Russell Peters leaves Saudi crowd in tears of laughter

Canadian comedian Russell Peters visited the Al-Jadidah Arts District of AlUla Old Town to explore its galleries and sculpture installations. (Supplied)
Canadian comedian Russell Peters visited the Al-Jadidah Arts District of AlUla Old Town to explore its galleries and sculpture installations. (Supplied)
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Updated 19 February 2022

Russell Peters leaves Saudi crowd in tears of laughter

Canadian comedian Russell Peters visited the Al-Jadidah Arts District of AlUla Old Town to explore its galleries and sculpture installations. (Supplied)
  • Canadian comic star expressed his excitement about being back in Kingdom, even if it was just before his wedding on the other side of the world
  • Even three days before my wedding, I still came to Saudi Arabia. I really missed Saudi, I had such a good time when I came before

RIYADH: Canadian comedian Russell Peters performed at AlUla’s Maraya Theater on Friday, days before his wedding in Los Angeles.

“I am just happy to be back, I’m literally very happy to be back. Here’s how you know I am happy to be back: I’m getting married on Sunday and I’m going to be here on Friday,” he told Arab News.

The comedian expressed his excitement about being back in the Kingdom, even if it was just before his wedding on the other side of the world.

“Even three days before my wedding, I still came to Saudi Arabia. I really missed Saudi, I had such a good time when I came before.”

He left Friday’s crowd in tears of laughter during his show from the “Act Your Age” world tour. The show is about getting older and the experiences with the new world and new generations.

“I will be 52 this year, so to call myself middle aged would mean that I am living to 104, and I definitely don’t want to live to 104. It’s about me being closer to dementia than to anything else and dealing with the new world that we are living in.”

He talked about his previous performance in the Kingdom, which was six years ago in Riyadh.

HIGHLIGHT

Russell Peters, who was recently named as one of Rolling Stone’s top 50 best comedians, explained what his mental preparation was before each show to connect with the crowd. He said he was keen to come back to the region, especially the Kingdom, because of his large fan base. He has also performed in the UAE, Egypt, and Jordan.

“I came here in January of 2016, and we did a show in the middle of the desert near Riyadh. It was pretty amazing. And, at that time, women were not allowed to drive, and I came back six years later, and bam, you’re driving. I was sad to not have been here in so long, so when they asked me if I wanted to come back, I immediately said yes.”


He said he was keen to come back to the region, especially the Kingdom, because of his large fan base. He has also performed in the UAE, Egypt, and Jordan.
“Some of my strongest supporters come from the Middle East; they are always there for me, so I will always be there for them.”
He explained that on this trip he would not, unfortunately, have the chance to visit the capital to see the changes that had taken place in the city as his performance was in AlUla.
“I haven’t gone to Riyadh on this trip, but the cool part is I am getting to see parts of the country that I never knew existed. This is a pretty incredible place to be in right now. We are staying in this beautiful resort and we are surrounded by these amazing mountains and rock structures.”
Maraya is covered with 9,740-mirrored panels that reflect AlUla’s historical and natural landscapes.
“I can literally sit there and just stare at it because it’s like staring into the past,” he remarked.
He said he liked to make his shows personal and individual to the country he was traveling to so that his set did not feel like a by-rote comedy video that people were watching online.
“You want it to feel special as a comic who has been doing it for 33 years. It’s just what I do, I like to add a few local references here and there.”
Peters, who was recently named as one of Rolling Stone’s top 50 best comedians, explained what his mental preparation was before each show to connect with the crowd.
“When I leave America, I have to wrap my head around the fact that I have to look at the rest of the world with the same eyes as the people I am performing in front of. I realized I made that mistake a few months ago when I first went back to the region.”
And his references and personal anecdotes cannot be the same for each country. “I was doing the act wrong,” he added. “When I have jokes about (DNA genetic testing firm) 23andMe and Ancestry.com those make a lot of sense in America. Over here, everyone knows what they are.”
He said that if he were to ask the audience if they had ever used Ancestry.com they would ask why as their family had never left the country and had no reason to use the website.
The comedian said he wanted to connect with the audience and create personal connections so that people could enjoy the show even more.
He had time to visit the Al-Jadidah Arts District of AlUla Old Town to explore its galleries and sculpture installations.

When asked if Saudi Arabia could expect future appearances from him, he gave a positively enthusiastic response.

“I definitely want to go back to Riyadh, and I have never been to Jeddah, so I would like to go there as well. I am lucky enough to be performing in AlUla now, so we will knock that out of the park and then come back and dip into Riyadh and Jeddah.”

