The must-see sets at MDLBEAST’s SOUNDSTORM 2021 in Saudi Arabia

The must-see sets at MDLBEAST’s SOUNDSTORM 2021 in Saudi Arabia
This year’s event is preceded by a three-day music conference, called XP. (Getty)
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Updated 10 December 2021

The must-see sets at MDLBEAST’s SOUNDSTORM 2021 in Saudi Arabia

The must-see sets at MDLBEAST’s SOUNDSTORM 2021 in Saudi Arabia
  • Our pick of the EDM lineup for MDLBEAST’s four-day music festival in Riyadh, which starts Dec. 16

RIYADH: Following the success of 2019’s inaugural MDLBEAST SOUNDSTORM festival, it’s clear that organizers MDLBEAST haven’t rested on their laurels. The 2021 version of the music festival promises to raise the bar for Saudi’s nascent live entertainment scene still higher, with a stellar lineup of EDM talent that ranges from crowd-pleasing mainstream superstars, through an assortment of seminal OG pioneers that will have even the most precious of hipsters tipping their (on-trend) hats to the programmers, to local talent getting the opportunity to perform on the biggest stage of their lives. On top of all that, there will also be performances from 11 of the Arab world’s biggest pop stars, from Nancy Ajram and Elissa to Tamer Hosny and Amr Diab.




On top of all that, there will also be performances from 11 of the Arab world’s biggest pop stars, from Nancy Ajram and Elissa to Tamer Hosny and Amr Diab. (Supplied)

This year’s event is preceded by a three-day music conference, called XP, which aims to “drive cultural and economic change in the Middle Eastern music industry.” That’s something regional musicians have heard countless times over the past 10 years, with little actually improving for them, so skepticism is understandable. But XP is certainly pulling out all the stops to try and ensure that there’s a different outcome this time around, with major industry players drawn from the region and internationally contributing their expertise in “workshops, panel discussions and roundtables, networking opportunities and music activations.” As promised, the conference will also address cultural topics, including how to tackle the widespread societal perception, regionally, that music isn’t a ‘real’ career.

“We are entering the most exciting time for the music industry in the Middle East, ever,” XP program director Nada Alhelabi said in a press release. “The opportunity is enormous, the potential is being unlocked, and what we need is a moment for the industry to come together to seize this chance with both hands. XP is that moment.”

Exciting though XP is for the industry, it’s SOUNDSCAPE that will be the main draw, of course. Here, we run through our picks of the performances you shouldn’t miss in Riyadh this week. With over 150 artists performing this is just a small selection, but even if you don’t catch anyone else over the three days, these sets will guarantee you a good time.

SUPERSTAR DJs 

The seemingly omnipresent David Guetta (pictured) will, of course, be performing in Riyadh (and probably every other dance festival organized around the world for the next five years). But there’s a reason Guetta features on so many lineups; love him or hate him, there’s no denying the French DJ-producer’s uncanny ability to give the public what the public wants. He’s been straddling the dance-pop divide with unerring skill for well over a decade now, and shows no signs of slowing down, having been named the number one DJ by DJ Mag in both 2020 and 2021. For pure pop thrills on the dancefloor, Guetta can’t be beaten. Dutch trance legend Armin van Buuren has actually topped the DJ Mag annual poll more times than Guetta, with five number one positions to his name, while his compatriot Afrojack (real name Nick Leonardus van de Wall) is one of the most high-profile (relatively) young pretenders to Guetta’s throne. The Dutch dominance of EDM is on show at SOUNDSTORM, with Tiesto (Tijs Michiel Verwest) — often cited as the “Godfather of EDM,” for his mastery of house music — and Martin Garrix (who topped the DJ Mag poll in 2016, 2017 and 2018) also performing. There are big names, too, from the other side of the Atlantic on the bill, with US superstars Steve Aoki and The Chainsmokers, and Canada’s multi-Grammy nominee Deadmau5 (Joel Thomas Zimmerman) all featuring. Someone who doesn’t quite qualify for superstar status yet, but is definitely one to watch, is Russian DJ-producer and singer Nina Kraviz. In a heavily male-dominated scene, Kraviz has made waves with her pristine-but-energetic take on techno and house music.

