Elisa Sednaoui touches down in Egypt following book launch

Elisa Sednaoui touches down in Egypt following book launch
Elisa Sednaoui Dellal is a model, actress, philanthropist and filmmaker. File/Getty
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Updated 24 November 2021

Elisa Sednaoui touches down in Egypt following book launch

Elisa Sednaoui touches down in Egypt following book launch

DUBAI: With the last two years plagued by COVID-19, traveling has been an unfulfilled wish for many. But now that borders have re-opened and countries are welcoming visitors back, people are more inclined to book a flight and hop on a plane. Egyptian-Italian-French model and humanitarian Elisa Sednaoui landed in Cairo on Wednesday, her first time in the Egyptian capital in two-years.

“Made it to Cairo,” she captioned a video of the city’s skyline, which she posted on her Instagram Stories. “For the first time in two years,” she added, alongside a heart-eye emoji.




Instagram/@elisasednaoui

The Italy-born model and philanthropist spent the first six years of her childhood in Zamalek, Cairo, and would visit at least three-times year, she says.

Though she is based in Los Angeles, the 33-year-old is very much connected to her Egyptian roots.

Last year, Sednaoui unveiled her debut collection of leather carryalls, pouches and backpacks and decided to pay sartorial homage to her roots by decorating each bag with crocodiles and an interpretation of the Abyssinian cat — a representation of the Ancient Egyptian sun deity, Ra.

She also founded Funtasia, a non-profit social enterprise based in Luxor, in 2014.

Funtasia creates grassroots programs for children and youth empowerment to help foster compassionate innovators.

Today, it operates in more than 15 different locations in public schools in Italy and Egypt. Funtasia has supported more than 5,900 children and trained more than 700 adults in both countries, according to the organization’s website.

This week, the model released a children’s book in Italian, “Le Mie 9 Intelligenze.”

Sednaoui describes the book as “playful activities for children and parents that offer opportunities to strengthen emotional intelligence, self and other awareness and behavior.”

Author is just the latest title to add to her expanding CV.

In addition to being a model, philanthropist, designer and actress, Sednaoui is also a film director.

She co-directed with Martina Gill the documentary “Kullu Tamam” (Everything is Good), a 2012 film that tells the story of how Egyptians from rural areas responded to the uprisings in the Middle East.


UAE-founded sustainable brand The Giving Movement gets charitable

Since its inception, the sustainable label has quickly gone on to become a staple in the wardrobes of social media influencers across the region. (thegivingmovement.com)
Since its inception, the sustainable label has quickly gone on to become a staple in the wardrobes of social media influencers across the region. (thegivingmovement.com)
Updated 03 December 2021

UAE-founded sustainable brand The Giving Movement gets charitable

Since its inception, the sustainable label has quickly gone on to become a staple in the wardrobes of social media influencers across the region. (thegivingmovement.com)

DUBAI: In the regional fashion industry, a handful of brands and organizations have been putting forth new initiatives that aim to give back to the community. Notably, The Giving Movement, an athleisure brand founded by Dominic Nowell-Barnes in Dubai in 2020, donates $4 of each sale to charity.

Since its inception, the sustainable label has quickly gone on to become a staple in the wardrobes of social media influencers across the region and was picked up by several e-retailers such as Ounass and Sivvi. But perhaps, its biggest accomplishment to date is raising over $1,000,000 in donations for local charities Dubai Cares and Harmony House India.

“The most important thing when I set out to do this project was just around feeling like we’ve done something good for the world,” Nowell-Barnes told Arab News.

“So when I started The Giving Movement, it was all about trying to find fulfillment and to feel that maybe in five, 10 years, when I looked back at where I’ve put my time and energy, it’s had a positive impact.”

The designer’s goal was to partner with charities that look after the basic needs of the less-fortunate, which is why he chose to partner with Dubai Cares and Harmony House India.

“Dubai Cares is predominantly focused on education, so the idea is that if you can educate people then they have the ability to get jobs and make a better future for themselves, as opposed to maybe just giving them a meal here or there. And then with Harmony House, they focus on the kind of immediate needs of providing food and shelter, and then ultimately education,” explains the designer.

The concept of giving back is very important and personal to Nowell-Barnes.

“Growing up in the north of England, I got to see very different types of lives. You can be walking down one street and there will be a guy driving a Ferrari, and the next minute you can be walking down a street where there’s people living on the sidewalk. This was my earliest recollection of feeling like life can be unfair to people,” he reflects.

“Therefore, I chose these charities because there are people who have just been dealt a bad hand so I want to spend the rest of my life supporting these people,” he added.

Harmony House currently looks after 700 disadvantaged children. The money raised by The Giving Movement will help provide food and shelter for these kids, in addition to providing the materials required to educate children with Dubai Cares.

