Saudi Arabia’s MDLBEAST Soundstorm is the region’s answer to Tomorrowland

More than half a million people attended the festival, surpassing Tomorrowland — making it the largest music festival in the world. (Supplied)
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More than half a million people attended the festival, surpassing Tomorrowland — making it the largest music festival in the world. (Supplied)
Saudi Arabia’s MDLBEAST Soundstorm is the region’s answer to Tomorrowland
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Updated 19 December 2021

Saudi Arabia’s MDLBEAST Soundstorm is the region’s answer to Tomorrowland

More than half a million people attended the festival, surpassing Tomorrowland — making it the largest music festival in the world. (Supplied)
  • The music festival played host to a spectacular lineup of some of the world’s celebrated musicians, DJs

RIYADH: Just like that, the second edition of MDLBeast Soundstorm festival came to a close with a bang on Sunday night in Riyadh. The EDM event, which kicked off on Thursday, brought music lovers together for four nights of non-stop entertainment, dancing and electronic tunes.

Bandana-clad festivalgoers flew in from all parts of the world to enjoy a spectacular and diverse lineup of performances. Local talent shared billing with internationally renowned DJs, such as Afrojack, Benny Bennassi and Tiesto; Arab superstars, including Wael Kfoury, Nancy Ajram and Elissa; and regional artists, namely, Dish Dash, Cosmicat and Saud.
Following a pandemic-induced cancellation in 2020, MDL Beast made their eagerness to make up for lost time clear as this year’s event was bigger and better than the inaugural SOUNDSTORM festival in 2019.

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Bandana-clad festivalgoers flew in from all parts of the world to enjoy a spectacular performances.

Chief creative officer Ahmad Alammary, also known as Saudi DJ Baloo, told Arab News: “We work with a lot of passion, because it’s music, and music really does inspire a lot of love. It’s exciting to work in a creative field, but even more exciting to spread joy. Working creatively to spread joy is the perfect combination of ingredients.”
More than half a million people attended the festival, surpassing Tomorrowland — making it the largest music festival in the world.




Balqees Ahmed Fathi

“The venue blew my mind on how big and amazing it was,” said Prince Saud Al-Saud, 25, from Jeddah, who attended the event with his sister, Deema. “I also felt like I was out of Saudi Arabia. It really feels like it can rival Tomorrowland,” he added.
“The music was incredible and it was amazing to see so many people having a lot of fun. The only negative was the amount of walking we had to do to reach the venue. In addition, I’d like to point out the behavior of some of the attendees. It was appalling and shameful to see.”




David Guetta

Daoud Tabibzada, 28, who flew in from Dubai to attend, told Arab News: “The festival was nothing like I expected. From the festival setup to the different types of artists that were booked, it really took me by surprise. I loved the production and the performances. The crowd did get rowdy at times, but it was to be expected at a music festival. I was really looking forward to Future’s set, but unfortunately I missed it. However, Martin Garrix really made up for it. All in all, I would love to attend MDL Beast again next year,” he added.
“To be honest, I’ve been to several festivals in my life outside of Saudi Arabia and I could say that this one was within my top three,” said Widad Taleb, a 24 year old from Beirut. “The ambience was cheerful and positive, the food was great and even the staff on the field were extremely helpful.”
In addition to more stages — the first event had six while this year’s boasts eight, including the Guinness World Record-breaking Big Beast stage — the 2021 SOUNDSTORM festival featured more food options and parking spaces, as well as ramped-up security following disturbing sexual harassment claims from female attendees in 2019.
This year, the festival introduced “Respect & Reset,” an anti-harassment initiative aiming to create a safe and respectable environment for all attendees and making reporting instances of abuse and harassment easier for guests.
“They should have discounted the tickets more for women so there would be at least a 40:60 ratio in there. Because of all the harassment rumors, many women were afraid to come, although I did not experience such a thing,” said Taleb.
The festival got off to a shaky start on the first day, with many festivalgoers left stranded in the middle of the Banban desert after shuttle buses that were meant to transport attendees to and from the venue stopped running.
But organizers made sure to fully compensate ticket holders by increasing parking and replacing park-and-ride transportation with on-site parking for all ticket categories for the next three days, ensuring a seamless experience.
And for ticket categories, music lovers had three options to choose from, in addition to exclusive VIP boxes and table services.
The “Storm Chaser” tickets offered general admission to the grounds, while “Storm Blazer” featured additional perks, such as on-site parking and golden circle access at the main stage.
Meanwhile, “VIB” ticket holders were treated to access to an exclusive VIP area that featured lounges, dance floors, diverse food options, live dance performances, shisha and close-up views of the Big Beast, the world’s tallest and largest stage.
Throughout the four days, the Big Beast played host to a spectacular lineup of some of the world’s most celebrated musicians and DJs, including Tiesto, Martin Garrix, Future, David Guetta, Armin Van Buuren, Steve Aoki, Jason Derulo and Swedish DJ Alesso, who closed the event with an energizing performance that had festivalgoers dancing until the early hours of Monday morning. The Big Beast not only brought together some of the biggest international names in music on one stage, but also beloved Arab stars such as Amr Diab, Balqees Fathi, Tamer Hosny and Myriam Fares, to name a few.

