From 4 million TikTok followers to signing with Universal Music, Egyptian singer Bsmalla is going places

From 4 million TikTok followers to signing with Universal Music, Egyptian singer Bsmalla is going places
Basmala Alaa has so far released six Arabic songs with Universal. (Supplied)
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Updated 08 July 2022

From 4 million TikTok followers to signing with Universal Music, Egyptian singer Bsmalla is going places

From 4 million TikTok followers to signing with Universal Music, Egyptian singer Bsmalla is going places

DUBAI: The 20-year-old Dubai-based Egyptian singer Basmala Alaa — who goes by the artist name Bsmalla — recently released her debut single on Universal Music MENA, having signed to the label after garnering more than 4 million followers on social-media platform TikTok over the past few years. 

At first, Alaa didn’t sing in her TikTok videos, but — as she gained popularity, she decided to test the water with some covers of popular Arabic songs. 

“I’ve been singing since I was 10 years old,” Alaa tells Arab News. “The older I got, the more my voice developed. My parents noticed it and would say: ‘This child has something special.’ They supported me a lot, but I was also training myself.” 

 

 

Self-taught Alaa might have inherited her love of music — and talent for it — from her father, who was in a band during his formative years in Egypt. “He made me listen to music and helped me understand music,” she says. 

“I will never forget how my family have always stood by me,” she continues. “Not many people have supportive families, so I want to thank mine.”

Alaa — who speaks with a noticeable Khaleeji accent, despite her Egyptian heritage, having grown up in the UAE — started posting videos of herself covering songs in a variety of Arabic dialects, from the Gulf to North Africa. Her followers were quick to praise her natural vocal ability. “What encouraged me was people’s comments, saying that my voice is exactly what you hear in the recording,” she says. “I’m not ‘faking’ my voice.” 

Alaa says she’s a fan of Sherine Abdel-Wahab, Asala Nasri, and Kadim Al-Sahir, among others. As for Egyptian pop, she enjoys Tamer Hosny and Mohamed Hamaki. 




Alaa recording the vocals for 'Helo Moodak.' (Supplied)

Her own music isn’t easily classified. She has so far recorded six Arabic songs, she says (an EP is slated for release later this year) in a variety of dialects and genres. “I’m exploring what people like. I like to impress my audience. I love it when they like what I’m doing,” she says. “The style of singing that I like may not resonate with people — I love classic, romantic, calm songs with a lot of emotion, but I noticed that my audience love, from me, songs that have more excitement and a love for life.”

Her debut release, “Helo Moodak,” is a perfect example of the latter — a sweet pop song with a light-hearted video that includes touches of quirky animation with a comic-strip feel, stop-motion footage, and includes scenes of Alaa and a large cuddly toy that she’s alternately throwing around then hugging.

“It’s my favorite song so far,” Alaa tells Arab News. “It’s about a teenage girl who’s imagining being in love with someone. And that person is like her teddy bear.”

 

 

The song was written for her by lyricist Ehab Abdelazeem and composer Amr Al-Shazly. Alaa recalls feeling a little anxious during recording sessions, imagining how things would turn out. 

“I’m not saying that I’m used to recording ‘officially’ yet, but I have recorded many songs. Still, there’s always that slight nervous feeling of thinking, ‘What will people say? What will their reaction be? How’s my voice? What about the video clip?’” 

As it turns out, her nerves were unfounded. The song has been well-received, and there are already plenty of people posting clips of them singing and dancing along to the catchy track. 

“I see a lot of children playing my song and I see adults imitating them,” she says. “That makes me happy. It makes me smile.”

 

 

As a member of the so-called ‘TikTok generation,’ Alaa’s story is somewhat akin to those of Lil Nas X and Olivia Rodrigo, who were also discovered through the video app. TikTok is unquestionably influencing the musical landscape, for better or worse. Alaa, perhaps unsurprisingly, prefers to see it in a positive light.  

“TikTok is a platform for talent,” she explained. “Before I was on TikTok, I was singing on other platforms, but TikTok helped to show my talent more. People see me not just in one country, but all countries around the world.”

So far, Alaa has only performed online. She says she has turned down offers to do live performances, as she feels it’s still too early for her to take to the stage in the real world. “I want to establish myself more first, and I want to have a large repertory of songs,” she says.

