Qatar’s revamped Museum of Islamic Art to reopen in October

Qatar’s revamped Museum of Islamic Art to reopen in October
The museum will reopen in October. (Supplied)
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Updated 04 September 2022

Qatar’s revamped Museum of Islamic Art to reopen in October

Qatar’s revamped Museum of Islamic Art to reopen in October

DUBAI: Designed by famed Chinese American architect I.M. Pei, Qatar’s Museum of Islamic Art is reopening on Oct. 5 after an extensive revamp — just in time for the FIFA World Cup, scheduled to kick off in November.

The museum, which opened in 2008, has been closed since April 2021. Its reopening features a reinstallation of its permanent collection galleries, reconfigured according “to broad historical and cultural themes, periods and geography,” and will explore “the great traditions of Islamic craftsmanship,” said officials. Another attraction lies in the over 1,000 objects, including many newly acquired and never-before-seen works of art.




(Supplied)

“The relaunch involves a full rehang of its permanent galleries, a significant step that reimagines the collection in its entirety,” Julia Gonnella, who became director of the museum in 2017, told Arab News.

There will also be a new section on Islam in Southeast Asia and an exploration of the relationship between different cultures through exhibitions highlighting the trade of commodities and the exchange of ideas across the Islamic world and the globe. 

Shortly after its reopening, the museum will inaugurate “Baghdad: Eye’s Delight” (Oct. 26-Feb. 23), the temporary exhibition that introduces and celebrates one of the world’s most influential cities, looking at its heritage as the capital of the great Abbasid caliphs (750-1258) and its legacy in the 20th century, when the city again became a thriving center for the arts, culture, and commerce.

Gonnella stressed that this exhibition is “not merely a celebration of the glorious Abbasid Baghdad.”

“While the glory of the Abbasids waned, the city remained of great importance and the spirit of its heritage is prevalent in present Baghdad,” she told Arab News. “Despite the wars, destruction and hardships the city had to endure since its foundation, echoes of the Abbasid legacy are still heard. For this reason, the exhibition will introduce Abbasid Baghdad in parallel to Baghdad of the 20th century, focusing especially on the period between the 1940s and 1970s when the city once again became an economically and culturally thriving place with intense urban planning, architectural developments, art movements and important developments in the education sector.”

Highlights in the exhibition include artifacts from the Abbasid period (remnants of Abbasid palaces such as doors, textiles and gold armlets) as well as objects of trade (textiles and glass ceramics) and precious manuscripts, such as important copies of the Qur’an and scientific treatises. Also featuring, Gonnella said, will be modern artworks, including from Dia Azzawi and Sadiq Al-Fareej, and paintings from the Modern Baghdad Group, including from Jewad Salim and photographs of Latif Al-Ani.

Among the main new attractions is the newly restored 19th-century Damascus Room, which highlights facets of Ottoman life. It took three years to re-assemble and conserve.

“One of the highlights of the museum’s revamp is the elaborate wooden interior of the Damascus Room,” said Gonnella. “We included this beautifully newly restored 19th-century interior not only as a fascinating piece for everyone to look at but also as it reflects so well the great importance people in the Arab world place on hospitality, receiving guests, drinking coffee and tea together —an important part of Islamic culture.”

The reopening of the museum is part of Qatar Creates, a year-round national movement that aims to celebrate the diversity of cultural activities in the country.


Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai questions lack of Muslim representation in Hollywood

Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai questions lack of Muslim representation in Hollywood
Updated 59 min 57 sec ago

Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai questions lack of Muslim representation in Hollywood

Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai questions lack of Muslim representation in Hollywood

DUBAI: Pakistani activist and Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai addressed the lack of Muslim representation in Hollywood films during Variety’s recent Power of Women event in the US.

Yousafzai, who was honored at the event, said: “I’ve been doing activism for more than a decade now, and I’ve realized that we shouldn’t limit activism to the work of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) only: There’s also the element of changing people’s minds and perspectives — and that requires a bit more work.”