In addition to Big Beast, the SOUNDSTORM 2021 festival featured a closed tent holding an incredibly packed EDM atmosphere called Dance Beast and the Underground area, which catered to those who prefer music that is a little less mainstream.
For those searching for quick respite from the electronic beats, the MDLTOWN section of the festival site offered a selection of art galleries and clothes shops to browse, including MDLBEAST’s own BANI BEAST, the Kingdom’s first homegrown festival-wear brand.
Cosmetic retailer Sephora also set up shop for attendees looking to get festival makeup done or those who simply needed to touch up their glitter.
“I was not expecting at all what I saw, to be frank. It was as if Riyadh was transformed into a beautiful hot spot, because I felt like a tourist in the country I reside in. I was expecting more of a restricted experience, but my friends and I had the most fun we’ve had in so long. It definitely exceeded my expectations,” Taleb said.
Echoing on her statement, Dubai-based Sonia Al-Sowaiegh, 26, said: “As a Saudi, I’m so proud of how far we’ve come. To have a so many people celebrate music together makes me so happy to see.”
Unimaginable just a few years ago in the Kingdom, the second edition of MDL Beast’s SOUNDSTORM is proof of the success of the rapid cultural reforms ushered in by Vision 2030. Now, Saudi music lovers no longer need to hop on an international flight to experience live performances by their favorite artists.


Moroccan singer Jihane Bougrine explores mental illness in unique new single

Moroccan singer Jihane Bougrine explores mental illness in unique new single
Updated 46 min 59 sec ago

Moroccan singer Jihane Bougrine explores mental illness in unique new single

Moroccan singer Jihane Bougrine explores mental illness in unique new single

DUBAI: Moroccan singer and songwriter Jihane Bougrine this week released her latest single “Rahat El-Bal,” in which the France-raised artist explores the often taboo subject of mental health, bipolar disorder in particular.

In her new song, which translates to “Peace of Mind,” the star, who is signed to Universal Music, said she wishes to send a message of “hope and optimism” by shining a light on the mental illness.

She was inspired to write the song by a family member who was diagnosed with schizophrenia 20 years ago, she told Arab News.

At the time, her family faced myriad challenges. “Here in Morocco, with the traditions and culture, it’s taboo to talk about mental health,” the singer said. “So they used to tell us he was crazy. It was very tough for the family, so I decided to write it and put a name on it to say that people should not be afraid to talk about it.”

The song, which already has more than 250,000 views on YouTube alone, is a mix between indie, electro and pop genres. 

For the music video, the singer collaborated with the French director Julien Fouré, who she said “managed to put my words into an image.

“For him, photography and cinema are a way to send important messages to change the world,” Bougrine said. “It is very inspiring and (it was) easy to work with someone like him because he is very talented.”

The four-minute clip stars Moroccan actress Mouna R’miki.

Bougrine, who has lived in multiple cities around the world, said that traveling made her “wealthy” when it comes to music. “Music is a melting pot. I can have different rhythms in my songs. I don’t have any limits. The sky is my limit,” she explained. 

The singer added that she hopes her music will offer international audiences a glimpse of life as a Moroccan. “If (my songs) can be a small window to Morocco… and make people understand what we are feeling and what we are living, it would be amazing,” she said. 


UAE museum partners with cryptocurrency exchange on ‘most beautiful NFTs in metaverse’ project

UAE museum partners with cryptocurrency exchange on ‘most beautiful NFTs in metaverse’ project
Updated 18 May 2022

UAE museum partners with cryptocurrency exchange on ‘most beautiful NFTs in metaverse’ project

UAE museum partners with cryptocurrency exchange on ‘most beautiful NFTs in metaverse’ project

DUBAI: A futuristic Emirati museum has teamed up with a leading cryptocurrency exchange to cultivate and present a collection of digital products on the blockchain.

