Arab fans react as K-Pop’s BTS announces break to ‘figure things out’

Arab fans react as K-Pop’s BTS announces break to ‘figure things out’
The seven members of BTS told fans that they were “exhausted” and needed time apart. (AFP)
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Updated 30 June 2022

Arab fans react as K-Pop’s BTS announces break to ‘figure things out’

Arab fans react as K-Pop’s BTS announces break to ‘figure things out’

DUBAI: K-Pop megastars BTS told fans they were taking a break from the supergroup to focus on their solo careers, citing exhaustion and the pressures of stratospheric success in an emotional video appearance - and Arab fans have flooded social media platforms in light of the news.

The Grammy-nominated septet’s label HYBE pushed back on Wednesday as their share price went into freefall, telling AFP that the pop juggernaut would still be working together.

The seven members of BTS, credited with generating billions of dollars for the South Korean economy, dropped the bombshell on Tuesday, telling fans that they were “exhausted” and needed time apart.

“We’re going into an off phase now,” said Suga, 29, speaking Korean to his bandmates at a group dinner, a video of which was posted to the group’s official YouTube channel.

The clip included English subtitles, which used the word “hiatus,” but HYBE quickly disputed that, saying group activities would not be suspended.

“They will be doing team and individual projects simultaneously,” a representative for the label, whose share price was down 27 percent early Wednesday, told AFP.

In the video, RM, 27, said they were "exhausted" and that they “didn't know what kind of group we were anymore.”

“The problem with K-pop and the whole idol system is that they don’t give you time to mature,” he said, referring to South Korea's notoriously hard-driving music business model.

“Somehow, it’s become my job to be a rapping machine,” he said, adding that this made him feel “trapped.”

“I wanted to shed that for a little bit, but the world wouldn’t let me be.”

Jimin, 26, said the members are “slowly trying to figure things out now.”

“I think that’s why we’re going through a rough patch right now, we’re trying to find our identity and that's an exhausting and long process.”

By the end of the dinner, several of the members of the group behind “Dynamite” and “Butter” had grown tearful as they voiced gratitude for their supporters, a fandom known online as the “ARMY.”

J-Hope, 28, said the group “should spend some time apart to learn how to be one again.”

“I hope you don’t see this is a negative thing,” the artist implored fans. “And see that it’s a healthy plan.”

“It’s not that we’re disbanding – we’re just living apart for a while,” said Suga.

Jungkook, 24, said, “we promise we will return someday even more mature than we are now,” and asked for the “blessing” of fans.

The group’s Arab fan base’s online reaction was tearful but supportive, with tens of thousands of comments quickly posted on Twitter.

“I was studying and took a break on Tik Tok. I read BTS broke up and I don’t know why I started crying,” tweeted a fan, while another said: “It’s nice that BTS is taking a break to rest, but I didn’t like that everyone has a solo and they won’t come back as a group until after a while… its sad I swear.”

“The thing is, as much as BTS need this break a few army pages on here do too: translators, chart pages… even fanbases,” tweeted one user. “They work endlessly to pump content for us all so I hope with this they’ll be able to find balance or even take up some things that they’ve been holding back on.”

Another supporter tried comforting fans by saying: “BTS will not break up or take a break. They will work on their individual and collective projects, but the focus will be on their individual work mostly, and this is only for a certain time.”

BTS has said they were going on short breaks before, first in 2019 and later in December 2021.

The news comes just days after the group released “Proof,” an anthology album that included a new single, “Yet To Come (The Most Beautiful Moment).”

(With AFP)


Qatar to transform into outdoor art museum ahead of FIFA World Cup 2022

Qatar to transform into outdoor art museum ahead of FIFA World Cup 2022
Richard Serra's 'East-West, West-East.' (Supplied)
Updated 23 min 54 sec ago

Qatar to transform into outdoor art museum ahead of FIFA World Cup 2022

Qatar to transform into outdoor art museum ahead of FIFA World Cup 2022

DUBAI: Ahead of the fast-approaching FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Qatar Museums has announced an expansive public art program that will be rolled out not just in the capital city of Doha but throughout the country. The nation’s public spaces — parks, shopping zones, rail stations, hotel plazas, cultural institutions, Hamad International Airport and the eight World Cup 2022 stadiums — will be transformed into a “vast outdoor art museum,” with 40 new pieces being added to the already existing 70 pieces across the country.

Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, chairperson of Qatar Museums, said in a statement, “The addition of 40 new, major works of public art this fall is a significant milestone for Qatar’s public art program. Public art is one of our most prominent demonstrations of cultural exchange, where we present works from artists of all nationalities and backgrounds. From the arrivals at the best airport in the world — Hamad International Airport — to every neighborhood in our nation, public art is there to make your experience unique."

 

 

Comprised of more than 100 artworks, the public art extravaganza will feature 40 new and commissioned pieces. New works from international heavyweights will include artists Olafur Eliasson, Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama, KAWS, Rashid Johnson, Ernesto Neto, Lawrence Weiner, Faye Toogood, Katharina Fritsch, and others.

Qatari and MENA region artists whose work will be presented in the public art program include Adel Abidin, Ahmed Al-Bahrani, Shouq Al-Mana, Shua’a Al-Muftah, Salman Al-Malek, Monira Al-Qadiri, Simone Fattal and Faraj Daham.

 

 

According to a press release shared by Qatar Museums, the country was among the first in the region to establish a public art program, which currently includes works from Richard Serra, Tom Claaseen, Bruce Nauman, Louise Bourgeois, Urs Fischer, Subodh Gupta, Dia Al-Azzawi and others.

“Qatar Museums’ public art program, more than anything else, serves as a reminder that art is all around us, not confined to museums and galleries, and can be enjoyed and celebrated whether you are going to work, or school, or the desert or the beach,” said Abdulrahman Ahmed Al-Ishaq, Qatar Museums’ Director of Public Art, in a statement.

The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 kicks off on Nov. 21.


Tory Burch taps Arab models Malika El-Maslouhi, Imaan Hammam for summer campaigns

Tory Burch taps Arab models Malika El-Maslouhi, Imaan Hammam for summer campaigns
Updated 10 August 2022

Tory Burch taps Arab models Malika El-Maslouhi, Imaan Hammam for summer campaigns

Tory Burch taps Arab models Malika El-Maslouhi, Imaan Hammam for summer campaigns

DUBAI: US designer Tory Burch is spotlighting Arab models in the fashion label’s latest campaigns. 

Moroccan Italian model Malika El-Maslouhi posed for the brand’s activewear Tory Sport, while Dutch Egyptian Moroccan star Imaan Hammam was spotted in the label’s latest beauty campaign.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Tory Sport (@torysport)

In a series of images shared on the brand’s Instagram page this week, 23-year-old runway star El-Maslouhi wore a pleated laser cut tennis skirt with a white tank top and a blue and beige cross body bag from the fashion house’s Summer 2022 tennis collection. 

In other pictures, the model wore a monogram jacquard anorak, a matching red-and-yellow yoga set and a white polo shirt. 

This is not the first time El-Maslouhi has collaborated with the US label.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Tory Sport (@torysport)

In May, the designer tapped the model to showcase her eponymous brand’s pre-Fall 2022 collection via a series of campaign images.

The catwalk star, who was born in Milan to an Italian mother and a Moroccan father, also featured in the brand’s 2022 beach edit, sporting an array of summer-ready looks in the form of floral maxi skirts, romantic dresses, crochet bucket hats, strappy sandals and printed bikinis.

El-Maslouhi made her modeling debut when she was 18 and went on to captivate the industry.

In addition to gracing the runways of storied fashion houses that most models can only dream of — such as Dior, Chanel, Valentino and Jacquemus, among others — the fashion star has also appeared in international campaigns for the likes of Off-White, Calvin Klein and Lanvin.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Tory Burch (@toryburch)

Meanwhile, Tory Burch also released five new fragrances for its beauty collection this week. For that campaign, the designer, who launched her brand in 2004, worked with Moroccan Egyptian Dutch model Hammam, who starred alongside US actress Havana Rose Liu, Romanian model Alexandra Micu and more. 

For the all-white beachside shoot, Hammam wore a crochet plunged maxi dress. Her hair was tied in a bun and her makeup was kept simple and fresh. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Tory Burch (@toryburch)

According to the brand, Burch’s five new fragrances — cosmic wood, divine moon, electric sky, sublime rose and mystic geranium — represent five dreams: freedom, peace, magic, love and joy. 


Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar heads to Dubai to promote new film ‘Raksha Bandhan’

Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar heads to Dubai to promote new film ‘Raksha Bandhan’
Updated 10 August 2022

Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar heads to Dubai to promote new film ‘Raksha Bandhan’

Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar heads to Dubai to promote new film ‘Raksha Bandhan’

DUBAI: Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar jetted to Dubai to promote his new film “Raksha Bandhan” and opened up about his inspiration for the movie in a conversation with newspaper Khaleej Times.

