Actress Natacha Karam talks smashing stereotypes in Hollywood 

Actress Natacha Karam talks smashing stereotypes in Hollywood 
The drama follows the heroics and personal lives of firefighters and other emergency responders. (AFP)
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Updated 07 January 2022

Actress Natacha Karam talks smashing stereotypes in Hollywood 

Actress Natacha Karam talks smashing stereotypes in Hollywood 

LOS ANGELES: Born in Saudi Arabia to a Lebanese father and a Northern Irish mother, actress Natacha Karam is making a name for herself in Hollywood as a character on “9-1-1 Lone Star,” the latest series created by multiple Emmy and Golden Globe winning writer Ryan Murphy.

The drama follows the heroics and personal lives of firefighters and other emergency responders such as Karam’s Marjan Marwani, a firefighter and devout Muslim from Miami who was drafted to Firehouse 126 in Austin, Texas, by Captain Owen Strand (Rob Lowe) after he saw her heroics on Instagram.

“Marjan is a hijabi and she is a firefighter. So that’s certainly something which has not been seen before,” said Karam to Arab News, adding “I love that I get the opportunity to be one of the first women to play that role on TV.”

The 27-year-old acts alongside the likes of “Lord of the Rings” actress Liv Tyler and “Aladdin” star Mena Massoud, who plays her fiancé. 

As the series approaches its third season premiere, she was able to give Arab News an exclusive preview of what is in store for fans.

“A few of the main characters are going to end up in the hospital. I can’t say anything more than that. And a relationship is going to go through a tumultuous patch,” she revealed.

Born in Jeddah, Karam grew up between Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain and Dubai, where she began acting. 

After moving to Los Angeles, her television career kicked off with small acting stints on “Homeland” and “Silent Witness,” before she was cast as Sergeant Jasmine “Jaz” Khan in the military action drama series “The Brave,” which ran for one season.

Now with a platform in Hollywood, her goal is to play characters that challenge audience expectations and generalizations.

“I’d like ‘Lone Star’ to keep going and going and for Marjan‘s character to become more and more fleshed out. In between seasons, I would love to play more characters that are breaking stereotypes,” Karam said.

“I tend to choose parts that change people’s perspectives and show people that there isn’t only one way to be a woman, and there isn’t an only one way to be a Muslim woman or an Arab woman. I find that really exciting and rewarding,” she added.


Author Mohammed Alnaas first Libyan to win International Prize for Arabic Fiction

Author Mohammed Alnaas first Libyan to win International Prize for Arabic Fiction
Updated 23 May 2022

Author Mohammed Alnaas first Libyan to win International Prize for Arabic Fiction

Author Mohammed Alnaas first Libyan to win International Prize for Arabic Fiction

DUBAI: Author Mohammed Alnaas, 31, is the youngest author and first Libyan to win the International Prize for Arabic Fiction for his book “Bread on Uncle Milad’s Table.”

The winner was announced on Sunday and Alnaas will be given a $50,000 prize in addition to funding for an English translation of the book.

The Libyan author delves into gender roles and ideas of masculinity in a faraway village of his native country for the book. After getting engaged, Milad’s family life becomes the talk of the village as he indulges in his passion for bread-making while his fiancé works to support the house.

Milad learns of the gossip by the neighborhood and publicly questions traditional gender roles.

Alnaas’s novel won out of six shortlisted novels, and was praised for its complexity and literary flair. 

The book was written in just six months during the lockdown, while Tripoli was under bombardment.

Alnaas revealed that writing “Bread on the Table of Uncle Milad” was his “refuge from insanity” amidst the news of COVID-19 and war.

“The winning novel is written in the form of confessions of personal experience. Its plethora of detail is deftly unified by a gripping narrative,” said Tunisian novelist and previous IPAF winner Shukri Mabkhout, chair of the 2022 judges. This offers a deep and meticulous critique of prevailing concepts of masculinity and femininity and the division of work between men and women, and the effect of these on both a psychological and social level. It falls into the category of novels which question cultural norms about gender. However, it is embedded in its local Arab context and steers away from any ideological treatment of the issues, as such a treatment would be contrary to the way in which fiction can present multiple points of view,” he added.

Born in 1991, Alnaas obtained a BA in Electrical Engineering from the University of Tripoli in 2014 before publishing his short story collection “Blue Blood” in 2020.


Egypt’s ‘Feathers’ nabs top prize at Critics’ Awards for Arab Films

The film just won best film, screenplay and director at the Critics’ Awards for Arab Films. (Supplied)
The film just won best film, screenplay and director at the Critics’ Awards for Arab Films. (Supplied)
Updated 23 May 2022

Egypt’s ‘Feathers’ nabs top prize at Critics’ Awards for Arab Films

The film just won best film, screenplay and director at the Critics’ Awards for Arab Films. (Supplied)

Dubai: “Feathers” by Egyptian director Omar El-Zohairy has swept the board at the sixth edition of the Critics’ Awards for Arab Films by the Arab Cinema Center.

