Canada’s Banff offers brilliant blues and vibrant views

Canada’s Banff offers brilliant blues and vibrant views
Hemmed in by serrated mountains in every direction, these mountain tarns are the crowning jewels of Canadian tourism. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 01 October 2021

Canada’s Banff offers brilliant blues and vibrant views

Canada’s Banff offers brilliant blues and vibrant views

DUBAI: Have you ever truly experienced the color blue before a trip to the Canadian Rockies?

The famous lakes that dot the area’s national parks are such electric shades of cyan and turquoise and cerulean it will leave you wondering if you’ve ever seen such a hue in your life.

Hemmed in by serrated mountains in every direction, these mountain tarns are the crowning jewels of Canadian tourism — and they’re at their most glorious in Alberta’s Banff National Park.




Canada’s oldest national park covers 6,641 square kilometers of prime Canadian Rockies real estate. (Shutterstock)

You’ve likely seen pictures of Banff before — even if you don’t realize it. Canada’s oldest national park covers 6,641 square kilometers of prime Canadian Rockies real estate. And those glassy, ice-blue lakes, with the jagged peaks towering over them, are as ubiquitous in the area as Tim Hortons is in the city. 

After some of the longest COVID-19 lockdowns in the world, Canada reopened to vaccinated international tourists on September 7. Which meant that on our much-anticipated trip to UNESCO-listed Banff on September 9, we expected to be greeted by at least a few selfie-stick-wielding tour groups and Americans from just over the border. Instead, operators repeatedly informed us that 90 percent of their customers that weekend were from Ontario.

“That’s why now’s the best time to explore Canada,” the woman selling tickets for canoe rentals on the postcard-ready Lake Louise said with a wink.




Canada’s UNESCO-listed national park offers some of the world’s most spectacular panoramas. (Supplied)

The hamlet of Lake Louise — known for its sparkling, glacier-fed lake, ringed by high peaks — is arguably Banff’s most-recognizable destination. There is no bustling township here, though — no hawkers selling keychains or chocolates shaped like moose dung — just the stately Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, standing sentinel over the area. 

To stay here is to be escorted into your own oil painting; waking up each day to be greeted with the mountains and waters that grace many a Microsoft screensaver, and — if you’re up early enough — without hordes of tourists. Come 10 a.m. or so, the crowds arrive along the lakeshore in front of the hotel, but though the car parks are full and a space without photo bombers hard to find, operators are quick to point out that ‘Banff Mania’ means there are usually many more holidaymakers here at this time of year. So several dozen people taking in the sunrise atop a rocky outcrop at the nearby Lake Moraine, perhaps the national park’s most awe-inducing sight (even craggier peaks and somehow more-turquoise waters), apparently constitutes a “quiet” morning. As the access road to the lake is only open from June until mid-October, it’s a coveted excursion, with the lake’s 150 parking spots completely full most days by 5 a.m.




In the winter, the frozen lakes and white, powdery mountains bring in skiers and ice-skaters. (Supplied)

Banff is a year-round destination. In summer, hikers flock here for the 1,600 kilometers of hiking trails, and in the winter the frozen lakes and white, powdery mountains bring in skiers and ice-skaters.

From the Fairmont at Lake Louise, some of the area’s most incredible hikes are literally outside your front door; head for the Big Beehive Trail for panoramic views over Lake Louise courtesy of a reasonably steep but well-trafficked climb, while the Plain of the Two Glaciers hike is a meandering stroll through a larch-tree-filled valley. 

Forty minutes’ drive back towards Calgary, the famed Banff township is where most visitors to the national park stay for at least a few nights. The town is famed in international ski circles for the Sunshine Village ski field, but despite being touristy, its natural hot springs, hiking trails and the sloping rooves of its timbered architecture create an authentic ‘mountain escape’ feel.




Banff is a year-round destination. (Shutterstock)

Fairmont has a monopoly on luxury accommodation here too. The turreted, fortress-like structure of Fairmont Banff Springs is one of the country’s oldest railway hotels, and houses its own thermal springs and championship golf course. With sweeping views over the Bow River, the instantly recognizable peaks of Mt. Rundle and Tunnel Mountain, and an interior that resembles a castle in the Scottish Highlands, this is a landmark in itself for both international and domestic tourists.

In summer, take to the gentle slopes of Tunnel Mountain for views over the town and the surrounding valley, or if you’re feeling plucky, tackle the demanding Mt. Rundle and follow it up with a drink on the hotel patio. From there, you can toast the craggy rock face that will have you walking bow-legged for the next three days at least.

