Cardi B offers to pay funeral costs of Muslim Bronx fire victims

Cardi B offers to pay funeral costs of Muslim Bronx fire victims
The Bronx native offered to pay for the burial costs for the 17 victims of the New York fire. File/AFP
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Updated 20 January 2022

Cardi B offers to pay funeral costs of Muslim Bronx fire victims

Cardi B offers to pay funeral costs of Muslim Bronx fire victims

DUBAI: US rapper Cardi B has offered to pay for the funeral and burial costs for the 17 victims, most of whom were Muslim, who lost their lives in the Bronx fire that ripped through a New York city high-rise tower on Jan. 9.

Victims ranged in age from just two years old to 50.

The Grammy-winning rapper teamed up with The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City to offer financial support for victims of the fire in the Bronx, where she grew up, announced New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday.

Most of the victims killed in the fire were from the West African country of Gambia, and families of several of the victims planned to bury them in their homeland. Cardi B has offered to pay the repatriation expenses for the victims who will be buried in Gambia, the mayor’s office reported.

“I’m extremely proud to be from the Bronx and I have lots of family and friends who live and work there still. So, when I heard about the fire and all of the victims, I knew I needed to do something to help," Cardi B said in a statement to CNN. "I cannot begin to imagine the pain and anguish that the families of the victims are experiencing, but I hope that not having to worry about the costs associated with burying their loved ones will help as they move forward and heal. I send my prayers and condolences to everyone affected by this horrific tragedy,” she added.


From 4 million Tiktok followers to signing with Universal music, Egyptian singer Basmala Alaa is going places

From 4 million Tiktok followers to signing with Universal music, Egyptian singer Basmala Alaa is going places
Updated 9 sec ago

From 4 million Tiktok followers to signing with Universal music, Egyptian singer Basmala Alaa is going places

From 4 million Tiktok followers to signing with Universal music, Egyptian singer Basmala Alaa is going places

DUBAI: The 20-year-old Dubai-based Egyptian singer Basmala Alaa — who goes by the artist name Bsmalla — recently released her latest single on Universal Music MENA, having signed to the label after garnering more than 4 million followers on social-media platform TikTok over the past few years.

At first, Alaa didn’t sing in her TikTok videos, but — as she gained popularity, she decided to test the water with some covers of popular Arabic songs.

“I’ve been singing since I was 10 years old,” Alaa tells Arab News. “The older I got, the more my voice developed. My parents noticed it and would say: ‘This child has something special.’ They supported me a lot, but I was also training myself.” 

Self-taught Alaa might have inherited her love of music — and talent for it — from her father, who was in a band during his formative years in Egypt. “He made me listen to music and helped me understand music,” she says. 

“I will never forget how my family have always stood by me,” she continues. “Not many people have supportive families, so I want to thank mine.”

Alaa — who speaks with a noticeable Khaleeji accent, despite her Egyptian heritage, having grown up in the UAE — started posting videos of herself covering songs in a variety of Arabic dialects, from the Gulf to North Africa. Her followers were quick to praise her natural vocal ability. “What encouraged me was people’s comments, saying that my voice is exactly what you hear in the recording,” she says. “I’m not ‘faking’ my voice.” 

Self-taught Alaa might have inherited her love of music from her father, who was in a band during his formative years in Egypt. (Supplied)

Alaa says she’s a fan of Sherine Abdel-Wahab, Asala Nasri, and Kadim Al-Sahir, among others. As for Egyptian pop, she enjoys Tamer Hosny and Mohamed Hamaki.

Her own music isn’t easily classified. She has so far released six Arabic songs with Universal, in a variety of dialects and genres. “I’m exploring what people like. I like to impress my audience. I love it when they like what I’m doing,” she says. “The style of singing that I like may not resonate with people — I love classic, romantic, calm songs with a lot of emotion, but I noticed that my audience love, from me, songs that have more excitement and a love for life.”

Her latest, “Helo Moodak,” is a perfect example of the latter — a sweet pop song with a light-hearted video that includes touches of quirky animation with a comic-strip feel, stop-motion footage, and includes scenes of Alaa and a large cuddly toy that she’s alternately throwing around then hugging.

“It’s my favorite song so far,” Alaa tells Arab News. “It’s about a teenage girl who’s imagining being in love with someone. And that person is like her teddy bear.”

The song was written for her by lyricist Ehab Abdelazeem and composer Amr Al-Shazly. Alaa recalls feeling a little anxious during recording sessions, imagining how things would turn out.

