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


Riyadh Season to kick off ‘RUSH’ festival, cosplay competition

Riyadh Season to kick off ‘RUSH’ festival, cosplay competition
Updated 7 min 46 sec ago

Riyadh Season to kick off ‘RUSH’ festival, cosplay competition

Riyadh Season to kick off ‘RUSH’ festival, cosplay competition
  • The festival is expected to attract thousands of e-gamers to the heart of the capital
  • Some of the competitions will be broadcasted for viewers to live-stream remotely

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s most important gaming event of the year is starting this Friday, as part of the Riyadh Season’s six-month extravaganza of interactive experiences and entertainment.

The “RUSH” gaming festival will bring together the largest gathering of entertainers, streamers and fans to the Riyadh Front, one of the 14 zones this season has on offer to visitors.

It is set to be an annual event with the official curtain-opening taking place on Oct. 22 and will run for five days until the 26th of this month.

The festival is expected to attract thousands of e-gamers to the heart of the capital to enter into competitions and challenges in a variety of games.

More than 18 different gaming tournaments, including Tekken 7, Peggy, Overwatch, FIFA 2022, Call of Duty, as well as the largest cosplay competition, and prizes totaling SAR 1 million — are some of what people can expect at RUSH’s first edition throughout this week.

Some of the competitions will be broadcasted for viewers to live-stream remotely on platforms such as Facebook, Twitch, Youtube, in addition to catching some of the live performances in between.

The cosplay competition will take place on Oct. 25 where the winners will be crowned. Registration for participation has been closed since Oct. 13.

Fans of the fictional universe who registered will compete for “best costume”, modeled after their favorite character, and stand to win a grand prize of SAR 70,000, under the observing eyes of local and international judges.

The second edition of Riyadh Season launched on Oct. 20, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of General Authority for Entertainment (GEA) Turki Al-Sheikh announced in August.

Ticket prices including VAT for RUSH cost SAR 50 and can be found on the Riyadh Season website.

According to the terms and conditions, the ticket must be added to the Tawakkalna application to be able to enter.

“A ticket that’s not linked to Tawakkalna will show on our system,” Al-Sheikh said in a tweet on Monday. “We’re taking the strictest measures to ensure the black market ends here and now.”

In the event of a cancellation, ticket holders will receive a refund in the form of credit that can be used to purchase a ticket to the same event or any other event, with the credit only valid for the duration of the season.

The Riyadh Season was first held in 2019, beginning in October and ending in January 2020 — shortly before the world was engulfed by the coronavirus pandemic.


IMA in Paris celebrates Lebanon’s artistic talent in new exhibition

IMA in Paris celebrates Lebanon’s artistic talent in new exhibition
Updated 51 min 38 sec ago

IMA in Paris celebrates Lebanon’s artistic talent in new exhibition

IMA in Paris celebrates Lebanon’s artistic talent in new exhibition
  • Highlights from ‘Lights of Lebanon,’ which presents more than 100 works from 55 artists in a show of solidarity with the Lebanese people

DUBAI: The Insitut du Monde Arabe in Paris is one of Europe’s most important repositories of Arab art and culture. In its latest exhibition, “Lights of Lebanon,” the institute “celebrates the prodigious creativity of modern and contemporary artists from Lebanon and its diasporas.”

The exhibition is split into three periods, running in reverse chronological order: 2005 to the present day (“Lebanon, a country of never-ending  reconstructions”), 1975-2005 (“The somber years”), and 1943 to 1975 (“The Golden Age”).

“What has always been the strength of the Lebanese … is that the fragility of their state never stopped them from moving forward, from building, even if they lived in constant risk. In short, they live in the present, without obscuring personal and collective memory,” the IMA’s museum curator Eric Delpont says in the show catalogue. “It seems to me that in the West, especially in Europe, we couldn’t do this, because we need a sense of security.”

Many of the works on display were donated by the prolific collectors of Arab art Claude and France Lemand. It was Claude who came up with the title of the show, explaining that he sees artists as the “Lights of Lebanon.”

“I mean above all those who have made Beirut the city of light of the East, who have shone at all times of its tormented history, even if over the decades, the dominant clans — who defend only their interests — have plunged Lebanon into political, economic, financial, social, health and even cultural chaos,” he says in the catalogue. “But Lebanon remains a country from which the light shines.”

Here, Arab News presents some highlights from the exhibition, which Lemand describes as just “just a drop in the ocean, as far as this devastated country is concerned, but at least we have the satisfaction of having motivated and even inspired many artists, of all generations.”

