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

Sotheby’s to showcase rare finds at Riyadh International Book Fair
A rare album of photographs depicting Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh on their royal visit to Saudi Arabia in 1979 will go on show. (Supplied)
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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.”


Lebanese Designers Exhibition held in London

Lebanese Designers Exhibition held in London
Updated 05 December 2022

Lebanese Designers Exhibition held in London

Lebanese Designers Exhibition held in London
  • Event focused on empowering Lebanese women
  • Products included jewelry, clothing, homeware and art

LONDON: The Arab British Chamber of Commerce hosted the first Lebanese Designers Exhibition in London, celebrating the country’s culture and creatives with a variety of locally handcrafted artisan jewelry, clothing and art. 

Organized in partnership with the Lebanese Embassy in London, the event ran from Dec. 1 to Dec. 4 in Mayfair.  

The ABCC, established in 1975, aims to promote trade and investment between Britain and Arab countries. 

This exhibition focused on empowering Lebanese women by providing them with a platform to display their entrepreneurship in one of the world’s most famous shopping districts. 

Rami Mortada, the Lebanese ambassador to the UK, described it as “an event of endurance against all odds.” 

Mortada said the designers displayed their worth with “defiance against all the circumstances prevailing in our country, Lebanon, and determination to never allow these hardships to take away the soul of the Lebanese people, which is a soul soaked in ingenuity and imagination.”

Kuwaiti Ambassador to the UK Bader Al-Awadi, Algerian Ambassador to the UK Lounes Magramane and Saudi Arabian Cultural Attache Amal Fatani also attended the launch. 

Catching the eye of visitors was the display of LVNT, an online concept store curating products immersed in Levantine heritage and representing the best of the region’s handicraft.

Among the products on sale included the Blatt Chaya coaster set, designed by a Lebanese artisanal firm using tile-making methods dating to the 1880s, and crochet bags hand-knitted by Syrian refugees.

An LVNT representative said the firm was “really happy with the exhibition. We’ve seen a mix of cultures coming in from all over the world that are very interested in learning more about  products, how they’re made and trying them.”  

Nour Artisan, a Beirut-based atelier, displayed a range of hand-embroidered abayas that embraced traditional styles while marketing to both eastern and western cultures. 

The garments were made by women who work from home, whose work supports around 250 families in Lebanon. 

“The atmosphere is really nice. People are coming in and asking. They really like the history and the idea of keeping this heritage,” Nour Artisan Sales Representative Rima Rizk said. 

UK-Based Lebanese charity Give a Child a Brighter Future also exhibited a variety of homeware, with proceeds going toward the construction of the country's first pediatric oncology unit in the country’s south governorate. Since 1985, the charity has raised more than $6 million. 

Other exhibitors included artist Shirine Osseiran, who sold prints of Arabic calligraphy abstract series, and Hala Gharib, the founder of Alaabi who displayed educational children’s games on Arabic language and culture.

 


Review: ‘Down to Earth with Zac Efron’

Review: ‘Down to Earth with Zac Efron’
Updated 05 December 2022

Review: ‘Down to Earth with Zac Efron’

Review: ‘Down to Earth with Zac Efron’
  • With eight episodes per season, we really got to know Efron and his travel companion, well-being expert Darin Olien
  • Each episode of the second season ends with the message: ‘The team acknowledges the traditional owners of the lands across Australia’

One of the shows that helped me escape my confined space during the 2020 pandemic was Netflix’s “Down to Earth with Zac Efron.”

In the first season actor Zac Efron ventured to France, Puerto Rico, London, Iceland and many other spots.

In each of those places he touched upon the themes of nature, sustainable living and green energy.

He sometimes brought in his famous friends to help with certain adventures. At other times he consulted experts to explain what they were working on to help save the planet.

The first season was a bit all over the place, jumping from topic to topic, much like our attention span during lockdown. This made it the perfect show for those times.

I had only been a casual viewer of Efron’s work up to that point, and knew nothing of his personality, but by the end of season one I had concluded that he seemed like a cool guy to go on a trip with. Many critics agreed, as the season won a daytime Emmy in 2021.

With eight episodes per season, we really got to know Efron and his travel companion, well-being expert Darin Olien.

The second season, also made up of eight episodes, premiered on Netflix in November.

