Why Saudi DJ KEH quit his job to focus on music

Special Why Saudi DJ KEH quit his job to focus on music
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DJ KEH does not regret quitting his job at Saudia to work as a professional DJ. (Supplied)
Special Why Saudi DJ KEH quit his job to focus on music
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DJ KEH does not regret quitting his job at Saudia to work as a professional DJ. (Supplied)
Special Why Saudi DJ KEH quit his job to focus on music
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DJ KEH does not regret quitting his job at Saudia to work as a professional DJ. (Supplied)
Special Why Saudi DJ KEH quit his job to focus on music
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DJ KEH does not regret quitting his job at Saudia to work as a professional DJ. (Supplied)
Special Why Saudi DJ KEH quit his job to focus on music
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DJ KEH does not regret quitting his job at Saudia to work as a professional DJ. (Supplied)
Special Why Saudi DJ KEH quit his job to focus on music
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DJ KEH does not regret quitting his job at Saudia to work as a professional DJ. (Supplied)
Special Why Saudi DJ KEH quit his job to focus on music
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DJ KEH does not regret quitting his job at Saudia to work as a professional DJ. (Supplied)
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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.”


Behind the scenes of ‘The Woman King’ with Hollywood superstar Viola Davis

Behind the scenes of ‘The Woman King’ with Hollywood superstar Viola Davis
Oscar, Emmy and Tony-winning actress Viola Davis stars in ‘The Woman King.’ (AFP)
Updated 06 October 2022

Behind the scenes of ‘The Woman King’ with Hollywood superstar Viola Davis

Behind the scenes of ‘The Woman King’ with Hollywood superstar Viola Davis
  • Director Gina Prince-Bythewood, Viola Davis and other stars discuss their groundbreaking historical epic
  • The film is set to be released in Gulf cinemas on Oct. 6

DUBAI: In the 26 years since she debuted on the screen, 57-year-old American actress Viola Davis has become the only Black American to win the Triple Crown of acting — an Oscar, an Emmy and a Tony, had her star included on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and has even been named by the New York Times as one of the top 10 actors of the century. Never, though, has she been prouder of a film than she is of “The Woman King.”

“For the first time in my career, I had agency — agency to be able to control the narrative for myself, to have a character that reflected me,” Davis tells Arab News. “It’s a story in which I don’t have to make my blackness disappear in order to make the role work. It meant freedom — that’s what it’s meant.” 

Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (“Love & Basketball,” “The Secret Life of Bees”), “The Woman King” is the sort of film that many have called for for decades — a historical epic in the style of “Braveheart” or “Gladiator” that centers on the story of African leaders. It is set in the real-life West African kingdom of Dahomey in 1823 and focuses on General Nanisca (Davis), the woman who would become Dahomey’s ‘king.’ 

For Bythewood, it’s the film she had been dreaming of making all her career. “‘Braveheart’ is one of my favorite movies, and I’ve always wanted to make our ‘Braveheart.’ So when the script came, I thought this might be the chance to do it,” says Bythewood.

Julius Tennon and Viola Davis attend a special screening of ‘The Woman King’ at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. (AFP)

Getting it made, however, was anything but easy. Davis and her husband, Julius Tennon, fought for seven years, with Bythewood coming in during the last year to help assemble a cast that was worthy of such an ambitious project. 

“To get from that desire to a green light is a lot. It’s a lot of fight. It’s a lot of moving parts. It’s a lot of casting. But I feel like it just happened at the right time. And certainly, I feel like all my work up until this point got me to a position to be able to do this story and tell it the right way,” Bythewood says.

Viola Davis and John Boyega in ‘The Woman King.’ (Supplied)

The team assembled an all-star cast of up-and-coming talent, including Lashana Lynch (“Doctor Strange 2,” “No Time to Die”), John Boyega (the “Star Wars” sequel trilogy), and Thuso Mbedu (“The Underground Railroad”), each of whom took on different historical figures that showed the complicated nature of 19th-century Africa, in which prominent West African kingdoms worked with European slavers to sell those they defeated in battle, a practice they later rejected. 

“I really had to learn about this history, and once I did I had a responsibility in portraying this man to not shy away from his conflicts, especially the conflicts that are quite negative,” Boyega says. “I had to be open to the reality of the wrong, for the sake of good portrayal.”

Viola Davis in ‘The Woman King.’ (Supplied)

At the center of it all is Davis herself, giving perhaps the best performance of her career. 

