What We Are Playing Today: Akfosh

What We Are Playing Today: Akfosh
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Updated 01 July 2022

What We Are Playing Today: Akfosh

What We Are Playing Today: Akfosh
  • This Arabic card game is a great deal of fun to play with a large group

Akfosh is an Arabic game that contains 55 picture cards on various subjects, including Saudi cultural items, well-known locations across the country, and even fruit and vegetables.

The Saudi-specific fashion items include the shemagh (male headdress), burqa, madas (sandal), dallah (coffee pot), finjan (coffee cup), and miswak (twig to clean your teeth). The landmarks include Jeddah’s fountain and the Kingdom Center in Riyadh, while the other cards feature Arab-related icons such as tents and camels.

The game allows between two and eight players to participate. There are different styles of playing, with the most popular having every player with one card face down in front of them, and the rest of the deck placed in the middle. When the game starts, each player flips their card to see it and then tries to grab a matching one from the middle first. The player with the most cards wins.

Akfosh is one of my favorite Arabic card games and is a great deal of fun to play with a large group. It relies on your visual observation, and it gets everyone competitive because it is so fast-paced.

Carrying the small box is quite easy, it fits perfectly in my handbag. I always have my Akfosh cards with me if I know many people will be at a gathering or outing. It is a fun activity that brings people together.

The game suits all ages and can be found across the Kingdom at Virgin megastores, Jarir bookstores, and even through online platforms such as Noon, Lifestyley and Amazon.

 

 


Egyptian musician Ali Loka gets his own Spotify mini-documentary

Egyptian musician Ali Loka gets his own Spotify mini-documentary
Updated 13 August 2022

Egyptian musician Ali Loka gets his own Spotify mini-documentary

Egyptian musician Ali Loka gets his own Spotify mini-documentary
  • ‘I still carry the same attitude and work ethic. I never tire of this process,’ viral music star tells Arab News

DUBAI: For Egyptian singer-songwriter Ali Loka, music is about telling personal stories. As Spotify’s latest RADAR ARABIA artist, he now has the opportunity to tell those stories to a wider audience through his own mini documentary.

“I don’t sing about anything that I didn’t go through, feel very deeply or have seen someone close to me live through,” said Loka in an interview with Arab News.

“If you listen deeply and want to know more about me, you’ll hear everything that has to do with me, all my personal stories and everything that’s happening in my life. All the small intimate details that I cannot talk about face to face are in my music. Music is how I can express everything that’s happening to me.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ali Loka (@aly_louka)

The music streaming platform worked with Loka to release a mini-documentary, where fans can follow Loka around Cairo, from the stage to downtown to Giza, to get an intimate look at his journey from starting as a solo artist to joining a band and then going solo again.

The film also looks into Loka’s viral track “Matkhafeesh Yamma,” which dropped in November 2021, taking the singer-songwriter to new levels of stardom. The song is currently the most-streamed Egyptian song outside of Egypt on the platform, with 73 percent of its Spotify streams coming from non-Egyptian markets.

But the song’s success can be attributed to Loka’s dedication to his art and a prolific work ethic.

“Before ‘Matkhafeesh Yamma’s’ release, there was a lot of work in the making. ‘Matkhafeesh Yamma’ was released in November 2021 and before that, my team and I had released about 20 tracks. Since 2020, we have released around 30 tracks. The inspiration for the track came from within. It was the feeling I was going through and felt the need to say out loud,” said Loka.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ali Loka (@aly_louka)

One of his bigger musical dreams is to perform in front of the pyramids in Cairo. “And not just in the area but right in front of Khofu, the biggest of the pyramids. I want the pyramids to be distinctive in the background, not too far away,” said Loka.

About his future plans, Loka said: “I have some releases coming and tracks that I am working on. This time, they are even more organized than before. It is the same working process that I have been following all my life. I still carry the same attitude and work ethic. I never tire of this process. I am also shooting a music video to get released in August.”


