REVIEW: ‘House of the Dragon’ fires up a feast for ‘Game of Thrones’ fans

REVIEW: ‘House of the Dragon’ fires up a feast for ‘Game of Thrones’ fans
Milly Alcock as Princess Rhaenyra ‘House of the Dragon.’ (Supplied)
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Updated 19 August 2022

REVIEW: ‘House of the Dragon’ fires up a feast for ‘Game of Thrones’ fans

REVIEW: ‘House of the Dragon’ fires up a feast for ‘Game of Thrones’ fans
  • The prequel series premieres in the region on streaming platform OSN+ on Aug. 22

DUBAI: It’s here: The sequel/prequel to pop-culture tsunami “Game of Thrones” — the most-torrented show of its time and the series that network after network has since tried (and failed) to emulate.

Now, three-and-a-bit years on from the hugely unpopular “GoT” finale, here we are, back in George R.R. Martin’s intricately detailed world with a story focused on the ruling Targaryen family, but set a couple of centuries before the events of “GoT.”

The most pressing question, of course, is: Is “House of the Dragon” any good? The answer, happily, is a resounding yes. It’s very good — an epic, gripping fantasy that contains many of the elements that made “GoT” so huge: Lots of fighting, lots of flesh, lots of labyrinthine political plotting, lots of gore. And dragons.




Paddy Considine and Milly Alcock in ‘House of the Dragon.’ (Supplied)

The two shows share many of the same themes too: Honor, betrayal, sexism, pride, love versus duty, what’s ‘right’ versus what’s necessary, family versus friends, and more.

So, if you were a fan of peak “Game of Thrones,” then “House of the Dragon” — based on the six episodes made available for review, at least — will meet your approval.

While the first episode moves at a glacial pace — making the necessary character introductions and laying out backstory — thereafter the showrunners are content to leap forward several years at a time to the story’s crucial events, so we’re not subjected to long ‘road trips.’ This is a welcome departure from “GoT.” The story, though complex, whizzes along. And while the majority of the show is dialogue-heavy, there are a couple of terrific set pieces, including a bloody beach battle, to keep pulses racing.




Emma D'Arcy and Matt Smith in ‘House of the Dragon.’ (Supplied)

The cast — led by Paddy Considine as the good-hearted-but-fallible King Viserys; Matt Smith as his wayward, impetuous brother Daemon; and Milly Alcock (in the first five episodes) as the teenage Princess Rhaenyra, Viserys’ headstrong firstborn child — are in fine form, committing to their deliberately stilted speeches with gusto.

The thorny knot at the center of the political infighting is Viserys’ heir. He names Rhaenyra (ignoring Daemon’s claim) — going against centuries of tradition by naming a woman as heir — and when he does finally have a son by his new, much-younger wife, Lady Alicent Hightower — once Rhaenyra’s best friend — he refuses to change his mind, despite heavy pressure (some reasonable, some not). Cue courtly wrangling a-plenty.

Viewers will need to focus — often, it’s not what’s being said that’s important, but what’s being omitted or danced around in euphemisms that are as damaging as a sneaky dagger to the ribs. But that focus is richly rewarded by a show that more than stands up to the huge weight of expectation.


Arab Fashion Week to kick off in Dubai in October 

Arab Fashion Week to kick off in Dubai in October 
Updated 22 min 15 sec ago

Arab Fashion Week to kick off in Dubai in October 

Arab Fashion Week to kick off in Dubai in October 

DUBAI: Arab Fashion Week, organized by the Arab Fashion Council, is set to return to Dubai next month. From Oct. 10-15, fashion designers from the region and further afield will present their womenswear collections in a series of runway shows to be held at Dubai Design District. 

The six-day event will see designers present their Couture Fall-WInter 2023 as well as Ready-to-Wear Spring-Summer 2023 collections. Here we take a look at 12 designers you should keep an eye out for, among the 35 international labels taking part. 

Amato

The Dubai-based brainchild of Filipino-born designer Furne One, who has dressed the world’s most celebrated stars including supermodels Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks, will present its Couture Fall-Winter collection on Oct. 11.

Ilse Jara

The Paraguayan nature-inspired fashion label, with an aim of creating wearable art, will showcase its couture fall-winter 2023 collection on Oct. 11.

Weinsanto

Presented by the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, the Parisian designer who created non-fungible token wearables for K-Pop group Lightsum will showcase his couture fall-winter pieces on Oct. 11.

Pipatchara

Thai fashion designer Pipatchara Kaeojinda's eponymous label, focussed on slow and sustainable fashion, will showcase its Couture Fall-Winter 2023 pieces on Oct. 12.

Ivan Young

The Malaysian luxury womenswear label, founded in 2017 by two sisters and focused on creating delicate silk pieces, will present its couture fall-winter collection on Oct. 12.

