Louvre Abu Dhabi showcases historic cultural links between China, Islamic world

Louvre Abu Dhabi showcases historic cultural links between China, Islamic world
Masterpieces on display include the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s rare Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) gold cup with dragon-shaped handle from China, which may have been made for a nomadic dignitary. (Supplied)
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Updated 21 October 2021

Louvre Abu Dhabi showcases historic cultural links between China, Islamic world

Louvre Abu Dhabi showcases historic cultural links between China, Islamic world
  • Second international exhibition of the year explores artistic exchange stretching back centuries

DUBAI: Over the past decade the world has watched as China has expanded its economic presence in the Gulf region, becoming the biggest trading partner and external investor for many Middle Eastern countries.

Yet what many forget is that China’s relationship with the Arab world dates back to antiquity — to the time of the Silk Road and the birth of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula.

Thanks to Arab explorers, such as the 14th-century adventurer Ibn Battuta, and the expansion of trade activities in Europe, business and cultural exchange flourished between China and the Arab world.




The show includes over 200 masterpieces from the Louvre Abu Dhabi in partnership with the Guimet Museum in Paris. (Supplied)

What many analysts refer to as China’s “new Silk Road” is, in essence, a return to this shared past, one that is explored through the exhibition “Dragon and Phoenix: Centuries of Exchange between Chinese and Islamic Worlds,” on display at the Louvre Abu Dhabi until Feb. 12, 2022. 

The show includes over 200 masterpieces from the Louvre Abu Dhabi in partnership with the Guimet Museum in Paris, and showcases the cultural and artistic exchange between the two civilizations for more than 800 years up till the 18th century. 

The exhibition pays tribute to the Dragon, representing China, and the Phoenix, referring to the Islamic world, with artifacts dating back to the establishment of the first Arab merchant colonies in the trading city of Canton in the 8th century.




Fabulous animal, dragon. (Supplied)

Objects reveal the journeys of tradesmen and explorers from the Arab world through Central Asia and across the Indian Ocean to China and South-east Asia. 

“Dragon and Phoenix: Centuries of Exchange between Chinese and Islamic Worlds” was curated by Sophie Makariou, president of the Guimet Museum, in collaboration with Souraya Noujaim, scientific, curatorial and collections management director, and Guilhem Andre, Louvre Abu Dhabi’s chief curator of Asian and medieval art.

“The exhibition gives visitors the opportunity to compare artworks, set side by side, from different regions that are connected by overwhelming aesthetic and symbolic similarities,” Andre told Arab News.




The exhibition also includes paintings, silverware, ceramic, glassware, manuscripts and luxury fabrics. (Supplied)

“The works appear similar at first glance, but when you uncover their history and provenance you are made aware of the many threads of inspiration and cultural exchange which run between the Chinese and Islamic worlds. Each of these items and the materials used represent mediums for artistic exchange between these great cultures.”

Masterpieces on display include the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s rare Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) gold cup with dragon-shaped handle from China, which may have been made for a nomadic dignitary.

Another highlight is the Panni Tartarici (or Tartar cloths) — Mongol silk fabric with gold threads — from the Guimet collection.




The exhibition will be accompanied by a cultural program, including weekend family film screenings. (Supplied)

A calligraphy section features paintings and calligraphies by Wen Zhengming (1470-1559), Dong Qichang (1555–1636) and Zha Shibiao (1615–1698) on loan from the Guimet Museum. These works correspond to the exquisite letters of Arabic script found in a selection of illuminated manuscripts from the Qur’an.

The exhibition also includes paintings, silverware, ceramic, glassware, manuscripts and luxury fabrics. 

“Wherever trade routes exist, artistic and cultural exchange exists in parallel,” Andre said. “With every exhibition, we hope that visitors come away with an understanding that, as humans, we have more in common than we realize, whether historically or in the present day. Exhibitions such as this allow us to trace the routes of exchange and inspiration between peoples and cultures that have been present for thousands of years and will continue to be sources of inspiration.” 