The Museum of the Future in Dubai is collaborating with Binance NFT – the non-fungible token marketplace of Binance, a cryptocurrency and blockchain infrastructure provider – on a project that will start with a collection under the title, “The Most Beautiful NFTs in the Metaverse.”

The recently opened museum has already made a significant impact, with tickets and talks being sold out days in advance.

Under the new partnership deal, the museum will be positioned to develop assets within the fields of cryptocurrency, blockchain, and NFTs.

Museum executive director, Lath Carlson, said: “This exciting project is the first of many future ventures that will see us working with the world’s brightest minds and construct high-impact developments that will shape the future.”

UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications Omar bin Sultan Al-Olama, said: “The Museum of the Future’s partnership with the world’s largest cryptocurrency and blockchain ecosystem player makes a significant contribution toward Dubai’s plans to establish a new international digital asset ecosystem, which will, in turn, generate long-term economic growth within the digital economy.”

The museum is creating a variety of virtual assets and will lead development in the crypto-technology space. The first NFT collection set to drop will be announced soon with the assortment to be linked to the concept of “The Most Beautiful Building on Earth.”

Head of Binance NFT, Helen Hai, said: “We look forward to working with the museum to develop industry leading digital products that enhance the growth of the industry and promote adoption of blockchain within the region.”


Italian-Moroccan model Malika El-Maslouhi poses for Jimmy Choo

Italian-Moroccan model Malika El-Maslouhi poses for Jimmy Choo
Updated 18 May 2022

Italian-Moroccan model Malika El-Maslouhi poses for Jimmy Choo

Italian-Moroccan model Malika El-Maslouhi poses for Jimmy Choo

DUBAI: Italian-Moroccan model Malika El-Maslouhi has given her 47,000 Instagram followers a behind-the-scenes look at Jimmy Choo’s new summer beach campaign.

The model took to Instagram to share a carousel of images with the caption “summer vibes with Jimmy Choo! Campaign finally out babes! I appreciate everyone that made this beautiful shoot come true.”

The British fashion brand launched the beach capsule collection earlier this week and it is marked by bright and vibrant colors and essential accessories for beachside holidays.

The 23-year-old model posted photos of the new sunglasses range, some behind-the-scenes swimsuit shots and the set crew. The official photos include shots of the part-Arab beauty lounging by a pool and posing on the beach in pieces from the brand’s new capsule collection.

Jimmy Choo Beach Collection campaign. Supplied

El-Maslouhi has made quite a name for herself in the industry. In just the past month she has been a part of three international campaigns: Anthropologie, Zara, and now Jimmy Choo.

She is a rising star in the business and is currently signed with agencies in Paris, London and Barcelona.

El-Maslouhi was born in Milan to a Moroccan father and an Italian mother and made her modelling debut when she was 18. Since she has captivated the industry, gracing runways of stories fashion houses that most models can only dream of, including Dior, Chanel, Valentino, Jacquemus, and more.

She has also appeared in multiple international campaigns ranging from Zara and Anthropologie to Off-White and Lanvin.

In the past year El-Maslouhi has walked for fashion houses in London, New York, Paris, and Milan.

She has also become the ambassador for the luxury womenswear label La Perla’s beauty line, and was further selected to be the face of the French brand’s signature scent.

Other than being a catwalk fixture, El-Maslouhi has multiple magazine spreads under belt including Dazed Magazine and British Vogue.

 


Arab designers put on stellar show in Cannes

Arab designers put on stellar show in Cannes
Updated 18 May 2022

Arab designers put on stellar show in Cannes

Arab designers put on stellar show in Cannes

DUBAI: The 75th Cannes Film Festival rolled out the red carpet on Tuesday, attracting a wide spectrum of movie luminaries wearing their glittering best back to the French resort to celebrate the event.

As usual, Arab designers stole the limelight with their show-stopping looks, including Lebanese couturiers Tony Ward and Zuhair Murad, and Omani design house Atelier Zuhra.

Bollywood actress Urvashi Rautela was among the stars who championed a design from the region.

The Miss Universe 2015 contestant made her Cannes red-carpet debut at the premiere of “Final Cut,” floating in on a cloud of white tulle. The frothy confection was plucked from the atelier of Ward. The Indian 28-year-old looked every inch a Disney princess in the voluminous, asymmetrical gown with a long train. She paired the look with a braided updo and a bold red lip.

