festival. (Getty Images)
Updated 07 December 2021

Models pay tribute to Arab designers on Red Sea International Film Festival red carpet

Candice Swanepoel on the red carpet at the Red Sea International Film Festival. (Getty Images)

DUBAI: From a stunning white Zuhair Murad gown, to daring looks by Lebanese-helmed label-of-the-moment Monot, models from around the world paid tribute to Middle Eastern designers at the Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah.

US-Brazilian model Alessandra Ambrosio took time out from her busy schedule to take in the winter festivities in the city, and shared snaps and video clips of the F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Instagram before letting her 10.6 million Instagram followers in on her pre-red carpet makeup routine.

She then posted a short clip on Instagram Stories showing off her regal look — designed by none other than Lebanese icon Zuhair Murad.

Alessandra Ambrosio. (Getty Images)

The all-white look featured a peek-a-boo cut out at the waist and hip-high slit, along with gem-encrusted details on the torso and shoulder.

Meanwhile, South African model Candice Swanepoel brought her A-game to the red carpet on Monday night wearing an all-white look by Monot.

The figure-hugging gown featured a dramatic asymmetrical train.

Shanina Shaik. (Getty Images)

Portuguese model Sara Sampaio opted for a dramatic Zuhair Murad gown in black, with silver embellishments across the length of the gown, while Saudi-Pakistani-Lithuanian-Australian beauty Shanina Shaik also showed off a striking black number, this time by Monot.

Sara Sampaio. (Getty Images)

 


Director Albaqer Jafeer’s ‘Take Me to the Cinema’ is a heartfelt portrait of life in Iraq

Director Albaqer Jafeer’s ‘Take Me to the Cinema’ is a heartfelt portrait of life in Iraq
Updated 07 December 2021

Director Albaqer Jafeer’s ‘Take Me to the Cinema’ is a heartfelt portrait of life in Iraq

Director Albaqer Jafeer’s ‘Take Me to the Cinema’ is a heartfelt portrait of life in Iraq

JEDDAH: Jeddah’s Red Sea International Film Festival is treating audiences to a diverse array of films from across the Arab world and beyond, and one 27-year-old Iraqi director is the latest to have his work shown to audiences in Saudi Arabia.

Albaqer Jafeer, from Baghdad, is participating in the Arab Spectacular category alongside eight other movies with “Take me to the Cinema,” his first documentary.

In an interview with Arab News, Jafeer spoke about the catastrophic wars that Iraqis have been through and how these affected entertainment for citizens and impacted him personally as a filmmaker.

For Jafeer, the film had its own set of challenges, taking four years to complete. (Supplied)

“This documentary is a combination of drama and fiction. The idea came to me while I was reading a novel by the famous Iraqi novelist Nassif Falak, the hero of my film,” Jafeer said.

For Jafeer, the film had its own set of challenges, taking four years to complete.

“Iraq lacks cinema producers and theaters, and the industry itself is practically non-existent. Creating the film was extremely challenging as I am the director, actor, producer, photographer and more.

“When my film received support from the Red Sea International Film Festival, it was a significant boost in terms of production, especially with the help of talented Egyptian producers,” he continued.

Albaqer Jafeer is participating in the Arab Spectacular category alongside eight other movies with “Take me to the Cinema,” his first documentary. (Supplied)

The post-production stage was sponsored by the film festival, which, according to Jafeer, helped speed up the production process.

“Having my film premiere in Saudi Arabia is a golden opportunity. I am so thrilled that Saudi audiences will get to explore more about Iraq. This, for myself and other Iraqis, will create a very significant dialogue,” he said.

Inspired by Falak’s novel, the 75-minute documentary tells the story of a 65-year-old Iraqi soldier who absconded from Iraq’s mandatory military service when he was younger and found a safe haven in a cinema.

The film is viewed from Jafeer’s eyes, as he questions the future of the film industry, that of the Iraqi generation born in the 1990s, and how the cycle of life is repeated, with many of the same issues faced by different generations.

“Take me to the Cinema” will be screened on Dec. 10 and 13 at Al-Balad Vox cinemas. (Supplied)

“What happened to the dreams of the previous generation? What happened to their journey? Is it over? Or can they still achieve their goals?” Jafeer asked, relaying some of the main thematic questions dealt with in the poignant cinematic work.

“The film is full of questions. Some might be answered within the context, others might remain unanswered, but I would like to leave them to the previous Iraqi generation to answer,” he added.

“Take me to the Cinema” also highlights how Iraq was home to over 100 movie theaters during the country’s glory days before the wars began.

“There is a street called ‘Cinema Street’ located in the city of Ramadi where all the movie theaters used to be. Sadly, these buildings have now been turned into military uniform shops. This shows how our lives are merged with war,” the director said.

“Take me to the Cinema” will be screened on Dec. 10 and 13 at Al-Balad Vox cinemas.


