DUBAI: STARZPLAY, in association with Gulf Films, hosted the UAE premiere of American biographical crime drama “House of Gucci” at the NOVO 7-Star cinema at IMG Worlds of Adventure in Dubai.
The premiere was the first look for select guests before the film’s official release in UAE cinemas. Following its theatrical release, the movie will be available to stream exclusively on STARZPLAY.
Currently, the platform is streaming a biographical documentary about the same story, “Lady Gucci,” via the Discovery+ add-on channel. In the 75-minute documentary, the former Mrs. Gucci, Patrizia Reggiani, tells her story in an exclusive interview.
The latest film “House of Gucci” has a star-studded cast featuring Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Salma Hayek, and Jared Leto and is directed by acclaimed director Ridley Scott, known for films such as “Blade Runner,” “Black Hawk Down,” and “The Martian.”
Germany: Telegram becoming a ‘medium for radicalization’
Updated 49 sec ago
BERLIN: A top German security official said Wednesday that his agency has created a task force to investigate individuals suspected of using Telegram to commit crimes. This comes amid growing concerns that the messaging app is becoming a “medium for radicalization.” Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office warned that the app is being used to target politicians, scientists and doctors for their role in tackling the coronavirus pandemic. “The coronavirus pandemic in particular has contributed to people becoming radicalized on Telegram, threatening others and even publishing calls to murder,” the agency’s chief, Holger Muench, said in a statement. He said the task force would seek Telegram’s cooperation but also take measures if it doesn’t. The German government has tried for years, with little success, to get Telegram to abide by the country’s rules on taking down illegal content. The company behind the app, which claims to have hundreds of millions of users worldwide, is based in the United Arab Emirates. Last month, German police carried out raids in Saxony after media reports that a group of people on Telegram had discussed plans to kill the state’s governor, Michael Kretschmer, and other members of the state government. The group’s members shared a rejection of vaccinations, the state and the government’s coronavirus policies.
Imagination launches BEAST TV, first Saudi music streaming channel
‘Always-on’ interactive platform will offer music, gamified content
Updated 26 January 2022
DUBAI: Imagination, an award-winning design experience agency, has created Saudi Arabia’s first-ever music streaming channel, BEAST TV.
The channel was launched by entertainment company MDLBEAST at the Soundstorm Festival, which was held in Riyadh from Dec. 16 to 19, recording 732,000 total visitors.
The launch of BEAST TV in Saudi Arabia is reflective of the Kingdom’s investment in music, culture and entertainment, said Ross Wheeler, creative director at Imagination.
“Saudi is changing fast, and this is a perfect moment to highlight, celebrate and share these changes through the rich and diverse music scene, and artists that are emerging in the region,” Wheeler added.
“The Saudis we spoke to at the event — many of whom had traveled back to their homeland for this — were there because it marked such a significant moment, even if electronic music was not their first love,” he said.
The festival was streamed through BEAST TV to 107 countries. The livestream saw the use of live spatial audio for the first time at a streamed festival, providing a uniquely immersive experience.
“Listening to spatial audio on your headphones breathes space into a live performance. Normal stereo is very intimate, like listening to the artist playing just for you in your head, whereas with spatial audio, you feel as though you are at the front of the crowd watching the artist on stage, without any loss of detail or expression,” Wheeler said.
The audio offering included a real-time immersive spatial mix from seven stages, featuring star DJs such as Armin van Buuren, David Guetta, Martin Garrix, Steve Aoki, Afrojack and Salvatore Ganacci.
“It is the closest you can get to experiencing being at the festival without being there in person,” Wheeler added.
Following the success of its launch, the BEAST TV channel will become a permanent platform, bringing all of MDLBEAST’s live experiences to digital audiences, in addition to other interactive content.
The platform, which has been built for scale, can stream to more than 1 million concurrent viewers. “The aspiration is to become an equivalent to MTV or Red Bull TV in the Middle East,” said Wheeler.
The channel offers both local and international music with a focus on electronic music, as well as “content from the world of entertainment and culture as well,” he added.
Last week, MDLBEAST partnered with music rights company Esmaa to ensure that composers and rights holders are paid whenever their work is played by MDLBEAST. Artists who work with the company’s in-house record label, MDLBEAST Records, will also be paid when their tracks are played by other organizations signed to Esmaa.
“This is a critical and required move, aligning the Kingdom with global music copyright practices, and further demonstrating the country’s dedication to growing its music and creative industries, attracting international artists, and supporting its homegrown, emerging talent,” said Wheeler.
“Alongside the emergence of an exciting new film industry in the Kingdom, this move will ensure that artists and rights holders are compensated whenever and wherever their music is played live or licensed commercially,” he added.
