Meet Saudi beauty guru Hessa Alajaji: The face behind Han Makeup

Meet Saudi beauty guru Hessa Alajaji: The face behind Han Makeup
Alajaji first gained popularity on social media, where beauty lovers flocked to her Instagram account for creative shots of colorful, otherworldly makeup looks and sneak peaks of the artist’s life. (Instagram)
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Updated 21 January 2022

Meet Saudi beauty guru Hessa Alajaji: The face behind Han Makeup

Meet Saudi beauty guru Hessa Alajaji: The face behind Han Makeup

DUBAI: Saudi makeup artist Hessa Alajaji’s beauty brand Han Makeup, which she has been working on since 2017, is finally here much to the delight of makeup aficionados. 

“Our goal is to have a brand that covers all the products that anyone would need when doing their makeup,” said the content creator who co-founded the brand in an interview with Arab News. “We have started with makeup brushes as we have noticed a lack of sets that give you the requirements that you need.”

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by HESSA ALAJAJI (@han.alajaji)

Alajaji first gained popularity on social media, where beauty lovers flocked to her Instagram account for creative shots of colorful, otherworldly makeup looks and sneak peaks of the artist’s life. With more than 35,000 followers on Instagram, it was time for the creative talent to translate her know-how into a business.  

The pandemic slowed down the artist’s production plan, but she said it allowed her to test the brushes with several leading makeup artists and users who “all praised the quality” of her set. 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by HAN (@han.makeup)

Priced at 450 SAR, the set features 10 brushes that will help makeup lovers create knife-sharp eyeliner looks, natural looking eyebrows, and softly blended eyeshadows.

The set, which is made out of natural and synthetic hair, also has larger tools that can be used to contour, highlight, conceal or to apply foundation.   

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by HESSA ALAJAJI (@han.alajaji)

The feedback on her release “exceeded” her expectations. “Clients loved the brush set and we have been receiving amazing feedback. We love that our brushes were a part of the most memorable moments of our clients like their wedding day, engagement party, New Year’s Eve, etc.,” she said.

The Riyadh-based entrepreneur, who has collaborated with international brands like Sephora, is currently working on developing three new products. “We want to venture into cosmetics in 2022 and launch a few products,” she teased. 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by HESSA ALAJAJI (@han.alajaji)

As of now, her products are not manufactured in Saudi Arabia, but the beauty guru said she hopes to produce her brand in her home country one day. 

“We secure different samples from factories across the world like Italy, Korea, China, etc., and we proceed with the best quality we get. Quality is the determining factor not location nor the “made in” label,” she added. 

Alajaji said she has always had a passion for arts. “That passion grew with me as I got older and I started discovering makeup when I was in high school. I fell in love with it from the beginning as it allowed me to express my creativity and art,” she said.


Zelenskyy opens Cannes Film Festival, links war and cinema

Zelenskyy opens Cannes Film Festival, links war and cinema
Updated 40 sec ago

Zelenskyy opens Cannes Film Festival, links war and cinema

Zelenskyy opens Cannes Film Festival, links war and cinema

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.

“The cinema remains the final art,” said Fremaux.


Supermodel Irina Shayk has starring role in Saudi-Iraqi singer’s new music video

Supermodel Irina Shayk has starring role in Saudi-Iraqi singer’s new music video
Updated 17 May 2022

Supermodel Irina Shayk has starring role in Saudi-Iraqi singer’s new music video

Supermodel Irina Shayk has starring role in Saudi-Iraqi singer’s new music video

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.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by irinashayk (@irinashayk)

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

Exclusive: Netflix’s Tinder Swindler stars recount transformation from victim to inspiration for women
Updated 17 May 2022

Exclusive: Netflix’s Tinder Swindler stars recount transformation from victim to inspiration for women

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

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.

Israeli national Shimon Hayut used the Tinder app to scam unsuspecting victims. 

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.

From 2017 to 2019, Shimon Hayut used the dating app Tinder to swindle about $10 million from women around the world. (Shutterstock)

“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.

“Please, report it.”


‘Oussekine’: An immensely sad story of racist brutality

‘Oussekine’: An immensely sad story of racist brutality
Updated 16 May 2022

‘Oussekine’: An immensely sad story of racist brutality

‘Oussekine’: An immensely sad story of racist brutality

CHENNAI: Antoine Chevrollier’s four-part miniseries, “Oussekine,” is a dramatization of a ghastly event that happened one night in the center of Paris.

Malik Oussekine, barely into his twenties, meets a terrible end when policemen on motorcycles chase him into a building and brutally beat him to death. He had no criminal record, no political affiliations or sympathies. But he was an Algerian Muslim.

