International artists named for ambitious AlUla valley installations project

A rendering of Ahmed Mater's work at Wadi AlFann. (Supplied)
A rendering of Ahmed Mater's work at Wadi AlFann. (Supplied)
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Updated 28 June 2022

International artists named for ambitious AlUla valley installations project

A rendering of Ahmed Mater's work at Wadi AlFann. (Supplied)

DUBAI: An international lineup of artists has been named as the first group to embark on an ambitious large-scale installations project in AlUla’s Wadi AlFann.

The Royal Commission for AlUla announced that US artists James Turrell, Agnes Denes, and Michael Heizer will be joined by Saudi creative pioneers Ahmed Mater and Manal Al-Dowayan to produce artworks in the new Wadi AlFann valley, covering an area of 65 square kilometers. The projects will be unveiled from 2024.

Meanwhile, the former director of the Whitechapel Gallery in London, Iwona Blazwick, has been named as the chair of the commission’s public art expert panel, that will advise on Wadi AlFann.

She told Arab News that the artists would create, “works that I think will be a 21st-century version of the ambition of the Nabataeans. This is work at such a scale by artists of such global caliber and by artists who have revolutionized sculpture.”

Visual artist Mater’s installation for the valley, “Ashab Al-Lal,” will use a subterranean tunnel and mirrors to give visitors the optical illusion of seeing a mirage, while Al-Dowayan’s “The Oasis of Stories” will be a labyrinthine structure inspired by the mud homes of AlUla’s ancient old town.




Wadi AlFann, AlUla. (Supplied)

Denes, 91, will create a series of soaring pointed pyramids in a bid to explore civilization, advancement, and achievement.

Heizer, known for producing large outdoor earthwork sculptures and for his work with rock, concrete, and steel, will produce lineal engravings in the sandstone rock relating directly to the geology of the area and the varied detail of the Quweira sandstone.

Blazwick said: “He (Heizer) is incising into the rocks at a scale and at a kind of ambition that again relates back to petroglyphs and ancient forms of expressions and civilizations, but in a way that is 21st century.”

Meanwhile, Turrell will build upon the sensorial experience of space, color, and perception by creating a series of spaces within the canyon floor. The viewer will explore these spaces via a series of tunnels and stairs.




A sketch of AlDowayan’s “The Oasis of Stories.” (Supplied)

“If we are looking at these five initial works themselves you have something tremendously monumental but also immersive, resonate, and poetic and these will be destinations in their own rights of such beauty.

“In relation to the drama of the place itself, the works really take us to the sublime. These five commissions are going to be in themselves unique in the world at this scale. Most of these artists we know from single works shown in different parts of the world, so to bring them together is a huge achievement,” Blazwick added.

On the global nature of the artists, she said: “This is a reciprocal relationship — it is not just about artists being parachuted in, but about making works inspired by the place and the people.

“We will see high-profile international artists, but alongside their regional peers. We will see some of the most important artists working in the region take their place alongside these very iconic, high-profile figures from the world of art. I think that reciprocity is crucial to this project,” she added.


Christie’s Dubai turns itself into a garden of jewels to attract Gulf collectors

Christie’s Dubai turns itself into a garden of jewels to attract Gulf collectors
Updated 13 sec ago

Christie’s Dubai turns itself into a garden of jewels to attract Gulf collectors

Christie’s Dubai turns itself into a garden of jewels to attract Gulf collectors

DUBAI: Christie’s Dubai has transformed itself into a veritable garden until Feb. 3 to present its latest jewelry-selling exhibition, “Garden of Wonders,” featuring pieces estimated between $10,000 to a whopping $4.5 million. 

Partnering with A2Z, an art advisory service founded by Abdulrahman H. Al-Zayani for private clients in the Gulf who wish to expand their jewelry collections, the exhibition is an opportunity for visitors to dive into an exotic garden filled with jewelry inspired by nature.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by A2Z (@a2zadvisory)

The exhibition features a finely curated selection of pieces made from precious gemstones including diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies alongside a large selection of important natural saltwater pearl pieces, including pearls originating from the Gulf region. 

“It is a privilege for Christie’s to work with A2Z. Our friend, Abdulrahman, has been a colleague for years now, but he was a collector even before he was a colleague. He’s always had good eyes and is an esteemed friend,” said Julien Brunie, senior director and international head of private sales jewelry at Christie’s, in an interview with Arab News.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by A2Z (@a2zadvisory)

Brunie went on to explain how the partnership with the art advisory is a way for Christie’s to ensure quality and selectivity in the pieces they offer. 

“Christie’s is the world’s leading auction house since 1766. We have a fabulous network of experts, clients, friends and collectors. But we don’t have Christie’s branded pieces to sell. So, we bring to the market what we think is the best,” added Brunie. 