Ward also found a fan in American actress Liza Koshy, who stunned at the opening ceremony in a white sheer creation embroidered with pink, blue, and green sequins. The gown featured a single shoulder and a high slit, and she paired it with gold open-toe pumps.

Actress Liza Koshy wore a sequined gown by Lebanese designer Tony Ward. Getty Images

Elsewhere, Dubai-based Moldovan model Elvira Jain, was a vision in a black tulle gown by Atelier Zuhra.

The plunging gown featured a black ruffled cape with a long train. A cascade of embroidered crystals shimmered even more brightly against the flashing cameras.

It was the second time that Jain had opted for a gown from the Dubai-based womenswear brand. She said: “Wearing an Atelier Zuhra (dress) means stepping into a magical world made of opulent gowns worthy of a queen. When I saw this gorgeous dress in the showroom, its spell was cast on me.”

She paired it with diamond-studded jewelry signed Noor by Jahan.


Alice Abdelaziz stepped out in a lavish look by Zuhair Murad, which she paired with a ballooning taffeta cape. Getty Images

Meanwhile, Lebanese reality television star and founder of beauty brand Take Me to Wonder, Alice Abdelaziz, stepped out in a lavish look from Murad’s fall 2021 couture collection.

Abdelaziz made the case for an appealing contrast between voluminous shapes and slim silhouettes in a black sinuous number that was dripping in dark blue and silver sequins, which she paired with a ballooning taffeta cape thrown over it.


Wings is the sci-fi inspired abaya label you need to know

Wings is the sci-fi inspired abaya label you need to know
Updated 18 May 2022

Wings is the sci-fi inspired abaya label you need to know

Wings is the sci-fi inspired abaya label you need to know

DUBAI: The abaya is a sartorial staple for women across the Gulf. The loose robe-like garment, which dates back 4,000 years to ancient Mesopotamia, constitutes national dress in countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia, serving as a symbol of modesty.

Today, the abaya is a far cry from the plain black cloak of the past — as elegant as that can be. With time, the floor-length robe has evolved into a fashion statement, with many different designs available. The new wave of garments, while engineered for modesty, features contemporary elements like jewel-encrusted palm trees, black lace trim and embroidered hearts, and come in experimental and playful colors, silhouettes and fabrics that are anything but basic.

One such label reimagining the traditional garment is Wings.

Wings is a handmade abaya label founded by Emirati designer Al Anood Al-Mansoori. Inspired by the movement of birds, Al-Mansoori has produced a lineup of culturally modest attire in powerfully outspoken colors and fabrics that will ensure you are the best-dressed person in any room.

The fashion designer reveals that she is deeply influenced by sci-fi movies and TV shows. Supplied

“I have always been inspired by the boldness of an independent woman,” proclaimed Al-Mansoori. “All my life I have worked toward becoming one myself,” added the electrical engineer turned fashion designer.

“I am pretty much driven by the thought of freedom and breaking through,” she explained, hence the name Wings, which boasts multiple meanings.

The fashion designer, who reveals that she is deeply influenced by sci-fi movies and TV shows such as “The Matrix” and “The X-Files,” is currently studying for her master’s degree in artificial intelligence, and it is clear how biology, physics and algorithms inform her designs.

One bestselling piece is a graphic printed chiffon abaya that comes with a matching stretch jersey dress and opera gloves, which can also be worn on their own. The design’s print evokes the chronophotographic lines of bird wing movements.

 

A graphic printed chiffon abaya that comes with a matching stretch jersey dress and opera gloves is a bestseller. Supplied

The designer’s inspirations also culminated into an expansive lineup of edgy and contemporary looks that include an exquisite black overlay embroidered with a giant bird on the back and creations that merge the trench coat with the traditional abaya and can easily double as outerwear.

However, Al-Mansoori states that having unique creations is only one element of a successful clothing company.

“To thrive in such a local business, you can’t just be good at designing garments,” she said. “You have to master project and relationship management. You should always be up to date with worldwide trends in the fashion industry and any new entrepreneurship hacks.”

She explained, for instance, that she is using her education in artificial intelligence to see how she can predict her customers’ behaviors and thus improve customer loyalty through her findings.

However, judging by how quickly her creations run out of stock online, it is safe to presume that Wings is steadily on the rise — no fancy app or elaborate program necessary.