OLD-SCHOOL LEGENDS

In a region that doesn’t always demonstrate a full appreciation of its cultural imports, it’s refreshing to see that the festival’s programmers have found room in the SOUNDSTORM lineup for a number of DJs widely recognized as pioneers of the dance music scene, and without whose efforts today’s superstars would likely still be playing underground gigs in warehouses, rather than earning millions of dollars a year. Groundbreaking UK DJ-producer Carl Cox (pictured), for example, whose method of three-deck mixing made him one of the figureheads of the British rave scene, in which he became one of the first ‘celebrity DJs.’ His career began in the Eighties, around the same time that — over in America — Kevin Saunderson and Jeff Mills (who became known as The Wizard for his technical skills) were helping to establish Detroit techno as the dominant sound in dance music. Joining them on the SOUNDSTORM roster is Germany’s Sven Vath — a leader not just in his homeland’s underground electronic music scene, but one of those responsible for turning Ibiza into dance music’s go-to party venue.

LOCAL HEROES

Just a few years ago, the only opportunities Saudi DJs and musicians had to play live in the Kingdom were at private parties. At SOUNDSTORM, several local artists will have the chance to showcase their talent on the same stage as their heroes, to a crowd of thousands. The MDLBEAST team deserve credit for recognizing the hard work of artists such as Saudi veteran Tarek Antabi, who’s been championing house music for more than 20 years. Along with fellow Saudis Baloo, Dish Dash, Hats & Klaps, Jeme, and female DJ-producer Cosmicat (Nouf Sufyani, seen here performing at SOUNDSTORM in 2019) as well as Bahrain’s Zone+ and others, he’ll be showing that Khaleejis know how to move a crowd with the best of them.


Gigi, Bella Hadid step out in bold looks for Marc Jacobs’ NYC show  

Gigi, Bella Hadid step out in bold looks for Marc Jacobs’ NYC show  
Updated 28 June 2022

Gigi, Bella Hadid step out in bold looks for Marc Jacobs’ NYC show  

Gigi, Bella Hadid step out in bold looks for Marc Jacobs’ NYC show  

DUBAI: From French Algerian model Loli Bahia to US Dutch Palestinian sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid, Arab models are turning heads on the runway this week. 

The Hadid sisters on Monday walked the runway for US fashion label Marc Jacobs in New York.

The show, which took place in the lobby of the New York Public Library, presented the New York-born designer’s fall 2022 collection. 

Instagram/@gigihadid

Oversized is the key word that represents the show. The models wore colorful large knitwear pieces tied around their heads and waists, voluminous gowns, puffy coats, huge jackets and high platform boots. 

Gigi and Bella stepped out with bleached eyebrows, dark hair and blunt micro bangs. 

On Instagram, Gigi shared a video of her turn around the catwalk as she showed off two oversized knit sweaters with a grey skirt and white platform heels. 

Meanwhile, Bella wore a sheen-heavy black dress that was voluminous and multi-layered. Her look was accessorized with white gloves and chunky heels. 

For her part, Bahia walked the runway for French fashion label Jacquemus that took place in Southern France’s Camargue Park during Paris Men’s Fashion Week. 

The models, including Bahia, presented the brand’s fall 2022 collection on large mounds of salt. 


Part-Algerian model Loli Bahia walks the runway for Jacquemus in France 

Part-Algerian model Loli Bahia walks the runway for Jacquemus in France 
Updated 28 June 2022

Part-Algerian model Loli Bahia walks the runway for Jacquemus in France 

Part-Algerian model Loli Bahia walks the runway for Jacquemus in France 

DUBAI: French-Algerian model Loli Bahia walked the runway for French fashion label Jacquemus in Camargue Park, on France's Mediterranean coast, during Paris Men’s Fashion Week. 