The exhibition is led by a stunning diamond bracelet by Harry Winston comprising 99 emerald-cut diamonds of 141.00 carats in total with a central stone of 11.32 carats. Made in 1975, this comes from a private collection in the Middle East. 

Al-Zayani, who founded A2Z advisory in 2018, spoke about the designers and jewelers to watch out for at the exhibition. 

“We have bigger, older names such as Harry Winston, Cartier and Van Cleef. And then from the newer names, we tried to collect or curate from all over the world. This time we’re starting from India with jewelers like VAK, for example. Vishal (Kothari) is a very young, dynamic guy based out of Mumbai, and he works very nicely with cutting stones. His prices are not steep yet. He just recently showcased his work at Bergdorf Goodman in New York. So, he’s fun,” said Al-Zayani, adding other up-and-coming names like Greek designer Nikos Koulis, Brazilian designer Fernando Jorge, and London-based jeweler Noor Fares to the list. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by A2Z (@a2zadvisory)

Al-Zayani also pointed to the establishment of Christie’s Dubai as a catalyst for the growing interest in jewelry collection in the Middle East. “I think Christie’s has definitely added a lot by creating this space in Dubai International Financial Center. They’ve spent beautifully on it, and it’s next to the nicest restaurants. It’s a very nice atmosphere and, most importantly, you feel so safe. Even if you’re walking on the street with a $10 million ring, there’s no way anyone’s going to touch you,” he said. 

Brunie chimed in to also point out that the Middle East, in general, has always had good taste when it comes to jewelry.

“We were discussing only yesterday about the collection in the region and that it’s rare to find outdated pieces in the region. You find classic pieces. That’s something that speaks to the taste for good jewels here,” said Brunie.  
 


Lebanon-born Nina Ali exits ‘Real Housewives of Dubai’ 

Lebanon-born Nina Ali exits ‘Real Housewives of Dubai’ 
Updated 31 January 2023

Lebanon-born Nina Ali exits ‘Real Housewives of Dubai’ 

Lebanon-born Nina Ali exits ‘Real Housewives of Dubai’ 

DUBAI: “The Real Housewives of Dubai” cast member Nina Ali is exiting the show after just one season as the Bravo reality series gears up to start filming season two.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by LipstickMommy (@nina.ali)

“It was an honor to be a part of the debut season of The Real Housewives of Dubai, and to help Bravo bring this beloved franchise to the city I call home,” Ali posted on Instagram. “I’m grateful to the network, Andy Cohen, and the team at Truly Original for welcoming me into this extended family and for embracing the diversity of riches Dubai has to offer.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by LipstickMommy (@nina.ali)

Ali also added that she has some “exciting opportunities” coming up.

“2023 has already brought many exciting opportunities my way, including an emerging new business, new home and new adventures, so for now I’ll be moving my attention away from the show to allow myself the space to focus on new challenges,” the businesswoman, entrepreneur and mother of three added. 


Dubai’s Orfali Bros Bistro nabs top spot at MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants awards as Myazu voted Saudi Arabia’s best eatery

Dubai’s Orfali Bros Bistro nabs top spot at MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants awards as Myazu voted Saudi Arabia’s best eatery
Japanese eatery Myazu in Riyadh has been named the best restaurant in Saudi Arabia. (Instagram)
Updated 30 January 2023

Dubai’s Orfali Bros Bistro nabs top spot at MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants awards as Myazu voted Saudi Arabia’s best eatery

Dubai’s Orfali Bros Bistro nabs top spot at MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants awards as Myazu voted Saudi Arabia’s best eatery

ABU DHABI: Japanese eatery Myazu in Riyadh has been named the best restaurant in Saudi Arabia by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants MENA list in a ceremony held in Aby Dhabi on Monday night as Dubai’s Orfali Bros Bistro nabbed the overall top spot.  

The ranking is voted on by a body formed of 250 restaurant experts in the region, known as the Academy. Each member casts seven votes for those that are – in their expert opinion – the best dining experiences in the MENA region.

The top 10 consisted of eateries from around the region, with a heavy showing from Dubai, including Moonrise in Dubai at number 10, Zooba (Zamalek) in Cairo at number 9, Fakhreldin in Amman at number 8, Kinoya in Dubai at number 7, George & John in Tel Aviv at number 6, 3 Fils in Dubai at number 5, Ossiano in Dubai at number 4, Fusions by Tala in Manama at number 3, Trèsind Studio in Dubai at number 2 and Orfali Bros Bistro in Dubai at number 1.

“Also crowned The Best Restaurant in the UAE, this Dubai establishment is the restaurant embodiment of three brothers from Aleppo, Syria. The dining experience here is focused on storytelling, where every flavour, ingredient and technique has played a special part in the trio’s story. The atmosphere, with the rhythm set by the work in the two-storey kitchen overlooking the dining space, is fun, indulgent and at times nostalgic,” the organization posted on Instagram shortly after the announcement.