The actor stopped by the newspaper’s office in the city, along with director Aanand L. Rai, to discuss the new movie, which celebrates the Indian festival of Raksha Bandhan — a day to honor the bond between brothers and sisters.

Kumar — who was recently revealed by the Indian government to be the country’s highest tax payer from the entertainment industry — opened up about the special relationship he shares with his own sister, Alka Bhatia.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar)

“I remember when my sister was born, we were taught (to) remember to take care of her! Whatever she asks for, don’t refuse, we were told. So, highest taxpayer or not, whatever is mine is my sister’s as well. There are no two opinions about this,” said the 54-year-old actor.

In “Raksha Bandhan,” Kumar stars as the only brother in a family of five siblings. Actresses Sadia Khateeb, Smrithi Srikanth, Deepika Khanna and Sahejmeen Kaur star as the four sisters. Actress Bhumi Pednekar features as his childhood sweetheart.

Kumar also stressed that he wanted to make the film because Rai was helming the project.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar)

“The kind of film I want to do is the kind of film he makes. The kind of humor I have, is the kind of humor he has. We both have that very quirky kind of mindset when it comes to making films, and he also has an agenda while making a film; there should be some learning, some takeaways. I want to do the same kind of films and whether it is ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha,’ ‘Pad Man’ or ‘Airlift,’ I have done many films like this,” said Kumar. “I have ruined his habit because he makes one film in three years and now, in two years, he has made two films with me. And we’re preparing for a third…”

Rai, meanwhile, said he’s attracted to the actor’s simplicity which exists despite his megastar status in India and beyond. “It’s fantastic for a director to have somebody without any complexes, going all out and living the moment without any fear that there are so many films he has to live up to. He lives up to that moment. That’s very important,” said the filmmaker, famous for his films like “Tanu Weds Manu,” “Ranjhanaa,” “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan” and “Manmarziyaan.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar)

The film, Rai said, was a product of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I realized that in those few months when we were all not moving out and didn’t really know where it (Covid) would end or where it would go, we were quite insecure, living with a lot of fear. The only thing that was consistent at that moment was your family. You were eating together, sitting together, playing together; that was the only way to get rid of the fear,” said the director.

“Raksha Bandhan” releases in cinemas in the GCC on Aug. 11.


US rapper Russ to perform at Usyk-Joshua rematch in Jeddah this month

US rapper Russ to perform at Usyk-Joshua rematch in Jeddah this month
Updated 10 August 2022

US rapper Russ to perform at Usyk-Joshua rematch in Jeddah this month

US rapper Russ to perform at Usyk-Joshua rematch in Jeddah this month
  • The 29 year old achieved 10 billion streams on Spotify and Apple Music without the backing of a major label and was listed in Forbes magazine’s 30 under 30 list in 2019
  • He emerged during the 2010s from the Atlanta-area underground music scene, releasing dozens of independent singles and albums, all of which he made freely available to download

RIYADH: Rapper Russ Vitale is set to perform live at the world heavyweight title rematch between boxers Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk on Aug. 20 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Commonly known simply as Russ, the 29-year-old American rapper, singer, songwriter and author, who first performed in the Kingdom in 2019, lists other American rappers and the classic rock he listened to as a youngster among his inspirations.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by RUSS (@russ)

One of the most popular rappers in the world, he achieved 10 billion streams on Spotify and Apple Music without the backing of a major label, has performed sellout global tours, and was listed in Forbes magazine’s 30 under 30 list in 2019.

Russ emerged during the 2010s from the Atlanta-area underground music scene, releasing dozens of independent singles and albums, all of which he made freely available to download. His mainstream breakthrough came in 2017 with the platinum-certified top 10 album “There’s Really a Wolf,” before he cracked the top five of the Billboard 200 with “Zoo” in 2018 and “Shake the Snow Globe” in 2020, followed by the release of companion albums “Chomp” and “Chomp 2.”

Most recently, he collaborated with Ed Sheeran for new single “Are You Entertained,” on which Russ switches between singing and rapping.

The heavyweight title rematch between Usyk and Joshua is considered one of the biggest in the history of the sport. When they met in September 2021 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Usyk dominated the contest, earning a unanimous decision victory and three world heavyweight titles to become unified Heavyweight World Champion.