The models, including Bahia, presented the brand’s fall 2022 collection on large mounds of salt set against a breathtaking natural backdrop.

The event was attended by a veritable who’s who of the fashion world, including  Jordanian Romanian footwear designer Amina Muaddi, British designer Victoria Beckham, French actor Vincent Cassel and his wife Tina Kunakey, Nigerian singer BurnaBoy, British actress Simone Ashley, Cristiano Ronaldo’s partner Georgina Rodríguez and British singer Jorja Smith.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by hadigi (@_hadigi_)

The A-list guests sat on a front row bench that was made out of salt crystal as they watched the models show off a collection marked by monochrome tones and neutral hues.  

Nineteen-year-old Bahia, who is taking the industry by storm, wore a set of bulky beige overalls with large pockets at the waist as she, and the other models, descended from the top of a salt mountain. A white, floor-length tulle was attached to her suit from the back.

“Walking on the moon,” the model wrote on Instagram Stories after the show, referring to the extraterrestrial feel of the unexpected runway with its salt structures, clear pools of water and bright sky.

The show, titled “Le Papier,” featured fluffy coats, puffer vests and cargo pants along with feminine and innovative bridal looks using voluminous tulle, asymmetric cuts and sheer dresses. 

Bahia is quickly becoming one of the most in-demand models in the industry having become a runway fixture in just a couple of months after a breakthrough spring 2022 fashion month, where she walked in 65 shows.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by @lolibahiaa

The teenager has taken to the catwalk for a multitude of prestigious fashion houses, including Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Valentino.

Signed to Women Management Paris, she made her runway debut in 2020 at the Louis Vuitton fall 2021 show and went on to star in the Parisian fashion luxury house’s fall campaign last year.

She has also featured in numerous campaigns for high-end fashion labels, including Saint Laurent, and Max Mara, and has appeared in prestigious fashion publications such as Vogue Italia.


Italian screenwriter wows cinemagoers on first visit to the Kingdom

Italian screenwriter wows cinemagoers on first visit to the Kingdom
Updated 27 June 2022

Italian screenwriter wows cinemagoers on first visit to the Kingdom

Italian screenwriter wows cinemagoers on first visit to the Kingdom
  • Giacomo Mazzariol’s movie screened as part of weeklong European Film Festival
  • 25-year-old says he plans to return and hopes to mentor young Saudi talent

RIYADH: An Italian screenwriter has described Saudi Arabia as having “amazing culture and traditions” after delighting cinemagoers with his very first screening in the Kingdom.

But 25-year-old Giacomo Mazzariol said he was nervous about how people might react to his film, “My Brother Chases Dinosaurs.”

“While sitting and watching your movie from another country, your mind is full of fears and doubts,” he told Arab News.

“‘Will my film be welcomed well? Does everything make sense?’ I then relaxed because I realized that people who watched the film were really satisfied and they had a warmhearted reaction. They felt that it was an honest film, full of true emotions.”

Directed by countryman Stefano Cipani, the movie was screened on June 17 as part of the inaugural European Film Festival, which saw 14 European films shown at The Esplanade VOX Cinema in Riyadh.

Mazzariol said the audience was intrigued with the movie and asked him many questions after the screening.

“The people laughed a lot because the film is full of lightness and humor, but also they took it seriously and they were fulfilled by the dramatic and touching parts.

“The story is about the emotional coming of age of my character (Gio), that goes from the incomprehension of the inner world of Gio to the complete acceptance and understanding of his diversity. The journey goes through rage and shame, surprise and courage, fraternity and solitude, and it starts from the birth of Gio till he grows up and becomes a teenager.”

While in Saudi Arabia, Mazzariol and a delegation from the EU were also set to hold a workshop for local talent in collaboration with the Alkhobar-based Arabia Pictures Group, but the event had to be postponed.