The satirical film won the top prize at Cannes Critics' week last year and has just won best film, screenplay and director at the Critics’ Awards for Arab Films.

The Arab Cinema Center focuses on Arab-language films that premiered on the festival circuit outside of the Arab world in 2021. It was voted on by 167 film critics from 68 countries, who saw the films on Festival Scope.

“Feathers” took six years to reach the big screen and was produced by a multitude of firms and countries. It was co-produced by Juliette Lepoutre from Still Moving in France, with Mohamed Hefzy’s Film Clinic and Shahinaz Al Akkad from Lagoonie Film, both in Egypt, Derk-Jan Warrink and Koji Nelissen from Kepler Film in The Netherlands, Giorgos Karnavas and Konstantinos Kontovrakis from Heretic in Greece, and Verona Meier from Germany and Norway.

Other winners at the event include Palestinian Maisa Abd Elhadi, who nabbed the best actress award for her performance in Hany Abu-Assad’s “Huda’s Salon,” while Palestinian Ali Suliman won best actor for his role in Egyptian director Mohamed Diab’s “Amira.”

The winner for best documentary was Syrian-born Palestinian filmmaker Abdallah-Al Khatib’s “Little Palestine, Diary of a Siege.”


Kravis wedding: Megan Fox makes a case for best-dressed guest in Zuhair Murad look

Kravis wedding: Megan Fox makes a case for best-dressed guest in Zuhair Murad look
Updated 23 May 2022

Kravis wedding: Megan Fox makes a case for best-dressed guest in Zuhair Murad look

Kravis wedding: Megan Fox makes a case for best-dressed guest in Zuhair Murad look

DUBAI: Reality television star Kourtney Kardashian and Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker got married in Portofino, Italy, this weekend — and in true Kardashian fashion, the nuptials were a stylish affair.

Hosted at L’Olivetta, a sprawling villa owned by Italian designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, the wedding was the pinnacle of a multi-day affair attended by the couple’s famous families and an intimate group of celebrity friends, including US actress Megan Fox who opted for a vampy look by Lebanese couturier Zuhair Murad.

Other well-dressed guests included the new bride’s mother Kris Jenner and her siblings; Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian, Kendall Jenner and Kylie Jenner.

Megan Fox wearing a black strapless Zuhair Murad fall 2021 couture gown. Instagram

Fox, who is a close friend of the newlyweds, attended the wedding with her fiancé Machine Gun Kelly (born Colson Baker) wearing a black strapless taffeta gown with a beaded corset bodice on tulle from the Ras Baalbek-born designer’s fall 2021 couture collection. The gown featured a high slit that showed off her black sandals.

The 36-year-old made sure to embrace the festivities’ Italian theme as Murad’s 45-piece offering was inspired by the Italian city of Venice.

Poosh founder Kourtney and her rockstar husband’s Italian nuptials come less than a week after the pair were legally wed in a low-key ceremony in Santa Barbara, California, on May 15.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Kourtney (@kourtneykardash)

Last month, they had an impromptu Las Vegas wedding ceremony without a marriage license.

Other celebrity guests included Travis Barker’s Blink-182 bandmate Mark Hoppus and his wife, Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli and TikToker Chase Hudson.

Kourtney’s children Mason, Penelope, and Reign were in attendance as were Kim and Kylie’s eldest children, North and Stormi, respectively. Barker’s son Landon, daughter Alabama and step-daughter Atiana De La Hoya also made the journey to the Italian riviera.

Meanwhile, Kim’s ex-husband Kanye West and Kylie’s partner Travis Scott did not attend the wedding. NBA player Tristan Thompson, with whom Khloe shares a daughter, was also not present.

Notably absent was Scott Disick, Kourtney’s previous longtime partner and the father to her three children.

The couple had noted fashion photographer Ellen Von Unwerth capture portraits of their nuptials.


Famed Chinese restaurateur Michael Chow to offer art in Dubai, fine dining in Riyadh

Famed Chinese restaurateur Michael Chow to offer art in Dubai, fine dining in Riyadh
Updated 23 May 2022

Famed Chinese restaurateur Michael Chow to offer art in Dubai, fine dining in Riyadh

Famed Chinese restaurateur Michael Chow to offer art in Dubai, fine dining in Riyadh

DUBAI: Sotheby’s Dubai will close out May by hosting what might at first seem a surprising event: a solo exhibition of paintings by Michael Chow, the famed Chinese restaurateur-turned-artist who has recently taken up painting after a 50-year break at the age 83.

Known as “M” from May 30, Sotheby’s Dubai will present a series of the artist’s abstract expressionist paintings and works on paper that will run until July 1.

Courtesy of Sotheby’s Dubai

Chow, who is the son of Chinese national treasure and legendary Peking Opera Grand Master, Zhou Xing Fang, has brushed sleeves with artists such as Andy Warhol, David Hockney and Jean-Michel Basquait. During his youth, Chow moved to London to study architecture at Saint Martin’s School of Design. On Feb. 14, 1968 he opened his first restaurant in Knightsbridge called MR CHOW, which became an instant celebrity and artist magnet. Restaurants in Beverly Hills, New York, Miami and Las Vegas followed.