Because whether it’s rising before the sun to beat the crowds or heaving yourself up a sheer rock face for the best views, Banff will give you some spectacular memories — but it will make you work for them.


What We Are Reading Today: The Mechanization of the Mind by Jean-Pierre Dupuy

What We Are Reading Today: The Mechanization of the Mind by Jean-Pierre Dupuy
Updated 18 October 2021

What We Are Reading Today: The Mechanization of the Mind by Jean-Pierre Dupuy

What We Are Reading Today: The Mechanization of the Mind by Jean-Pierre Dupuy

In March 1946, some of the greatest minds of the 20th century — among them John von Neumann, Norbert Wiener, Warren McCulloch, and Walter Pitts — gathered at the Beekman Hotel in New York City with the aim of constructing a science of mental behavior that would resolve at last the ancient philosophical problem of mind and matter. The legacy of their collaboration is known today as cognitive science.
Jean-Pierre Dupuy, one of the principal architects of cognitive science in France, reconstructs the early days of the field here in a provocative and engaging combination of philosophy, science, and historical detective work.
He shows us how the ambitious and innovative ideas developed in the wake of that New York meeting prefigured some of the most important developments of late-20th-century thought. Many scholars, however, shunned the ideas as crude and resented them for being overpromoted.
This rejection, Dupuy reveals, was a tragic mistake and a lost opportunity.


Middle East personalities could be next Madame Tussauds Dubai wax models

Middle East personalities could be next Madame Tussauds Dubai wax models
Updated 18 October 2021

Middle East personalities could be next Madame Tussauds Dubai wax models

Middle East personalities could be next Madame Tussauds Dubai wax models
  • The museum opened its 25th branch in Dubai last week

DUBAI: Additional Middle East personalities could join the list of famous Arab figures on display at Madame Tussauds Dubai.

“We listen to our customers; we listen to their feedback. So, we will always be updating the figures and enhancing the products,” Sanaz Kollsrud, general manager of Madame Tussauds Dubai, told Arab News.

The museum opened its 25th wax attraction in the city on Oct.14, making it the brand’s first branch in the Middle East. 

Maya Diab at Madame Tussauds Dubai. (AN_Photo)

The famous attraction has a total of 16 figures from the Middle East region. These include talents from the music industry — such as Lebanese singers Nancy Ajram and Maya Diab — and athletes that were made exclusively for the branch in Dubai.

“At the moment, Madame Tussauds has 25 wax attractions around the world, including the US, Europe, and Asia. I’m sure that the brand will look at opportunities to expand at a later stage,” Kollsrud said.

Dubai has been a perfect choice for the Middle East branch, as it is a global tourist destination. The general manager said the museum is also located near a major attraction in the city, Ain Dubai, and is surrounded by a variety of retail and dining options.

Donald and Melania Trump at Madame Tussauds Dubai. (AN_Photo)

When asked how the museum chooses the figures it wants to display, Kollsrud said there is a lot of research behind figure selection, including customer research.

“It took about 18 months to put together a figure list, during which we looked at the popularity of the celebrities regionally and globally, especially within the UAE,” she said.

To keep the figures clean and protected, a team of artists works daily to make sure the statues are in perfect shape, the general manager said.

Lewis Hamilton at Madame Tussauds Dubai. (AN_Photo)

She added that a team of 20 artists completes one wax figure within four to seven months. 

They even insert real hair strands, which can cost $190,605.

"There is a sitting involved with the talent, where they come and we do around 500 measurements, including head to toe," Kollsrud said.

The tourist destination consists of seven themed rooms and includes over 60 lifelike wax figures.

Chinese President Xi Jinping at Madame Tussauds Dubai. (AN_Photo)

 


Bill Gates’ daughter Jennifer weds Egyptian equestrian Nayel Nasser

Bill Gates’ daughter Jennifer weds Egyptian equestrian Nayel Nasser
Nassar proposed to Gates last January. Instagram
Updated 18 October 2021

Bill Gates’ daughter Jennifer weds Egyptian equestrian Nayel Nasser

Bill Gates’ daughter Jennifer weds Egyptian equestrian Nayel Nasser

DUBAI: Jennifer Gates, the daughter of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, has married Egyptian equestrian Nayel Nasser, it has been reported.

The two tied the knot at her farm in North Salem, New York.

The 25-year-old wore a custom Vera Wang gown, as per reports. Media outlets also reported that the newlyweds held a private Muslim ceremony the night before Saturday’s 300-guest celebration.

Nassar, 29, proposed to Gates, who has a degree in human biology, in January during a ski trip.

In September, Gates posted a picture on her Instagram of the two in a sweet embrace.

