New restoration works shore-up Iraq’s historic Arch of Ctesiphon

New restoration works shore-up Iraq’s historic Arch of Ctesiphon
This picture taken on November 24, 2021 shows a lateral view of the Arch of Ctesiphon, also known as Taq Kisra (Khosrow's Arch), stands before the conservators' scaffolding at the ancient site of Ctesiphon near moden al-Madain in central Iraq. (AFP)
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Updated 25 November 2021

New restoration works shore-up Iraq’s historic Arch of Ctesiphon

New restoration works shore-up Iraq’s historic Arch of Ctesiphon
  • The famed sixth-century monument, located around 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital Baghda

MADAIN, Iraq: Iraq's 1,400-year-old Arch of Ctesiphon, the world's largest brick-built arch, is undergoing restoration work as part of efforts to return it to its former splendour, authorities said Wednesday.
The famed sixth-century monument, located around 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital Baghdad, is the last structure still standing from the ancient Persian imperial capital Ctesiphon.
Restoration work on the arch, also known as Taq-i Kisra from its Persian name, was carried out in 2013 after a massive slab fell off due to damp caused by heavy rain.
But the new bricks too have begun to fall following downpours last year.
A first phase of "emergency" works that began in March are due to end next month, said David Michelmore, a conservation expert working with a team of archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania.
"What is falling down at the minute is not the original Sassanian construction, it's the modern repairs," he told AFP.
"There was quite a lot of reconstruction done in 2013-2014 and probably all of this will need to be taken down and replaced," he said.
Construction of the arch began in AD 540 during the Persian Sassanid dynasty's long wars with the Byzantine Empire. It formed part of a palace complex started three centuries earlier.
At 37 metres (122 feet) tall and 48 metres (158 feet) long, it is the largest brick-built arch in the world.
Iraqi Culture Minister Hassan Nazim said the works aimed to "consolidate" the site, which is near the bank of the Tigris River and is at risk of groundwater infiltration.
The current phase is financed thanks to a budget of $700,000 from the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH), said Laith Majid Hussein, director of the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage.
He lamented "numerous mistakes" in the previous restoration, including the installation of a heavy "layer of cement on the arch".
The next stage would be a "total restoration" that would help strengthen the structure and prevent any collapse, he said.
In 2004, the Global Heritage Fund said that, as a result of disrepair, the arch was "in danger of collapse".
Those warnings proved prescient -- in late 2012, a slab about two metres (six feet) in length fell off.


Saudi Arabia’s NEOM advert among nominees for Art Directors Guild Awards in Hollywood

Saudi Arabia’s NEOM advert among nominees for Art Directors Guild Awards in Hollywood
Updated 25 January 2022

Saudi Arabia’s NEOM advert among nominees for Art Directors Guild Awards in Hollywood

Saudi Arabia’s NEOM advert among nominees for Art Directors Guild Awards in Hollywood

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s “NEOM: ‘Made to Change’” advert is nominated for the 26th Art Directors Guild Awards, organizers announced on Monday. 

The live in-person event, scheduled to be held on March 5 in Los Angeles, honors production design in theatrical motion pictures, music videos, animated feature films, television shows and commercials.

The 90-second video shows how the $500 billion smart city in the Tabuk Province of northwestern Saudi Arabia will accelerate the human drive for progress through technology, energy, sustainability, mobility and more. 

The commercial’s production designer is François Audouy.

Among the nominees for the commercials category is “Gucci: ‘Aria,’” “Apple Music: ‘Billie Eilish — Happier Than Ever,’” “Apple: Introducing iPhone 13 Pro” and more. 

“Dune,” the science-fiction epic shot in Abu Dhabi, earned recognition in the fantasy feature film category, alongside “Cruella,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” and “The Green Knight.”


US actor Giancarlo Esposito to attend UAE Comic Con 

US actor Giancarlo Esposito to attend UAE Comic Con 
Updated 25 January 2022

US actor Giancarlo Esposito to attend UAE Comic Con 

US actor Giancarlo Esposito to attend UAE Comic Con 

DUBAI: US actor, director and producer Giancarlo Esposito is set to attend the 10th edition of Middle East Film and Comic Con (MEFCC) in Abu Dhabi.

The festival, which is dedicated toward films, comic books and video games, will run from March 3-5 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

Esposito is famous for his roles in AMC’s award-winning TV show “Breaking Bad” and its prequel “Better Call Saul.” 

US actor Michael Rooker will attend the event. (AFP)

He is also known for playing Moff Gideon in the Disney+ Star Wars’ spinoff “The Mandalorian,” as well as for his role of Jorge in the blockbuster action franchise “The Maze Runner.”

The filmmaker will be part of a star-studded guest list that includes US stars Michael Rooker and Jon Bernthal, US voice actor Charles Martinet and “Game of Thrones” actress Nathalie Emmanuel. 

Now in its 10th year, the event will feature workshops, a theater experience, an Artists’ Alley and the ever popular cosplay competition.


Stunning French soprano enthralls Jeddah audience

Clara Barbier Serrano performed arias by composers such as Purcell, Handel, Mozart and Puccini. Her journey into opera began 10 years ago when she was 16 years old. (Photos/ Hayy Jameel)
Clara Barbier Serrano performed arias by composers such as Purcell, Handel, Mozart and Puccini. Her journey into opera began 10 years ago when she was 16 years old. (Photos/ Hayy Jameel)
Updated 24 January 2022

Stunning French soprano enthralls Jeddah audience

Clara Barbier Serrano performed arias by composers such as Purcell, Handel, Mozart and Puccini. Her journey into opera began 10 years ago when she was 16 years old. (Photos/ Hayy Jameel)
  • Clara Barbier Serrano performs arias taking audience on a special journey through European history
  • To be in this place in this Maraya concert hall was just incredible, because it’s beautiful; it’s so magical how we can bring this music to the whole world, and then people will somehow connect to it

JEDDAH: The first recipient of the Andrea Bocelli Foundation-Community Jameel Scholarship, French soprano Clara Barbier Serrano, thrilled a Jeddah audience with her stunning performance on the Hayy Jameel stage on Jan. 22.