The singer currently has 4.7 million followers on TikTok, a statistic she’s still struggling to get her head around. “It’s a very strange feeling. I said to myself ‘Four million people on the planet are literally following me!’ But it’s a very nice feeling at the same time. I’m very happy and I aspire to have more followers,” she says. 

“Music is everything to me,” she continues. “Music always touches something in my heart. I would love to show people what’s in my heart through my music.”


Model Alessandra Ambrosio, actress Vanessa Hudgens turn to Arab labels for summer style 

Model Alessandra Ambrosio, actress Vanessa Hudgens turn to Arab labels for summer style 
Updated 4 min 32 sec ago

Model Alessandra Ambrosio, actress Vanessa Hudgens turn to Arab labels for summer style 

Model Alessandra Ambrosio, actress Vanessa Hudgens turn to Arab labels for summer style 

DUBAI: From US Egyptian jewelry maker Jacquie Aiche to Lebanese eyewear maven Karen Wazen, celebrities from around the world are turning to Arab designers to accessorize their summer looks. 

US actress Vanessa Hudgens recently shared a picture of herself wearing a ring designed by  Aiche. The “High School Musical” star championed the brand’s double pyramid triangle ring in smoky topaz. 

Hudgens’ summery look featured a vintage Versace tie dye mini dress and a midsize Queen Nefertiti necklace in yellow gold designed by jewelry label FoundRae. 

Another one of Aiche’s loyal clients is Canadian supermodel and former “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Winnie Harlow. 

The star was spotted flaunting one of the brand’s turquoise beaded necklaces. 

Earlier this week, Brazilian supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio stepped out wearing Aiche’s pave diamond Small Mama necklace that retails at $5,750. 

On her Malibu stroll, the catwalk star wore a linen jumpsuit which she paired with a cotton bandeau top. Later that evening, she posed for pictures in an oversized suit by The Mannei, a brand founded by Polish-Jordanian stylist and model Sara Boruc Mannei. 

In a previous interview with Arab News, Aiche said that to her, jewelry is “everything” — it is much more than just adornment. “It speaks to the soul. It is a form of self-expression, a way of deep healing and a talisman of personal meaning,” she explained. 

Aiche, who launched her eponymous label from her garage in 2008, amassed an impressive celebrity client list that includes Hailey Bieber, Usher, Rihanna, Jada Pinkett Smith and Blake Lively. 

“I have such a strong, beautiful tribe, who have all sort of organically found and gravitated towards my designs. I love that about life, the unknown and the unexpected,” she said. 

Meanwhile, Lebanese eyewear designer Karen Wazen also had her moment in the spotlight this week with a number of international celebrities stepping out in her shades. 

Real estate broker and breakout star of Netflix’s popular “Selling Sunset” reality show Christine Quinn wore Wazen’s Pam reflective glasses in gold.

Meanwhile, US content creator Chriselle Lim, who has more than 1.4 million followers on Instagram, wore the Jen shades in brown. 


Review: ‘Thirteen Lives’ pays tribute to real-world heroics of Thai rescue mission

Review: ‘Thirteen Lives’ pays tribute to real-world heroics of Thai rescue mission
Updated 07 August 2022

Review: ‘Thirteen Lives’ pays tribute to real-world heroics of Thai rescue mission

Review: ‘Thirteen Lives’ pays tribute to real-world heroics of Thai rescue mission

LONDON: When details began to emerge of the daring rescue of a Thai football team from flooded caves in Tham Luang Nang Non, it seemed only a matter of time before Hollywood swooped in to buff the real-life drama with the polish of a big-budget movie adaptation. Happily, “Thirteen Lives” is more than a shameless cash in. Director Ron Howard treads carefully, telling the story of a truly monumental international rescue effort which eventually expanded to include more than 10,000 people. Rather than attempting to only superficially capture that sense of scale, however, Howard focuses in on a few crucial players — the British dive team who first located the boys, the small group who planned and orchestrated the rescue of the 12 young players and their coach, the local governor tasked with bringing everybody home, the Thai engineer working with locals to divert the floodwaters, and the Thai Navy SEALs who spearheaded the initial response.

 

 

For the most part, this focused approach works well. Viggo Mortensen and Colin Farrell (questionable English accents aside) are excellent as divers Richard Stanton and John Volanthen, as are co-stars Joel Edgerton (as Australian Richard Harris) and Sahajak Boonthanakit as Governor Narongsak. Though the famous faces inevitably get the lion’s share of the screentime, Howard does his best to tell more than just the tale of the Western saviors – taking a few beats to flesh out characters such as the parents of the boys, local farmers and the frustrated SEALs. 