“This movie wouldn’t have gotten made without Viola. No one else can be Nanisca, and she’s everything she is off the screen as she is on the screen. She’s so powerful,” says Bythewood.

“She wants collaboration, and we had a great time building this character. She wasn’t familiar with fighting and stunts because she hadn’t done it before, but I have, so I brought my athlete mentality to her and let her know what it really feels like to be in a ring, to hit or be hit, to swing a weapon. Once we had that, we could really build her from there, and once we had Viola’s performance, we had our key ingredient,” Bythewood continues.

For Lynch, this was not just about telling the story of an African kingdom — it was the story of a Black woman-led society, one that has never been explored on screen before, and she and the crew felt a huge responsibility to do it correctly.

“For these women, this is the first time that we’re telling their story. We have to do right by them. These are our ancestors. These women are the reason why we are here on this earth,” says Lynch.


John Legend to perform as part of Louvre Abu Dhabi’s fifth anniversary celebrations

John Legend to perform as part of Louvre Abu Dhabi’s fifth anniversary celebrations
The singer-songwriter dropped his newest album “Legend” in September. (AFP)
Updated 04 October 2022

John Legend to perform as part of Louvre Abu Dhabi’s fifth anniversary celebrations

John Legend to perform as part of Louvre Abu Dhabi’s fifth anniversary celebrations

DUBAI: In celebration of the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s fifth anniversary, US superstar John Legend is headed to the UAE capital to headline the Louvre Abu Dhabi Grand Festival. The performance is set to take place on Nov.12.

The EGOT musician, who has won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards, is most famous for his soulful tracks like “All of Me,” “Ordinary People” and “Love Me Now.”

The singer-songwriter, who dropped his newest album “Legend” in September, has already performed two sold-out shows in the UAE, at the Dubai Jazz Festival in 2018 and at Dubai's Coca-Cola Arena in 2020.
 

The new album, which boasts foot-tapping tracks like “Guy Like Me,” “Strawberry Blush” and “You,” features collaborations with the likes of Rapsody, Rick Ross, Amber Mark, Jhene Aiko and Ty Dolla $ign. The artist will no doubt perform a number of tracks from the album in Abu Dhabi.

“’Legend’ is full of sensuality, joy and celebration. But our lives are more complex than that. My family and I have also been challenged by loss and grief and pain. I wanted to make space on this album to be vulnerable, spiritual and reflective. I needed this music to help me heal, and to hopefully help others heal. I brought my full self to this album, and that’s why I decided to make it my first (sorta) self-titled album,” Legend posted on his social media about the record.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi Grand Festival will also feature Majid Al-Muhandis – an  Iraqi-Saudi singer and composer, who will take to the stage on Nov. 11. Earlier this year, the singer made waves when Russian supermodel Irina Shayk got a starring role in his music video for the song “Waareftek” (“I Knew You”) from his 2022 album of the same name. Shayk stars as the singer’s love interest in the five-minute-long clip.

On Nov. 13, Egyptian composer, pianist and conductor Omar Khariat will perform as part of the festival. Khairat has composed a number of successful works such as “The Fortune-teller,” “The Magic Perfumes” and “Arabic Rhapsody.”

 


Why Egypt isn’t submitting any films for the 2023 Academy Awards

Why Egypt isn’t submitting any films for the 2023 Academy Awards
Updated 03 October 2022

Why Egypt isn’t submitting any films for the 2023 Academy Awards

Why Egypt isn’t submitting any films for the 2023 Academy Awards

CAIRO: Despite playing host to two of the Arab world’s most prestigious film festivals, as well as being famous for its storied film industry, Egypt has decided not to submit any titles for the Best International Feature Film category at the upcoming Academy Awards, with industry insiders telling Arab News the decision was a difficult one.

The members of the film selection committee, which falls under the Cinema Professionals Syndicate, decided to opt out of the running for the Oscars, which will be held on March 12, 2023. However, some critics did voice their support for a clutch of films.

Art critic Faiza Hindawi, a member of the committee, told Arab News that one film which generated huge buzz was Nadine Khan’s “Abu Saddam.” However, the film failed to make the cut due to strict regulations about its release date.

“‘Abu Saddam’ was not on the list of the four films closest to nomination due to its non-compliance with the conditions and regulations stipulated in the awards, including the date of the screening. One of the conditions is that the film was shown in the year 2022 and, unfortunately, ‘Abu Saddam’ was shown last year,” Hindawi explained.

