Arab singer Dana Salah shines on New York’s Times Square billboard

Arab singer Dana Salah shines on New York’s Times Square billboard
Salah started her career by writing music and DJ-ing. (Supplied)
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Updated 21 June 2022

Arab singer Dana Salah shines on New York’s Times Square billboard

Arab singer Dana Salah shines on New York’s Times Square billboard

DUBAI: If you’re looking to add something fresh to your playlist, Palestinian-Jordanian singer Dana Salah’s fusion of Arabic, Latin and Western music could be just the thing.

Streaming service Spotify announced last month that pop-indie artist Salah, formerly known as King Deco, is the second ambassador for EQUAL Arabia, an endeavor that aims to amplify the work of women creators by giving them international recognition.

As part of Spotify’s campaign, the Amman-based artist, who lived in the US for seven years, was featured on a billboard in the heart of New York’s Times Square.




Salah is the second ambassador for EQUAL Arabia. (Supplied)

The singer told Arab News that seeing her picture there was a “pinch me” moment.

“It’s amazing that it was there because I was doing something I believe in — music that’s true to who I am and my heritage,” she said. 

“To see myself on arguably one of the biggest stages in the world and having accomplished this by making music in Arabic and expressing myself through my culture is an incredible feeling. I didn’t have to compromise who I am or where I come from to be there.”

Salah, who started her career by writing music and DJ-ing, said that she received a lot of support from her community. “It was so heartfelt seeing so many people post about this achievement and celebrate it as a win for the Jordanian artistic community,” she said. 

And the campaign seems to be working, with Salah explaining that her audience is already expanding across the globe.

She recalled a comment she read online from a new listener who said: “I am from Indonesia and I found you from Spotify and I like your voice.” 

“It meant the world,” Salah said. 

Salah believes music is universal and she hopes that her music not only introduces audiences to Arab culture, but also brings other cultures together. 

“It’s what I did with ‘Weino.’ I mixed traditional Arabic instrumentation with a Latin-type backbeat and Western song structures. I think there’s something very beautiful about mixing genres,” she said. 

“I’m obsessed with taking two contrasting elements and making them coexist in the same space. I live for it when it comes to art but also on a day-to-day — put me on a dinner table with the most diverse group of people and I’m happy,” she said.

Her early influences were also varied, with her mother and aunt introducing her to an array of musical films before she could even speak.

“They’d always put on ‘The Sound of Music’ and I would get so excited because I just wanted to hear the songs, especially the ‘Yodel’ song, and I would hum to it,” she told Arab News. “It wasn’t until I was maybe four to five years old that I discovered my love for singing watching ‘The Little Mermaid.’” 

As for her current playlist, the artist said: “I love Stevie Nicks and Max Martin as songwriters. I adore Lana Del Ray and Kanye West when it comes to aesthetic and creating worlds and visuals around their music. I love the instrumentation of Warda and Umm Kulthum’s songs,” she said. 

Most central to Salah’s identity as an Arab woman is her unwavering appreciation for the timelessness of Arabic artistry, from finding inspiration from Algerian singer Warda to using strings, tablas (twin hand drums) and riqs (the Middle Eastern tambourin) from veteran Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum’s “Alf Layla w Layla.”

Her visuals are just as important to her as an artist. She pays homage to the Arab world by using its landscapes, architecture, cultural elements and fashion to reignite a love for Arabic heritage in her videos and cover art.


Emirati arts patron Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo receives prestigious award from Spain’s queen

Emirati arts patron Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo receives prestigious award from Spain’s queen
Updated 25 June 2022

Emirati arts patron Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo receives prestigious award from Spain’s queen

Emirati arts patron Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo receives prestigious award from Spain’s queen

DUBAI: Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, founder of the Abu Dhabi Festival, has become the first Arab to receive the Reina Sofía School of Music’s prestigious medal of honor. 

The Emirati national, who was born to a Saudi father and a Syrian mother, received the award from Queen Sofia of Spain at the school’s academic closing ceremony in Madrid. 

Alkhamis-Kanoo was awarded for supporting the development of music culture and education, as well as for her outstanding support to the school.

When receiving the award, she dedicated her accomplishments to Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak — the wife of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, founder of the UAE — whose unwavering support she said “empowers women throughout the UAE.” 

Alkhamis-Kanoo, who was born in Beirut, founded the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation in 1996 and the Abu Dhabi Festival in 2004.