Saudi Arabia lifts the curtain on the future of film

Liz Rosenthal, curator of Red Sea: Immersive. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Liz Rosenthal, curator of Red Sea: Immersive. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 07 December 2021

Saudi Arabia lifts the curtain on the future of film

Liz Rosenthal, curator of Red Sea: Immersive. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
  • Saudi festival-goers are donning VR headsets for a cinema experience like no other

JEDDAH: Ever wondered what the future of storytelling looks like?

Saudi audiences are about to find out, thanks to Red Sea: Immersive, a program of virtual reality experiences organized as part of the inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival, which is running until Dec. 15 at Jeddah’s newly opened creative complex Hayy Jameel.

Audiences will don virtual reality headsets and step into the shoes of a character as they journey through a 360-degree story world that draws on the skills of theater directors, filmmakers and architects — and even gamers.

Red Sea: Immersive features a selection from award-winning international artists and directors that will appeal to all types of audiences, with documentaries, animations and interactive narratives, as well as games, art and virtual world explorations.

Liz Rosenthal, curator of Red Sea: Immersive. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

Hayy Jameel, which includes galleries, art and design studios and the Kingdom’s first arthouse cinema, is an ideal venue for the VR program.

In collaboration with Art Jameel, Red Sea: Immersive will showcase 21 programs, including ground-breaking VR works produced in 2021 by directors and artists from the UK, France, Taiwan, the US, Germany and Denmark.

A competition for the Golden Yusr Immersive Award, including a cash prize of $10,000, will be judged by an all-female jury led by US multimedia artist Laurie Anderson.

Liz Rosenthal, curator of Red Sea: Immersive, told Arab News that the program aims to show Saudi directors, artists, illustrators and audiences that virtual reality is a unique new platform to create stories, produce art and build story worlds.

“The program will be inspiring because it’s really about using new tools to tell stories. So, I’m really hoping the selection that we show is going to be an inspiration to artists,” Rosenthal, who also curated Venice VR at the Venice International Film Festival, said.

While people in Saudi Arabia are familiar with flat-screen media, such as film, television and social media, “the 360 VR experience will give them a chance to visit new worlds,” she said.

“I’m really excited about showing them emotions, stories and how you can enter into a story world in a 360-degree spatial way. It’s powerful,” Rosenthal said.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Audiences will don virtual reality headsets and step into the shoes of a character as they journey through a 360-degree story world that draws on the skills of theater directors, filmmakers and architects — and even gamers.

• Red Sea: Immersive features a selection from award-winning international artists and directors that will appeal to all types of audiences.

The VR experiences include “Anandala,” “End of Night,” “Genesis,” “Glimpse,” “Goliath: Playing with Reality,” “Kusunda,” “Laika,” “Lavrynthos,” “Le Bal De Paris De Blanca Li,” “Marco and Polo Go Round,” “Reeducated,” “Samsara (Lun Hui),” and “The Sick Rose.”

VR projects are very different to filmmaking, Rosenthal said.

“Filmmaking is about the flat screen. It’s about a director and an editor, deciding where you cut each scene, whether there’s a long shot or a wide shot, or a close-up. But in VR there’s agency for the viewer because you’re in a 360-degree environment, and can interact with characters and the story. It is a very different medium to filmmaking.”

She added: “It involves many different disciplines, and so filmmaking is a very important part of it, but it’s going to be exciting how filmmakers work with other people from other disciplines to create these experiences.”

Each experience features an artificial world and various formats such as animation, documentaries, love stories, abstract art, and journeys through place, time and emotions.

Viewers in some experiences can become involved in real-time performance, using game engine controllers to play an interactive role in helping a character.

Rosenthal said: “Red Sea: Immersive has selected the best virtual reality projects of the past two years. I’ve done a competition section with 13 projects, but I also wanted to show that there are many different genres and subject matters that can be covered with virtual reality tools. So, it’s really a wide selection.”

She added: “I selected around eight other experiences that were produced in 2020. And there are some of my favorite experiences that have been shown and won awards at different festivals. But the competition section is all about the projects that have been produced in 2021. So, we have, for example, three projects that were the main award winners at the Venice Film Festival.”

According to Rosenthal, using a technology such as VR requires skills in a range of areas, such as games design, architecture and spatial design.

The real-time interaction experience “Glimpse” is a collaboration between a game designer and a film director.

“Benjamin Cleary, the director of ‘Glimpse,’ has previously won an Oscar for a short film, while his co-director, Michael O’Connor, is more involved in the games world and used to work at Sega, the video-game company. So, you need a knowledge of game engines, and you need to be able to direct and tell the story like a filmmaker,” Rosenthal said.

“We hope that this is going to be an inspiration to different creators, storytellers and filmmakers. But what’s really new about virtual reality is that it really brings together different artistic mediums,” she added.

The Hayy Jameel venue has 14 booths where the audience can book a one-hour slot to watch any of the 21 projects. Longer bookings to cover most of the projects are also available.

The inaugural edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival will support emerging talents and bring the best in Arab and world cinema to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Jeddah Old Town until Dec. 15, 2021.