Nayel commented on the post, “Can't wait for forever with you.”

She also shared another photo in May from what appears to be their engagement photo shoot, writing, “I can hardly wait to marry you!”

The two have been together since January 2017, bonding over their passion for equestrian sports, with Gates also being an equestrian athlete who competes frequently, but not on a professional level like Nassar. Both belong to the Paris Panthers, a riding club which competes in different forms of equestrian sporting events.

In an interview with equestrian-focused publication Sidelines Magazine, the 23-year-old Stanford graduate said: “Nayel always reminds me to believe in myself, which is so important. I’m so lucky to have him as a partner.”

He’s incredibly supportive, humble and loyal, and someone that I look forward to building a life with.”

Nassar was born to millionaire parents in Chicago in the US, but was raised in Kuwait.

His parents run an architecture and design firm which relocated to the US in 2009.

Nassar, who graduated from Stanford University with a degree in economics, began riding when he was five, and was jumping by the age of 10. He first qualified in 2013 for the FEI World Cup Finals, an annual international competition which includes the most skilled and talented show jumping horses and riders.


Mideast films win big at BFI London Film Festival 

Mideast films win big at BFI London Film Festival 
Updated 18 October 2021

Mideast films win big at BFI London Film Festival 

Mideast films win big at BFI London Film Festival 

DUBAI: The BFI London Film Festival unveiled its winners for the 2021 edition on Sunday, and two regional films made the cut —“Hit the Road” and “Costa Brava, Lebanon.”

“Hit the Road” won the Best Film award. 

Iranian director Panah Panahi’s drama, which showed at the Cannes Film Festival, is all about the journey. It follows a chaotic family-of-four that goes on a road trip in a borrowed car.

“Costa Brava, Lebanon” stars Saleh Bakri and Nadine Labaki. (Supplied)

“Costa Brava, Lebanon,” which stars Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri and Lebanese actress Nadine Labaki, won the Audience Award.  

Lebanese director Mounia Akl’s impassioned feature film debut is an eerie family drama set amid a raging climate crisis in near-future Lebanon.

Read on for the full list of awards:

“Hit the Road,” Panah Panahi, Official Competition (Best Film Award)

“Playground,” Laura Wandel, First Feature Competition (Sutherland Award)

“Becoming Cousteau,” Liz Garbus, Documentary Competition (Grierson Award)

“Only Expansion,” Duncan Speakman, Immersive Art and XR Competition

“Love, Dad,” Diana Cam Van Nguyen, Short Film Competition (Short Film Award)

“Costa Brava, Lebanon,” Mounia Akl, Audience Award


Actress Jamie Lee Curtis talks ‘Halloween Kills’ and the franchise’s legacy of horror

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis talks ‘Halloween Kills’ and the franchise’s legacy of horror
Updated 18 October 2021

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis talks ‘Halloween Kills’ and the franchise’s legacy of horror

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis talks ‘Halloween Kills’ and the franchise’s legacy of horror

LOS ANGELES: Iconic horror villain Michael Myers has returned once again in “Halloween Kills,” but this time the town of Haddonfield is fighting back, led by the protagonist of the original Halloween film played by actress Jamie Lee Curtis.

“It’s a much more brutal telling but it feels like it’s also synonymous with the times,” said Jamie Lee Curtis, returning once again as protagonist Laurie Strode. “The times are really violent right now and it’s just sort of a mirror image of what’s going on around the world.”

Curtis made her film debut in 1978’s “Halloween” when she was only 19 and was surprised to be cast as the shy, bookish main character. “I was perfect for the cheerleader and perfect for the smart alec because that’s who I’ve been my whole life. So, it really gave me an opportunity to be an actor,” shared Curtis.

But as she’s continued in her life and career, Curtis has found more in common with her star making character.

“She is a mother and a grandmother and David Gordon Green wrote a family into the 2018 movie,” Curtis said. “I am a devoted mother, not a grandmother yet but I am a devoted mother and so I do feel like giving Laurie a family was crucial.”

The “Halloween” franchise has gone in a lot of directions over the years, but the modern films are focusing on legacy, with Laure’s daughter Karen stepping up to deal with the threat of Michael Myers even as the town turns into an angry mob.

The film is directed by David Gordon Green. (YouTube)

“Being a voice of reason in that hospital where everyone is losing their mind and it’s frustrating. I think she is playing catch-up really quickly,” said Judy Greer, making her second appearance as Karen Strode, after the 2018 film.

“But she’s also become the warrior. The roles have been replaced,” Curtis added. “Karen and Allyson are the warriors now. Laurie is the one being taken care of.”