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.
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.
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.
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.
Lebanese-Australian model Jessica Kahawaty heads to Italy for Tod’s campaign
Updated 10 sec ago
DUBAI: Italian fashion label Tod’s tapped Australian-Lebanese model Jessica Kahawaty to star in a campaign for its Spring/Summer 2022 line.
The actress, humanitarian and entrepreneur took to Instagram to share shots from the her time in Amalfi, Italy, as well as behind-the-scenes footage from the trip. “Grateful for these days of happiness, fresh air and beautiful nature,” she wrote to her 1.1 million followers.
First trailer for ‘The Real Housewives of Dubai’ released to fanfare
Updated 1 min 18 sec ago
DUBAI: The first official trailer for the hotly anticipated “The Real Housewives of Dubai” is here.
The reality television series is set to premiere on US cable network Bravo on June 1.
The three-minute-long clip offers a glimpse at the six cast-members of the 11th city in the franchise, Caroline Stanbury, Chanel Ayan, Caroline Brooks, Sara Al-Madani, Lesa Milan and Nina Ali, at luxurious dinners and lunches, fashion shows, vacations and a wedding.
“Anything is possible in Dubai,” says “Ladies of London” star Caroline Stanbury in the sneak peek’s opening minute.
Judging by the preview, “The Real Housewives of Dubai” looks to be the most glamorous entry into Bravo’s “Real Housewives” universe yet.
“There’s a lot of gold here,” Ayan, who is a runway model, quips in a first look at her confessional, “And we have a lot of gold diggers, too.”
There's even a surprise appearance by a former “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” alum Phaedra Parks.
Dubai is the 11th city in “Housewives” franchise and first in the Middle East.
News of the show, which is being executive produced by Andy Cohen, Steven Weinstock, Glenda Hersh, Lauren Eskelin, Jamie Jakimo, Brandon Panaligan, Glenda N. Cox and Chelsey Stephens, was first announced in November 2021.
Fans of the franchise quickly took to social media to share their excitement online.
Fashion, politics go hand in hand as Cannes Film Festival opens
Updated 37 min 44 sec ago
CANNES: The 75th Cannes Film Festival kicked off Tuesday with an eye turned to Russia’s war in Ukraine and a live satellite video address from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who called on a new generation of filmmakers to confront dictators as Charlie Chaplin satirized Adolf Hitler.
After tributes and musical numbers, Zelenskyy was streamed live for the formally attired audience who had gathered for the premiere of Michel Hazanavicius’ zombie comedy “Final Cut.”
Zelenskyy, dressed in his signature olive green shirt, drew a thunderous standing ovation and and spoke at length about the connection between cinema and reality. He referenced films like Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” and Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” as not unlike Ukraine’s present circumstances.
Zelenskyy quoted Chaplin's final speech in “The Great Dictator,” which was released in 1940, in the early days of World War II: “The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people.”
“We need a new Chaplin who will demonstrate that the cinema of our time is not silent,” implored Zelenskyy.
The Ukrainian president pushed filmmakers not to “stay silent” while hundreds continue to die in Ukraine, the largest war in Europe since WWII, and show that cinema “is always on the side of freedom.”
The war is to be a regular presence in Cannes, where the festival has barred Russians with ties to the government from attending this year. Set to screen are several films from prominent Ukrainian filmmakers, including Sergei Loznitsa’s documentary “The Natural History of Destruction.” Footage shot by Lithuanian filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravičius before he was killed in Mariupol in April will also be shown by his fiancée, Hanna Bilobrova.
Even “Final Cut,” the latest film from “The Artist” filmmaker Hazanavicius, was renamed from its original title, “Z,” after Ukrainian protesters noted that the letter Z to some symbolizes support for Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Formally attired stars including Eva Longoria, Julianne Moore, Bérénice Bejo and “No Time to Die” star Lashana Lynch were among those who streamed down Cannes’ famous red carpet Tuesday. More star-studded premieres — “Top Gun: Maverick!” “Elvis!" — await over the next 12 days, during which 21 films will vie for the festival's prestigious top award, the Palme d'Or.