The BEAST TV platform, which is free to use, can be viewed here.
Disney+ to launch across Saudi Arabia and 41 other countries in MidEast, Europe and Africa
New countries include Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen
Updated 26 January 2022
RIYADH: Disney+, the streaming service from The Walt Disney Company, confirmed that this summer it will launch in 42 countries and 11 new territories, including 16 markets across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). New countries include Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
With exclusive original content and thousands of episodes and movies from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic and general entertainment from Star, Disney+ is the streaming home for some of the world’s most beloved stories.
Google Doodle celebrates ‘Egyptian Cinderella’ Soad Hosny
One of the most dominant artists in the Middle East and the Arab world during her time
Updated 26 January 2022
DUBAI: Google’s latest doodle celebrates what would have been the 79th birthday of the late Egyptian actress, singer and dancer Soad Hosny, better known as the ‘Egyptian Cinderella’, and one of the most dominant artists in the Middle East and the Arab world during her time.
Soad was born to a large, artistic family in Cairo – her father Mohammad was a calligrapher and some of her half-siblings were musicians, painters and composers – with their household known as the “artists’ home” because leading artists from across the Arab world regularly visited.
Her career in show business began at just three-years-old when she sang for a popular children’s TV program, Papa Sharo, and had her first starring role at 17 in the 1959 with ‘Hassan and Naima’ – an Arabic adaptation of Romeo and Juliet – a breakout role that marked the start of a prolific on-screen career covering a wide genre including comedies, musicals, dramas and romance films.
Soad was touted as an icon of women’s empowerment, with many of her works intertwined with social and political moments in modern Middle Eastern history, from her leading role as a student and political activist who was tortured in ‘Karnak’ to other films which she transformed musical numbers into scathing satires which gave voice to the oppressed.
Her final screen appearance was in ‘Al Ra’i We El Nissa’ before retiring from acting in 1991. Soad died on June 21, 2001 at the age of 58.
Aramco tops Arab companies on Brand Finance Global 500 list
Updated 26 January 2022
LONDON: Saudi Aramco has maintained its position as the Middle East’s most valuable brand, with the Brand Finance Global 500 2022 report valuing the Kingdom’s oil giant at $43.6 billion.
Following a difficult period for the oil and gas sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Aramco placed 31st in the list and is the only Arab company in the top 100 of the world’s 500 most valuable brands in 2022.
It recently announced plans to increase its production capacity from 12 million barrels per day to 13 million bpd by 2027.
“Despite there only being seven brands from the Middle East in the Brand Finance Global 500 ranking, their strong performances prove once again that the region punches well above its weight on the global stage,” Andrew Campbell, managing director of Brand Finance Middle East, told Arab News. “The future looks bright, with all of the brands from the region – including Aramco, ADNOC, Etisalat, and stc – seeing positive brand value growth this year.”
The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company was the second most valuable brand in the region and held on to the top spot in the UAE, asserting the dominance of the oil sector.
ADNOC managed to score a 19 percent brand value growth to $12.8 billion, the fastest among the top 10 oil and gas brands globally, which sees it hold on to its position as the second most valuable brand in the region.
Its CEO Dr. Sultan Al-Jaber was crowned the highest-ranked CEO outside of the US and China. He is also the top-scoring leader in the oil and gas sector.
Other Middle Eastern brands in the top 500 include Saudi telecom provider stc (184th and valued at $10.5 billion), the UAE’s Etisalat (192nd and valued at $10.1 billion), Qatar National Bank (305th and valued at $7.05 billion), and Dubai’s Emirates airline (461st and valued at $4.9 billion).
Expo 2020 Dubai offered Etisalat a chance to demonstrate itself as a strategic enabler of the UAE's digital transformation, meaning it was crowned with the Middle East and Africa’s strongest brand for the second consecutive year.
“Etisalat’s brand focuses on togetherness and plays its part by providing a first-class telecoms infrastructure across its footprint. Exceptional rollout of 5G technology has also meant that the Etisalat Group’s portfolio of brands is the most valuable amongst telecoms organisations in the Middle East,” said David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance.
Saudi Arabia’s stc continued to see good growth this year, with its brand value increasing by 16 percent to $10.6 billion.
Globally, Apple continues to hold the world’s most valuable brand title for the second year in a row, overtaking Amazon and Google. TikTok, meanwhile, was crowned the fastest-growing brand in the world with a growth of 215 percent.
Media brands accounted for the top three fastest-growing brands in the ranking, with Snapchat and South Korea’s Kakao following closely behind TikTok.