In order to do so, Howard also had to be a little ruthless with his 150 minutes — so there is no mention of Elon Musk’s contentious contributions to the rescue effort, and no time to find out much about any of the innumerous supporting volunteers. Instead, “Thirteen Lives” is a tense, taut drama, claustrophobically shot and scored. It’s perhaps impossible to accurately recreate the sheer terror that must have gripped the rescuers and rescued alike, but Howard goes some way towards acknowledging their magnificence.


Edinburgh Festival Fringe presents Yemeni play 

Edinburgh Festival Fringe presents Yemeni play 
Updated 07 August 2022

Edinburgh Festival Fringe presents Yemeni play 

Edinburgh Festival Fringe presents Yemeni play 

DUBAI: Scotland’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe this week presented a Yemeni play titled “Saber Came to Tea” to give visitors a taste of the Middle East. 

The short play, based on a true story, follows a young couple who stand against the constraining social norms of their families and risk their lives to be together. 

The play, which features musical and multimedia elements, is by award-winning Yemeni artist Shatha Altowai and her composer husband Saber Bamatraf. 

The couple worked with Palestinian poet Ghazi Hussein and writer and director Robert Rae on the narrative.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe kicked off on Aug. 5 and will run until Aug. 29. 

This year’s event returned in full capacity after it was canceled in 2020 and was reduced in size in 2021. 


Muslim ‘Home Alone’ film to hit UK screens in aid of charity

Muslim ‘Home Alone’ film to hit UK screens in aid of charity
Updated 06 August 2022

Muslim ‘Home Alone’ film to hit UK screens in aid of charity

Muslim ‘Home Alone’ film to hit UK screens in aid of charity
  • The critically acclaimed “Super Hijabi,” which stars a Muslim girl wearing a hijab, will be screened in five British cities

LONDON: A film dubbed the “Muslim version of ‘Home Alone’” is set to appear in UK cinemas in aid of international charity Penny Appeal’s campaign on behalf of orphans.

The critically acclaimed “Super Hijabi,” which stars a Muslim girl wearing a hijab, will be screened in five British cities — London, Bradford, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow — from Aug. 19-29.

“Super Hijabi” is based around a 10-year-old girl tech genius whose parents who are on the brink of divorce. After thieves steal the family safe, she uses her skills to track down the bad guys and reclaim the family’s belongings before financial stress forces her parents to call it quits, Penny Appeal said in a statement.

The charity described the film as a “Muslim version of ‘Home Alone’,” and said the production “is revolutionary to the world of Muslim-inspired movies.”

Poet and performer Boonaa Mohammed and stand-up comedian and actor Omar Regan head the film’s cast.

Penny Appeal founder Adeem Younis said: “We are very proud to present a film made by Muslims and distributed by Muslims.”

Younis said that the screenings will raise money for the charity’s OrphanKind projects, which provide vulnerable orphans around the world with basic necessities, including school uniforms, clothing and books.


Dubai to host a new film festival in October

Dubai to host a new film festival in October
Updated 06 August 2022

Dubai to host a new film festival in October

Dubai to host a new film festival in October

DUBAI: The Dubai-based Great Minds Events Management company has announced the launch of Meta Film Festival, which will be held Oct. 27-29 at Vox Cinema in Dubai’s Nakheel Mall.

The festival is billed as the first private-sector- and industry-stakeholder-led film festival in the Middle East and Africa and promises red-carpet premieres and an awards ceremony. It comes five years after the last edition of the not-for-profit, state-run Dubai International Film Festival, which ran annually from 2004 to 2017.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by @meta.filmfest

“Due to its location, the festival guarantees one of the most diversified audiences present at any festival, with the legendary glitz and glamour of Dubai to accompany,” the official website states.

The festival will conclude with an awards ceremony that will honor films across seven categories: Best Arabic Feature Film, Best International Feature Film, Best Animation Film, Best Documentary Film, Best Short Film, Best Student/Youth Film and the Film Development Fund award.

Meta Film Festival is accepting submissions on its website, with a selection committee that includes the managing director of Vox Cinemas and the head of OSN Studios deciding which titles make the final cut.