His performance was part of AlUla’s Art Festival, which began on Feb. 13 and runs until March 31.

 


US actress Lindsay Lohan calls Arab fiance ‘husband’ and leaves fans confused

US actress Lindsay Lohan calls Arab fiance ‘husband’ and leaves fans confused
Updated 02 July 2022

US actress Lindsay Lohan calls Arab fiance ‘husband’ and leaves fans confused

US actress Lindsay Lohan calls Arab fiance ‘husband’ and leaves fans confused

DUBAI: US actress Lindsay Lohan this week called her fiance Bader Shammas her “husband” in a heartfelt message she shared on Instagram. 

The “Mean Girls” star, who is based in Dubai, shared a picture of her and Shammas, a financier, with her 10.9 million followers and wrote: “I am the luckiest woman in the world. You found me and knew that I wanted to find happiness and grace, all at the same time.

“I am stunned that you are my husband. My life and my everything. Every woman should feel like this everyday,” the singer and songwriter wrote.  

After sharing her post on Saturday, the star sparked speculation that she had married in secret. 

Regardless, fans quickly congratulated the star in the comments. 

Lohan has not yet confirmed the news.

The Hollywood star announced her engagement in November, posting a series of snaps that showed off her diamond engagement ring.

Lohan and Shammas were first spotted together at a music festival in Dubai shortly before the pandemic hit in 2020.

In May 2020, Lohan’s mother, Dina Lohan, spoke about Shammas, saying: “Lindsay is dating a wonderful guy right now, but that’s neither here nor there. When she’s ready to talk about her personal life, she will.”


Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram teases collaboration with US DJ Marshmello

Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram teases collaboration with US DJ Marshmello
Updated 02 July 2022

Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram teases collaboration with US DJ Marshmello

Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram teases collaboration with US DJ Marshmello

DUBAI: Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram this week teased an upcoming collaboration with US music producer Marshmello.

The superstar took to Instagram to share a picture of herself with the DJ, who was in his usual custom white helmet resembling a marshmello, in a recoding studio.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Nancy Ajram (@nancyajram)

Ajram captioned the post: “Sah Sah,” meaning “true true” in English. This hints that this could possibly be the title of the duo’s new song.

Marshmello shared a short clip on Instagram of him playing the stringed qanun instrument. His post was also captioned “Sah Sah.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by marshmello (@marshmello)

Ajram shared Marshmello’s reel and wrote to her 33 million followers: “Soon.”

Fans quickly responded to the stars’ posts and expressed their excitement for the new track.

“What a collab,” wrote one fan on Instagram, while another said: “Can’t wait!”


NYU Abu Dhabi Gallery to host first-of-its-kind show on Gulf modern art 

NYU Abu Dhabi Gallery to host first-of-its-kind show on Gulf modern art 
Updated 02 July 2022

NYU Abu Dhabi Gallery to host first-of-its-kind show on Gulf modern art 

NYU Abu Dhabi Gallery to host first-of-its-kind show on Gulf modern art 

DUBAI: The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery is set to stage an exhibition documenting modern art movements in the Arabian Peninsula in September. 

Widely regarded as a first-of-its-kind show, the exhibition is titled “Khaleej Modern: Pioneers and Collectives in the Arabian Peninsula, 1941-2008” and will run from Sept. 6-Dec. 11. 

Hassan Sharif, ‘Bakh Bakh,’ 1985. (Supplied)

Curated by Aisha Stoby, who helmed the inaugural Oman Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale, the show is a historical survey of twentieth century modern art movements across the Arabian Peninsula, collectively known in Arabic as the “Khaleej.”

The show will introduce modern audiences to the collectives that sprang up in the 20th and 21st centuries, including Kuwait’s Al-Mubarakiya School, which has been active since 1941, and Saudi artists Mohammed Racim (1911-1974), Mounirah Mosly, Safeya Binzagr, Abdulhalim Al-Radwi and Abdullah Al-Shaikh. The show also features work by Mohammed Al-Saleem and Abdulrahman Alsoliman from The Saudi House of Fine Arts in Riyadh.

By the 1950s, Bahrainʼs Manama Group had formed, with the following two decades seeing the emergence of Qatar’s The Three Friends collective and the UAE’s Group of Five, in addition to pioneering solo artists — all of which will be represented during the upcoming showcase. 