Michael Cinco

The Filipino fashion designer based in Dubai, who launched his eponymous label in 2003, will showcase his label's Couture Fall-Winter collection on Oct. 13.

Ihab Jiryis

The Palestinian designer, known for his evening gowns and couture-wear, will present his label's Couture Fall-Winter 2023 collection on Oct.13.

Yassmin Saleh

The Lebanese fashion designer, who uses art to raise awareness on psychological and sociological issues, will present her label's Ready-to-Wear Spring-Summer 2023 collection on Oct. 14.

Vidhi Wadhwani

The luxe-pret label from India, with a special focus on handcrafted textures, bold colors and creative silhouettes, will present its ready-to-wear spring-summer 2023 collection on Oct. 14.

The Giving Movement

The UAE-based clothing label, on a mission to reinvent sustainable athleisure, will showcase pieces from its FIFTYMADE collection on Oct. 14.

Death by Dolls

Saudi Arabia's Sara Al-Saud, who once designed a Halloween outfit for superstar Beyonce, will present her LA-based fashion label's Ready-to-Wear Spring-Summer 2023 collection on Oct. 15.

Emergency Room

The Beirut-based label, which had its very first live show in Dubai earlier this year and is known for upcycling thrifted and vintage materials, will present its ready-to-wear spring-summer 2023 collection on Oct. 15.


Part-Lebanese singer Shakira to face trial for tax fraud in Spain

Part-Lebanese singer Shakira to face trial for tax fraud in Spain
Updated 27 September 2022

Part-Lebanese singer Shakira to face trial for tax fraud in Spain

Part-Lebanese singer Shakira to face trial for tax fraud in Spain

BARCELONA: A Spanish judge on Tuesday approved a trial for Lebanese Colombian pop singer Shakira on charges of tax fraud.

Spanish prosecutors accused the entertainer in 2018 of failing to pay $13.9 in taxes on income earned between 2012 and 2014. Prosecutors are seeking an eight-year prison sentence and a hefty fine if she is found guilty of tax evasion.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Shakira (@shakira)

Shakira, 45, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and rejected a deal with authorities to avoid going to trial. Her public relations firm has said that she has already paid all that she owed and an additional $2.8 million in interest.

The date for the trial has yet to be set.

The case hinges on where Shakira lived during 2012-14. Prosecutors in Barcelona have alleged the Grammy winner spent more than half of that period in Spain and should have paid taxes in the country, even though her official residence was in the Bahamas.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Shakira (@shakira)

Shakira, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, has been linked to Spain since she started dating soccer player Gerard Pique. The couple, who have two children, used to live together in Barcelona but recently ended their 11-year relationship.

Spain has cracked down on soccer stars like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo over the past decade for not paying their full due in taxes. Both players were found guilty of evasion and received prison sentences that were waived for first-time offenders.


Actress Lyna Khoudri reveals release date for film based on Paris attacks

Actress Lyna Khoudri reveals release date for film based on Paris attacks
Updated 27 September 2022

Actress Lyna Khoudri reveals release date for film based on Paris attacks

Actress Lyna Khoudri reveals release date for film based on Paris attacks

DUBAI: French Algerian actress Lyna Khoudri’s new movie “Novembre” is set to hit cinemas early next month and the star has taken to social media to whip up interest among film fans.

The actress announced this week on her Instagram account that the movie will be out on Oct. 5 and shared pictures of the posters with her 100,000 followers. 

“‘Novembre’ by Cédric Jimenez on Oct. 5 in cinemas. Let’s go (sic),” she wrote. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by lynakhoudri (@lynakhoudri)

Directed by the French auteur Jimenez, the intense film charts the five days after the devastating November 2015 attacks in Paris that killed more than 100 people.

The movie premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this year in the Out of Competition section.

Speaking at a press conference after the film’s premiere in May, Jimenez said his mission was to show how the anti-terrorist unit experienced five “awful days.”

“The idea was not to turn them into heroes,” he said. “Even though the situation was resolved, there are only losers: the many people who died, the witnesses who are upset forever, the police officers who resigned because it was such a terrible hardship. In this kind of event, there are no winners.”

Khoudri stars as Samia in the film — a charitable young woman who volunteers at a homeless camp. Her flat mate is bankrolling her cousin, one of the terrorists.

She stars alongside actors Jean Dujardin – who plays the leader of the police division — Anaïs Demoustier, Sandrine Kiberlain, Jérémie Renier, Cédric Kahn, Sofian Khammes, Sami Outalbali, Stéphan Bak, Annabelle Lengronne and Raphaël Quenard. 


