Typographer Lara Captan reimagines Arabic calligraphy at Expo 2020 Dubai

Typographer Lara Captan reimagines Arabic calligraphy at Expo 2020 Dubai
The calligraphy-inspired benches are dotted around Expo 2020 Dubai. Supplied
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Updated 13 October 2021

Typographer Lara Captan reimagines Arabic calligraphy at Expo 2020 Dubai

Typographer Lara Captan reimagines Arabic calligraphy at Expo 2020 Dubai

DUBAI: The beauty and complexity of the Arabic language takes the physical form of benches at Expo 2020 Dubai. Visitors to the six-month convention are invited to sit and take in the event on a series of 46 calligraphy-inspired benches, the brainchild of London-based architect Asif Khan and Amsterdam-based typographer and Arabic type designer Lara Captan, who turned crowdsourced words into a functional art piece.

“As an Arabic type designer, I was invited to imagine what the Arabic letters would look like, and for what reason. Asif and his team then brought my digital drawings to the third dimension,” explained Captan to Arab News.




The benches are the brainchild of London-based architect Asif Khan and Amsterdam-based typographer and Arabic type designer Lara Captan. Supplied

“The Arabic word therefore became a sort of product design, where parts of letters or connections between letters were given different heights so that children, adults and people with difficult mobility could all sit on the benches comfortably. Asif’s team also had to find the right seating depth for the words to work as benches, this then dictated the level of thickness I could give to the letters,” she added.

Stretching 10 meters long, the benches are spread throughout the public walkways of the Expo and took about eight to nine months to complete.




Lara Captan’s sketches for the “Tawasol” bench. Supplied

The words for the benches were originally crowdsourced via Expo 2020’s social media users, who were asked to select words that best represent Expo, its themes (opportunity, mobility and sustainability) and the UAE. Those words were then refined with a group of 30 young Emirati professionals, who made the final selection and decided where the script-based benches should be located on site.

“This project has been unique in many ways,” said Captan. “When it comes to my share of the contribution, the challenge was to answer the question: How can the Arabic words be relevant to the Expo site, readable, enjoyable as art pieces and functional, all at the same time?”

The word choices have been considered to reflect the districts they will be placed in and even the material they are made from. For example, the word for “vision” is see-through, and the bench for the word “dream” is made up of a series of hammocks.

In addition to serving as a resting place for guests to sit and interact with each other, Captan hopes that the benches will create a sense of pride in Arabic-speaking visitors.




The word choices have been considered to reflect the districts they will be placed in and even the material they are made from. Supplied

“I would like people to feel pride in the Arabic writing system, because to me, it is one of the most important contributions of Arab culture,” muses Captan, adding: “I hope they can appreciate our attempt at making the script contemporary, respectful to heritage and alive within a space where the world’s innovations are being exhibited.”

The Lebanese native reveals that she first developed an interest in typography when she was studying graphic design at the American University of Beirut between 2002 and 2006. “I understood that we had a big lack of Arabic fonts, and that the existing ones back then were either not well drawn or heavily westernized. And so I made it my life’s mission to make Arabic typefaces that are authentic and contemporary at the same time,” she said.




Captan hopes that the benches will create a sense of pride in Arabic-speaking visitors. Supplied

Her start, which she describes as “a slow brew” or “a long incubation” came during her fight against the technologies used to make fonts because they do not allow for the optimal rendering of Arabic.

Captan gained international recognition once she started speaking at international type conferences. She went on to receive a subsidy from the Creative Industry Fund NL in the Netherlands that allowed for the conception of her experimental typecases Falak ACE and Falak OTL after five years of work.

Captan counts the inception of her typefaces as one of her proudest career moments alongside seeing her students’ work after the first Arabic type design program and workshop in Beirut, co-founded by her and Arabic type designer Kristyan Sarkis.

She says: “I hope to make many more fonts that push some form of boundary, and to write about everything I’ve learned throughout the years so that future generations of type designers can do a much better job than me.”


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 6 sec ago

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.”