Nowell-Barnes launched his genderless label in April 2020, after slowly losing interest in his 9-5 e-commerce job.

Despite launching in the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic — during the lockdown in Dubai when residents needed a police permit to leave their homes to go grocery shopping or run errands — the made-in-UAE brand was met with immediate success, which Nowell-Barnes attributes to people wearing activewear and loungewear more than ever as they were going out less and spending more time indoors.

In addition to its charitable aspect, the brand is sustainable too.

The Giving Movement only utilizes fabric that is either certified recycled or organic as well as low-impact dyes. Eventually, the brand wants to move into circularity by launching some sort of initiative to collect garments from customers once they have used them and rather than them throwing them away, the brand can send them to be recycled or reused.

“I want to make sure that what I am doing is not only good for other people, but also good for the planet,” concludes Nowell-Barnes.

 


Review: Halle Berry’s ‘Bruised’ walks to a familiar beat

The Oscar-winning star directs and stars in this gritty sports drama. (Supplied)
The Oscar-winning star directs and stars in this gritty sports drama. (Supplied)
Updated 03 December 2021

Review: Halle Berry’s ‘Bruised’ walks to a familiar beat

The Oscar-winning star directs and stars in this gritty sports drama. (Supplied)

LONDON: For her directorial debut, Oscar winner Halle Berry throws herself wholeheartedly into the role of Jackie ‘Pretty Bull’ Justice — a former UFC fighter who left the sport in disgrace and now scratches a living as a cleaner in ramshackle Newark, careening from one drink to the next and arguing with her manager-turned-boyfriend Desi who wants her to get back in the ring.

When Desi tricks Jackie into attending an underground fight night, she catches the eye of local promoter Immaculate, who offers her a comeback fight and sets her up with his head trainer, Buddhakan. Oh, and on the way home, Jackie’s estranged mother shows up with Manny, the son Jackie left when he was an infant, now returned to her after his father was killed in a shooting. As the pressure at home ratchets up, Jackie throws herself into training, battling not only her opponents in the ring but, it turns out, her inner demons too.

(Supplied)

It’s a metaphor, see? And it’s not the only time that Berry’s movie is a little heavy handed with its use of tried-and-tested symbolism. “Bruised” is, in fact, the latest movie in the “Rocky” franchise in everything but name. Seemingly unaware that audiences may have seen other fighting films, Berry shamelessly mines the genre for every bloody cliché and underdog trope going, mashing them all together into a movie that is perfectly serviceable — it’s competently directed, and nobody can doubt Berry’s commitment to the role — if extremely familiar. 

(Supplied)

Berry’s co-stars — Shamier Anderson, Adan Canto and British actor Sheila Atim — all get the time to flex their creative muscles and there is some enjoyment to be found in this female-led story of hard-won redemption. But the film is dominated by such a feeling of déjà vu that it becomes overpowering. Every story beat is predictable, and even the brutal climax feels a little by-the-numbers. “Bruised” is a decent movie, but it’s a decent movie the audience will almost certainly have seen before.


‘The Houses of Beirut’ — preserving a city’s architectural heritage

The original version of the book, published in both English and French, was, Julie said, popular among the Lebanese. (Supplied)
The original version of the book, published in both English and French, was, Julie said, popular among the Lebanese. (Supplied)
Updated 03 December 2021

‘The Houses of Beirut’ — preserving a city’s architectural heritage

The original version of the book, published in both English and French, was, Julie said, popular among the Lebanese. (Supplied)
  • Why two sisters chose to republish their mother’s children’s book following the Beirut Port explosion

DUBAI: Twenty-four years ago, Nayla Audi published her only book: “The Houses of Beirut.” It was created for children — an oversized book in the shape of a house — but at Dubai Design Week last month, adults, too, were opening the ‘doors’ of its cover to reveal the old-school watercolors (created by Audi’s friend, the painter Flavia Codsi) within. 

The book’s current revival was made possible by Audi’s two daughters, Yasmine and Julie, who published a new edition in the wake of the Beirut Port explosion last year, having found a copy of the book — a nostalgic memento of their childhood — that had survived the damage inflicted on their family home in the city’s Gemmayze neighborhood.

Nayla, Yasmine and Julie Audi. (Supplied)

“It really affected us personally,” Julie, who lives in London, told Arab News. “We thought we needed to do everything we can to preserve this book — to re-edit and try our best for these houses to stay. We grew up taking all these things for granted. But now, with a bit of maturity and age, we also realize that it’s important for us to continue what our mom started.”

The original version of the book, published in both English and French, was, Julie said, popular among the Lebanese. 