Renowned Croatian cello duo 2CELLOS to visit UAE, Egypt on farewell tour

Renowned Croatian cello duo 2CELLOS to visit UAE, Egypt on farewell tour
Updated 12 August 2022

Renowned Croatian cello duo 2CELLOS to visit UAE, Egypt on farewell tour

Renowned Croatian cello duo 2CELLOS to visit UAE, Egypt on farewell tour

DUBAI: Popular Croatian cello duo 2CELLOS, made up of Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, are ready to hang up their bows, but not before a farewell world tour that will include the Middle East this year.

"The Dedicated Tour" is headed to Hurghada, Egypt, on Nov. 18 and in Dubai the following day as part of the tour.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by 2CELLOS (@2cellosofficial)

The two musicians have already performed sellout shows in France, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Austria.

2CELLOS play instrumental arrangements of pop and rock hits, as well as classical and film music, and have featured on US television series, including “Glee” and “The Bachelor.”

The duo rose to fame in 2011 after their cover of “Smooth Criminal” became a YouTube hit, receiving over 3 million views in the first two weeks. Their debut eponymous album was released in 2011, with covers of songs by rock bands such as Nine Inch Nails, Coldplay, Nirvana, Muse and Kings of Leon.


Egypt's Mohammed Tarek is ‘on a roll’ as he lends his voice to Warner Bros.’ ‘DC League of Super-Pets’

Egypt's Mohammed Tarek is ‘on a roll’ as he lends his voice to Warner Bros.’ ‘DC League of Super-Pets’
Updated 12 August 2022

Egypt's Mohammed Tarek is ‘on a roll’ as he lends his voice to Warner Bros.’ ‘DC League of Super-Pets’

Egypt's Mohammed Tarek is ‘on a roll’ as he lends his voice to Warner Bros.’ ‘DC League of Super-Pets’
  • The social media superstar has millions of followers, but still works his day job

DUBAI: It’s a strange life being a content creator. Take Egyptian social-media star Mohammed Tarek, for example. He’s a dentist by day — graduating earlier this year after six years of exhaustive study in Egypt — but in his free time he makes comedy videos, often talking directly to his phone. He puts on voices and does parodies from his bedroom, putting together whatever bits come to mind when he wakes up in the morning before work. By all accounts, he’s a humble, normal person who spends his time with his friends and family. But you’d never know it when he goes to the mall. There, he is a superstar, swarmed by fans. 

“I still remember the first time I got stopped back in 2016,” Tarek tells Arab News. “I was just walking with my sister in the mall, and this girl came up to me. She said, ‘Hey! I love your videos!’ I was like, ‘What? You actually watch my videos?’ She said, ‘Yeah, I would love to take a picture.’ I was stunned. I said, ‘No, I want to take a picture with you!’”

Getting stopped by strangers has become a regular occurrence for Mohammed Tarek. (Supplied)

Since then, getting stopped by strangers has become a regular occurrence for Tarek, who has won legions of fans across the region, amassing 4.3 million followers on TikTok, another 2.3 million on Instagram, and more than half a million on YouTube. He’s even caught the eye of the biggest movie studios in the world, recently getting the nod to voice Aquaman in the Arabic-dubbed version (reanimated so that the character’s mouths move properly with the spoken Arabic) of Warner Bros. summer animation blockbuster “DC League of Super-Pets” — a role played by New Zealand comedian Jermaine Clement in the English-language version. It was a call he never saw coming.

“It’s not the most random thing that’s ever happened in my life, but it’s pretty random,” he says. “The call I got to get the role was insane. I was sitting in uni, just minding my own business, and somebody just called me from this random number, right? I answered it, and they're like, ‘Hey, do you want to be Aquaman?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, sounds good!’” 

Mohammed Tarek voices Aquaman (second from left) in the Arabic version of ‘DC League of Super-Pets.’ (Supplied)

Voice acting has always been one of Tarek’s dreams. He has amassed dozens of his own characters that poke fun at different Egyptian cultural archetypes. 

“I’ve always been a fan of voiceover work. Growing up, I found it crazy how people could put so many emotions across just through their voice. The animation is there, of course, to express something, but the voice is the main thing. The voice is what you remember. I would grow up watching Arabic-dubbed cartoons and movies, so being able to move into that world is really full circle for me, and I love it just as much as I thought I would,” says Tarek. 