She has received numerous awards, including the Abu Dhabi Award and Abu Dhabi Medal (conferred by UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan), the UN-affiliated Women Together Award, the Aspen Institute Emerging Voice Award for Cultural Stewardship, and the Puccini Festival Foundation Award.

 


German model Toni Garrn weds in Elie Saab gown

German model Toni Garrn weds in Elie Saab gown
Updated 25 June 2022

German model Toni Garrn weds in Elie Saab gown

German model Toni Garrn weds in Elie Saab gown
  • Former Victoria’s Secret model wore a custom flowy dress cut out at the waist with a lace bustier
  • She exchanged vows for the second time with British actor Alex Pettyfer

DUBAI: German model and actress Toni Garrn tied the knot this week in Greece wearing an Elie Saab gown.

The former Victoria’s Secret model exchanged vows for the second time with British actor Alex Pettyfer in an intimate wedding on Monastiri beach.

For her special day, Garrn wore a custom flowy dress by the Lebanese couturier. The gown was cut out at the waist and featured a lace bustier. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by TONI GARRN (@tonigarrn)

“Yesterday felt like the most beautiful dream,” the star told her 3.6 million followers. “The beautiful natural wedding ceremony that was actually a full-on rock-climbing adventure … in the most delicate wedding dress made completely by hand.”

Garrn, whose runway debut was in 2008 for the Calvin Klein spring/summer show, shared a series of images on her Instagram of the tough trip she took to get to where her husband and the rest of her guests were standing on the cliff.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by TONI GARRN (@tonigarrn)

“The chances were actually around 50 percent I (and) the dress wouldn’t make it in one piece to where Alex and everyone else was waiting. I’ll never forget this day.”

The couple previously wed in October 2020 in Hamburg, Germany in front of family and friends.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by TONI GARRN (@tonigarrn)

In March 2021, Garrn revealed on Instagram that she and Pettyfer were expecting their first child together. “I’ve been keeping this secret for … pretty much 6 months exactly. FINALLY I can share my biggest news with you all,” she captioned her short pregnancy reveal video back then.

The couple welcomed their daughter Luca Malaika in July 2021.

Besides tying the knot, the couple also celebrated, over the weekend, Pettyfer’s first Father’s Day.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by TONI GARRN (@tonigarrn)

The new mom walked over 60 shows for prestigious designers including Stella McCartney, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermès, Dolce & Gabbana and Michael Kors.

Her first acting role was in 2017. She played the role of South African model Reeva Steenkamp in the movie “Oscar Pistorius: Blade Runner Killer.”

She also appeared on productions like the Marvel blockbuster “Spider-Man: Far from Home” and the German drama series “You Are Wanted.”

Garrn is not the first celebrity to wed in an Elie Saab gown. South Korean actress Son Yejin, the “Games of Thrones” star Rose Leslie and actress Debby Ryan have all chosen the Beirut-born designer to make their dream dresses.


‘Elvis’: Baz Luhrmann’s biopic steers clear of the shadows 

‘Elvis’: Baz Luhrmann’s biopic steers clear of the shadows 
Updated 25 June 2022

‘Elvis’: Baz Luhrmann’s biopic steers clear of the shadows 

‘Elvis’: Baz Luhrmann’s biopic steers clear of the shadows 

CHENNAI: Baz Luhrmann’s biopic of the legendary singer “Elvis” is lukewarm at best. 

Given Elvis’s legendary status, Luhrmann’s 160-minute work disappoints, largely because he has chosen to edit the piece so as to make it seem restless — a movie without a soul with frames flashing past so fast that there is no time to sit and savor the spectacle. 

The story is mostly narrated by Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), who as Elvis’s shrewd manager was as much responsible for the singer’s rise, pushing him to travel from Memphis to breathtaking heights, as for his fall. It is this strange and sometimes vicious relationship between a domineering Parker and the singer (played by Austin Butler) that the movie fails to explore — it merely skims the surface here and there and audiences are only given glimpses of how the young star was manipulated and controlled, with his dream of becoming a serious actor derailed by his manager.

The story is mostly narrated by Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), who as Elvis’s shrewd manager was as much responsible for the singer’s rise. (YouTube)

We do get a glimpse of Elvis’s early life, including his struggles, the influence of black music — which is a relief given the recent realization in the press and on social media that the star was indeed influenced by the music of black artists in an atmosphere of entrenched racism — his two-year military service in Germany and marriage to Priscilla, among other events. However, the director chooses to remain on the brighter side, with the rock ‘n’ roll legend presented as dashing and debonair until the very end, although that was not the reality. 