Sotheby’s to showcase rare finds at Riyadh International Book Fair

Sotheby’s to showcase rare finds at Riyadh International Book Fair
Updated 27 September 2022

Sotheby’s to showcase rare finds at Riyadh International Book Fair

Sotheby’s to showcase rare finds at Riyadh International Book Fair
  • 1840 Victorian globe showing Makkah, Madinah, among 10 pieces for sale
  • Growing Mideast interest in collectibles, says auction house head

DUBAI: The Riyadh International Book Fair returns from Sept. 29 to Oct. 8 presenting some of the most prominent Arab and international publishing houses and institutions. Considered a major cultural event, this year marks greater international participation, notably from Sotheby’s auction house for the first time, in partnership with the Saudi Ministry of Culture.

The auction house’s highlights include a rare album of photographs depicting Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh on their royal visit to Saudi Arabia in 1979 — including their welcome at Riyadh’s airport by King Khalid. There is a museum-quality World Globe dating to 1840. The Victorian piece belonged to Oxford University. It shows Makkah, Madinah and the port of Jeddah.

A rare album of photographs depicting Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh on their royal visit to Saudi Arabia in 1979. (Supplied)

In addition, an Ottoman carpet once belonging to the great traveler Gertrude Bell, gifted to her by King Faisal I of Iraq is on display. There is also a photorealist painting of a falcon by Nicholas Manning, marking, according to the auction house, the first edition of the finest work on falconry that has ever been produced.

Everything displayed will be on sale.

“Creativity is at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s future and there are ambitious plans in this sector — both in terms of grassroots initiatives and government support,” Edward Gibbs, chairman of Sotheby’s Middle East and India told Arab News. “We regularly sell a lot of material that buyers in Saudi are interested in, and there is certainly growing interest in collectibles.”

A rare album of photographs depicting Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh on their royal visit to Saudi Arabia in 1979. (Supplied)

Gibbs noted that over the past five years, the auction house has seen a doubling of the number of buyers and bidders from Saudi Arabia — with a high proportion interacting with Sotheby’s for the first time.

“We feel it is important to build on this by physically travelling to the region and bringing the best of what we can offer to the doorsteps of Saudi Arabia,” he added.

Late last year, the auction house was also present at the inaugural Diriyah Biennale. Its participation in the book fair marks increased engagement with Saudi Arabia during a time of great cultural expansion for the Kingdom.

A rare and unusually large 36-inch terrestrial library globe by John Addison and G&J Cary, circa 1840. (Supplied)

“We are traveling with 10 exceptional pieces, carefully curated to appeal to the tastes of collectors in the Middle East, and celebrating the illustrious history of the region,” Richard Fattorini, Sotheby’s senior specialist in books and manuscripts, told Arab News.

“The showstopper will surely be the monumental Victorian globe, which still has its original receipt. Visually and historically, it is the perfect piece to showcase at a book fair. The close links between Great Britain and the Kingdom are also celebrated in a few of the pieces, most notably with the photographs of Queen Elizabeth II’s visit.”


US show ‘Last Light’ shot in locations across Abu Dhabi

US show ‘Last Light’ shot in locations across Abu Dhabi
Updated 27 min 9 sec ago

US show ‘Last Light’ shot in locations across Abu Dhabi

US show ‘Last Light’ shot in locations across Abu Dhabi

DUBAI: A thriller set during an environmental collapse has joined a growing list of US television shows shot in Abu Dhabi with the support of its film commission.

“Last Light,” a five-episode series streaming on Shahid VP in the Middle East, was filmed in multiple locations in the emirate, with the capital doubling as the program’s fictitious city of Luzrah. 

The Emirates Palace and the Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi are featured ‘Last Light,’ as well as the expanse of the Abu Dhabi desert. (Supplied)

The show stars Emmy-nominated Matthew Fox, best known for his role in “Lost,” and Joanne Froggatt of “Downton Abbey,” as well as Amber Rose and Hakeem Jomah. The program also features Paris and London as locations.

The action and drama series is directed by award-winning director Dennie Gordon, who has worked on over 100 hours of network television, including the critically acclaimed American superhero television series ‘Legion’.

“Finding a desert like this, unobstructed dunes as far as the eye can see, is such a privilege,” said Gordon in a statement. 

‘Last Light’ star Matthew Fox shooting a scene in Abu Dhabi. (Supplied)

The Emirates Palace and the Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi are featured, as well as the expanse of the Abu Dhabi desert.

Scenes were also filmed at the Arkan Cement Factory, the Abu Dhabi Global Market, Al Danah, Mussafah and a military base.

The series, an adaptation of Alex Scarrow’s best-selling novel about a world without oil, is the latest to join the Abu Dhabi Film Commission’s extensive roster of supported foreign productions.

The series received location support and a 30 percent rebate on production costs from the ADFC. It was produced by a crew of 145 people, 90 of whom were locals.