The 25-year-old, in her new role as a content producer, pointed out that despite Muslims making up 25 percent of the population, there was “only 1 percent of characters in popular TV series.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Malala (@malala)

Addressing A-list guests including American politician Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea, US actress Elizabeth Olsen, talk show host Oprah Winfrey, and the American former actress, and wife of British Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, she added: “You’re often told in Hollywood, implicitly or explicitly, that the characters are too young, too brown, or too Muslim, or that if one show about a person of color is made, then that’s it — you don’t need to make another one. That needs to change.

“I’m a woman, a Muslim, a Pashtun, a Pakistani, and a person of color. And I watched ‘Succession,’ ‘Ted Lasso,’ and ‘Severance,’ where the leads are white people — and especially a lot of white men.

“If we can watch those shows, then I think audiences should be able to watch shows that are made by people of color, and produced and directed by people of color, with people of color in the lead. That is possible, and I’m going to make it happen,” Yousafzai said.
 


Rapper Post Malone to perform in the UAE in December

Rapper Post Malone to perform in the UAE in December
Updated 30 September 2022

Rapper Post Malone to perform in the UAE in December

Rapper Post Malone to perform in the UAE in December

DUBAI: Nine-time Grammy Award nominee Post Malone is set to perform on Dec. 3 at Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Park in celebration of the UAE’s National Day.

The rapper, who sold 95 million singles and 13 million albums in the US alone, is expected to sing a selection of hits from his catalogue, including “Rockstar,” “Psycho,” “Sunflower” and “Better Now,” as well as new tracks from his latest album “Twelve Carat Toothache.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by @postmalone

“I’m excited to be returning to Abu Dhabi and performing for the incredible audience there again,” said Malone, whose real name is Austin Richard Post, in a released statement. “The crowd for my last show there were electric and I can’t wait to take to the stage and perform for my fans in the Middle East. Together, we’re going to enjoy a fantastic weekend.”

The 27-year-old singing sensation performed in Abu Dhabi in 2018 for the Formula 1 Yasalam After-Race concerts.

Malone, who is the eighth best-selling digital artist of all time, rose to fame for his unique blend of hip hop, pop, R&B and trap genres and subgenres.


REVIEW: ‘Andor’ might test ‘Star Wars’ fans patience, but it could just be worth it

REVIEW: ‘Andor’ might test ‘Star Wars’ fans patience, but it could just be worth it
Updated 30 September 2022

REVIEW: ‘Andor’ might test ‘Star Wars’ fans patience, but it could just be worth it

REVIEW: ‘Andor’ might test ‘Star Wars’ fans patience, but it could just be worth it
  • New show is short on lightsabers and spaceships, but big on color and atmosphere

LONDON: For all the “Star Wars” universe’s recent movie missteps, its TV storytelling has never been in a better place — recent shows such as “The Mandalorian,” “Visions” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi” have been some of the most enjoyable material to slot into the galaxy far, far away since George Lucas originally put pen to paper in the 1970s.

But that comes with an added layer of pressure too, like that hanging over “Andor” — the latest show to be added to the growing pantheon of “Star Wars” small-screen entries. The series is a prequel to a prequel, in fact: “Andor” charts the origins of Cassian Andor, the (then) haunted Rebel soldier who sacrificed his life to help steal the plans to the Empire’s first Death Star in “Rogue One.”

In “Andor”, Cassian — played again by Diego Luna — is a wayward soul, angry at the universe for reasons (presumably) yet to be revealed, and desperate to find a way to fight back against the growing tyranny sweeping across the galaxy. That is, until he meets Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård), a member of the Rebel Alliance who believes that Cassian may be a key addition to the burgeoning resistance.

Of the first three episodes, there’s little more to say than that, largely because “Andor” is redefining the notion of a slowbuild show. We’re treated to flashes of Cassian’s youth, and reasons why he hates the Empire so much, and we learn about his life on the planet Ferrix, which finds itself under the heel of an authoritarian regime in a drawn-out introduction that has little action. 

But what we do get is the “Star Wars” universe painted in detail more intricate than we’ve seen before. There are no Jedi, no sprawling space battles or (cough) trade disputes to drive the story forward, so “Andor” treats us to a gritty, realistic look at what it might actually be like to live in this fantastical universe. 