But what audiences are really here for is the music, and on that note “Elvis” fails to deliver. Presley’s own vocals were used in the later part, and Butler sings the early hits and does offer some electrifying moments, but the soundtrack could have been far more engaging. 

A magnificent Hanks manages to evoke the Jekyll-and-Hyde persona he plays with fair degree of conviction, although he does slip up now and then. Meanwhile, an equally impressive Butler as the hip-swiveling, guitar strumming, foot tapping king is often mesmeric but it is not easy to impersonate a man whose aura is still dazzling. The writing by Sam Bromell, Craig Pearce, and Jeremy Doner fails to give balance to the narrative and despite some engaging performances, “Elvis” is a bit of a let down.


Classic diners serve up a ‘blast from the past’ on Jeddah Season’s City Walk

Burger Circus and cake shop Butter will stay throughout Jeddah Season. (Supplied)
Burger Circus and cake shop Butter will stay throughout Jeddah Season. (Supplied)
Updated 24 June 2022

Classic diners serve up a ‘blast from the past’ on Jeddah Season’s City Walk

Burger Circus and cake shop Butter will stay throughout Jeddah Season. (Supplied)
  • In an American diner, Leung said, the menu offers a wide range of choices for breakfast, lunch or dinner. “We just wanted to focus on just two burgers, but in an American diner theme”

JEDDAH: Two classic 1950s-themed diner options from Hong Kong have made their way to Jeddah Season’s grand theme park, City Walk.

With vintage music in the background, staff in “soda jerk” uniforms, and a one-page menu of burgers, fries and shakes, Burger Circus offers visitors a “blast from the past” experience.

Burger Circus and cake shop Butter arrived on May 5 and will stay throughout the two months of the Jeddah Season.

Both outlets belong to Black Sheep, a Chinese company with about 35 restaurants in Hong Kong and one in Shanghai.

Jonathan Leung, operations director of Black Sheep, explained the concept behind both outlets, adding that it is “an honor” to be operating in Jeddah.

HIGHLIGHT

‘Burger Circus is a 1950s American diner. One of the co-founders of Black Sheep, Christopher Mark, grew up in Toronto, Canada, and his family used to own diners, so he spent a lot of time and growing up at a diner,’ said Jonathan Leung, operations director of Black Sheep.

“Burger Circus is a 1950s American diner. One of the co-founders of Black Sheep, Christopher Mark, grew up in Toronto, Canada, and his family used to own diners, so he spent a lot of time and growing up at a diner,” he said.

“So it’s a little bit of nostalgic childhood memories. He has always wanted to open a diner.”

In an American diner, Leung said, the menu offers a wide range of choices for breakfast, lunch or dinner. “We just wanted to focus on just two burgers, but in an American diner theme,” he said.

Burger Circus also offers two side orders, two milkshakes (vanilla and chocolate) and two drinks on its menu.

“We want to bring good food and good stories to Jeddah; we just want to do that,” he said.

“People in Jeddah or in Saudi Arabia are open minded to try new things. There’s room for everything here, we love it here,” he added.

Talking about Butter, Leung said the background story is about a single mother with two children, who works very hard at a diner to make ends meet.

“She’s strong and generous, but she’s also very sassy. That’s Butter,” he said.

“Burger Circus and Butter go hand in hand and go very well together, it sort of came from the same era; diners prefer classic American cake,” he added.

Luke Barry, culinary director for Leylaty Group, worked with Black Sheep in Hong Kong for six years.

“I’ve always loved Black Sheep restaurants. We have a very good relationship, so I thought Jeddah Season is a good opportunity to bring them here,” he said.

“They have 30 to 35 restaurants, niche burger restaurants that are very strong and conceptualized, and Saudi Arabia has a lot of room for what they do. They have amazing restaurants, from casual to premium to Michelin star,” he added.

Barry said that they tried to replicate Hong Kong’s Burger Circus in Jeddah as much as possible.

“We spent 16 hours painting a wall (that is identical to the branch in Hong Kong), the exact posters that you find in Hong Kong, and the uniform is almost exactly the same,” said Barry.

“It was very important to us to use the exact same playlist, to bring Hong Kong’s Burger Circus here,” he added.


From world firsts to rare nods, chefs of Dubai’s Michelin-starred restaurants celebrate big wins

From world firsts to rare nods, chefs of Dubai’s Michelin-starred restaurants celebrate big wins
Updated 24 June 2022

From world firsts to rare nods, chefs of Dubai’s Michelin-starred restaurants celebrate big wins

From world firsts to rare nods, chefs of Dubai’s Michelin-starred restaurants celebrate big wins

DUBAI: From the world’s first unlicensed restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star to one of the rare Indian eateries to get a nod, Dubai is now home to a host of Michelin-starred dining spots.