Vase with dragons and clouds. (Supplied)

The exhibition will be accompanied by a cultural program, including weekend family film screenings. 

Andre said that the exhibition is the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s most important show of 2021. With the opening of Expo 2020, this is a pivotal year for the UAE in terms of cultural exchange, he added. 

In 2022, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will feature a performance piece by local artist Ahmed Al-Areef. Starting in October, educational activities and programs will include daily express tours for adults, Take Me to Asia interactive events with museum educators, “MakeandPlay” activities inspired by the exhibition, and masterclasses.


VOX Cinemas bringing Saudi stories to film

A Saudi cinema-goer has her temperature taken as she wears a colored face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus,  at VOX Cinema hall in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, June 26, 2020. (AP)
A Saudi cinema-goer has her temperature taken as she wears a colored face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, at VOX Cinema hall in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, June 26, 2020. (AP)
Updated 08 December 2021

VOX Cinemas bringing Saudi stories to film

A Saudi cinema-goer has her temperature taken as she wears a colored face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus,  at VOX Cinema hall in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, June 26, 2020. (AP)
  • Majid Al Futtaim backing new wave of talent, KSA chief says

JEDDAH: With more than 130 films set to be screened at the Red Sea International Film Festival, VOX Cinemas are on a mission to support and promote local films the best way they can.

The Red Sea International Film Festival kicked off its festivities at Jeddah’s UNESCO World Heritage Site old town, Al-Balad, on Dec. 6. It will run until Dec. 15, in partnership with VOX Cinemas and others.

VOX Cinemas will screen 138 feature films and shorts from 67 countries in 34 languages. The content was produced by established and emerging talent, with fans, film enthusiasts, filmmakers and actors in attendance for many of the films.

A slate of new Saudi films — 27 from an exciting wave of Saudi filmmakers — will be shown alongside the best of contemporary international cinema.

“We’re very proud to be partners of this festival, especially since this has been the first international Red Sea Film Festival taking place in Jeddah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Toni El Massih, managing director of VOX Cinemas, told Arab News.

RSIFF is a significant breakthrough for the whole industry, exhibitors, distributors and producers, he said. “This platform will help future filmmakers and storytellers know that this country is so full and rich in culture and storytelling. This is the exact platform that is needed for the talent to come across and present their project,” he added.

HIGHLIGHT

VOX Cinemas will screen 138 feature films and shorts from 67 countries in 34 languages. The content was produced by established and emerging talent, with fans, film enthusiasts, filmmakers and actors in attendance for many of the films.

On tour to the main VOX Cinema sites in Al-Balad that have been constructed to screen RSIFF films, Arab News spoke to Mohamed Al-Hashemi, KSA chief of Majid Al Futtaim. He said: “The Red Sea Film Festival is a statement for the Kingdom. There were no cinemas prior to April 2018, however, customers enjoyed the set of experiences as soon as they opened.

“With life coming back to normal after the COVID-19 period, the Red Sea Film Festival is a statement from the Kingdom to the world that Saudi Arabia will be a major player when it comes to local content production, demand for international content, and most importantly, demand for exhibitions as well, when it comes to the best of the best that can be offered to consumers.”

With movie theaters in more than six cities across the Kingdom in over 15 locations, VOX Cinemas operates 154 screens in Saudi Arabia. “We are considered to be the largest cinema exhibitors in the Kingdom in terms of site numbers and screen counts,” Al-Hashemi said.

Why is the screen count so important?

“The screen basically is the only platform where people can showcase local content producers on the big screen. With more big screens, more local content will be produced for the local market and the regional market, and hopefully Saudi as well to the international market,” Al-Hashemi said.

“The RSIFF is where the Kingdom can act as a local content producer and where we can bring out the folded and untold stories of this beautiful company, to the customers within Saudi,” he added.

On Dec. 6. during the inaugural red-carpet event, VOX Cinemas announced an ambitious initiative that aims to foster homegrown talent and showcase untold stories on the big screen.

A plan was made to boost regional film production and develop 25 Arabic films in the next five years.