“The Kingdom has amazing culture and traditions that should be communicated more to people all over the world, not only with tourism but also through sharing local stories, through art based on nowadays life and perspectives,” he said.

“Arabia Pictures proposed to me to hold it (the workshop) during this edition of the festival, but we didn’t manage to make it happen this time. That is why I am supposed to come back to the Kingdom, during the next edition of the festival.”

Mazzariol said that on his return he hopes to be able to mentor young Saudis who are interested in the film and screenwriting business.

“I think the second edition will be in the late winter or beginning of spring. The main theme will be the relationship between books and movies based on my experience of creating the script of the movie based on my novel.”

He said he hoped to teach Saudi students how to analyze and compare the two arts of writing and film.

“This can be achieved through watching scenes of movies based on books and comparing them with the scenes of a book — Kafka’s works adapted, Dostoevsky works adapted, etc. — and also obtaining the knowledge to distinguish the unicity of those two forms of art.

“Some books are almost impossible to be shot, like ‘Ulysses’ by (James) Joyce, or the work of Proust. Not just for the number of pages, but because they reach a literary high peak which is very specific to literature,” he said.

Mazzariol said he had always had a passion for writing and loved literature classes in school.

“When I was in high school, with all the imagination and ideas that a teenager can have, I began writing for myself and tried to publish some articles.”

His career as a screenwriting began when he published a short film with his brother Gio on YouTube.

“My brother (Gio) with Down syndrome was in the film. It became viral and the person who would become my future editor contacted me to do a book on the video and my story.”

Speaking about the two days he spent in the Kingdom during the film festival, Mazzariol said: “What impressed me the most were the modern buildings, the skyscrapers, the entertainment areas, because it seems futuristic.

“It was the first time for me to visit Saudi Arabia. I love traveling and discovering new countries and thanks to the festival’s organizers and the embassy of Italy, I could get in touch with Saudis that know Saudi Arabia well.

“In the markets of the old town, I got a sensation of being at the door of another world, because there were incredible products from all over the Middle East and Asia.”

The writer said he spent some time studying in King Fahad National Library before exploring some of the natural desert landscapes the Kingdom has to offer.

“I loved the hot winds, sand as far as the eye can see. It was very inspiring because I have always read books from that scenario, for example, ‘One Thousand and One Nights,’ but never experienced it.

“The hospitality of the European Film Festival was very high standard and well done, I thank them a lot. I hope the festival will have great success also in the next editions. I know for sure it is going to be bigger and bigger.”


International artists named for ambitious AlUla valley installations project

A rendering of Ahmed Mater's work at Wadi AlFann. (Supplied)
A rendering of Ahmed Mater's work at Wadi AlFann. (Supplied)
Updated 28 June 2022

International artists named for ambitious AlUla valley installations project

A rendering of Ahmed Mater's work at Wadi AlFann. (Supplied)

DUBAI: An international lineup of artists has been named as the first group to embark on an ambitious large-scale installations project in AlUla’s Wadi AlFann.

The Royal Commission for AlUla announced that US artists James Turrell, Agnes Denes, and Michael Heizer will be joined by Saudi creative pioneers Ahmed Mater and Manal Al-Dowayan to produce artworks in the new Wadi AlFann valley, covering an area of 65 square kilometers. The projects will be unveiled from 2024.

Meanwhile, the former director of the Whitechapel Gallery in London, Iwona Blazwick, has been named as the chair of the commission’s public art expert panel, that will advise on Wadi AlFann.

She told Arab News that the artists would create, “works that I think will be a 21st-century version of the ambition of the Nabataeans. This is work at such a scale by artists of such global caliber and by artists who have revolutionized sculpture.”

Visual artist Mater’s installation for the valley, “Ashab Al-Lal,” will use a subterranean tunnel and mirrors to give visitors the optical illusion of seeing a mirage, while Al-Dowayan’s “The Oasis of Stories” will be a labyrinthine structure inspired by the mud homes of AlUla’s ancient old town.