Forward cruising: How Riyadh’s skateboarding scene is developing

Forward cruising: How Riyadh’s skateboarding scene is developing
Updated 09 August 2022

Forward cruising: How Riyadh’s skateboarding scene is developing

Forward cruising: How Riyadh’s skateboarding scene is developing
  • Popularity of the sport growing amongst teenagers in the Kingdom’s capital
  • LocoSonix founder Safi Marroun: I see great potential in the sport as it’s becoming increasingly integrated into the Saudi culture

RIYADH: Sitting on the upper level of LocoSonix, a skate shop based in Riyadh, Saudi skateboarder Shareef Masarani is approached by a young girl. The mixture of excitement and shyness overwhelm her expressions as she presents a board she picked out from the shop.

“I just wanted to ask you, I am buying this board. Is it cool?” She wanted his input on buying her first ever skateboard after seeing he was at the shop through Instagram Live. 

“The Hydroponic is good, as a startup board, yeah … That’s actually a good choice,” he responded. 

The girl had found his account on Instagram one day, and later on met him at the Riyadh Boulevard skatepark. The coincidence inspired her to hop on her very own skateboard for the first time. 

Masarani has been a skater on and off for almost 20 years, beginning his journey at 15. After leaving his job as a chef to focus on growing the skate community in Saudi Arabia, he has become somewhat of a go-to resource for all things skateboard-related for many up-and-coming skaters, alongside his 11-person skate community Sandlifers.

Masarani went from pursuing skateboarding as a hobby while living in the US to becoming a learning resource and collaborating with big-name brands such as Vans and Mountain Dew.

One of his young client’s mothers called him one day, thanking him for his work. Not only were her daughter’s skills improving, but she became a more outward and confident person as a result. 

“Her personality developed. At the house, she’s a quiet kid, she doesn’t talk to anybody. Now, it gave her confidence and gave her a personality, she’s talking with the family. It changes people, it really does,” Masarani told Arab News. 

“When you learn a trick, you do things that you didn’t think you could do,” he said. “I’ve seen what it did to me, and I would love to kick start it here in the Middle East,” he said.

Masarani’s client, 15-year-old Reef Khalid Hassan, said her training helped her manage the tricks she aimed to master. His support inspired her to keep going. 

“Ever since I met him, he’s been telling me that I could be something … Masarani also helped me with explaining to me how skateboarding works, different tricks and how to think in the right mindset,” she told Arab News. 

“You need to know when to bail and when to commit,” he told her during a lesson. 

Hassan started skating on her own a few months back and has become one of the rising young stars in the Riyadh skate scene, according to Masarani.

“A few months ago, I used to need a little bit of help with a couple of tricks, so I got a month’s training, which helped me a lot,” she said. 

Her first two tricks were a revert and an ollie. “It felt really good, actually, because I tried for so long until I got it … Skating gives me something to look forward to because there are more tricks (to learn) every day,” she said. 

But the skate scene was not always this popular in Saudi Arabia. According to Masarani, only a few groups of people, including Sandlifers and some Filipino residents who had brought the practice from their country, were skating until 2020. 

That is when Al-Nakheel skatepark opened to the public. Slowly, more parks became accessible like the private Diriyah club and the purpose-built Riyadh Boulevard skatepark, which rents out gear on the spot.

As his following increases, Masarani has been using Instagram as a learning tool for others. He utilizes the app’s live feature as a platform to answer common questions that people have around the sport, or to demonstrate which of LocoSonix’s goods are best to purchase for your needs. 

“That’s my goal. I want people to be better than me,” he said.

Masarani is also a partner of LocoSonix, the only specialized skate shop in the Kingdom, and frequently shows off their newest gear. Walking into the active lifestyle store is like entering an art gallery. 

“I see great potential in the sport as it’s becoming increasingly integrated into the Saudi culture,” Safi Marroun, founder of LocoSonix, told Arab News.

“The moment you learn how to balance on a board and start to ride around with your own board, you have entered a new way of living. LocoSonix brings together the artist, the pro players, and those who want to just have fun on wheels.”

LocoSonix is planning to create skateparks to promote the sport in 2023.

Skateboarding has recently been legitimized with its recognition as an Olympic sport by the International Olympic Committee, making its debut appearance at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

In the Kingdom, the Saudi Arabian Extreme Sports Federation recently concluded two rounds of skateboarding camps in Riyadh, with 111 participants. It also held its first two-day skateboarding and aggressive in-line skating competition that hosted 38 female and male participants.

“I see (the scene) becoming bigger, if people continue doing what they’re doing. Like anything, if they stay consistent with it, it’s only going to get bigger,” said Masarani.