“I was born into a very cultural family, and I definitely believe in destiny,” Chow told Arab News. “I have always been in the right place at the right time: from the Swinging Sixties in London, alongside Hockney and the Rolling Stones, to my life here in LA. And so, my motivation has always been very international, and I like to think there are no borders to what I do.”

Courtesy of Sotheby’s Dubai

Throughout his life, the famed restauranteur has participated in many forms of creativity — from architecture, to food, installation, film, and poetry — and the best examples are his restaurants, which he designed himself with a modern twist, and which serve as an amalgamation of his various creative pursuits.

“I first started painting in the late 1950s, and continued to do so for around 10 years,” he told Arab News. “I took it up again recently, encouraged by Jeffrey Deitch and Julian Schnabel, and haven’t been able to stop since!”

Artworks on the walls in his restaurants include portraits of Chow himself by the likes of Keith Haring and Jonas Wood and Lalique glass doors. During the 1980s, when Giorgio Armani went to MR CHOW in New York, he was allegedly so impressed by Michael’s architectural design that he sent tuxedos for all of his waiters to use. In return, Chow designed Armani’s Rodeo Drive Boutique in 1987.

“I believe my strength lies in spontaneity and instinct, particularly given that I am self-taught so every element of my craft and technique was built myself and is unique to me,” he told Arab News. “My works on paper in particular are painted very fast, in line with the very Chinese concept of finding perfection in a split second (from calligraphy to martial arts to even cooking).”

Courtesy of Sotheby’s Dubai

Chow has already debuted his artworks in China. His upcoming show at Sothbey’s Dubai constitutes the artist’s first exhibition in the Middle East and in the Gulf region — a part of the world he is venturing into also with his restaurant business. He’s recently announced that his restaurant MR CHOW will open in Riyadh next year.

“It is so exciting to be making my artistic debut in Dubai as I truly sense a hunger for art in the Middle East, which echoes my own pursuit of creativity in all aspects of my life,” he said. “I am very much looking forward to visiting Dubai again, and hopefully exploring a little more of what the UAE cultural and dining scene has to offer!”


Supermodels Alessandra Ambrosio, Naomi Campbell shine at Saudi event in Cannes

Supermodels Alessandra Ambrosio, Naomi Campbell shine at Saudi event in Cannes
Updated 22 May 2022

Supermodels Alessandra Ambrosio, Naomi Campbell shine at Saudi event in Cannes

Supermodels Alessandra Ambrosio, Naomi Campbell shine at Saudi event in Cannes

DUBAI: From models to actresses, Arab designers are putting on a show at the 75th Cannes Film Festival by dressing some of the brightest stars on the red carpet — including at the Women in Cinema event hosted by the Red Sea International Film Festival.

Alessandra Ambrosio cut a striking figure as she arrived at the event on Saturday at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc during the annual film festival in France this weekend. The Brazilian supermodel wore a sweeping fairytale-worthy nude mesh gown adorned with organza bougainvillea and silver embellished straps from pioneering Lebanese couturier Elie Saab as she walked the black carpet.

The former Victoria’s Secret angel elevated the look with minimal jewelry in the form of sparkling diamond earrings and a ring. Getty Images

The floral-embellished creation was plucked from Saab’s most recent spring 2022 couture collection, which he showcased in Paris in January at his first physical show in two-years.

The 55-look offering was an ode to the Mediterranean and featured full-skirted silhouettes in luxe fabrics like taffeta and tulle bedecked with feathers, rhinestones, beads and sequins.

The former Victoria’s Secret angel elevated the look with minimal jewelry in the form of sparkling diamond earrings and a ring.

British supermodel Naomi Campbell was also in attendance at the event, which was hosted by the CEO of the Red Sea International Film Festival Mohammed Al-Turki. For her part, Campbell opted for a hot pink gown from Valentino’s Fall-Winter 2022 collection.

Naomi Campbell poses with Mohammed Al-Turki. Getty Images

After Cannes was cancelled in 2020 and held with strict health protocols in 2021, the red carpet returned in all its glamour last week for the opening ceremony.

As usual, Arab couturiers are making their mark on the red carpet as a spectrum of A-listers descend upon La Croisette wearing jaw-dropping creations from designers from the Middle East.

Memorably, US actress Larsen Thompson stepped out at the red carpet premiere of “Triangle of Sadness” wearing an elegant black gown from Saudi label Ashi Studio. The off-the-shoulder creation boasted an asymmetric train and a small slit at the front. She paired it with matching black pumps and delicate jewelry.

Arab designers aren’t the only ones shining brightly at the film festival. Regional creatives, including Saudi actress Fatima Al-Banawi, Lebanese television presenter Diala Makki and Lebanese reality television star Alice Abdelaziz, are once again stealing the spotlight on the French Riviera with stunning looks.

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