But Tuesday’s opening and the carefully choreographed red-carpet parade leading up the steps to the Grand Théâtre Lumiére again restored one of the movies' grandest pageants after two years of pandemic that have challenged the exalted stature Cannes annually showers on cinema.
“Dear friends, let’s come out of this dark together,” said opening ceremony host Virginie Efira.
After last year requiring regular COVID-19 testing and masks in theaters — and no kisses on the red carpet — Cannes has largely done away with pandemic protocols. Masks are recommended inside but are rarely worn.
Cannes presented an honorary Palme d’Or to Forest Whitaker, who received a standing ovation. Whitaker, who won best actor at Cannes 34 years ago for his performance as Charlie Parker in Clint Eastwood’s “Bird,” said that while ascending the steps to the Palais des Festivals on Tuesday, he could still hear chants of “Clint! Clint!” ringing in his ears. Eastwood is one of few others who have been awarded an honorary Palme.
On Tuesday, Cannes also unveiled the jury that will award the Palme d'Or. French actor Vincent Lindon is leading a jury that includes Deepika Padukone, Rebecca Hall, Asghar Farhadi, Trinca, Ladj Ly, Noomi Rapace, Jeff Nichols and Joachim Trier.
Questions of gender equality have long surrounded the Cannes Film Festival, where no more than five female filmmakers have ever been a part of the Palme competition lineup and only two women directors have won it. On Monday, Fremaux defended the festival, arguing that it selects films purely on the basis of quality. Hall, who last year made her directorial debut with the film “Passing,” was asked about her opinion on Cannes' record.
“I believe that it is a work in progress. I mean for the whole film industry, not just the Cannes Film Festival,” replied Hall. “The way of dealing with these things needs to be addressed on a grassroots level as well. It’s not just the festivals or public-facing situations. It’s about all the minutiae of what goes into the industry at large."
Farhadi, the Oscar-winning Iranian director, also spoke for the first time about an ongoing plagiarism suit regarding his previous film, “A Hero,” which won the Grand Prix in Cannes last year. A former film student of Farhadi's, Azadeh Masihzadeh, has accused him of stealing the idea of the film from a 2018 documentary she made in a workshop taught by Farhadi.
Speaking at length, Farhadi said “A Hero” was not based on the documentary.
“It was based on a current event so this documentary and this film are based on an event that happened two years prior to the workshop,” said Farhadi. “When an event takes place and is covered by the press, then it becomes public knowledge and you can do what you like about the event. You can write a story or make a film about the event. You can look up the information on this event. ‘A Hero’ is just one interpretation of this event.”
At the tradition-upholding Cannes, the world's largest and most glitzy temple to film, cinema, controversy and glamour swirl together in a 12-day spectacle of red carpet premieres and rampant movie deal-making up and down the Croisette. Theatrical release is a requirement of any film vying for the Palme, which has prevented streaming services from playing a big role at Cannes.
But this year, one new festival partner — TikTok — has raised some eyebrows. The festival is hosting TikTok creators from around the world and holding a separate contest for best (very short) videos created during the festival. Thierry Fremaux, artistic director of Cannes, granted TikTok wasn't the future of cinema.
Supermodel Irina Shayk has starring role in Saudi-Iraqi singer’s new music video
Updated 17 May 2022
DUBAI: Russian supermodel Irina Shayk got a starring role in Iraqi-Saudi singer Majid Al-Muhandis’ latest music video. The former Victoria’s Secret angel appeared in the Arab hitmaker’s clip for his newest song “Waareftek” (“I Knew You”) from his 2022 album of the same name. Shayk stars as the singer’s love interest in the five-minute-long clip, which he teased to his 2.4 million Instagram followers this week —and social media users can’t seem to get enough.
“We are in the timeline in which Irina Shayk stars in a Majid Al-Muhandis music video, and that’s impeccable,” wrote one user on Twitter.
Another Twitter user quipped: “Let’s take a break from politics. How old were you when you found out that an Iraqi singer named Majid Al-Muhandis made a video clip with the one and only Irina Shayk!?”