Like most comedians, growing up, Tarek’s first audience was his family, using his personality to cheer them up in the darkest of times. 

“I’m the youngest, with two older sisters. I remember one day, my sister came home crying from school. She was really devastated. My father tried to calm her down, but nothing worked. I said to myself, ‘I need to fix this.’ So all I did was come up to her and crossed my eyes. I said, ‘Hey, look at me!’ She burst out laughing. I thought, ‘This is the thing I’m going to do from now on,’” says Tarek. 

Tarek was born in Saudi Arabia, moving to Egypt just as he entered his teens. There, he used comedy to fit in with his new classmates, who were very different from the ones that he had known and had initially intimidated him. His plan worked, and he even won over his teachers in the process.

After six years of exhaustive study, Tarek recently graduated from MSA University in Egypt. (Supplied)

“I used to write songs about my teachers, taking the melody of popular songs and rewriting the lyrics to suit each of them. The students would laugh, but the teachers would actually laugh with us too. I would stand on a podium in front of the class and they would sit behind me and loved it. My parody songs became a yearly ritual in our school,” he says. 

Tarek first moved into content creation in the early days of YouTube on the now-defunct short-video platform Vine. But he never really expected to find an audience beyond his own home.

“Each of my videos would have five views,” he says. “Four of them would be me, and the other view would be my mom.” 

But in 2016, Tarek made two covers that were similar in spirit to the ones he used to write about his teachers, taking popular songs by Adele and Hozier and singing new lyrics from the perspective of one of his Egyptian characters. He thought nothing of them — until the view count started to climb.

“I woke up one day and thought, ‘What is going on? Why do I have a 100,000 views?’ Then it was ‘Why do I have five million views? What is going on?’ That was the moment when people really started to respond to me,” says Tarek. 

As his star rose, he refused to abandon his plans and launch himself fully into content creation, deciding to stick in school and make videos when he found the time. It’s a choice he doesn’t regret, even now as he’s finally practicing dentistry, but it’s been more exhausting to balance than he usually admits to people.

“I have a lot of friends who are in the social-media area, and they’re exhausted from all they do. I have a lot of friends in the dentistry area, and they’re all burned out. None of them can really relate to what I go through. I’m tired from being a content creator and I’m tired from being a dentist every day. Who does that? Whenever I’m feeling low, it all just hits me. But right now, I’m doing fine,” he says with a smile. “Right now, I’m on a roll.” 

Tarek isn’t content with just social media and dentistry, either. The shift into acting with “DC League of Super-Pets” is one that Tarek is taking seriously, and one that he plans to pursue fully.

“Right now, I’m trying. I'm starting to take acting workshops, which is a huge step for me, because I would never have done that back in the day. Nobody believes it, but, naturally, I’m a really shy person. I was the timid, naïve guy sitting in the corner because I didn’t want to deal with people. A part of me doesn’t understand myself right now, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop,” says Tarek. 

“I have no idea where I’m going to be five years from now. I’m just going to keep going. If I get offered an audition, I’ll go. I’m going to take any opportunity that’s in front of me. You just have to work, you know what I mean? I truly believe that,” he says. “And I know that’s going to take me wherever I’m supposed to be.”


REVIEW: Netflix’s ‘The Sandman’ adaptation is a long-awaited triumph

REVIEW: Netflix’s ‘The Sandman’ adaptation is a long-awaited triumph
Updated 12 August 2022

REVIEW: Netflix’s ‘The Sandman’ adaptation is a long-awaited triumph

REVIEW: Netflix’s ‘The Sandman’ adaptation is a long-awaited triumph
  • Comic-book series finally gets the TV treatment it deserves after escaping development hell

LONDON: For decades, Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” epic has been one of the go-to examples of why comic books should be acknowledged as much, much more than outlandish adventures starring superheroes bedecked in garish spandex. 

Despite this (or perhaps because of it), bringing the sprawling saga to the screen — big or small — has been a tortuous process, with countless iterations promising much before, inevitably, falling by the wayside.