Ibrahim Ismail, ‘Building of Ships,’ 1966. (Supplied)

“An exhibition like this is quite rare, a kind of opening salvo and call to action, offering new vistas on art history and art practice in this region Executive Director of The NYUAD Art Gallery Maya Allison said in a released statement. “Rather than a definitive survey, this project sets us on a journey to explore the under-studied — and, for some people, unknown — emergence of modern art in the Arabian Peninsula over the last century. It is a profound honor that Dr. Stoby will present her original research with us, in this exhibition that was many years in the making. I thank her for partnering with us for this crucial, pathbreaking project.”

For her part, curator Stoby noted that “many of the works in this exhibition will be on view for the first time in decades… enhanced by the presence of rare and archival material, ‘Khaleej Modern’ creates a space and offers resources for learning and re-understanding our own histories. More broadly, we hope the exhibition will contribute to wider regional and global understandings of modern visual art.”


Childhood memories of Hajj pilgrimages inspire Saudi filmmaker’s latest project

Saudi filmmaker Mujtaba Saeed is currently developing a script that draws heavily on his relationship with Makkah. (SPA)
Saudi filmmaker Mujtaba Saeed is currently developing a script that draws heavily on his relationship with Makkah. (SPA)
Updated 02 July 2022

Childhood memories of Hajj pilgrimages inspire Saudi filmmaker’s latest project

Saudi filmmaker Mujtaba Saeed is currently developing a script that draws heavily on his relationship with Makkah. (SPA)
  • Mujtaba Saeed’s script draws parallels between Makkah and Berlin, and explores the contrasts between traditional values and the modern world

RIYADH: Saudi filmmaker Mujtaba Saeed’s relationship with Makkah began at an early age. He fondly recalls family journeys to the vibrant city for Umrah or Hajj, surrounded by people of all ethnicities and nationalities who gathered at the holy place for one common purpose.

He paints a picture of childhood road trips across the multi-toned sand dunes of Saudi Arabia as buses passed by carrying strangers from all walks of life, all chanting the same prayer in a united voice.

Saeed remembers the journeys from his childhood home in the city of Saihat, in the Eastern Province, to the Hijaz region in the west of the country as being full of excitement and marvel.

Mujtaba Saeed’s 2021 film ‘Zawal’ won a Golden Palm award for Best Short Film at the Saudi Film Festival, and a Golden Sail award
at the Gulf Radio and Television Festival, which took place in Bahrain. (Supplied)

“It was filled with adventure,” he told Arab News. “From a child’s perspective, it was a long trip that never ends. My relationship with Makkah was the idea of traveling to a place.”

The screenwriter and director is currently developing a script that draws heavily on his relationship with the holy city, which was a big part of his life until he moved to Germany as a young adult to continue his education.

“After that, I didn’t visit (Makkah) for a while but the memories remained,” he said. “I consider (the memories) things that open up questions related to time, connection and the act of travel … I think it’s similar to any Saudi’s relationship to Makkah.”

HIGHLIGHT

Mujtaba Saeed remembers the journeys from his childhood home in the city of Saihat, in the Eastern Province, to the Hijaz region in the west of the country as being full of excitement and marvel. Saeed, who now splits his time between residences in Berlin and Saudi Arabia, said these emotions and his experiences with the holy city are what inspired his latest script.

He added that the city is a focus for the many individuals and families who visit it as pilgrims throughout their lives.

“I think I grew up with these visuals and they’re filled with emotions; Makkah is a place filled with emotions for me,” he explained.

Saeed’s other projects include ‘Drowning’ or ‘Gharaq,’ which recently won the Best Feature Film Script award at the Saudi Film Festival. (Supplied)

Saeed, who now splits his time between residences in Berlin and Saudi Arabia, said these emotions and his experiences with the holy city are what inspired his latest script. It is still a work in progress but he is determined to share its story not only with fellow Saudis but audiences around the world.

“It’s up to everyone to try to engage and integrate with different cultures,” he said. “I think what’s inside us as humans and what motivates us as people is all one.”

The script reflects Saeed’s own life as it revolves around two cities: Makkah and Berlin. Though there are many differences between them there are also similarities, not least a transient nature, with people constantly coming and going: Pilgrims in Makkah, and tourists and students in Berlin.

Saudi filmmaker Mujtaba Saeed.

“These two places are directions (Qiblatan) for many people in the world, so I’m trying to search for the contrasts between the two and how that contrast affects the characters,” he said.

“For me, it’s also really important to see how this young city of Berlin opens up questions for anyone who visits it … questions that relate to our relationships with our bodies, and our connection to ourselves and others.”