A month ago, Shayk took to Instagram to share a sneak peek of the unreleased music video by way of a still from the clip displayed on a video camera. “UAE for 24 hours,” she captioned the carousel of images, that also included a snap of an Emirates airline first class cabin and a behind-the-scenes snap of her on set.
The lyrics for “Waareftek” were written by the Chairman of General Authority for Entertainment in Saudi Arabia, Turki Al-Sheikh.
It is not the first time that the now-36-year-old model has starred in a music video.
Shayk famously appeared in rapper Kanye West’s music video for “Power” that was filmed 11 years ago.
In the footage released in the summer of 2010, Shayk is seen sitting on a throne in front of West as he raps.
Al-Muhandis and West are far from the first musicians to spice up their visuals with the addition of a runway star.
George Michael’s “Freedom! ‘90” featured the top supermodels of the noughties, including Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington lip-synching along to the ballad.
In 2015, Taylor Swift enlisted a supermodel girl gang that included Gigi Hadid, Cara Delevingne, Karlie Kloss, Martha Hunt and more to star in her “Bad Blood” video.
Exclusive: Netflix’s Tinder Swindler stars recount transformation from victim to inspiration for women
Norwegian-born Cecilie Fjellhoy and Stockholm native Pernilla Sjoholm to deliver special keynote address at Arab Women Forum
Defrauded by a con artist, they have hit back by speaking up about their experience of romance scams
Updated 17 May 2022
DUBAI: Just swipe left. At least that is what many an indecisive Tinder user may have found themselves doing after the notorious case of the dating app fraudster dubbed the “Tinder Swindler” came to light in an explosive Netflix docu-drama earlier this year.
Despite being defrauded by the conman, Norwegian TV personality Cecilie Fjellhoy and Swedish business owner Pernilla Sjoholm are hitting back by speaking up about their experience.
The women will appear during a special keynote address titled “When women fight back” at the Arab Women Forum, held in partnership with Arab News, at the Palazzo Versace Dubai on May 17.
“It was very traumatic,” Sjoholm told Arab News, reflecting on her experience ahead of Tuesday’s forum appearance. “It wasn’t only about the money you have lost. You have lost the way you viewed yourself, how you viewed everything.
“I used to think about fraud as: ‘Oh my God, who gets defrauded? You must be of lower intelligence or something.’ And I’m very embarrassed to say this today, because of what I lost.
“I was 31 years old, and it was not the way I would have imagined my life to be. To lose everything. You also lose your soul.”
Based on an expose by Verdens Gang, a Norwegian tabloid newspaper known under the abbreviation VG, the program unearthed the story of Israeli national Shimon Hayut, who allegedly posed on the dating app Tinder as Simon Leviev, claiming to be the son of a diamond mogul.
Hayut notoriously charmed women and persuaded them to loan him money, swindling an estimated $10 million from people across the globe.
According to reports, Hayut followed a pattern. After matching with unsuspecting women on Tinder, he would take them on a lavish first date and slowly build up a relationship, all the while dating other women.
Eventually, the fraudster would confide in them that a nefarious set of “enemies” were after him, persuading the women to send him money on the understanding that he would quickly pay them back.
After a nifty piece of counter-swindling by one woman, Ayleen Koeleman, who had been alerted to the con by the expose in VG, Hayut was arrested in 2019 and sentenced to 15 months in prison for fraud in Israel.
However, Hayut served only five months behind bars before being released. He has never been charged for crimes related to Fjellhoy and Sjoholm, and denies their claims of fraud.
And the story does not end there. In a shocking twist, Hayut is now pursuing a Hollywood career, while the women he targeted remain in debt to this day.
“We were very disappointed,” said Sjoholm. “Unfortunately, there is no extradition from Israel to Europe. So he’s still there.
“We don’t think that they handled this case properly and they should have. And, unfortunately, that is the way it happens in a lot of fraud cases. I mean, I just know the numbers in Sweden. They drop 96 percent of all the cases they get, because they have too much.”
Instead of consigning themselves to a life of victimhood, both Sjoholm and Fjellhoy are working to inspire women across the world to identify and fight back against romance scams.