Arab News caught up with a number of the restaurants’ chefs to find out how they plan to celebrate and whether this means the heat in the kitchen is about to get hotter.

The chefs of 11 Woodfire, Torno Subito, Tresind Studio, and Armani/Ristorante, which all gained one star, described how it felt to be internationally recognized after it was recently announced that 11 restaurants in Dubai received a Michelin star — nine places won one star, while two restaurants received two stars.

11 Woodfire’s chef Akmal Anuar



The restaurant, located in Jumeirah, is the first unlicensed eatery to win a Michelin Guide star.

Its chef Akmal Anuar described the achievement as “huge.”

He said: “For me being Muslim, and to achieve this and to be on stage with everybody else, proves that nothing is impossible. I feel overwhelmed. I am very, very happy.”

Anuar plans to celebrate the milestone with his team next week.

“We will shut down one day and buy a cake. We will sit down, have a motivational speech, and get ready for the new era. This (win) wasn’t just me; it was my team. They all worked very hard for it,” he added.

11 Woodfire offers dishes such as black Angus steak, jumbo prawns with brown butter, Japanese eggplant, and Chilean sea bass, while priding itself on being committed to zero waste and following sustainable practices.

Torno Subito’s chef Bernardo Paladini



Chef Bernardo Paladini’s intention with Torno Subito, located in the Palm Jumeirah, was “to have fun and to open an audacious Italian restaurant with great food, quality ingredients, and vibrancy.”

He said: “In all honesty, this completely caught us by surprise. We really did not expect it and it is a result of four years of hard work. I feel elated, excited, and proud. I still cannot believe it.”

The chef gave credit to his team and pointed out that the award was not just for him, but for the hardworking staff that helped him on a daily basis.

Being a Michelin-star restaurant will not make Paladini change the concept of his eatery, or the prices.

“We will stay true to the roots of Torno Subito and maintain the restaurant’s identity. Pressure is good and we are very conscious of what it means to have a Michelin star and will do everything to maintain it,” he added.

Paladini’s recommendation to diners is to try the restaurant’s tasting menu which includes all of its signature dishes such as cocktail di gamberi, rock lobster roll, and Japanese beef.

Being an internationally recognized cook, the chef’s top tip for amateur cooks was to experiment. “Everyone can cook good food, but when you are able to show emotion and passion in the food, this is what makes all the difference.”

Tresind Studio’s chef Himanshu Saini



Not many Indian restaurants have Michelin stars and that is what makes Tresind Studio’s chef Himanshu Saini proud.

He said: “It feels surreal. Being among the few Indian restaurants in the world to have a star is a great feeling. We strive to break perceptions and showcase Indian food with a different perspective.”

The recognition has fueled up the chef and his team who now feel motivated to work harder. He wasted no time and immediately celebrated the award with his team after the Tuesday awards ceremony event at the Dubai Opera.

Talent may be important for chefs, but Saini pointed out that hard work beats it. “Work hard because that is the only way you can evolve as a chef,” he added.

He noted that the bar of expectation from his diners had now been raised.

“It is a good thing because it only motivates us and keeps us on our toes to keep evolving,” he said.

Tresind Studio has previously won the art of hospitality gong at the inaugural Middle East and North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022 awards by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Armani/Ristorante’s chef Giovanni Papi

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by GIOVANNI M. PAPI (@gsupapi)

Armani/Ristorante restaurant is at Dubai’s Armani hotel.

The eatery’s chef Giovanni Papi said he feels “extremely proud and emotional as a Michelin star is a dream that each chef chases.

“We knew that Armani /Ristorante was invited for the Michelin guide revelation but (weren’t) sure about the outcome for our restaurant. But I feel confident that we are delivering the outstanding service and culinary experience at Armani/Ristorante all the time,” he told Arab News.

The restaurant, which dishes up modern Italian cooking in a luxurious atmosphere, is known for its signature dishes such as agnolotti del plin, a pasta typical of the Piedmont region of Italy, fish dish filetto di scorfano and agnello al mirto, a lamb dish.

If you plan to book a table at the newly crowned Michelin-starred restaurant, the chef suggests the signature chlorophyll risotto and Sicilian red prawns, along with the Armani/Ristorante La Sfera dessert.