Restaurateur Natasha Sideris talks Saudi plans, new dining concept in Dubai

Natasha Sideris is the founder and CEO of Tashas Group. (Supplied)
Natasha Sideris is the founder and CEO of Tashas Group. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 04 July 2022

Restaurateur Natasha Sideris talks Saudi plans, new dining concept in Dubai

Natasha Sideris is the founder and CEO of Tashas Group. (Supplied)

DUBAI: It’s one of Dubai’s most buzzed about eateries and while the Instagram-worthy Flamingo Room readies to open its doors in Riyadh later this year, we caught up with restaurateur Natasha Sideris to find out more about her success and worldwide expansion plans.

The founder and CEO of Tashas Group, which has a portfolio of varied dining concepts, shed light on why she sees Saudi Arabia as a growing market, as well as her plans for new dining outlets.

“Our decision to expand into Saudi was informed by two things. Firstly, the location that we have found for Flamingo Room by tashas is extraordinary in Bujairi Terrace. Secondly, I think that there are wonderful opportunities in the country. It is a previously untapped market with a large population that is open to new concepts,” Sideris told Arab News.

“As with any new market, there will be challenges,” she added, explain that “we have spent eight years in the UAE forging great relationships with suppliers, shopfitters (and) photographers. It will take time to build relationships with new suppliers, but we are well on our way.”

Curating the concept specially for the Kingdom’s market, the group will open the destination restaurant in a three-storey building inspired by Najd architecture in Diriyah, on the banks of Wadi Hanifah.

The group, which was founded in South Africa and operates out of Dubai in the UAE, has seven brands under its umbrella: tashas, Le Parc by tashas, Flamingo Room by tashas, Avli by tashas, Galaxy Bar, Collective Africa, and 1701.

In addition to its expansion into Saudi Arabia, in the next six to 12 months the group plans to open five other locations, in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, South Africa and London.

“We are going to enter the UK market slowly and sensibly,” Sideris revealed. “The pandemic, as well as Brexit, have made a major impact so we want to make sure we adapt the concept to the market and, all going well, we will expand the number of locations. “

The group is also introducing a brand new concept in Dubai’s Alserkal Arts hub. Called Nala, the project will offer diners luxury quick-service, something the founder said is important to her.

“This concept is close to my heart and we have been working on it for a couple of years. So many people are strapped for time yet would like to eat beautiful food in a stunning environment. Our goal is to serve our guests freshly prepared meals quickly and provide fantastic quality at the same time.”


Michael Jackson tribute show headed to Dubai

Michael Jackson tribute show headed to Dubai
Updated 6 sec ago

Michael Jackson tribute show headed to Dubai

Michael Jackson tribute show headed to Dubai

DUBAI: Fans of the King of Pop, rejoice. A Michael Jackson tribute show is one of four major concerts headed to Dubai Opera in September, the venue has announced.

The month-long program includes the ballet “Romeo and Juliet, The Greatest Love Story of All Time”; the opera “La Traviata”; a performance by French-Canadian singer-songwriter Margaux Sauve; and “Michael Lives Forever, A Tribute to Michael Jackson.”

The Jackson tribute show features Rodrigo Teaser, and will be staged on Sept. 23 and 24 at 8 p.m. The show includes classic hits such as “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Smooth Criminal” and “Thriller.”

Shakespeare fans can watch his tragic masterpiece come to life with “Romeo and Juliet, The Greatest Love Story of All Time,” courtesy of the State Ballet of Georgia. Performances will take place on Sept. 9 at 8 p.m., Sept. 10 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sept. 11 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Verdi's “La Traviata,” which describes the ill-fated love affair between high-class courtesan Violetta and poet Alfredo Germont, will show at the Dubai Opera on Sept. 13 and 14 at 8 p.m.

“Ghostly Kisses,” a musical project by Margaux Sauve, will be staged at the venue on Sept. 17 at 8 p.m.