Saeed said the search for answers to these questions by the characters in the story creates the conflict that is essential in any drama.

He added that his aim with the script is to explore the contrast between notions relating to the traditional values of “old society” and the modern, globalized world. More importantly, he said, it considers whether diverse groups of individuals, each with their own dynamic and colorful backgrounds, can coexist safely in one place.

“In Makkah, this equation exists,” said Saeed. “From the time I left to study in Germany and then worked there, there was care in a city that was also global. But still, there remains the important question: How can you amplify other voices there?”

He said he feels a responsibility as an artist to amplify voices that often go unheard. As the development of arts and entertainment in the Kingdom continues, as part of which the country aims to become a regional hub for cinema, filmmaking and broader forms of cultural exchange, he believes the growth of Saudi cinema offers an ideal opportunity to achieve that goal.

“At this stage of national renaissance, where we are giving a voice to Saudi cinema, we need, in addition to the work that the Saudi film commission does to develop regulated creations, to have an interest in more collaborative efforts, whether that’s with Europe, India, or other counties,” Saeed said.

“I think cinema will become our language — and it’s a universal language — in the coming years.

“The importance of the European Film Festival in Riyadh is something we can’t argue about and I think it’s important to focus on presenting diverse cinematic content.”

The inaugural EFF, which aimed to promote European cinema and encourage the building of contacts between filmmakers in Europe and Saudi Arabia, took place between June 15 and 22. Saeed believes it was important in terms of helping to bridge cultural gaps and encouraging ongoing communication.

“I don’t think the festival presented films that are new to this audience, because the Saudi audience greatly follows (cinema), but it’s important for European filmmakers to meet this audience,” he said.

Saeed’s other current projects include a screenplay titled “Gharaq,” which translates as “Drowning,” which in June won the Best Feature Film Script award at the 2022 Saudi Film Festival. Saeed said that it explores the duality of forgiveness and revenge, adding: “A person can’t be free unless he forgives.”

The film is prepping for production, with filming due to take place in the east of the Kingdom. He is hopeful it will be a Saudi-German co-production.

Saeed’s 2021 film “Zawal” won a Golden Palm award for Best Short Film at the Saudi Film Festival, and a Golden Sail award at the Gulf Radio and Television Festival, which took place in Bahrain between June 21 and 23. It tells the story of an 8-year-old boy who lives with his mother in a refugee camp under quarantine following the outbreak of a mystery pandemic.


Saranghae KSA festival unites K-pop fans in Jeddah

Performing on the festival's opening day, EPEX and Ateez greeted the audience in Arabic and Korean. (Supplied)
Performing on the festival's opening day, EPEX and Ateez greeted the audience in Arabic and Korean. (Supplied)
Updated 02 July 2022

Saranghae KSA festival unites K-pop fans in Jeddah

Performing on the festival's opening day, EPEX and Ateez greeted the audience in Arabic and Korean. (Supplied)
  • The Consulate General of Korea in Jeddah delievered a one-of-kind Korean experience, offering to photograph fans wearing traditional Korean outfits, as well as providing cooking demonstrations

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia's first K-pop festival, Saranghae KSA 22, brought fans from a wide range of backgrounds together under the roof of the Jeddah Superdome for a three-day celebration of Korean music and culture.

K-pop installations, an Umbrella Boulevard and a Cherry Blossoms Avenue provided picture-perfect backgrounds for fans, who were also given a taste of Korean cuisine at stalls selling a range of Korean favorites.

One audience member, Ghazal Mazen, 16, said that she grew up listening to Korean songs because of her older sisters, and has been a fan of Ateez since early 2020.

“I really can’t describe how I feel now. It feels like a dream I have been waiting to live in real life,” she said.

High-quality screens ensured fans were able to see their favorite performers, while a screen suspended from the middle of the dome displayed images taken by audience members at the photo booth, as well as short clips of the bands.

The Consulate General of Korea in Jeddah delievered a one-of-kind Korean experience, offering to photograph fans wearing traditional Korean outfits, as well as providing cooking demonstrations.

Performing on the festival's opening day, EPEX and Ateez greeted the audience in Arabic and Korean.

Both bands took a break to meet the audience and answer questions from fans.

On Wednesday, EPEX enjoyed the festive vibe of Jeddah Season by visiting the Historical Jeddah zone, walking through museums and the house of horror, playing games, and winning prizes.

Fans of Ateez spotted the band members shopping at the Red Sea Mall on the same day.

Saturday will mark the last day of the festival with Monsta X and Verivery.