Spotify unveils Saudi Arabia’s most streamed song, artist of 2021

K-Pop sensation BTS was the most-streamed artist this year. (AFP)
K-Pop sensation BTS was the most-streamed artist this year. (AFP)
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Updated 02 December 2021

Spotify unveils Saudi Arabia’s most streamed song, artist of 2021

K-Pop sensation BTS was the most-streamed artist this year. (AFP)

DUBAI: Streaming service Spotify has unveiled the top artists, songs, playlists and podcasts genres listened to in Saudi Arabia in 2021.

The most streamed song of the year was Masked Wolf’s “Astronaut In The Ocean,” while K-Pop sensation BTS was the most-streamed artist this year.

Beyond international music, Sheilat — a traditional genre that has been evolving recently — has been striking a chord with local listeners. It topped the list for most streamed playlist and famed Sheilat singer Abdullah Alfarwan even earned his spot as the most-streamed Saudi artist in the country. He also bagged two spots in the most-streamed songs top 10 list with “Leh El-Jafa'' coming in second and “Wesh Ozark” coming in ninth.

Best Sheilat is the most popular Spotify playlist amongst listeners in Saudi Arabia, followed by Top Khaliji Songs and Top Gaming Tracks.

British singer Dua Lipa's "Future Nostalgia" is the country's most streamed album.

In terms of Saudi Arabia's most popular podcast categories, "Society and Culture" themed podcasts come second after "Music" in the most popular category podcasts list. Comedy podcasts are now Saudi Arabia's third most popular podcast genre.


Silence is golden for Saudi social media star’s video tribute to Charlie Chaplin

The 22-year-old from Tabuk said he is a big fan of silent cinema and has seen as many of Chaplin’s films as he can. (Supplied)
The 22-year-old from Tabuk said he is a big fan of silent cinema and has seen as many of Chaplin’s films as he can. (Supplied)
Updated 47 min 36 sec ago

Silence is golden for Saudi social media star’s video tribute to Charlie Chaplin

The 22-year-old from Tabuk said he is a big fan of silent cinema and has seen as many of Chaplin’s films as he can. (Supplied)
  • Mohammed Fawaz Al-Shimmari’s short films, in which he mimics the legendary star of silent cinema, have racked up more than half a million views

JEDDAH: A young Saudi has become a social media star with his videos in which he mimics his silent-movie hero, Charlie Chaplin.

Mohammed Fawaz Al-Shimmari recreates in impressive detail the exploits of Chaplin’s famous “Little Tramp” character, a familiar figure around the world for more than a century with his toothbrush mustache, bowler hat, single-breasted black suit, white shirt and black tie.
His four silent Chaplin videos, produced in an authentic-looking vintage style, have collectively attracted more than half a million views, and the comments sections are filled with positive messages and “love” emojis in appreciation of his remarkable work and talent.
“It is a difficult task to make people laugh through silent comedy,” Al-Shimmari told Arab News. He said that he gained thousands of followers in a single day when he posted his first Chaplin video.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Mohammed Fawaz Al-Shimmari recreates in impressive detail the exploits of Chaplin’s famous ‘Little Tramp’ character, a familiar figure around the world for more than a century with his toothbrush mustache, bowler hat, single-breasted black suit, white shirt and black tie.

• His four silent Chaplin videos, produced in an authentic-looking vintage style, have collectively attracted more than half a million views, and the comments sections are filled with positive messages and ‘love’ emojis in appreciation of his remarkable work and talent.

The 22-year-old from Tabuk said he is a big fan of silent cinema and has seen as many of Chaplin’s films as he can. He has also watched documentaries and read books about the British actor, who was one of the biggest stars in the early days of Hollywood.
He said his favorite Chaplin movies are “The Circus” and the “The Kid,” and his favorite book about the actor is “Charlie Chaplin’s Own Story.”
Al-Shimmari said decided to recreate the work of Chaplin to entertain his family and followers and had no idea that his efforts would prove so popular with a wider audience.

“I started impersonating Charlie Chaplin out of my love for him, out of my love for his character as well as his life,” he said. “He faced a lot of difficulties in his life but the king of silent comedy still made people happy. After I took on his personality, many people asked me to do more scenes.”
The production of his videos is a solo effort, he said.
“I am three in one: Scriptwriter, actor and editor — I do everything by myself,” he added.
Al-Shimmari said he has loved to act since childhood, when he would grab his family’s attention by making them laugh with his unusual facial expressions.
“When we used to gather as a family, I had to include entertainment in our night,” he said. “So, I started off by impersonating some of my relatives and they were amazed by my act.”
He then began to impersonate Arab and Western actors and celebrities, filming himself and uploading the videos to his social media.
“I started to act like the late Kuwaiti actor Abdulhussain Abdulreda, Syrian actor Yasser Al-Azma, Saudi actor Nasser Al-Qasabi, Saudi singer Rabeh Saqer and other legendary Arab actors,” said Al-Shimmari. “At the same time I also impersonated American actors such as Sylvester Stallone, Marlon Brando and Al Pacino.
“I am a lover of films and imitate international and Arab actors, and I was able to adapt to the surrounding environment to reach my goals and prove my talent in silent comedy and other artistic models.”
Asked if he aspires to a professional career in acting, he said he hopes film and television producers might notice his work.