“We are bound by conditions that must be met in the works that are nominated, procedural conditions (as well as) technical conditions, meaning that the films that meet the procedural conditions are presented to us to choose from, and the list did not contain ‘Abu Saddam,’” she added.

A few of the titles floated for consideration this year included “Kira Waljen” directed by Marwan Hamed; “Qamar 14” directed by Hadi El-Bagoury; “The Crime” directed by Sherif Arafa; and “2 Talaat Harb” directed by Magdy Ahmed Ali.

Egyptian producer, scriptwriter and member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Mohamed Hefzy added that despite a bevy of commendable films released in 2022, none were nominated due to the high standard of films that will compete from around the world.

Mohamed Hefzy shared his thoughts on the lack of an Egyptian submission this year. (AFP)

“The committee that made the decision included more than 30 filmmakers, and it is clear that the films presented to them did not live up to their expectations to be nominated for the Oscars,” he told Arab News.

“As a person who is a member of the Academy, and those who vote for the best international film, I can say that the level of the 90 films that compete every year for Oscars from all over the world are well-made films, so the competition is very tough, and in my opinion when there aren’t any Oscar-worthy movies worth nominating it’s better to not nominate any,” he added.

Previous films submitted for Oscars consideration by Egypt include “Soad” (2019), “Youm El Din” (2018) and “Sheikh Jackson” (2017), among others.


US band OneRepublic to headline new music festival in Abu Dhabi

US band OneRepublic to headline new music festival in Abu Dhabi
Updated 03 October 2022

US band OneRepublic to headline new music festival in Abu Dhabi

US band OneRepublic to headline new music festival in Abu Dhabi

DUBAI: Just when you thought Abu Dhabi’s event calendar couldn’t get any busier, events organizer Live Nation has announced a new music festival headed to the UAE capital. Amplified Music Festival will take place on Yas Links from Nov. 11-13. Coming to the UAE for the first time, the three-day-long event will see international headliners OneRepublic, Ministry of Sound and CAS perform.

Performing on Nov. 11 will be American pop rock band OneRepublic, most famous for their smash single “Apologize.” The band recently released a new single, “I Ain’t Worried,” featured in “Top Gun: Maverick.”

On Nov. 12, festival-goers can witness the 15-piece Ministry of Sound Funk & Soul band presenting their celebrated live show, “Ministry of Sound Disco.”

On Nov. 13, alternative pop phenomenon CAS, who sold out two shows on their previous visit to the UAE earlier this year, will take to the stage as headliners.


Mayyas choreographer Nadim Cherfan addresses historic ‘America’s Got Talent’ win at Lebanon event

Mayyas choreographer Nadim Cherfan addresses historic ‘America’s Got Talent’ win at Lebanon event
Updated 02 October 2022

Mayyas choreographer Nadim Cherfan addresses historic ‘America’s Got Talent’ win at Lebanon event

Mayyas choreographer Nadim Cherfan addresses historic ‘America’s Got Talent’ win at Lebanon event

DUBAI: Celebrating the historic win of Lebanese dance troupe Mayyas on the “America’s Got Talent” stage, founder and choreographer Nadim Cherfan appeared at a special question-and-answer session at the US embassy in Beirut.

“I never thought. I never planned. I never dreamed. I just went for it,” said Cherfan about the group’s meteoric rise over the past year.

The 45-minute Q&A session was broadcast on YouTube as part of the US Embassy’s Meet the Artist series. The broadcast also featured a special performance by the Mayyas — their first since winning the US talent show.

“I promise the girls I will be with them forever, that’s how I say it,” Cherfan said. “The girls will be changing over the years, some of them will be following their own dreams, but the Mayyas should live on, it’s not anymore about any of us — it’s a national pride. So we have to keep on sending this message.”

About being a group from Lebanon and his early inspiration to become a dancer, Cherfan said: “When you live in a country that has some struggles, you have to go deep to the heart to escape reality. I used to travel all around the world and experience a beautiful sensation that I can speak an international language and I can express myself whether I am angry or sad in this way, so I think dancing saved my life in a way.”

“As soon as I opened my eyes to this world and I started realizing that there’s something called theater and dance and music, I was completely taken away from the first second,” he said.

The Lebanese dance company Mayyas won “America’s Got Talent” season 17, taking home the $1 million prize and the chance to headline a Las Vegas show.

In June, the group made their “America’s Got Talent” debut and impressed judges Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Sofia Vergara so much that they received a golden buzzer and fast track to the live shows.