Commenting on Saudi Arabia’s best restaurant, the organization posted: “Under the leadership of chef Ian Pengelley, (Myazu) is a spot where harmony reigns in texture, aromas and flavors. Some dishes push the envelope of gastronomic craftsmanship while others focus on Japanese fan favorites, but all are set apart by a sophisticated presentation that has become part of this restaurant’s DNA.”

 

The eatery ranked number 18 on the list, just after Tawlet Mar Mikhael in Beirut.

Meanwhile, the Middle East & North Africa’s Best Female Chef Award 2023 went to Palestinian chef Salam Dakkak and this year’s Estrella Damm N.A. Chefs' Choice Award went to Moustafa Elrefaey of Zooba in Cairo.

 


Sundance Film Festival 2023 closes with three Mideast filmmakers winning awards  

Sundance Film Festival 2023 closes with three Mideast filmmakers winning awards  
Updated 30 January 2023

Sundance Film Festival 2023 closes with three Mideast filmmakers winning awards  

Sundance Film Festival 2023 closes with three Mideast filmmakers winning awards  

DUBAI: The 2023 Sundance Film Festival — which took its final bow this weekend in Park City, Utah, after its first in-person edition since 2020 — saw three Middle Eastern films winning awards, including “The Persian Version,” “Shayda” and “Animalia.”  

Iranian American director Maryam Keshavarz’s “The Persian Version” won the Audience Award and Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award in the US Dramatic Competition.  c

The film follows a large Iranian American family gathering for the patriarch’s heart transplant when a family secret catapults the estranged mother and daughter into an exploration of the past.   

It was one of three films at Sundance this year to be directed by Iranian women, the others being “Joonam” and “Shayda.”  

Noora Niasari’s “Shayda” took home the Audience Award in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition. The film follows Shayda, a brave Iranian mother, who finds refuge in an Australian women’s shelter with her six-year-old daughter. But when her estranged husband re-enters their lives, Shayda’s path to freedom is jeopardized.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Animalia (@animaliathefilm)

The third regional film to win an award at Sundance is “Animalia” by Morocco's Sofia Alaoui, who took home the Special Jury Award for Creative Vision. The film follows a young mother-to-be as she experiences an alien invasion with a sense of dread that slowly turns into liberation.  


Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas glitters in Lebanese label Elie Saab

Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas glitters in Lebanese label Elie Saab
Updated 30 January 2023

Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas glitters in Lebanese label Elie Saab

Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas glitters in Lebanese label Elie Saab

DUBAI: Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas has a well-documented penchant for Arab designers. The Indian star, who crossed over into Hollywood, has been pictured donning looks from regional labels on plenty of occasions, including designs by Zuhair Murad and Nicolas Jebran, to name a few. 

Now, Chopra has taken to Instagram Stories to share a photograph of her latest look — a glittering get up by Lebanese designer Elie Saab.  

“When your fit deserves a closet selfie,” she captioned the casual snap.  

The jewel-toned look consisted of a floral midi dress paired with a matching bomber jacket.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Priyanka (@priyankachopra)

The former Miss World, who is married to US singer Nick Jonas, has sported Arab designs in the past and is also known for championing up-and-coming brands.  In 2021, Chopra made an appearance in Dubai and opted for a striking, saffron-colored design from sustainable Moroccan couture house Benchellal. 

The orange air mesh blazer dress featured a draped shawl cape and pockets and was plucked from the label’s ninth collection. She wore it with slim-fitting black trousers and pumps. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Priyanka (@priyankachopra)

Chopra also supported rising US Lebanese label Monot in 2021 by showing off a white, custom draped dress by the label during a product shoot for her haircare range.  

The actress and entrepreneur walked the red carpet at the second iteration of Jeddah’s Red Sea International Film Festival in December 2022 in a lavish gold gown by Lebanese designer Nicolas Jebran, complete with a matching overcoat.  

Arab designers have increasingly become the “go-to” for Indian celebrities at major events. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ami Patel (@stylebyami)

Ami Patel, one of India’s leading celebrity stylists, previously explained Bollywood’s love affair with Middle Eastern design talent to Arab News, saying: “I think Middle Eastern designers understand the Indian body type and silhouette very well. They know exactly what Indian celebrities want and cater to them.” 

Dubai-based Syrian designer Rami Al-Ali, who just unveiled his latest collection on the sidelines of Paris Haute Couture Week, agreed, telling Arab News in a previous interview: “Bollywood stars are also celebrities in the Middle East world.” 

“Since the Middle East is actually aligned with the industry, they are definitely keener on dressing Indian stars and even willing to customise and size outfits for our actors,” added Rai, in a bid to explain why stars such as Chopra, who started off in Bollywood, have an affinity for Arab designs.