Serrano performed arias by composers such as Purcell, Handel, Mozart and Puccini, taking the Jeddawi audience on a special journey through European history from the 17th to the 20th centuries, via Italian opera, Mozart and finishing with French songs, accompanied by a pianist to complete a beautiful, intimate recital.
This event is considered the first classical music performance at Hayy Jameel.
In an exclusive interview at Hayy Jameel, Serrano told Arab News that she was lucky to receive the scholarship as it created chances for her, including the opportunity to perform next to Bocelli at different locations throughout the world.
“I had my first performance next to Bocelli after I received the Bocelli-Jameel scholarship, it is really always a pleasure to sing next to him,” she said.
“Now I feel more at ease when we’re on the stage together. I’m more relaxed than before because I know him a little bit. There is very nice energy that he gives on stage.”
The talented young singer performed the day before with Bocelli at one of the Kingdom’s prominent cultural destinations, the award-winning Maraya in AlUla.
“To be in this place in this Maraya concert hall was just incredible, because it’s beautiful; it’s so magical how we can bring this music to the whole world, and then people will somehow connect to it,” she said.
As a child, Serrano said that she did not know much about opera. “My family also didn’t listen to classical music, I was not particularly into it. I was listening more to jazz and things like that.”
Serrano’s journey into opera began 10 years ago when she was 16 years old. “I played the violin as a kid, and I took so many musical classes, singing in the choir, and playing the violin, I got more and more interested in the voice and then my teachers would tell me, you have a nice voice you should think solo, and that’s how I got interested in opera or more in lyrical singing.”
“At the time, I hadn’t seen many operas in my life. And it’s a very particular form of art actually. However, this interest in the voice just led me to practice this kind of singing,” she said.
Serrano said that when an opera is performed on stage a great narrative combination happens. “When we are on stage, it is like a story and a plot, it is like a theater piece being performed in a music style. The technique and the way we use our body to make the sound are very emotional. You have to take people with you in something very personal.”
Serrano received the Andrea Bocelli Foundation-Community Jameel Scholarship in 2020; she was rewarded with a two-year diploma in opera and a chance for her to be fully immersed in the opera world.
“I have been studying opera classical singing for six years, including my four years of bachelor in art and music in Germany, and now I am doing a special kind of postgraduate studies at the Royal College of Music in London,” she said.
Serrano performed with Bocelli in the 2020 “Believe in Christmas” concert at the Teatro Regio di Parma, at the annual Concerto di Natale in Assisi in 2020, and in 2021 at the Teatro di Silenzio in Bocelli’s Tuscan hometown of Lajatico.
The opera scholarship is open to students from around the world. Community Jameel, which supports the scholarship, and Art Jameel, which runs Hayy Jameel, are sister organizations founded by the Jameel family of Saudi Arabia.
The Andrea Bocelli Foundation and Community Jameel scholarship were established in 2019, with the aim of supporting up-and-coming singers to study opera at the Royal College of Music in London. The second Bocelli-Jameel Scholar was awarded to Egyptian talent Laura Mekhail in 2021.


Lebanese short film ‘Warsha’ premieres at Sundance Festival

Lebanese short film ‘Warsha’ premieres at Sundance Festival
Updated 24 January 2022

Lebanese short film ‘Warsha’ premieres at Sundance Festival

Lebanese short film ‘Warsha’ premieres at Sundance Festival

DUBAI:  “Warsha,” a short film written and directed by Lebanese filmmaker Dania Bdeir, had its global premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

The 15-minute-long film, which tells the story of a Syrian crane operator in Beirut named Mohamed (played by Lebanese singer Khamsa), is part of the annual festival’s online program until Jan. 30.

The film will be screened physically at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival in France, which runs from Jan. 28 to Feb. 5, before it is set to make its Middle Eastern premiere later this year.

“Warsha” was also selected for the 2022 International Film Festival of Rotterdam.


Syrian arts, culture festival opens in London

Syrian arts, culture festival opens in London
Updated 21 January 2022

Syrian arts, culture festival opens in London

Syrian arts, culture festival opens in London

DUBAI: The Syrian Arts and Culture Festival, a new multidisciplinary event showcasing the country’s creative talents, has opened in London.

The inaugural event, running until Feb. 4, brings together established and emerging artists, filmmakers, performers, and musicians to offer audiences alternative narratives and perspectives on Syria, its people, and its culture.

The SACF is a project by Zamakan, a non-profit platform that aims to create opportunities for artists, cultural workers, and creatives from West Asia and North Africa, and Marsm, a London-based events company.

Upcoming events feature a performance by Syrian musician Ibrahim Keivo. (Syrian Arts and Culture Festival)

SACF is a transliteration of the Arabic word saqf, meaning roof or ceiling, a word which is also used to represent the limit of something. According to the website, the festival, “aspires to be a creative platform where limits can be pushed and boundaries are broken.”

For the opening night, the festival presented two solo performances by the acclaimed Syrian classical guitarist Ayman Jarjour and and Palestinian ney (a type of flute) virtuoso Faris Ishaq.

Upcoming events feature screenings of Syrian filmmaker Omar Amiralay’s movies, a traditional food workshop, and a performance by Syrian musician Ibrahim Keivo.