Zena Assi

‘Holding On By A Thread’

Assi is one of several artists from the diaspora featured in the exhibition. Claude Lemand felt it important to stress that the show was dedicated to “all those who have links with the country” and believes the fact that the diaspora is so widespread shows that “Lebanon is not just Lebanon; it goes far beyond the small country and its small population and it echoes throughout the world.”

Assi is a multidisciplinary artist currently based in London. This incredibly detailed 2012 piece is typical of her works, which — the exhibition brochure explains — are “punctuated with visual references to eastern cities, particularly Beirut, and the difficulties endured by migrants from different backgrounds – anonymous tightrope walkers clinging onto life by a thread. Her fragmented cities reflect the migratory and urban violence, and the violence in Beirut. Bundles of memories, identity-based burdens, and emotional baggage, she describes their wanderings in cities that are represented as a kaleidoscope of symbols and codes: graffiti on the walls, billboards, contemporary souks, and luxury goods.”

Shaffic Abboud

‘Cinema Christine’

Abboud is widely regarded as one of the — if not the — most important modern Lebanese artists. He is best known for his paintings, several of which feature in the “Lights of Lebanon” exhibition, and particularly for his richly textured abstract works, but this piece is something of a curio. It was created in 1964 for his daughter Christine and was inspired by the picture boxes of itinerant storytellers who would travel from village to village, enthralling the children. “Cinema Christine” is a working model of such a box, complete with magic lamp and narrative scrolls.

Ayman Baalbaki

‘The End’

Baalbaki’s bleak dystopian image was selected to open the show — presumably a deliberate statement that Lebanon has now reached rock bottom (perhaps tempered with the hope that, from such a point, the only way is up). The artist has spent much of his career exploring the numerous conflicts in the region through his art — his images of veiled fighters have proved particularly popular. This piece, created over the last five years, is less confrontational but equally powerful.

Etel Adnan

‘Al-Sayyab, The Lost Mother and Child’

The much-revered artist, writer and poet is still prolific today, aged 96, and is widely regarded as Lebanon’s greatest female artist. She is best known for her colorful impressionist landscapes, but has described her artist books (or ‘leporellos’) such as this one as “particularly important” parts of her portfolio. In the leporellos, inspired by Japanese folding books, Adnan complements her writing with drawings in ink and watercolor. “I avoided using traditional calligraphy, although it is wonderful, to highlight my personal writing, which, in its very imperfection, brings the person writing into the work,” she states in the show catalogue, which goes on to explain that Adnan uses the horizontal, foldable format to “create works that can be extended into space — ‘a liberation of the text and images.’”

Fatima El-Hajj

‘Promenade’

El-Hajj’s work is displayed in the second part of the exhibition (“The somber age”), but — as Claude Lemand explains in the catalogue — her vibrant work can be seen as defiance in the face of the violence and destruction that surrounded her as she began her artistic career around the time that the Civil War broke out in the mid-Seventies. “She experienced the entire civil war and all the wars and misfortunes that followed; she still suffers in body and soul, but she has never painted war scenes or scenes of destruction,” he says. “For her, painting is eternal; she’s developed thinking and a world that transcends war and death.”


Review: Disney’s new anthology series ‘Just Beyond’ is just right for teen audiences

Review: Disney’s new anthology series ‘Just Beyond’ is just right for teen audiences
Updated 52 min 49 sec ago

Review: Disney’s new anthology series ‘Just Beyond’ is just right for teen audiences

Review: Disney’s new anthology series ‘Just Beyond’ is just right for teen audiences
  • Teen horror show relies on earnest allegories and family-friendly scares

LONDON: Teen horror is a surprisingly tricky thing to get right. Go to far with the ‘horror’ and it makes it unsuitable for teen audiences. Go to far with the ‘teen’ and it makes it a tough sell for anyone else. In an attempt to tread this finest of lines, Disney+ has opted to adapt the works of prolific teen-horror writer R. L. Stine into a new, eight-part anthology series, featuring standalone episodes and a cast of fresh young actors.

 When a young girl realizes that the monster stalking her (“My Monster”) is created by her anxiety following her parents’ divorce, she discovers it only chases her if she keeps running. (Supplied)

“Just Beyond” covers a lot of ground in those eight episodes — from aliens and monsters to ghosts and alternate universes. Each episode stays unerringly on the right side of family-friendly, with just the occasional jump scare and a tendency to wrap every episode up with a nice, narrative bow by the time the credits roll. Fans of Stine’s books and graphic novels will find a lot to like in “Just Beyond”.

