"In the Footsteps of Cai Lun II," a showcase of artists using drawing and printmaking as a primary medium, runs until Sept. 5 at Ayyam Gallery in Alserkal Avenue, Dubai.
‘New Orleans Harbor’
This exhibition’s title references the Chinese official credited as the inventor of the modern papermaking process and “assembles a group of artists who have used drawing and printmaking as primary media,” the gallery’s site states. Among them is acclaimed Palestinian artist Halaby, whose painted silkscreen proof is typical of her pioneering works of contemporary abstraction.
‘Nothing is Certain…’
The full title of this work is “Nothing is Certain, Everything is Melting, and that’s Okay 14” and it reflects the gallery’s description of the Iraqi artist’s work as “studies of color and spatial composition.” It’s also a fine example of his trademark use of three-dimensional elements and how he “manages to find the middle ground between fluid organic forms and hard-edge geometric shapes.”
One of the central themes of the Syrian artist’s work, according to the gallery, is an exploration of “the endurance of man amid the power struggles of good and evil.” His “labored portraits of dissident Syrians,” such as this 2015 work, “reveal the manic nature of the painter’s hand as he depicts stylized figures with meticulous detail using a ballpoint pen.”
With her Syrian heritage, designer Daniela Cassab is putting Mexican craftsmanship on the global map
Updated 27 March 2023
DUBAI: Mexican designer Daniela Cassab, whose grandparents migrated from Aleppo, Syria, knows how to make the perfect leather jacket. Founder and designer of her artisanal label, DanCassab, she specializes in handmade leather garments in Mexico designed to transcend seasons and pass down through generations.
The designer was in Dubai earlier this year to launch her exclusive pop-up at THAT Concept Store. Arab News caught up with her to understand her love for outerwear and what goes behind creating each piece.
Born and raised in Mexico, Cassab grew up around fashion. Her family has been in the textile industry, and her father's factories manufactured jeans for Guess and Marciano.
After studying art history at the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York, she moved back home and realized the possibility of starting a label that valued slow fashion and focused on preserving the heritage and crafts of her country.
In 2016, DanCassab was born, one of the pillars of the brand being her employment of highly skilled local artisans.
Her specialty? Outerwear — you always need a perfect jacket that you can wear with jeans and a silk dress,” she explained.
One look at her bestselling Loretta jacket, and it's hard not to fall in love with its glamorous cowboy aesthetic, oversized collar and soft fringes. Inspired by traditional jackets called Cuera Tamaulipeca worn by hunters in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, she explained that typically fringes were designed to shed rain.
“Four years ago the government from Tamaulipas wanted to reinterpret the Cuera Tamaulipeca and asked me to do it in a more contemporary way. That’s how our Iconic ‘Loretta’ came to life, and it was a hit. That was the first piece that started the idea of fringes, and I also love the whole cowboy vibe,” she said. Each of her pieces is handmade from the finest leathers using traditional construction techniques and can take six-to-eight days to create. Elsewhere, her beaded fringed jackets are equally covetable – especially with their Rock'n'Roll vibe.
She describes her clothes as works of art – because of the time and dedication that goes behind them. “The beading takes hours as it's done by hand. Additionally, unlike other materials, leather has no give – if you stitch it the wrong way, you must go back and do it all over again.”
When it comes to her Arab roots, the designer said her heritage inspires her work ethic.
“My Arab roots inspire me in the business area, since I was very young I was able to see how my great grandparents and my grandparents who came from Syria started a business in a completely different country. They were very agile and used to selling textiles. It was their passion, they were capable of creating a very big textile empire that lasted for generations until today,” she said, adding: “This is how I learned the importance of working, of falling in love with your passion and what you desire… the perseverance and the way they communicated with clients was also special, it’s a magical approach that makes customers fall in love.”
In Sudan, the arduously made “helo-murr,” which means “bittersweet,” is a drink synonymous with Ramadan
It can be found on almost every table across the northeast African country at the end of the day’s fast
Updated 26 March 2023
OM ESHR, Sudan: As generations of Sudanese have done before her, Wissal Abdel Ghany crouched next to a fire to prepare a traditional drink, a thirst-quenching favorite enjoyed during the fasting month of Ramadan.
In Sudan, the arduously made “helo-murr,” which means “bittersweet,” is a drink synonymous with the Islamic holy month.
It can be found on almost every table across the northeast African country at the end of the day’s fast.