The series follows the Oussekine family, of a mother and her five children, who had left Algeria and made France their home, soon becoming citizens. They are proud and happy to be French, but are never allowed to forget that they are from another country.

The series follows the Oussekine family, of a mother and her five children. Supplied

The first episode of “Oussekine” begins on the evening of Dec. 5, 1986. While students are demonstrating on the streets of Paris against the Devaquet law, Malik Oussekine (Sayyid El Alami) is watching a concert by Nina Simone in Saint-Germain-des-Pres. He is excited about it, and before leaving home gently refuses to have the potato wedges his mother, Aicha (Hiam Abbass), has made. He says he would be late for the event and rushes out.

Post-concert, he is walking back home, happy about the entire evening, when he finds himself chased by police officers on motorcycles. He runs away and takes refuge inside a building, but a couple of men in uniform get inside and brutally beat him. Later as the episodes unfold, we learn all about the disillusionment, frustration and anger that are rampant in the force. And Malik was an unfortunate victim who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Hiam Abbass portrays the student's mother. Supplied

The death is revealed in layers over the episodes, each about 60 minutes. Chevrollier packs in enough surprises to keep us glued to our TV sets, but the series does have its weak moments, giving us a feeling that it is not flowing as easily as it ought to be with some flashbacks appearing a bit confusing. The courtroom scenes are often listless, the only dramatic high coming from Malik’s sister, Sarah (Mouna Soualem), who at one point tells the two accused police officers not to dare look her in the eye. Some of the retorts made by the lawyer for the Oussekine family, Georges Kiejman (Kad Merad), are pointed and damning. Is this country not founded on the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity, he asks.

While Malik’s other siblings, Mohamed, Benamar and Fatna, make little or no impression, it is Sarah who is unforgiving. “Why are the accused not in handcuffs?” she questions the lawyer. Closest to her brother, she is as devastated as her mother, and the two actresses brilliantly convey a sense of immense sadness and helplessness.

Yet, the series does not moralize. Rather, it reminds us that life must continue. Acceptance is perhaps the greatest balm.


British-Moroccan model Nora Attal is Tiffany & Co.’s newest campaign star

British-Moroccan model Nora Attal is Tiffany & Co.’s newest campaign star
Updated 16 May 2022

British-Moroccan model Nora Attal is Tiffany & Co.’s newest campaign star

British-Moroccan model Nora Attal is Tiffany & Co.’s newest campaign star

DUBAI: Luxury jewelry house Tiffany & Co. teamed up with British-Moroccan model Nora Attal for its striking Elsa Peretti Bean Designs collection lensed by fashion photographer Sharif Hamza. In charge of creative direction was Ruba Abu-Nimah.

In the campaign video and photos, Attal is seen wearing dramatic statement pieces from the luxury jewelry brand’s latest offering designed by the late Italian jewelry designer whose creations for Tiffany & Co. are showcased in the collections of several art institutions, including the 20th century collection of the British Museum.

Attal dons hand-carved green jade and 18k gold necklaces and bean-shaped pendants adorned with silk cords, nets and tassels handwoven by artisans in Japan.

Peretti, who died in 2021, created her famous Bean design for Tiffany & Co. in 1974 during her first few years with the house. The jeweler saw the bean, a seed, as a symbol of life’s origins. Over the years, the bean motif has been reimagined at Tiffany & Co., from pendants and clutches to earrings, bracelets and other accessories. 

Speaking about the collection, Alexandre Arnault, executive vice president of product and communications at Tiffany & Co., said “Elsa Peretti’s legacy in the world of design and fashion cannot be overstated. The reintroduction of Peretti’s ‘Bean’ designs allows us to honor her creative influence using the same materials and forms that you see throughout her design vocabulary to expand on one of her most celebrated collections.”

Meanwhile, the campaigns just keep on rolling in for the London-born beauty.

Attal has had a busy 2022 so far, adding a number of advertorials to her ever-growing portfolio.

The 22-year-old fashion star recently fronted US fashion label Ralph Lauren’s adverts for Eid Al-Fitr alongside her family.

In the campaign video, the model appeared with her fiancé, cinematographer Victor Bastidas, her parents Charlie and Bouchra Attal, and her two siblings. 

She also starred in the campaign for H&M’s spring 2022 collection.

More recently, the model walked for Chanel’s grand prix-inspired cruise 2023 collection in front of a star-studded front row in Monaco earlier this month.

She appeared on the catwalk wearing a flowing monochrome dress printed with checkered racing flags and matched with a black, waist-cinching belt and a crossbody bag.