A grieving son takes his widowed mother for granted (“The Treehouse”) until a trip to an alternate dimension teaches him to appreciate that they both miss his dad. You get the idea. (Supplied)

Where the series really finds its feet is during its more allegorical moments. In among the stories of witches and ghouls are some heart-warming (yet still teen-friendly) parallels. When a young girl realizes that the monster stalking her (“My Monster”) is created by her anxiety following her parents’ divorce, she discovers it only chases her if she keeps running. A teenage witch tries to hide her gifts from her friends (“Which Witch”) until she realizes that they love her no matter what. A grieving son takes his widowed mother for granted (“The Treehouse”) until a trip to an alternate dimension teaches him to appreciate that they both miss his dad. You get the idea.

Some of the messages are a little heavy handed, and some of the performances a little over earnest. But though “Just Beyond” can be a tad on the nose, that’s probably what it’s going for. Parents, admittedly, might not find a huge amount to draw them in, but this show isn’t really for them, as the title of the first episode in the series makes clear. Its name? “Leave Them Kids Alone.”


Zac Efron, Jessica Alba return for latest Dubai Tourism campaign

Zac Efron, Jessica Alba return for latest Dubai Tourism campaign
Updated 21 October 2021

Zac Efron, Jessica Alba return for latest Dubai Tourism campaign

Zac Efron, Jessica Alba return for latest Dubai Tourism campaign

DUBAI: Hollywood actors Zac Efron and Jessica Alba are the stars of Dubai Tourism’s fifth and latest promotional campaign.

Released on Wednesday, the short action-packed clip, titled “Dubai: A Riveting Mystery,” sees the duo embark on an adventure to solve a mystery in the UAE city.

The video starts in the Dubai Opera center and features other locations including Al-Seef, the Museum of the Future, and Downtown Dubai.

Dubai Tourism recently released three videos, directed by Australian filmmaker Craig Gillespie, ahead of the long-awaited Expo 2020 Dubai event.

The first ad was a spoof of an action film featuring Alba and Efron fighting off enemies at well-known landmarks across the city, such as the Burj Khalifa skyscraper, and the Museum of the Future.

In the second video, the stars appeared as tourists visiting the city. Upon arrival at their hotels, they discover they have got each other’s bags. The celebrities then travel across the city on various adventures to meet and collect their identical luggage.

In the third advert, Efron plays two characters, a younger and older version of himself who comes from the future to teach him life lessons. The two characters go on a journey in the country’s souks and surrounding deserts, and also go skydiving.

For the fourth video, Alba stars as a young pilot who explores the country’s deserts. The clip takes a close look at the UAE’s traditional activities and attractions.

The films present some of Dubai’s most-admired sites, including the city’s dunes, Sheikh Zayed Road that runs through the heart of Dubai, Dubai Creek, and the historic Al-Fahidi district.


Everything you need to know about Ain Dubai’s opening weekend 

Everything you need to know about Ain Dubai’s opening weekend 
Updated 21 October 2021

Everything you need to know about Ain Dubai’s opening weekend 

Everything you need to know about Ain Dubai’s opening weekend 

DUBAI: Ain Dubai, the world’s tallest and largest observation wheel, is opening to visitors this weekend. 

To celebrate the launch, organizers are hosting a packed schedule of free activities that will take place across the outdoor plaza.

On Oct. 22 and 23, the celebrations will kick off with a host of family-friendly activities, alon with 12 food stations, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

At 5.30 p.m., UAE-based DJ Dany Neville will play music inspired by the sunset for an hour.

Ain Dubai’s official celebration will commence with the inaugural light and drone show at 8.30 p.m. on Thursday. 

On Friday, light shows will take place on the wheel at 6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. 

The plaza will also host six artists, including Moh Flow, Shebani, Freek, Michele, Molham and Mougleta, from Flash Entertainment and Virgin Radio Dubai’s Regional Artist Spotlight (RAS) initiative until 10:30 p.m.

Entry for the opening weekend at the plaza is free. However, visitors will need to purchase tickets at Ain Dubai’s website to experience a ride on the wheel. 

Ain Dubai – or Eye Dubai in Arabic – stands over 250 metres. It will offer visitors a 360-degree view of the city and its coastline.

It will have 48 capsules, which can carry more than 1,750 visitors at once, with each of the 30-square-meter capsules having the capability to be converted into fine-dining venues for up to a dozen guests.