Tom Sturridge as The Sandman. (Supplied)

So Netflix deserves some credit for the mere existence of “The Sandman” — a 10-part series developed by Gaiman, David S Goyer and Allan Heinberg and starring British actor Tom Sturridge as Morpheus, the lord of dreams and nightmares. When Morpheus is captured by an occultist and held prisoner for more than 100 years, his kingdom (the Dreaming) falls into ruin, with the balance between dreams and nightmares lost, and rogue entities blurring the lines between the waking world and the fantastical nature of human imagination. After escaping, Morpheus must regain his throne and restore the balance before irreversible damage is done.

“The Sandman” boasts an incredible ensemble cast, with star turns across the board. Jenna Coleman, Stephen Fry, Charles Dance, Patton Oswald, Joely Richardson and Boyd Holbrook are particularly enjoyable, while David Thewlis puts in a staggeringly unsettling performance as one of the many threats Morpheus must prevent from rending the human world asunder.

Tom Sturridge as Morpheus and Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death in ‘The Sandman.’ (Supplied)

Props, too, to Sturridge for not buckling under the weight of such a momentous character — one beloved by decades of readers. While his performance, at times, relies on such intense whispering as to almost be shouting, Sturridge makes Morpheus a believably fallible protagonist, and a charismatic guide through Gaiman’s fantastically vivid world.

“The Sandman” is many things — fantastical, dark, malevolent, violent, shocking, horrifying and heartwarming — and often several of those at the same time. Weaving such a fanciful tapestry is no mean task, especially in a genre about to get a lot busier with new “Lord of the Rings” and “Game of Thrones” series on the way. 

“The Sandman” does more than hold its own, however, and while there may be some fans unhappy at some of the tweaks made between page and screen, this remains epic, dazzling, complicated fantasy.


Why Saudi DJ KEH quit his job to focus on music

Why Saudi DJ KEH quit his job to focus on music
Updated 12 August 2022

Why Saudi DJ KEH quit his job to focus on music

Why Saudi DJ KEH quit his job to focus on music
  • DJ KEH: In 2017, I went to an event in the Philippines to attend an international DJ (event), and from here the spark started
  • DJ KEH: The nice thing about being a DJ is that you can create a common bond between you and the audience and take them on a journey through music

RIYADH: Though delivering beats and remixes for a living may seem risky, Saudi DJ KEH does not regret quitting his job at airline carrier Saudia to work as a professional DJ.

“My music career started in 2017 with great potential to make a huge difference in the (electronic dance music) scene in Saudi Arabia due to the popularity and unique style,” he told Arab News.

“In 2017, I went to an event in the Philippines to attend an international DJ (event), and from here the spark started,” he said, adding that he was transfixed by the way the DJs at the turntables bewitched audiences with their shows. 

“There, I realized that I wanted to be a DJ. I didn’t even finish my vacation,” he said. “I went back to start learning, but my family was not supportive at the beginning because, as always, there is something strange about anything new … but after a while, my mother supported me in every possible way.”

Now DJ KEH gets requests to play at public and private events, and has played across a whole raft of events in Saudi Arabia.

“The nice thing about being a DJ is that you can create a common bond between you and the audience and take them on a journey through music,” he said of his profession. “Through music, you can enter the hearts of all people without saying a single word.”

He added that he thinks that it is important for music classes to be introduced into all communities.

“It is very important to have music in the community to learn about other cultures. The language of music brings all the world together,” said the DJ.

He says his musical journey has been influenced by many DJ’s, including a close friend.

“I was inspired by my friend and my first supporter, Hani Al-Bangari, and there are many local talents. Globally, there are many, starting with David Guetta and Martin Carol Cox,” he said.

Sharing his future plan, which is to represent his country at the biggest international events as well as possible, he said: “I want to prove that we are successful in all areas whenever the opportunity arises.

“I think the government is giving space to talented local musicians, and this is one of the directions of Vision 2030. Now, my goal and the goal of all DJs is to develop the DJ profession in Saudi Arabia.”