“I’m not saying that I’m used to recording ‘officially’ yet, but I have recorded many songs. Still, there’s always that slight nervous feeling of thinking, ‘What will people say? What will their reaction be? How’s my voice? What about the video clip?’” 

As it turns out, her nerves were unfounded. The song has been well-received, and there are already plenty of people posting clips of them singing and dancing along to the catchy track.

“I see a lot of children playing my song and I see adults imitating them,” she says. “That makes me happy. It makes me smile.”

As a member of the so-called ‘Tiktok generation,’ Alaa’s story is somewhat akin to those of Lil Nas X and Olivia Rodrigo, who were also discovered through the video app. TikTok is unquestionably influencing the musical landscape, for better or worse. Alaa, perhaps unsurprisingly, prefers to see it in a positive light.  

“Tiktok is a platform for talent,” she explained. “Before I was on Tiktok, I was singing on other platforms, but Tiktok helped to show my talent more. People see me not just in one country, but all countries around the world.”

So far, Alaa has only performed online. She says she has turned down offers to do live performances, as she feels it’s still too early for her to take to the stage in the real world. “I want to establish myself more first, and I want to have a large repertory of songs,” she says.

The singer currently has 4.7 million followers on Tiktok, a statistic she’s still struggling to get her head around. “It’s a very strange feeling. I said to myself ‘Four million people on the planet are literally following me!’ But it’s a very nice feeling at the same time. I’m very happy and I aspire to have more followers,” she says. 

“Music is everything to me,” she continues. “Music always touches something in my heart. I would love to show people what’s in my heart through my music.”


US rapper 50 Cent to perform in Dubai in September

US rapper 50 Cent to perform in Dubai in September
Updated 18 min 35 sec ago

US rapper 50 Cent to perform in Dubai in September

US rapper 50 Cent to perform in Dubai in September
  • Grammy winner is on a world tour
  • Tickets available on July 12 and 13

DUBAI: US rapper 50 Cent is set to return to the UAE in September to perform at Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena.

As part of his Green Light Gang World Tour, the Grammy-winning singer, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, will meet his fans on Sept. 30.

Thomas Ovesen, the owner of TOP Entertainment and the tour’s promoter, said in a released statement: “We are delighted to be bringing what can only be described as rap royalty to the Coca-Cola Arena this September.”

“Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson is a pioneer in the industry and continues to reinvent himself year on year. Having seen the show myself this summer in Europe, I can tell you his fans are in for a real treat,” Ovesen added. “The tour is selling out record numbers across Europe and his performance here will be his biggest in the region to date.”

Tickets will be available for pre-sale on July 12 at 9 a.m. (Saudi time), while the general tickets will be sold on July 13 at 9 a.m. (Saudi time).

The rapper, famous for his hits “Candy Shop” and “I’m the Man,” is performing the weekend before Canadian superstar Justin Bieber hits the Coca-Cola Arena stage.

The “Yummy” hitmaker is expected to perform on Oct. 8 and 9.


Saudi model Amira Al-Zuhair hits Giorgio Armani, Giambattista Valli runways in Paris

Saudi model Amira Al-Zuhair hits Giorgio Armani, Giambattista Valli runways in Paris
Updated 06 July 2022

Saudi model Amira Al-Zuhair hits Giorgio Armani, Giambattista Valli runways in Paris

Saudi model Amira Al-Zuhair hits Giorgio Armani, Giambattista Valli runways in Paris

DUBAI: Saudi model Amira Al-Zuhair is taking the fashion industry by storm. 

This week, the rising catwalk star, who is signed to Elite Model Management agency, walked the runway for Rome-based brand Giambattista Valli, Italian fashion house Giorgio Armani and Lebanese designer Georges Hobeika during Paris Haute Couture Week, running until July 7. 

On Tuesday, she wore a voluminous high-low brown dress for the Giambattista Valli show.

During the Armani runway presentation, Al-Zuhair stepped out in a purple-blue set with a glitzy blazer tied with a colorful bow at the waist and oversized trousers. 

She shared a behind-the-scenes picture with her followers on Instagram.  

After the show, she wrote: “Thank you for this magical moment,” tagging renowned designer Giorgio Armani’s page. 

On the first day of couture week, Al-Zuhair wore a multi-colored piece that featured a blue top with floor-grazing sleeves and a two-toned embellished skirt. 