Saudi fashion designer Honayda Serafi talks Harrods career breakthrough

Saudi fashion designer Honayda Serafi talks Harrods career breakthrough
Updated 17 August 2022

Saudi fashion designer Honayda Serafi talks Harrods career breakthrough

Saudi fashion designer Honayda Serafi talks Harrods career breakthrough

DUBAI: From Priyanka Chopra to Lupita Nyong’o and Adriana Lima, Saudi Arabian designer Honayda Serafi has dressed many A-listers around the world. Since founding her label Honayda in 2016, Serafi has captured the attention of some of Saudi’s most stylish women and celebrities with her standout designs in elegant and sophisticated silhouettes. This month, she became the first Saudi designer to showcase her collection at Harrods in London, reaching yet another pinnacle for her label.

“I feel very proud as Honayda is the first female-led Saudi label to be displayed at Harrods. The collaboration had been cooking for about eight months, and it was a pleasure working with their team on this exciting launch of exclusive pieces available only at Harrods. It is an honor to be retailing at one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious department stores — but definitely, the journey is ongoing, and we are not stopping here,” said Serafi.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by HONAYDA (@honaydaofficial)

Not only is this a major milestone for the brand, but it also serves as an inspiration for other emerging labels from the Kingdom. Since founding her brand, Serafi has always aimed to join the international fashion scene, while also aiming to inspire other female Saudi designers into believing in their potential. “I hope this brings inspiration to all talented Saudi designers. The world is full of opportunities, and there is a place for everyone. To the rising designers, I tell them to focus on their goals and to keep pushing themselves harder,” she said.

The Saudi design scene has rapidly evolved in the last few years, with talent from the region being recognized internationally, especially on the red carpet. With the establishment of the Fashion Council and its initiatives like the mentorship and incubation programs, homegrown designers can access the many resources they need to advance in the industry.

Honayda creations at Harrods, London. (Supplied)

“When I first started my brand, the fashion scene in Saudi Arabia was still young. I discovered every aspect of creating from my own experiences — starting from sourcing to tailoring and selling. Since then, I’ve seen amazing growth in the industry. By forging and implementing several programs that aim to promote Saudi fashion locally and internationally, the Fashion Commission has put a great deal into developing the sector in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.”

Proudly wearing her Saudi heritage on her sleeve, Serafi’s mission has always been to empower women through her clothes. “I believe in women empowering women. The brand was nurtured in a way to have a cause and to be one with a voice. Stepping ahead by supporting and lifting each other proves achievable when we join forces. Women know and love Honayda because they relate to it.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by HONAYDA (@honaydaofficial)

The starting point of every Honayda collection is based on the women who have inspired Serafi and those who have left a mark in history — be it from the past or the modern day. Her fall/winter 22 collection at Harrods is no different. Titled “A Charm from Afghan,” the designs are an ode to the powerful character of Afghan women, their strength and the country’s spectacular architecture.
 


Model Bella Hadid talks starring in upcoming ‘Ramy’ show 

 Model Bella Hadid talks starring in upcoming ‘Ramy’ show 
Updated 17 August 2022

Model Bella Hadid talks starring in upcoming ‘Ramy’ show 

 Model Bella Hadid talks starring in upcoming ‘Ramy’ show 

DUBAI: Palestinian Dutch supermodel Bella Hadid this week opened up about starring in the third season of Hulu’s “Ramy.”

The Emmy-nominated show, starring comedian Ramy Youssef, is about an Egyptian-American living in New Jersey who is determined to become a better Muslim as he grows into an adult, often stumbling along the way.

In an interview with GQ Magazine, Hadid, who stars as a “weirdo girlfriend,” recalled moments on set that made her heart full. On the first day, the crew surprised her with a shirt that stated: “Free Palestine.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid)

“I couldn’t handle my emotions,” Hadid said. “Growing up and being Arab, it was the first time that I’d ever been with like-minded people. I was able to see myself.”

Youssef and Hadid first connected when the Golden Globe winner emailed the runway star and asked if she would be interested to guest star in the show. After a long Zoom conversation, Hadid agreed.

“I was like, this is perfect,” Hadid said. “We hadn’t even met before, but I had a feeling it was going to be kismet.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid)

The catwalk star, who has always been vocal about her support for Palestine, said that her friendship with Youssef grew stronger during the show.