“We have talked about a lot of the shame that surrounds fraud and I think that it’s so important to stand up and say that this could happen to anyone,” said Sjoholm.
“Because it’s so common that fraudsters get away with fraud due to people being scared of sharing their story. So I definitely know that we helped a lot of people and hopefully will help a lot of people in the future as well.”
According to Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting center for fraud and cybercrime, the majority of victims of romance fraud are women. Sjoholm believes women are specifically targeted for their perceived emotional vulnerabilities.
“I think that we women are more emotional people,” she said. “These fraudsters work a lot with emotions, because it is a form of emotional abuse.”
The Tinder Swindler case has raised many questions about what responsibility dating apps ought to hold for romance scams and what more they could be doing to safeguard users.
“I don’t feel like there was a lot that the dating app could have done in our case,” said Fjellhoy, also speaking to Arab News ahead of the forum.
“I feel like just doing proper identity checks so you can’t catfish someone, for example. We see that they have some, but I feel like fraud is much larger than just what happens on the dating app. They take you away from the dating app. It’s just one avenue of many that fraudsters are using.”
Beyond dating apps tightening their safeguards, there have also been calls to improve awareness in schools so that young people are better equipped to spot catfishing — the use of fake accounts to lure victims — and romance scams.
“If you’re going to educate young people, maybe teach them more about what kind of different people exist in the world,” said Fjellhoy.
“There are some people that don’t have empathy, there are psychopaths and narcissists who will take advantage of your empathy and those types of things. But I think it’s important to not put too much emphasis on us as victims as well.”
Indeed, there is a danger of victim blaming if the responsibility for spotting scammers is placed on users, when the onus ought to be on clamping down on fraudsters.
“We didn’t do anything wrong here,” said Fjellhoy. “And fraud will always happen. But, when fraud happens, how do we, as a society, talk about how to stop it?”
Nevertheless, there are several red flags that dating app users can look out for, says Sjoholm, including “love bombing” — the practice of lavishing someone with attention or affection with a view to influence or manipulate them.
However, Sjoholm believes that the very nature of social media makes it difficult to determine the truth about someone. “When it comes to social media, it is entirely about everyone wanting to show off their best side,” she said.
“Everyone wants to show off the good parts. When it comes to social media, I would say that 95 percent is just fraud in general.”
The mental health repercussions of romance fraud cannot be understated, as victims grapple with both the financial fallout and intense feelings of shame. “Regarding how your mental health is when you realize you’ve been defrauded, I think, for me, why I felt so low that I ended up in a psychiatric ward is that no one took you seriously,” said Fjellhoy.
“And I feel like, for example, you go to the police and they just brush you off. And I tried to contact the banks and they told me: ‘Well, you still need to pay down the loans.’ And you’re still mentally low. It’s double — emotional and economic. You see no way out.”
As a result of her ordeal, Fjellhoy established the Action Reaction Foundation to focus on the mental health challenges of survivors and to lobby for stronger laws as well as policies to protect victims.
One of the lasting effects of the ordeal is an inability to trust others easily. “I’m still having trouble with trust,” said Sjoholm.
“I have more good days than I have bad days. But even on my good days, when someone does something very nice toward me, I can sometimes feel like there’s an agenda behind it. That someone is there to hurt me.
“I can still socialize. I can meet new people, but I’m having a very hard time to really talk to people. I don’t want to take away trust. You should be trusting people, you should be helping people, because that is what makes this world better. But, of course, this has been a tremendous trauma.”
For Fjellhoy, it is also about having trust in the system to protect victims and take their claims seriously.
“That the police will be there to protect you, that if you go to the bank, and you’re saying you’re being defrauded, you can get some peace and quiet to figure things out, that they will give that to us,” said Fjellhoy.
“Just so many things that could have made everything that happened afterward much easier, which would have made the fight easier.”
For others who have fallen victim to romance scams, Fjellhoy’s advice is to speak up.
“Please report it to the police, no matter what,” she said. “We know that it hasn’t gone our way. But they need to know about all cases so they can see how big it actually is.