“Without it, our table feels empty,” said Abdel Ghany, wearing a bright orange headscarf.
She sat in a small room in the village of Om Eshr, on the outskirts of the capital Khartoum, which teemed with a small force of women busily scraping and spreading a mixture before serving the beverage in clear glasses.
The drink has satisfied thirsty fasters for decades and recipes are “inherited from our mothers and grandmothers,” the 43-year-old said.
Corn is harvested and left to dry in the sun before being ground and mixed with spices such as fenugreek, cumin or even hibiscus — Sudan’s other essential Ramadan beverage.
This mixture is then soaked in sugar and water for several days.
Abdel Ghany spread a layer of the thick brown paste over a grill plate above the coals of a wood fire, cooking it into a thin, leather-colored film.
The resulting crepe-like layer is then peeled away and stored — ready to be soaked in the final step to create the beloved drink.
Served as cold as possible, the drink is one of many ways that fasting Sudanese cool off, a significant challenge in one of the world’s hottest countries.
The daytime fasting month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam.
Observant Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk, after which they traditionally gather with family and friends to break their fast.
In Sudan, the brew is so identified with Ramadan that even the US embassy took to Twitter to promote its staff making it, with diplomats wielding wooden spoons over embers and sipping the amber liquid.
Abdel Ghany said preparing the drink is a collective effort, bringing “together our sisters and friends.”
“We make it together to share among ourselves,” she said.
In Sudan’s cities, she added, some people don’t make it themselves.
“But they still have to offer it for dinner, so they buy it ready-made,” she said.
For Abdel Ghany, the preparation of helo-murr and the holy month cannot be separated.
“All it takes is a whiff of the scent coming out of a home to know that Ramadan is here,” she said.
London’s Victoria & Albert Museum hosts ‘open iftar’ for hundreds
Updated 26 March 2023
DUBAI: More than 500 people flocked to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum on Friday for an ‘Open Iftar’ event organized by the Ramadan Tent Project charity.
“Ramadan 2023 marks 10 phenomenal years of the Ramadan Tent Project and our signature Open Iftar events. Over the past nine years, our humble tent on a patch of green grew and grew, before it traveled to landmark locations,” the project said.
Similar events will take place this year at Shakespeare’s Globe theater, Wembley Stadium, Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium and the Royal Albert Hall.
“The theme to mark our 10-year anniversary is ‘Belonging’. For the past decade we’ve connected and convened over half a million people from all backgrounds. Our passion in bridging between different communities is rooted in sharing our authentic selves with the world.
“True belonging shouldn’t require you to change who you are – rather, it’s to celebrate who you are,” read an additional statement on the website.
Since 2013, the Open Iftar events have hosted more than 500,000 people across the UK at some of the country’s most iconic cultural spaces including Trafalgar Square, the BALTIC Museum, Bradford’s Centenary Square and Coventry Cathedral.
Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad strikes again with second custom look for Taylor Swift on ‘Eras’ tour
Updated 26 March 2023
DUBAI: After revealing that he designed US pop sensation Taylor Swift’s showstopping ballgown for the “The Eras Tour” just last week, Lebanese couturier Zuhair Murad is back with yet another unique look for her latest stop in Las Vegas.
The 33-year-old wore a shimmering dark blue outfit, with embellishment and fringe detailing, paired with knee-high boots.
“@TaylorSwift wore for The Eras Tour Las Vegas Opening Night a custom #ZMCouture midnight blue crystal embellished bodysuit, overflowing with richly beaded fringes and a matching garter,” posted the label’s official Instagram account, sharing a picture of the glittering outfit.
The Grammy Award-winning singer -- who kicked off her first trek in more than four years at Glendale, Arizona's State Farm Stadium last weekend -- belted out her top hits at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Friday and Saturday in a three-hour show that ran through hits from every era of her 17-year career.
She also showed off a dress by celebrity-loved Lebanese label Azzi & Osta.
“I have attended the #DubaiWorldCup for the majority of my life and I’m so happy to be back again. My hat this year is a heartfelt ode to Saudi Arabia’s project @discoverneom The Line and sustainability. Nazgul Nejmi, my hat designer has always been inspired by the architecture of exceptional developments, and given this year’s emphasis on being the year of sustainability, what better example than Neom’s The Line,” Al-Gabbani posted on Instagram.
Meanwhile, Tunisian model Rym Saidi showed off a red ensemble by Fendi, which celebrity stylist Cedric Haddad paired with a Virginie.O headpiece.