El Massih said that many of these films would be from Saudi Arabia, with Saudi talent working as directors, producers and actors. There will also be films coming out of the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

Speaking on the genres of the future films, he said: “The genre that we are focusing on and that has proven to work best is the comedy-drama. This is the sort of film that we’ll be working toward.”

As part of the initiative, VOX Cinemas will continue to support the next generation of homegrown content developers and provide resources for emerging filmmakers to bring their scripts to screen.

“This platform will search and scout for talent. It’ll be the same case later in the UAE and in other festivals that are taking place across the region.

“Accordingly, we’ll start putting a team together, building screening and writing rooms, getting stories from each of the different regions together, and then we’ll take that forward and then do the necessary films that we’ll see on the big screen,” El Massih said.

“Majid Al Futtaim has been very active in the region since 1999, starting off with exhibition, and then elevating our activities into film distribution, and recently in film production.”

Being a main contributor and partner of RSIFF is “huge,” he added, saying that such an opportunity will support emerging talent.

El Massih said: “This is the perfect platform for us to be participating and searching for the emerging talent and filmmakers that we can bring on board.”

 


Women under spotlight at opening of Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah

Red Sea Film Festival Chairman Mohammed Al-Turki with special guests during the festival in Jeddah. The event will screen 138 films from 67 countries in 34 languages. (AFP)
Red Sea Film Festival Chairman Mohammed Al-Turki with special guests during the festival in Jeddah. The event will screen 138 films from 67 countries in 34 languages. (AFP)
Updated 08 December 2021

Women under spotlight at opening of Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah

Red Sea Film Festival Chairman Mohammed Al-Turki with special guests during the festival in Jeddah. The event will screen 138 films from 67 countries in 34 languages. (AFP)
  • Awards for Catherine Deneuve, Saudi director Haifaa Al-Mansour and Egyptian actress Laila Eloui

JEDDAH: The star-studded red carpet on the opening night of the Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah featured a who’s who of local and international talent.

Among those honored during the opening ceremony on Monday for their contributions to cinema were three women: Veteran French actress Catherine Deneuve, Saudi film director Haifaa Al-Mansour, and Egyptian actress Laila Eloui.
“I am very happy and proud to be here this evening, to have been invited to the first edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival,” said 78-year-old Deneuve upon receiving her award. The multi-award-winning actor made her film debut in 1957 with a small role in Andre Hunebelle’s “Les Collegiennes” and found international acclaim in the decades that followed with starring roles in films such as “Repulsion,” “Belle de Jour,” “8 Women,” “Dancer in the Dark” and “Indochine.”

Haifaa Al-Mansour, the first Saudi female director, won a number of international awards for her feature debut, ‘Wadjda,’ in 2012.

“It is always an honor to have your work recognized by the film industry,” she added. “I am particularly grateful for this honor and the opportunity to be part of this larger celebration of the contribution of women to cinema.
“I hope my work can help inspire young women to chart their own careers in this industry and I hope this recognition of the contribution of women in cinema in general will continue to underline the importance of having a strong female presence both in front of and behind the camera.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• The festival is celebrating in particular the role women in the film industry, and awards were also presented to two exceptional regional talents for their extraordinary contributions to cinema.

• The Red Sea International Film Festival continues until Dec. 15. It will screen 138 films from 67 countries in 34 languages.

The festival is celebrating in particular the role women in the film industry, and awards were also presented to two exceptional regional talents for their extraordinary contributions to cinema. Al-Mansour, the first Saudi female director, won a number of international awards for her feature debut, “Wadjda,” in 2012, while 59-year-old Egyptian actor Eloui has appeared in more than 70 films.
Also honored during the opening ceremony was Jack Lang, president of the Arab World Institute and long-time supporter of the arts and culture.
“I am personally impressed by this beautiful young Saudi cinema and its inspiring directors,” Lang, a former minister of culture in France, told the festival audience, adding: “Long live the Red Sea International Film Festival, which will become one of the best film festivals in the world.

