‘Jews of the East’ Paris exhibition traces group’s centuries-long presence in Arab world

A Jewish wedding party on the street next to the synagogue in Wadi Abu Jamil, Beirut, June 2 1957. (João Luis Koifman)
A Jewish wedding party on the street next to the synagogue in Wadi Abu Jamil, Beirut, June 2 1957. (João Luis Koifman)
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Updated 02 December 2021

‘Jews of the East’ Paris exhibition traces group’s centuries-long presence in Arab world

A Jewish wedding party on the street next to the synagogue in Wadi Abu Jamil, Beirut, June 2 1957. (João Luis Koifman)

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron recently attended the opening of an exhibition in Paris that traces Jewish presence in the Arab world.

“Jews of the East, a Multi-Millennial History,” hosted by the Arab World Institute (IMA), has been billed as a “cultural event of international significance.” It includes displays of archaeological remains, liturgical objects, jewelry, costumes, ancient manuscripts, paintings, and photographs, along with music and audiovisual installations.

For Macron, the show provides a “great lesson” about “coexistence, mutual enrichment and exchanges between monotheisms.” He said: “Identity is always more complex than we think and feeds of other identities.”




A Jewish girls school in Baghdad around 1900. (Photothèque de l’Alliance Israélite Universelle (Paris), n° 165, Collection Liliane Alazraki)

The exhibition, which runs until March 13, contains works from collections in France, the US, Spain, the UK, Belgium, Brazil, and Morocco, and highlights the ancestral cohabitation between Jewish and Muslim communities. It focuses on periods of rich artistic and intellectual creativity as well as erratic violence.

Of particular interest to Saudi visitors will be three photographs of the Khaybar Oasis — located on a major caravan route in the Hejaz. In ancient times, it was home to Jewish tribes. “Today, there is a French team of archaeologists undertaking research on the spot to better understand this complex history of Jews and Muslims in this historic place, with the consent of the Saudi authorities,” IMA president Jack Lang told Arab News.

The curator of the exhibition, Benjamin Stora, is a university professor and historian specializing in the Arab Maghreb. He explained that Jews were present in North Africa before the arrival of Christianity. “The Jewish community in the Arab Maghreb spoke only in Arabic, except in certain regions where they either spoke Berber or a mixture of Spanish, Hebrew and Arabic,” he said.

This intersection of the three languages reflects the cohabitation of communities which included expatriate rabbis from Andalusia who settled in Tlemcen, Constantine, and other cities in the Maghreb. 

Jewish people, he said, left an “undeniable imprint” on the culture of the region, especially when it came to craftsmanship. “My ancestors, originally from Constantine, were jewelers and made snake-shaped objects that women wore at parties and weddings,” he explained.




The Jewish Bride of Rabat-Salé, Salé (Morocco), 1934-1939. (IMA: Jean Bescancenot)

Discussing political and religious tensions between the two communities, he said: “The period of French colonization and the Cremieux Decree of 1870 (granting French citizenship to Algerian Jews but not to Muslims) marked the separation of these two native groups, Muslim and Jewish.” That separation was exacerbated by Algeria’s war of independence, he added, which saw many Jews side with France.

The subject of a Jewish presence in the Arab world is, of course, an emotional and thorny topic for many, and Lang stressed that “the exhibition absolutely does not address the political questions of today.” But Stora, who has spent more than 40 years researching the contemporary history of the Maghreb region, stressed the need to preserve cultural history. “We cannot reduce this to the Palestinian issue, to colonization, or to the departure of the Jews. It is also a question of preserving memories, which cannot wait for all political questions to be resolved.”

His sentiments were echoed by Lang, who said: “This institute can only truly fulfil its vocation if it is open to all the spiritual and intellectual heritages that have marked the history of the Arab world.”




A postcard from 1910 showing the inside of the Grand Synagogue in Aleppo. (Gross Family Collection trust)

Denis Charbit, a professor of political science at the Open University of Israel and a specialist in 20th-century Jewish history, said the exhibition had an important role to play in the fight against ignorance and pointed out that the Jewish presence alongside Arab and Berber populations dated back 2,000 years, adding that it was “necessary” to integrate the exile of Jews from Arab countries into the exhibition and to ensure that the region’s cultural history is passed on to future generations.