Wadi AlFann, AlUla. (Supplied)

Denes, 91, will create a series of soaring pointed pyramids in a bid to explore civilization, advancement, and achievement.

Heizer, known for producing large outdoor earthwork sculptures and for his work with rock, concrete, and steel, will produce lineal engravings in the sandstone rock relating directly to the geology of the area and the varied detail of the Quweira sandstone.

Blazwick said: “He (Heizer) is incising into the rocks at a scale and at a kind of ambition that again relates back to petroglyphs and ancient forms of expressions and civilizations, but in a way that is 21st century.”

Meanwhile, Turrell will build upon the sensorial experience of space, color, and perception by creating a series of spaces within the canyon floor. The viewer will explore these spaces via a series of tunnels and stairs.

A sketch of AlDowayan’s “The Oasis of Stories.” (Supplied)

“If we are looking at these five initial works themselves you have something tremendously monumental but also immersive, resonate, and poetic and these will be destinations in their own rights of such beauty.

“In relation to the drama of the place itself, the works really take us to the sublime. These five commissions are going to be in themselves unique in the world at this scale. Most of these artists we know from single works shown in different parts of the world, so to bring them together is a huge achievement,” Blazwick added.

On the global nature of the artists, she said: “This is a reciprocal relationship — it is not just about artists being parachuted in, but about making works inspired by the place and the people.

“We will see high-profile international artists, but alongside their regional peers. We will see some of the most important artists working in the region take their place alongside these very iconic, high-profile figures from the world of art. I think that reciprocity is crucial to this project,” she added.


‘The beauty industry is failing people of color,’ Huda Kattan says

US-Iraqi beauty mogul Huda Kattan has been featured in a newly released documentary. (File/ AFP)
US-Iraqi beauty mogul Huda Kattan has been featured in a newly released documentary. (File/ AFP)
Updated 27 June 2022

‘The beauty industry is failing people of color,’ Huda Kattan says

US-Iraqi beauty mogul Huda Kattan has been featured in a newly released documentary. (File/ AFP)

DUBAI: US-Iraqi beauty mogul Huda Kattan has been featured in a newly released news segment on racial inclusivity in the makeup industry.

Released by the UK’s Sky News on Sunday, the feature is based on the British Beauty Council’s criticism of what it calls the “apartheid” in the beauty industry.

Kattan was tapped to share her opinion in the feature, which is titled “The ‘Apartheid’ in the Beauty Industry.”

“The beauty industry is absolutely still failing people of color,” she told journalist Sabah Choudhry in the documentary. “Being inclusive is hard. It takes so much work. When I used to go to the factories and I’d say I need a deep or richer shade of foundation, they’d sometimes put black pigment in the formula... it’s harder to serve a community who doesn’t have a skin tone that hasn’t been worked on so much,” she added.

“There’s still not enough care and consideration taken when they’re creating the products,” she added. “I mean, you can use people of many different ethnicities in a campaign, but that’s just not enough. It’s a good start, but it’s so far beyond where we should be in this day and time. So, I would say absolutely, it’s still failing all people of color right now.”

Dubai-based Kattan founded her cosmetics line Huda Beauty in 2013. In 2018, the company was valued by Forbes at more than $1 billion.

Meanwhile, Dr Ateh Jewel, a spokesperson for the British Beauty Council, was featured in the report saying Caucasian people are offered a wider selection of products for their hair and skin.

"We are living with the hangover of empire… what I'm really interested in is power, and measuring that by beauty standards and how we see ourselves,” Jewel said.

She explained that the term “beauty apartheid” was coined to describe brands who simply add a small sample of darker shades to their portfolio in a “tokenistic” approach to diversity.

The mental health impact for people of color is “painful,” she said, adding “walking into a beauty hall was pleasure and pain all wrapped up into one. Not seeing yourself reflected in advertising or diverse colors can also be really damaging to your sense of self…. to your self-esteem... and taking your rightful place in the world.