“There was one time where Ramy came over during Ramadan and allowed me to pray with him,” she told the publication. “And it was one of the most beautiful moments of my adult life.”

Hadid, who was born in Washington, D.C., said her family relocated to California when she was a toddler. “I was with my Palestinian side (of the family in D.C.),” she said.

The relocation was not easy for her, she said.

“I would have loved to grow up and be with my dad every day and studying and really being able to practice, just in general being able to live in a Muslim culture,” she said. “But I wasn’t given that.”

“I speak about (this stuff) for the elderly that are still living there that have never been able to see Palestine free, and for the children that can still grow up and have a beautiful life,” she added. 


REVIEW: ‘Five Days at Memorial’ replicates the horrors of Hurricane Katrina

REVIEW: ‘Five Days at Memorial’ replicates the horrors of Hurricane Katrina
Updated 17 August 2022

REVIEW: ‘Five Days at Memorial’ replicates the horrors of Hurricane Katrina

REVIEW: ‘Five Days at Memorial’ replicates the horrors of Hurricane Katrina

CHENNAI: Apple+ TV’s limited series “Five Days at Memorial” sets out to capture a natural calamity in its stark reality. Adapted from Sheri Fink’s “Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital,” a retelling of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in late 2005, the TV version is a brutal but compelling watch. It is brought out most poignantly in a scene where we see an elderly patient watching the raging storm from a window at the Memorial Medical Centre.

Created by John Ridley, writer of “12 Years a Slave,” and “Lost” showrunner Carlton Cuse, the series brings drama without overly exaggerating, along with a near-perfect recreation of the hospital that becomes a character in itself. Real footage is seamlessly woven into scenes, with the first five chapters devoted to the first five days of the catastrophic event that left 45 patients dead.

Dr Anna Pou is portrayed by the excellent Vera Farmiga, who puts in a powerful performance standing watching the hurricane batter the bridge between two segments of the facility. Then there is the nerve-wracking dilemma as a daughter (Raven Dauda) is forced to abandon her critically ill mother, nurse Diane Robichaux (Julie Ann Emery). A deep sense of heartrending misery and utter helplessness pervades just about every frame.

As “Five Days at Memorial” begins, we see local residents trooping inside the facility to join patients and staff — standard procedure, as the building had withstood many storms in its 80 years. But in this case, the hurricane smashed glass panes and wrenched chunks of iron, leaving little respite. The hurricane passes, but levees then collapse, flooding the city. With the problems mounting, the hospital’s incident commander, Susan Mulderick (Cherry Jones), discovers that the building’s bulky manual says nothing about evacuation protocols in case of floods. With elevators out of operation, doctors and others carry patients to the rooftop helipad.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Apple TV+ (@appletvplus)

The last few episodes focus on the investigation into the controversial decision to euthanize terminally-ill patients, and explore the meaning of care and compassion. But what stands out is the failure of the administration, the Federal Management Agency, and all those who had the power to intervene to avoid the disaster.


US artist Grimanesa Amorós to present light installation in Riyadh 

US artist Grimanesa Amorós to present light installation in Riyadh 
Updated 16 August 2022

US artist Grimanesa Amorós to present light installation in Riyadh 

US artist Grimanesa Amorós to present light installation in Riyadh 

DUBAI: US artist Grimanesa Amorós, famous as the Light Sculptor, is bringing her work to Riyadh. 

The Peruvian-born visual artist will present her latest monumental art installation titled “Scientia” in the Diplomatic Quarter Cultural Palace at the Noor Riyadh festival from Nov. 3 to 19.

The installation is titled ‘Scientia.’ (Supplied)

The installation addresses fundamental questions about the impact of a rapidly shifting environment on the mental, psychological and emotional well-being of individuals living in fast-paced, modern societies.

Her light sculpture was previously showcased at the Azkuna Zentroa Center of Society and Contemporary Culture in Bilbao, Spain.

Amorós, famous for her large-scale light sculpture installations, explores human emotions and connections to the social environment using an elemental understanding of the world involving nature’s basic elements: fire, water, earth and light.

The artist has exhibited her work in multiple locations around the world including Mexico, Beijing and New York City.