“A lot of people in our generation kind of grew up with this book,” she explained. “Through this project, people sent us messages saying: ‘It reminds me of my childhood.’ Or, ‘This was my favorite book growing up.’”

The book’s detailed and idyllic images take the reader through small-but-significant moments of daily life: Students arriving home from school, youngsters running around with the Lebanese flag; a street vendor filling a basket with vegetables, and the serene blue of the sea beside the corniche.

(Supplied)

But, as the name suggests, it is the tall traditional houses with their red-tile roofs and triple arches, which can be seen throughout the streets of the Lebanese capital, that take center stage. 

“She realized how important the heritage houses were in Beirut and how important it was for us — we were very little at the time — to have them as a memory,” Yasmine said.

Many of those heritage houses, some of which were built over a century ago, were seriously affected by the explosion and the sisters have stipulated that all proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the Beirut Heritage Initiative, launched in 2020 to restore badly damaged historical buildings.

(Supplied)

Apart from the fact that their mother wrote it, “The Houses of Beirut” is intensely personal to the sisters in other ways. Julie and Yasmine (and their cat) actually feature in the charming, colorful pages and they grew up in one of the depicted heritage houses — the ‘White House’ of the book. 

“The interior has an open, traditional layout — the living room in the middle and the rooms on the side,” Yasmine said. “When we were growing up, the balcony was our favorite place. It was kind of like our playground.”  

For the reprinting of the hand-bound book, the sisters kept the story as it was, (although they printed the English version only) and even turned to the same family-run printing press — Anis, established in the late 1950s — that published it in the first place. Like many businesses in Beirut, Anis was practically destroyed, so getting things off the ground has been a struggle. 

(Supplied)

“We kept coming back to the fact that we’re doing this, also, to help Lebanon,” Yasmine said. “So, why would we print the book somewhere else and not help the actual artisans in Lebanon, who have been affected by the economic crisis and everything that’s been happening?”

Both Julie and Yasmine were born in the US, but feel a strong attachment to Lebanon. They flew to Beirut after the explosion and that experience reinforced their belief in the necessity of chronicling the city’s architectural traditions. 

“It’s this cycle, which is sometimes a bit sad when you’re from Lebanon, of how every generation has to go through these hardships,” said Julie. “There are so many issues nowadays, but preserving our heritage is really important.”


What We Are Eating Today: Sam’s Ombre in Jeddah

What We Are Eating Today: Sam’s Ombre in Jeddah
Updated 03 December 2021

What We Are Eating Today: Sam’s Ombre in Jeddah

What We Are Eating Today: Sam’s Ombre in Jeddah

This Jeddah-based cake brand — founded by Samira bin Mahfouz — lets you add a personal touch to your celebrations, with individualized mini-cakes that can be tailored to match each guest’s tastes and personality. It makes a nice change from your run-of-the-mill large birthday cake, for example.

Bin Mahfouz’s Korean lunch box cakes will add some humor to any party, with each cake decorated with miniature figurines and creative sugar models. Bin Mahfouz bases her creations on a short conversation with her customers, to find out about the people who will be receiving the cakes. She begins by drawing up a quick sketch, which she later develops into her mini-cake decoration.

Available flavors include vanilla, chocolate, lemon and raspberry, salted caramel, mocha coffee, and lime. The cakes range in size from 3 to 12 inches, and you can choose the colors. However, Bin Mahfouz likes to offer some element of surprise for her clients, so you do not get to see the results until the cakes arrive. Each mini-cake comes with a sticker related to the party’s theme and — of course — a candle.

Sam’s Ombre is not limited to themed mini-cakes, however. It also offers a wide range of creative layered cakes for special occasions. For more information visit @sams_ombre on Instagram.


What We Are Reading Today: Dinopedia by Darren Naish

What We Are Reading Today: Dinopedia by Darren Naish
Updated 03 December 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Dinopedia by Darren Naish

What We Are Reading Today: Dinopedia by Darren Naish

Dinopedia is an illustrated, pocket-friendly encyclopedia of all things dinosaurian. Featuring dozens of entries on topics ranging from hadrosaur nesting colonies to modern fossil hunters and paleontologists such as Halszka Osmólska and Paul Sereno, this amazing A–Z compendium is brimming with facts about these thrilling, complex, and sophisticated animals.

Almost everything we know about dinosaurs has changed in recent decades. A scientific revolution, kick-started in the late 1960s by astounding new discoveries and a succession of new ideas, has shown that these magnificent creatures were marvels of evolution that surpassed modern reptiles and mammals in size, athletic abilities, and more.

Darren Naish sheds invaluable light on our current, fast-changing understanding of dinosaur diversity and evolutionary history, and discusses the cultural impacts of dinosaurs through books, magazines, and movies.