Arab filmmakers join Berlin Film Festival’s international jury

Arab filmmakers join Berlin Film Festival’s international jury
Updated 28 January 2022

Arab filmmakers join Berlin Film Festival’s international jury

Arab filmmakers join Berlin Film Festival’s international jury

DUBAI: Algerian-Brazilian film director Karim Ainouz, Tunisian-French producer Said Ben Said and Algerian-Tunisian screenwriter Anne Zohra Berrached will join the international jury of the Berlin Film Festival, organizers announced this week.  

They will join international filmmakers including M. Night Shyamalan, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Hamaguchi Ryusuke, and actor Connie Nielsen who will all decide the Golden and Silver Bear winners.

Ainouz is an award-winning director and screenwriter. He is known for his productions “Invisible Life,” “Madame Sata” and “Mariner Of The Mountains.”

Said’s most recent films are “Good Mother” and “Tralala.” (AFP)

Said is most famous for his 2016 thriller “Elle,” his 2019 drama “Bacurau” and most recently his 2021 films “Good Mother” and “Tralala.”

Berrached’s debut short was “Der Pausenclown” (“The Class Clown”) in 2009. With around 10 productions under her belt, the director and writer has made a name for herself in the film industry. In 2018, she was appointed to the international jury of the 53rd Chicago Film Festival.

Ainouz, Said and Berrached are not the only Arab filmmakers to join the festival’s jury members.

Lebanese sound editor, director and actress Rana Eid was also named on the jury for the Berlinale Documentary Award.

She has worked on award-winning productions including “Costa Brava, Lebanon,” “Farha,” “Memory Box,” “The Sea Ahead,” “You Will Die at 20,” “Panoptic,” and more.

Eid will be joined by Chinese director Wang Bing and German cinematographer Susanne Schule.

The film festival will run from Feb. 10-16.


Dolce & Gabbana lights up Saudi Arabia’s AlUla with its Alta Moda show

Dolce & Gabbana lights up Saudi Arabia’s AlUla with its Alta Moda show
Updated 28 January 2022

Dolce & Gabbana lights up Saudi Arabia’s AlUla with its Alta Moda show

Dolce & Gabbana lights up Saudi Arabia’s AlUla with its Alta Moda show

RIYADH: Italian luxury fashion house Dolce & Gabbana staged its Alta Moda, Alta Sartoria and Alta Gioielleria collections on Thursday against the backdrop of Saudi Arabia’s AlUla.

The heritage site, situated in the northeast of the Kingdom, played host to the fashion house’s haute couture. 

The models walked the runway in luxurious gowns in almost every color you could think of, from vibrant gold — that blended smoothly with the historical location — to eye-catching hot-pink designs.

The show launched with a voluminous princess-inspired dress. Italian duo Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana embellished rich fabrics such as duchesse satin, velvet, organza and chiffon with sequins and beads. 

The collection also featured glitzy designs for men.   

The fashion show took place alongside the Ikmah Fashion Cavalry Show, which was conceived and produced by Balich Wonder Studio. It wowed guests with a full parade of 12 Arabian horses sporting customized horse accessories and attire.

High-end jewelry is also part of the AlUla Moments festival season.

The event featured fashion bloggers and entrepreneurs from around the region, including Emirati host and actress Mahira Abdel Aziz, Saudi fashion designer Tamaraah Al-Gabaani, Saudi author Marriam Mossalli, fashion stylist Hala Al-Harithy and social media influencer Lama Alakeel.

Each of the celebrities took to Instagram to share clips from the show with their thousands of followers. “What an amazing experience,” wrote Mossalli on the social media app following the event. 

Dolce & Gabbana will also exhibit its one-of-a-kind collection in Maraya, the famed mirrored structure. The exhibition will be open to the public from Jan. 28- 31. Not only will guests have the opportunity to visit the exclusive space but they will also have the chance to be fitted by the Italian label’s master tailer and shop pieces from the collection.

The designer duo presented their label’s Alta Moda, Alta Sartoria and Alta Gioielleria collections in Venice in August. Meanwhile, in 2020, the fashion house unveiled their Alta Moda couture offerings via a digital show due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Egyptian hip-hop artist DB Gad collaborates with Sisters Grimm on new single ‘See Beyond’

Egyptian hip-hop artist DB Gad collaborates with Sisters Grimm on new single ‘See Beyond’
Updated 28 January 2022

Egyptian hip-hop artist DB Gad collaborates with Sisters Grimm on new single ‘See Beyond’

Egyptian hip-hop artist DB Gad collaborates with Sisters Grimm on new single ‘See Beyond’

DUBAI: A haunting piano melody blends seamlessly with rhythmic beats and Arabic rap on the new single “See Beyond” — a collaboration between Egyptian hip-hop artist DB Gad and music and theater production duo Sisters Grimm.

