THE ROUNDUP: Pop-culture highlights from across the region

THE ROUNDUP: Pop-culture highlights from across the region
Lucky Schild, aka Swerte, is best known for his work as one-third of UAE hip-hop pioneers The Recipe. (Supplied)
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Updated 20 January 2022

THE ROUNDUP: Pop-culture highlights from across the region

THE ROUNDUP: Pop-culture highlights from across the region
  • From a new take on a medieval English ballad to a visual interpretation of a local folk tale

Nasser Almulhim

‘Contours on Collective Consciousness’

The Saudi painter and sculptor was announced last month as the winner of the inaugural Hayy Jameel Façade Commission. The annual contest — supported by Lexus KSA — invites artists to design a work for the 25-meter “canvas” on the front of the new Art Jameel headquarters in Jeddah.

Almulhim’s design was inspired by a regional folk tale called “The Dove, The Partridge and The Crow,” and, according to the press release, “recounts in vivid, primal colors and geometric sculptural compositions the story of birds in a time of famine and drought, employed by their owners to migrate south of the Arabian Peninsula in search of water.” Almulhim collaborated with architect and artist Tamara Kalo on his proposal.

“One moral of this fable is to want the betterment of one’s community as a whole, rather than being individualistic in one’s pursuit of well-being,” Kalo wrote on Instagram. “Myths are ways in which people find solace in troubling moments, by seeking refuge and comfort in stories, to cope with our changing circumstances. They are a way of collective sense-making.”

For Almulhim, the piece showed “the importance of collaboration in difficult times and the significance of a harmonious existence to reach collective awareness and achieve a higher goal, the purity of the soul within.”

“It is really honoring and humbling to be one of the first to share this project with our community,” the artist said in a statement. “I am grateful to Art Jameel and to all those who supported and encouraged me. I know that my participation in Hayy Jameel’s opening season will allow me to explore and push my practice; it is a great opportunity to learn more about and meet a wider circle of creatives. I hope that this work brings joy to the surrounding neighborhood of Hayy Jameel in Jeddah, and that the colors illuminate those who interact with it.”


‘Denia Dour’

The Tunisian duo — Sabrine Jenhani and Ramy Zoghlemi — will drop their hotly anticipated new album in March. Last month, they released this taster track; a typically melodic burst of bittersweet folk-pop in which the pair’s vocals play off each other beautifully. “After an eclipse that has now run its course, here comes the sun again and the rays of a new album,” the pair wrote on Instagram. “We worked hard, differently, with a team of generous and sensible people ... Your feedback was, as always, full of love and it is an honor for us. We will soon listen to more new songs together.”

‘Between the Sky and the Earth’

The Washington-based Middle East Institute, in partnership with the NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, is hosting this exhibition of contemporary art from the UAE to mark the country’s 50-year anniversary.

The show — which runs until March 31 — was curated by Munira Al-Sayegh and features the work of 12 artists based in the Emirates, but hailing from the Gulf, the Levant, Southeast Asia and the US. It is intended, according to the MEI, to “challenge standard narratives about the Emirates through an intergenerational dialogue exploring their social, cultural, and natural landscapes. Through works focusing on subjects like the environment, consumerism, and the impact of rapid urbanization, the featured artists explore themes of permanence and transience, time and memory.”

Afra Al-Dhaheri’s “St Ives Hair Drawing 8,” pictured here, illustrates the artist’s fascination with “the tensions imbued in hair,” which regularly inspires her work, through which, according to the MEI, “she explores notions of time and adaptation, rigor and fragility.”


‘Scarborough Fair’

The Lebanese singer-songwriter recently released a haunting cover of this traditional English folk ballad. “I really like this song, it brings me back to my roots and my musical upbringing,” Pol told Arab News. “I also like layering multiple vocal tracks and harmonies, so Ramzi (Khalaf, synth player) and I decided to record it just for the fun of it, since we both like this song and enjoy spending time at the studio.”

Swerte & Nutella Riot

‘That’s Just The Thing’

Lucky Schild, aka Swerte, is best known for his work as one-third of UAE hip-hop pioneers The Recipe, but his solo work has a more vulnerable, melodic bent, and works really well for this acoustic performance recorded as the first in a series by Dubai’s MNK Studios called “Big Red Wall.” Swerte is accompanied by Nutella Riot, a duo comprising guitarist Niki Mukhi and vocalist and musician Noush Anand, aka Noush Like Sploosh, who plays acoustic bass and mouth organ here.