Jack Lang.  (Photo: Red Sea International Film Festival)

“Dear Saudi friends, we admire your work, we admire your commitment to culture and art. We love you.”
In a recent interview with Arab News en Francais, Lang, a major supporter of cultural exchange through the arts it all its forms, said: “People around the world have absolutely no idea how far a real cultural revolution is taking place in Saudi Arabia in all fields, such as art, cinema, theater, literature, painting, sculpture, music.”
He also expressed his “immense admiration” for the work being done in the Kingdom by Saudi authorities in general and Saudi Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan in particular.
The Red Sea International Film Festival continues until Dec. 15. It will screen 138 films from 67 countries in 34 languages.


Hayy Jameel’s opening show explores the politics of food in Jeddah

An installation by Sancintya Mohini Simpson titled ‘Jahajin’ (2021) exploring gender issues in agricultural production. (Supplied)
An installation by Sancintya Mohini Simpson titled ‘Jahajin’ (2021) exploring gender issues in agricultural production. (Supplied)
Updated 08 December 2021

Hayy Jameel’s opening show explores the politics of food in Jeddah

An installation by Sancintya Mohini Simpson titled ‘Jahajin’ (2021) exploring gender issues in agricultural production. (Supplied)
  • As guests enter the structure they can smell the alluring concoction of spices, cardamon and earth while listening to the woman’s captivating voice singing the Bhojpuri folk song of Simpson’s mother

JEDDAH: The inaugural exhibition at the new Hayy Jameel multidisciplinary arts complex in Jeddah explores how the food we eat is connected to ecology, personal and collective memory and a certain time and place.
The show — Staple: What’s on Your Plate? — presents works by artists not just from the Kingdom, but also from DRC, Germany, Thailand, India, Spain, Lebanon, the Russian Federation, UAE and Bangladesh, reflecting Jeddah’s diverse demographic.
“Staple is an international exhibition that represents Jeddah’s history,” said Rahul Gudipudi, Exhibitions Curator at Art Jameel, which set up the center. “Jeddah is a port city that through centuries of trade, cultural exchange and pilgrimage has a truly diverse community. In many ways this exhibition reflects this dialogue with the world that Jeddah has had for centuries.”
“We staged the show in collaboration with the Delfina Foundation and it asks very simple yet urgent questions such as how the choices we make with our food impact the world and our societies,” Gudipudi told Arab News.

‘Ghost Agriculture’ (2018) a hand-stitched Egyptian cotton textile by Asunción Molinos Gordo. (Supplied)

On the second floor, the gentle sounds of an Indian woman singing can be heard from a life-size corrugated iron structure, the work of Indian artist Sancintya Mohini Simpson. titled “Jahajin,” it recalls the houses occupied by indentured female laborers taken from India to Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa) in the early 20th century to work on sugar plantations. As guests enter the structure they can smell the alluring concoction of spices, cardamon and earth while listening to the woman’s captivating voice singing the Bhojpuri folk song of Simpson’s mother. Inside is a film showcasing the seemingly endless fields of plantations.
Simpson uses her work to reflect on the experience of her maternal ancestors and the stories she found through archival research on female plantation workers.

FASTFACT

The show presents works by artists not just from the Kingdom, but also from DRC, Germany, Thailand, India, Spain, Lebanon, the Russian Federation, UAE and Bangladesh, reflecting Jeddah’s diverse demographic.

As Simpson’s work demonstrates, gender issues permeate all aspects of agriculture. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, women constitute 47 percent of those engaged in agriculture.
“Africa Empty Europe Full Up” (2021) is a group of heads and one full body figure that at first glance look as though they are bronze. On closer examination we see they have been made from chocolate.
The sculptures are the work of Cercle d’art des travailleurs de plantation Congolaise, an arts collective based in Lusanga, DRC, composed of former palm oil and plantation workers. Since they are unable to afford to live off the wages they receive from their work, they use material sourced from cacao to create their artworks. The works they create are made in a collaborative setting and the materials used to recall and overwrite the exploitative economics of global trade.