“It is not a question of a single history, a single religion, a single culture, but a plurality of interventions, cultures, civilizations of languages, as well as a passage of populations,” he said.

“Never before has the history of the Jews in these countries, which have become Arab countries today, been told on a millennial scale,” Lang said. “It is a way of repairing ignorance, of showing that the Arab world has a rich religious and cultural history, which fashioned its originalit


French actor Gaspard Ulliel, 37, dies after ski accident

French actor Gaspard Ulliel, 37, dies after ski accident
Updated 58 min 24 sec ago

French actor Gaspard Ulliel, 37, dies after ski accident

French actor Gaspard Ulliel, 37, dies after ski accident
  • While skiing Tuesday afternoon at La Rosière resort, Ulliel collided with another skier on an intermediate slope after turning left
  • Ulliel was “motionless and unconscious when rescuers arrived,” while the other skier was unharmed

LYON, France: French actor Gaspard Ulliel, known for appearing in Chanel perfume ads as well as film and television roles, died Wednesday after a skiing accident in the Alps, local authorities said. He was 37.
Ulliel portrayed the young Hannibal Lecter in 2007's “Hannibal Rising” and fashion mogul Yves Saint Laurent in the 2014 biopic “Saint Laurent.” He is also in the upcoming Marvel series “Moon Knight,” and was the advertising face of the Chanel men’s fragrance Bleu de Chanel.
While skiing Tuesday afternoon at La Rosière resort, Ulliel collided with another skier on an intermediate slope after turning left, presumably to join his friends on an adjoining slope, Anne Gaches, the Savoie prosecutor in Albertville, said in a statement Wednesday.
Preliminary findings from an investigation indicated that "both skiers fell to the ground after the collision," the prosecutor said. Ulliel was “motionless and unconscious when rescuers arrived,” while the other skier was unharmed, Gaches said.
The prosecutor’s statement did not mention whether either skier was wearing a helmet.
Ulliel was transported by helicopter to Grenoble University Hospital, where doctors tried to revive him, she said. The actor was pronounced dead Wednesday shortly after 4 p.m., Gaches said.
The office of the actor's agent confirmed that Ulliel died on Wednesday.
Ulliel started in television while still in middle school and went on to win two of France's top cinema awards, the Cesar.
Tributes poured in from both shocked fans and the corridors of power. French Prime Minister Jean Castex tweeted an homage that said, “Gaspard Ulliel grew up with cinema and cinema grew up with him. They loved each other madly."
French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin said she was deeply saddened by Ulliel's death, describing the actor as “a child prodigy of cinema, who embodied perfectly the French style all over the world.”
The House of Chanel said in a statement it has lost its “ambassador of 12 years and a friend.”
“We have been fortunate to have had by our side all these years a person endowed with great culture, an immense talent, and of unparalleled kindness. He will be sorely missed,” Chanel said.
The accident conjured up memories of when Formula One great Michael Schumacher was seriously injured in a 2013 skiing accident in the French ski resort of Meribel, 50 kilometers (30 miles) from where Ulliel was skiing. Both were treated at Grenoble University Hospital.
Schumacher suffered serious head injuries when he fell and hit the right side of his head on a rock off the side of a demarcated slope. The German auto racing legend was skiing with his teenage son while on a family vacation in the Alps.
Schumacher, 53, has not been seen in public in eight years, and his family has revealed few details of his condition since the accident. His wife, Corinna, said in a Netflix documentary last year that her husband is “different, but he is here” and that the family, including the couple's son, Mick, now a Formula One driver himself, cares for him.
After Ulliel's accident, the mountain police service for the Rosiere ski area said its personnel have been carrying out five or six rescues per day as the snow hardened in recent days.
In the neighboring Haute-Savoie region, a 5-year-old girl was killed Saturday when a skier crashed into her. The man was handed preliminary manslaughter charges, according to the Haute-Savoie prosecutor, who cited excessive speed as the likely reason for the accident.