For “Star Wars” fans, it’s a wonderful tour through a level of minutiae never glimpsed before in live action. And while the lack of fireworks early on might deter casual viewers, or those not familiar with the franchise, that level of expectation that surrounds new “Star Wars” outlets will probably be enough to buy the show the time to realize its true potential. 


South Asians in UK honored for their outstanding achievements

South Asians in UK honored for their outstanding achievements
Updated 30 September 2022

South Asians in UK honored for their outstanding achievements

South Asians in UK honored for their outstanding achievements
  • Pratik Dattani, the director of the Asian Achievers Awards, said: ‘The aim of the evening is to recognize changemakers from across the South Asian community in the UK’
  • This year’s awards were presented in 12 categories, one of which, the Woman of the Year Award, was renamed as a tribute to the recently deceased Queen Elizabeth II

LONDON: Influential and inspirational South Asians in a range of fields in the UK were honored recently, during a prestigious ceremony in London, for their outstanding achievements.

Established in 2000, the Asian Achievers Awards, one of the most prominent and long-established celebrations of its kind, returned for its 20th edition after a two-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers chose to pay tribute this year to the legacy of Queen Elizabeth II, who died on Sept. 8, and renamed the Woman of the Year Award in her honor.

“The aim of the evening is to recognize changemakers from across the South Asian community in the UK,” Pratik Dattani, the director of the awards, told Arab News. “It really is the cream of the community and everyone really worth celebrating.”

This year’s awards were presented in 12 categories: art and culture; business leadership; community service; entrepreneur and professional of the year; media; sports; health; innovation; uniformed and civil service; women of the year; and lifetime achievement.

The proceeds from the event, held at JW Marriott Grosvenor House in London, will go to Pardada Pardadi Educational Society UK, a charity that helps underprivileged children across India and South Asia. (AN Photo)

“It means a lot to have South Asians in prominent positions because it’s about leadership in the community, mentorship, and having visible role models,” Dattani said.

He added that the current mayor and the deputy mayors of London come from South Asian backgrounds, the UK cabinet during the past 12 years has included, on average, four ministers of Indian or Pakistani origin, and the richest person in the UK is of South Asian origin.

“This just shows the immense contribution we make to the cultural, social and economic fabric of the country, he said.

“South Asians in the UK are here to stay but the growth, the economic success and the community success of the South Asian community will grow and the awards will continue to be the place in the UK, and across Europe, where we recognize South Asian excellence.”

This year’s awards paid tribute to the legacy of Queen Elizabeth II, who died on Sept. 8, and renamed the Woman of the Year Award in her honor. (AN Photo)

Dattani said that the proceeds from the event, held at JW Marriott Grosvenor House, will go to Pardada Pardadi Educational Society UK, a charity that helps underprivileged children across India and South Asia. In all, he said, it raised more than £150,000 ($165,945), with additional commitments of more than £100,000.

UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman received the newly renamed Queen Elizabeth II Woman of the Year award, which her parents accepted on her behalf.

“I think from the start, our mantra has been: ‘Suella you’ve got to study hard and you’ve got to do well if you want to get anywhere,’” said her mother, Uma Fernanades.

“And I think being of ethnic minority, and also being a lady, it’s harder still and (requires) us to work doubly hard, and she has done that.

 

 

“Another thing I used to say to her, whenever she passes an exam or she gets a degree, I always used to say, ‘This is not just for you, it’s for the whole community out there and you’ve got to learn to share it.’ And I think I would want to know that she’s setting an example; that she’s just an ordinary woman, just like anybody else, but if you want to achieve something, you can do it.”

Capt. Harpreet Chandi MBE, an officer and physiotherapist in the British Army, received the Uniformed and Civil Service Award. She recently completed a 700-mile solo, unsupported expedition to the South Pole that took 40 days.

“When I had the idea, I didn’t know anything about Antarctica; I literally typed into Google, ‘How do you get to Antarctica as a modern-day explorer?’” she said. It took her about two and a half years to actually get onto the ice.