‘Africa Empty Europe Full up’ (2021), sculptures made in chocolate by DRC arts collective Cercle d'art des travailleurs de plantation Congolaise (CATPC).

CATPC presents a new model. While in the West we see how plantation labor has historically funded the art world via donations, here art is funding a new form of post-plantation trade whereby the group reinvests the profits from sales of their artworks into self-owned agricultural production in the DRC.
Works such as these prompt a reflection on the centuries of global trade and colonialism that have led to the world’s current predicament.
On the ground floor of the center more colorful works come into view, the most prominent being an installation by Saudi design studios Bricklab and Misht Studio called “Absent Dinner” (2021). The large-scale mixed media installation incorporates 100 percent cotton muslin hanging from the ceiling colored with dyes made from turmeric, Galangal, nutmeg and fennel seeds. Brightly colored casts of a cooked Jawi meal from South and West Asia stand on a series of white winding pedestals.
A simple meal, the Akil Jawi, stands as a testament to the once seamless integration into the Hejazi community. Today, the artists say, the diversity of Hejazi society is increasingly marginalized due to globalization. That diversity dates back hundreds of years as workers from Africa, Java, Central and South Asia settled in city centers in the Hejaz for trade, education and religion, and their cultural influences can still be found in these areas today.

Nearby are multimedia works by Saudi artist Mohammed Alfraji. His Jasb ‘Al’aesh (2021) features projections on found pieces of tree trunks. Alfraji explores the food practices of Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahsa region in the eastern province, which is known for its agricultural abundance. His poetic video installation presents the region’s various food practices, from cooking, planting and planting to agricultural policies, as well as food’s connection to family heritage.

 


Lineup of Arab stars unveiled for MDLBEAST SOUNDSTORM festival in Riyadh 

Lineup of Arab stars unveiled for MDLBEAST SOUNDSTORM festival in Riyadh 
Updated 07 December 2021

Lineup of Arab stars unveiled for MDLBEAST SOUNDSTORM festival in Riyadh 

Lineup of Arab stars unveiled for MDLBEAST SOUNDSTORM festival in Riyadh 

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s MDLBEAST revealed on Tuesday the lineup of Arab pop stars who will perform at its music festival, SOUNDSTORM.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by @mdlbeast

Eleven singers will hit the stage throughout the four days of the festival, from Dec. 16-19, in Riyadh.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by @mdlbeast

Elissa, Majid Al-Mohandis, Rashid Al-Majid and Mohamed Hamaki will perform on Dec. 16, while Asala, Balqees and Myriam Fares will entertain fans on Dec. 17.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by @mdlbeast

 

On the third day, Tamer Hosny and Wael Kfoury will perform, while Amr Diab and Nancy Ajram will close out the event. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by @mdlbeast

“SOUNDSTORM 21 will bring together 200+ artists that tailor to the taste of all festivalgoers attending,” said Talal Albahiti, COO and head of talent booking and events at MDLBEAST. “Announcing this exceptional line-up of Arab pop stars is an exciting moment for fans who are keen to experience this unique blend provided by electronic dance music global headliners with the Arab world’s most popular artists.”

 


Huda Beauty named top beauty brand of 2021 in Cosmetify ranking 

Huda Beauty named top beauty brand of 2021 in Cosmetify ranking 
Updated 07 December 2021

Huda Beauty named top beauty brand of 2021 in Cosmetify ranking 

Huda Beauty named top beauty brand of 2021 in Cosmetify ranking 

DUBAI: US-Iraqi entrepreneur Huda Kattan’s brand, Huda Beauty, has been named as the biggest cosmetics label in 2021, according to a recent report by Cosmetify. 

The Cosmetify Index ranks the world’s biggest beauty brands based on search volume, increase in searches, Instagram followers, hashtags and engagement.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Huda Kattan (@huda)

This is the second time Kattan’s Dubai-based label has topped Cosmetify’s list. 

MAC Cosmetics ranks second, Anastasia Beverly Hills is third, Avon is fourth and The Body Shop is fifth.