Asti Symphony Orchestra heads to AlUla to perform with Andrea Bocelli

Asti Symphony Orchestra heads to AlUla to perform with Andrea Bocelli
Updated 19 January 2022

Asti Symphony Orchestra heads to AlUla to perform with Andrea Bocelli

Asti Symphony Orchestra heads to AlUla to perform with Andrea Bocelli
  • Orchestra president: ‘Playing in AlUla is an honor for us. It will be an unforgettable experience’
  • It is the world-renowned tenor’s fourth performance at the UNESCO World Heritage Site

ROME: The musicians of the Asti Symphony Orchestra have said they are honored to be playing at the Maraya Concert Hall in AlUla on Friday with Andrea Bocelli, the world’s most popular living tenor.

The concert, which has long been sold out, will be Bocelli’s fourth performance in AlUla, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It will be streamed on the tenor’s YouTube channel.

The 130 musicians who will play with Bocelli in AlUla flew out on Wednesday from the Italian city of Turin.

“We have often been called to accompany Maestro Bocelli,” Enrico Bellati, president of the Asti Symphony Orchestra, told Italian daily La Stampa. “Playing in AlUla is an honor for us. It will be another unforgettable experience.”

The concert will be an evening of opera and pop, and will include Bocelli’s greatest hits such as the famous aria “Nessun Dorma.”

Founded in 2014, the orchestra is based in Meta, a small town in the Italian region of Piedmont.


British entrepreneur Dr. Tara Lalvani reveals how her game-changing beauty tool came to be

British entrepreneur Dr. Tara Lalvani reveals how her game-changing beauty tool came to be
Updated 19 January 2022

British entrepreneur Dr. Tara Lalvani reveals how her game-changing beauty tool came to be

British entrepreneur Dr. Tara Lalvani reveals how her game-changing beauty tool came to be

DUBAI: If you can’t find it, make it! So goes the philosophy behind many brands, including Beautifect. The new beauty line based in London is known for its revolutionary Beautifect box, a tech-enabled device for applying, storing and carrying makeup.

The idea behind the Beautifect box came to British founder Dr. Tara Lalvani four and a half years ago while on the plane. “I was on my way to Dubai, and I just got the kids to finally sleep. I was thinking about the day ahead, about the hotel, about how poor the lighting was going to be and how I would get ready while managing my kids, and that’s when the idea of Beautifect occurred to me,” she told Arab News.

The Beautifect Box is a chargable beauty device for applying, carrying and storing makeup. 

A dental surgeon, Dr. Lalvani had no plans to launch her own business. In fact, before she had the idea to create the Beautifect box, she had her mind set on purchasing a product that could serve as a portable dressing table when she realized such a thing didn’t exist. “How could something so obvious not be already out there?” she proclaimed.

“Before I even landed, I decided that if it was out there, I was going to buy it. If it wasn’t, then I was going to create it because it would help every woman in the same position. I couldn’t believe that in this day and age, we were still struggling to get the right lighting and still being tied down to one place. And that’s really when the whole idea was born,” she explained.

What makes the product so special is the lighting, which took Dr. Lalvani over two years to perfect. The Beautifect box features five different lighting options that simulate different lighting environments so women can do their makeup more accurately. “Lighting completely changes the look of your makeup. There is no better lighting for makeup on the market than the Beautifect light,” shared the entrepreneur.

The portable device bills itself as the beauty equivalent to a laptop. 

The beauty equivalent of a laptop, the added benefit of the chargeable Beautifect box is that it allows women to do their makeup anywhere, whether they are in the back of an Uber on their way to a meeting or lounging on the sofa before dinner plans. A single charge lasts up to a month, and in an age when women are busier than ever, juggling careers and motherhood, the Beautifect box is quite revolutionary.

“We have such busy lives now. How can we still be doing our makeup the same way we’ve been doing it for generations? With Beautifect, you can do it on your schedule. You no longer have to sit at a dressing table in a separate room for something that you do every day,” shared Dr. Lalvani.

After launching Beautifect, the entrepreneur realized that dentistry was never really her passion. “All my life, I’ve always been a massive beauty lover, but after training for six years to be a dentist and practicing for over a decade in London, I didn’t imagine I would do anything else,” she recalled. Her profession as a dentist, however, did heavily inform the creative process of her brand. “After I launched, a friend of mine pointed out that the way I designed the storage in the Beautifect box reminded them of a dental tray,” she mused.