“I became the first woman of color to do a solo expedition but that was just a journey — then I got back and I did about four months of school talks and reached about 18,000 students, just hoping to inspire the next generation,” Chandi said.

Capt. Harpreet Chandi MBE, an officer and physiotherapist in the British Army, received the Uniformed and Civil Service Award. (AN Photo)

She is preparing to return to Antarctica in a month with the aim of becoming the first woman to complete a solo, unsupported crossing of the continent. She plans to cover 1,100 miles in 70 days.

“My aims are hopefully to inspire people to push their boundaries and show that, actually, it doesn’t matter what you look like or where you’re from, you can go and achieve anything you want and no barrier or boundary is too (great),” Chandi said.

“I really want to encourage people to step outside of their comfort zone and do whatever they want and achieve whatever they want.”

Prema Subaskaran, chairperson of Lycahealth and KIMS Hospital, won the Outstanding Achievement in Healthcare Award and said it was a “great privilege” to be recognized for her efforts.

“I’m really passionate about health care and I really wanted to become a doctor and serve the people, but because of the civil war (in Sri Lanka) and family commitments, I couldn’t and I had to stop my degree in the middle,” she said.

Prema Subaskaran, chairperson of Lycahealth and KIMS Hospital, won the Outstanding Achievement in Healthcare Award. (AN Photo)

“Then I always wanted to set up a business that could facilitate philanthropic work through the field of medicine by working with like-minded people, so this is how I set up Lycahealth in 2015.”

With a focus on providing patients with a complete diagnostic pathway and secondary care, Lycahealth last year acquired KIMS Hospital, the largest independent private hospital in the English county of Kent.

“We play a critical role in Kent to provide outstanding health care to the local community, as well as becoming a big employer in the local community,” Subaskaran added.


Newly launched website gives Islamic art global exposure

Newly launched website gives Islamic art global exposure
Updated 29 September 2022

Newly launched website gives Islamic art global exposure

Newly launched website gives Islamic art global exposure
  • islamicart.me was launched t­o promote Orthodox Christian artists Hilda and Lena Kelekian, who create artwork with verses from the Qur’an
  • ‘I thought it would be a good idea to finally get her very unique art pieces (out there),’ founder Anthony Azoury said

DUBAI: A Lebanese patron has launched a website to give Islamic art made by creatives Hilda and Lena Kelekian, who are of Armenian, Cypriot and Lebanese descent, international exposure.

Anthony Azoury launched islamicart.me to expose new clients to the Orthodox Christian creatives who create artwork with verses from the Qur’an.

“Hilda has been getting a lot of interest worldwide,” Azoury told Arab News. “She has a lot of clients from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and all the Gulf region – and even in Europe. So, I thought it would be a good idea to finally get her very unique art pieces (out there).”

Hilda paints on goat and cow skin, while Lena is a ceramicist. 

“There shall be no compulsion in religion,” Hilda Kelekian. (Supplied)

In an interview with Arab News, Hilda, who has been painting for over 30 years, said that she contacts imams to make sure that her writing, her art and her techniques are correct. 

“I find melody in Arabic letters. When I write, I don’t follow the schools of Arabic letters like the school of Kufi. I have my own (style) in the way I write,” she said, referring to a style of Arabic calligraphy. “I know all the rules and I am in touch with multiple sheikhs so that when I am drawing I obey the rules of the Islamic sect.”

“When I open the Qur’an to copy a verse, I have to obey the style. There are little details that I must obey. I must be clean when I am painting,” she added.

 

 

Hilda, who is an award-winning artist, creates and mixes her own paint that makes the colors visible on animal skin. 

It takes her a minimum of one month to finish one painting. “To be more productive, I start so many paintings together,” she said. 

The website, which went live last month, ships the artworks to countries around the world.

“In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful,” Hilda Kelekian. (Supplied)

Hilda has exhibited her work in the US, Spain, Venice, France, China and more. 

Lena is a multidisciplinary visual artist, iconographer, art therapist and ceramicist.

She has hosted 17 solo exhibitions in 13 countries and has taken part in more than 202 collective exhibitions in 62 countries.

Her work is on display in 32 institutions around the world, including in London and Italy.