The model, who is based between Paris and London, has already appeared in campaigns for high-end brands like Burberry and Tiffany & Co. 

Al-Zuahir is not the only Arab star who is making headlines at Paris Haute Couture Week. 

On Wednesday, US Dutch Palestinian supermodel Bella Hadid walked in the star-studded Balenciaga show along with A-list celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Dua Lipa, Naomi Campbell and Nicole Kidman.  

Hadid wore a green mini dress with a train of structured floor-length fabric.


Saudi filmmaker Ahd Kamel’s ‘Sanctity’ to be part of Netflix’s ‘Because She Created’ collection 

Saudi filmmaker Ahd Kamel’s ‘Sanctity’ to be part of Netflix’s ‘Because She Created’ collection 
Updated 06 July 2022

Saudi filmmaker Ahd Kamel’s ‘Sanctity’ to be part of Netflix’s ‘Because She Created’ collection 

Saudi filmmaker Ahd Kamel’s ‘Sanctity’ to be part of Netflix’s ‘Because She Created’ collection 

DUBAI: Saudi filmmaker Ahd Kamel’s short movie “Sanctity” is joining Netflix’s curated collection “Because She Created,” which features 21 Arab films by female directors. 

The collection — which spans various genres, including documentaries, drama and romance — features films that are new to Netflix and will be released on July 7.

It includes the works of critically acclaimed Algerian, Egyptian, Jordanian, Kuwaiti, Lebanese, Moroccan, Palestinian, Saudi, Sudanese, Syrian and Tunisian filmmakers.

The new collection celebrates the creativity of the Arab world’s female storytellers and aims to give more people a chance to see their lives reflected on screen. 

Jeddah-born Kamel’s short film “Sanctity,” which was released in 2013, focuses on social traditions that make friendships between men and women seem abnormal. She explores the concept through a story about a young Saudi widow who tries to protect her unborn child. 

“Sanctity” was nominated for a Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2013. 

Another film to be featured in the “Because She Created” category includes “Stateless” by Moroccan filmmaker Nariss Nejjar, which tells the story of a 35-year-old woman who is haunted by the memory of her childhood being ripped away from her when she was estranged from her family and forced into exile in Morocco. 

Algerian filmmaker Latifa Said’s 2019 movie “The Room” tells the story of an Algerian expatriate who discovers who her father really is after he passes away, through his objects and the things he owns. 

Meanwhile, Fatma Zamoun’s multi-character drama “Parkour,” which is set in Algeria, essays a couple preparing for their wedding before things take an unexpected turn.

These films are joined by “Bint Werdan,” an office comedy by Kuwaiti filmmaker Maysaa Almunin, and “Selma’s Home,” a family drama by Jordanian filmmaker Hanadi Elyan, among others. 

“We’re proud to be telling more stories by Arab filmmakers that can resonate with women from all walks of life and from around the world. Together, their voices provide inspiration for the wider creative community, while highlighting the importance of equitable representation in storytelling, and why it matters,” Nuha El-Tayeb, director of content acquisitions for Netflix MENA and Turkey, said in a released statement.


Princess Iman of Jordan engaged to Jameel Alexander Thermiotis

Princess Iman of Jordan engaged to Jameel Alexander Thermiotis
Updated 06 July 2022

Princess Iman of Jordan engaged to Jameel Alexander Thermiotis

Princess Iman of Jordan engaged to Jameel Alexander Thermiotis

DUBAI: Princess Iman bint Abdullah II of Jordan is engaged to Jameel Alexander Thermiotis, her mother Queen Rania announced on Wednesday. 

Princess Iman is the eldest daughter of King Abdullah II and Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan while Thermiotis is a managing partner at a New York based Venture Capital fund. He was born in Caracas, Venezuela, in 1994, but is of Greek descent, according to Hello magazine. 

“Congratulations my dearest Iman; your smile has always been a gift of love that I’ve cherished since the day you were born. I wish you and Jameel a life filled with love and laughter!” Queen Rania shared on social media. 

Meanwhile, the official announcement read: “The Royal Hashemite Court is pleased to announce the engagement of Her Royal Highness Princess Iman bint Abdullah II to Mr. Jameel Alexander Thermiotis, on Tuesday, 5 July 2022, in the presence of Their Majesties King Abdullah II and Queen Rania Al Abdullah, as well as Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Al-Hussein bin Abdullah II, Prince Hashem bin Abdullah II, and Princess Salma bint Abdullah II, in addition to members of Mr. Thermiotis’ family.