The chargeable Beautifect box is that it allows women to do their makeup anywhere.

Despite launching in the middle of a global pandemic, Beautifect was an instant hit when it landed on shelves at Harrods and online on Ounass and Dr. Lalvani’s own website. The entrepreneur attributes some of the success to the rise of social media platforms like TikTok during the pandemic. “We live in a time in which makeup isn’t necessarily just for going out. I designed the product around the social media age. We need to be able to film content, take selfies,” explained Dr. Lalvani.

Today, the Beautifect line boasts a beauty blender, Mulberry silk eye mask, crystal nail file, vanity bag and tote.

With an oversaturation of eyeshadow palettes, foundations and lipsticks on the market, Dr. Lalvani reveals she wants to focus her brand on beauty tools and devices. “Cosmetic brands are focused on makeup and when it comes to tools, they’re almost an afterthought,” she shared. “Our focus is on creating the best tools in their categories.”

You can shop the products on Beautifect.com. 


The top interior design trends of 2022 revealed

The top interior design trends of 2022 revealed
Updated 19 January 2022

The top interior design trends of 2022 revealed

The top interior design trends of 2022 revealed

DUBAI: A fresh year could prompt you to hit the refresh button on your living space. To give your interiors a facelift that mirrors your personal style, Saudi Arabia-based interiors brand Aura Living has shared the top design trends for 2022.

Comfortable rooms, flexible spaces

As we spend more time at home, we are moving away from rigid structures and formal living spaces and seeing a more open approach toward spaces that are welcoming and adaptive. Lounge areas and family rooms have become an individual’s main priority. But that doesn’t mean what is functional can’t be aesthetically chic — the key is to create the perfect balance between elegance and practicality. Take the Morzine sofa from Aura’s Fall 2021 line for instance. With practicality in mind, this modular sofa is designed to offer flexibility to design layouts, making a space equal parts comfy and elegant.

Morzine Sectional Sofa. Supplied

Vibrant hues

Paint trends will fall into two distinct camps this year: Earthy, organic shades and vibrant, energizing hues, which were popular in the 1950s. However, that does not necessarily mean that you need to invade your house with painterly pops. Rather, add vibrant shades of color where you feel suitable. Start with a neutral color palette as this will help you incorporate color easily and switch it up from time to time.

Supplied

Curves

Sculptural furnishing and feminine shapes are rapidly finding their way into sanctuaries this season. From curved sofas, to dining chairs, beds and cabinets, the options are endless. Arches, angled edges and wavy design accessories are all present within Aura’s Fall 2021 collection. You can opt for side chairs or single-seated sofas such as Aura’s Lezoux chair in soft pink, or the Joy chair in cobalt blue.

Supplied

Texture

Even the most basic neutral palettes can feel layered and exceptional when lots of different textures are incorporated. In the coming year, mastering that mix is going to be paramount. The easiest way to add texture into your decor is through fabrics and textiles. Start with smaller items, such as cushions, rugs and throws, that can be easily moved around or replaced should you want a quick interior update in the future. 

 


US actor Mahershala Ali nominated for NAACP Image Award

US actor Mahershala Ali nominated for NAACP Image Award
Updated 19 January 2022

US actor Mahershala Ali nominated for NAACP Image Award

US actor Mahershala Ali nominated for NAACP Image Award

 

DUBAI: US actor Mahershala Ali, who is Muslim, has been nominated in the best actor category at this month’s NAACP Image Awards, organizers announced this week.

The Oscar and Emmy winner will compete against LaKeith Stanfield, Denzel Washington, Jonathon Majors and Will Smith.

Meanwhile, Netflix emerged with a leading 52 nominations, including for the film “The Harder They Fall.” The movie — featuring a star-studded cast including Regina King, Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba and Stanfield — pulled in 12 nominations, including for best picture. 

Issa Rae’s “Insecure” earned 13 nominations, including best comedy television series. 

The nominees for best actress in a film are Andra Day, Halle Berry, Jennifer Hudson, Tessa Thompson and Zendaya.

The two-hour awards show, hosted by Anthony Anderson, will be broadcast on Feb. 26.