The song, released last week, celebrates diversity and peaceful co-existence, according to its creators.

“Initially the song was supposed to be classical and theatrical, (but then we brought in) the flavor of the Egyptian streets. The rap was in sync with the energy of the diversity we see around us,” says Gad. “It’s been a crazy project, I loved it.”

Sister Grimm — composer and painter Ella Spira and ballerina Pietra De Mello Pittman — are based in the UK and the UAE, and “See Beyond” was recorded in their studio in Dubai. The song, co-written by Gad and Spira, urges people to look beyond cultural boundaries and accept everyone’s individuality.

The accompanying video features excerpts from Sister Grimm’s film “Daughters of the Wind,” in which Pittman portrays a modern Emirati woman in a ballet performance which is the perfect foil to Gad’s high-energy rap.

“Every element of the song happened so organically that it blossomed like a bud,” says Spira. “The recording happened as we wrote it together in our creative studio space. The filming process followed a similar route. I think that is why the piece has that fresh raw edge.”

One of the objectives for the artists was to break down barriers around cultural conflicts and bridge the gap between Western and Arabic music. The video shows the protagonist’s place of work, and how she battles with her colleagues — fighting to gain respect for her ideas.

“We wanted to show that we can find a way to coexist and recognize our differences. Through ‘See Beyond’ we also hope to play a part in (preparing the ground) for more international art to be produced here. There is great potential for artists and art produced across the Middle East to (seep) into the global music and art scenes more prominently,” says Pittman.


Palestinian art: Highlights from Ramallah Art Fair’s second edition 

Palestinian art: Highlights from Ramallah Art Fair’s second edition 
Updated 28 January 2022

Palestinian art: Highlights from Ramallah Art Fair’s second edition 

Palestinian art: Highlights from Ramallah Art Fair’s second edition 
  • Ramallah Art Fair runs until February 15

Saher Nassar — ‘The Eternal’

Nassar worked as an illustrator and graphic designer before starting his career as an artist, and those influences remain clear in his work, particularly in his pop-art pieces. In “The Eternal,” Nassar represents the iconic symbol of Palestine, Handala. Originally created by the late political cartoonist Naji Al-Ali, Handala is a 10-year-old boy, usually pictured from behind, with his arms crossed behind his back. The image has grown to be a widely used representative of Palestine and its people, symbolizing resistance to — and rejection of — the occupation. Nassar, however, tackles it somewhat differently, with a knowing twist.

Alaa Attoun — ‘Scene 1’

In the works he has provided for this show, Attoun moves away from the emotionally charged hyperrealist pencil drawings for which he is arguably best known into performance photography — which seems in many ways like a natural progression. For this series, titled “Scene,” Attoun visited three locations in Jerusalem where Palestinian families have been displaced from their homes to stage his surreal, theatrical shots.

Alaa Albaba — ‘The Camp III’

Albaba is well-known for works depicting the lives of refugees and refugee camps. For example, the show brochure explains: “During his residency in Borj Alshamali Refugee Camp in Lebanon, he produced sketches and murals about the Houla massacre in Syria based on real stories.” And his Fish Path project consisted of 18 murals in Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan which used fish “as a representation of Palestinian refugees who are longing to return to their villages next to the sea.” Albaba resides in the Alamari Refugee Camp in Ramallah, where he has established an artist’s studio. His work for this show focuses on that camp’s sprawl, and contrasts it with the modern residential and commercial areas that surround it.

Fouad Agbaria — ‘Resisting Decomposition III’

The Palestinian landscape is “the most prominent theme in this show,” according to organizers Zawyeh Gallery. Fouad Agbaria’s impressionistic series “Resisting Decomposition” is just one example, and the works also tackle another prominent theme, resistance, through symbols including the cactus and the olive tree. Using such plants also references the deep-rooted connection that so many Palestinians have to their homeland.

Khaled Hourani — ‘Manaakh’

Hourani — a native of Hebron — is a well-respected figure in the Palestinian art scene, for his work as a curator and writer as well as for his award-winning art. As a former general director of the Fine Arts Department in the Palestinian Ministry of Culture, his inclusion in the art fair shows the organizer’s commitment to including up-and-coming artists alongside their more-established counterparts. In “Manaakh,” the brochure explains, Hourani “wanted to highlight the threat of global warming” and “showcases the world hanging by a thread, mimicking the fragility of a Christmas ornament.”

Ruba Salameh – ‘Creatures of Regression II’

Salameh was born in Nazareth in 1985. Throughout her career, she has used a variety of mediums to address “questions of land, geographies, displacement, nationalism and in-between temporalities in an attempt to contemplate … daily life, which in many cases leads to a state of dystopia, using cynicism and irony as tools.” Her “Creatures of Regression” series, from which this work is taken, is “inspired by her psychoanalytic observation on children’s behavior, (particularly) displaying jealousy towards younger siblings,” the organizers say.