The new season is much more focused, not only because it is centered in one country, or continent, but the two are much more aware of their immense male white privilege, something that seemed a bit lacking in the first — albeit immensely fun — season.

The duo this time around explored the indigenous communities of Australia much more mindfully, and seemed to pass on the mic so that natives could tell us their own story.

Both Efron and Olien were there to learn, enjoy and inspire. And we were like flies on the wall who got to witness it all without leaving our sofas.

Each episode ends with the following message: “The team acknowledges the traditional owners of the lands across Australia.

“We pay respect to the elders past, present and emerging for they hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and hopes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country.”

Showing the additional wisdom of the last two years, the two men seemed to really want to get it right this time and not be “the white saviors” in this narrative.

They wanted to be the individuals who let natives take up the space and rightfully guide us all.

Efron and Olien, along with the audience, were merely coming along for the ride. We were all passengers on the journey, with the natives the ones at the wheel.

Narrated by Efron, who would often sneak in playful puns and philosophical observations, season two is a more down-to-earth exploration and one well worth sitting through.

Both seasons can now be streamed on Netflix MENA.


Saudi Arabia’s Ithra hosts football-inspired NFT art show in Qatar

Saudi Arabia’s Ithra hosts football-inspired NFT art show in Qatar
“From Strike to Stroke” is on show at Msheireb Galleria, Doha. (Supplied)
Updated 05 December 2022

Saudi Arabia’s Ithra hosts football-inspired NFT art show in Qatar

Saudi Arabia’s Ithra hosts football-inspired NFT art show in Qatar

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) is hosting a football-themed exhibition on the sidelines of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.  

“From Strike to Stroke” is on show at Msheireb Galleria, Doha, and features 64 NFTs by 32 artists from the competing nations. Meanwhile, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will fuse the pieces from the contending two countries in each of the matches into a unique piece based on the results of the game. The result will be a singular collection of 64 one-of-a-kind NFTs created through a collaboration of man and machine.  

The exhibition will run until Dec. 23. 

“The passion shared by football fans for the love of the beautiful game can be tangential to the passion shared by art aesthetes,” said Dr. Shurooq Amin, according to a released statement. “By connecting 32 artists from both the traditional and digital arenas, Ithra not only bridges the gap between Web2 to Web3, and between football and art, but furthermore between human and machine.” 


US director Spike Lee talks ‘Malcolm X’ at Red Sea International Film Festival

US director Spike Lee talks ‘Malcolm X’ at Red Sea International Film Festival
Lauded US director Spike Lee was at Jeddah’s Red Sea International Film Festival on Sunday. (AFP)
Updated 05 December 2022

US director Spike Lee talks ‘Malcolm X’ at Red Sea International Film Festival

US director Spike Lee talks ‘Malcolm X’ at Red Sea International Film Festival

JEDDAH: Lauded US director Spike Lee was at Jeddah’s Red Sea International Film Festival on Sunday to present a screening of his Oscar-nominated 1992 epic biopic “Malcolm X.”

He also took part in an In Conversation event and touched on a number of topics, including whether her would consider filming in Saudi Arabia.

Spike Lee at the Red Sea International Film Festival. (AFP)

“I can barely speak English. I speak fluent Brooklynese. There are so many things I want to do but to come into a culture you don’t know is dangerous territory. I’ve seen that in many attempts to make films about Black people,” he said.

The director’s trip coincides with the 30th anniversary of his film on American civil rights activist Malcolm X — the first fiction feature to shoot in Makkah, using a Muslim crew to shoot B-roll in the city.  

“It was imperative that we shoot, that we film Malcolm’s Hajj so we were the first film ever allowed to bring a camera in the old city of Mecca. I couldn’t go. We hired a Muslim crew. The highest law court, they didn’t do that for me, they realized how important Malcolm was to Islam,” he said.

“We had a screening yesterday. That is the first time Malcolm X has ever been screened in the country on a movie screen. We’ve come full circle.”


Review: Red Sea title ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ explores a friendship that goes tragically wrong 

Review: Red Sea title ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ explores a friendship that goes tragically wrong 
‘The Banshees of Inisherin' is part of the ongoing second edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival. (Supplied)
Updated 05 December 2022

Review: Red Sea title ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ explores a friendship that goes tragically wrong 

Review: Red Sea title ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ explores a friendship that goes tragically wrong 

JEDDAH: A hit at the recent Venice Film Festival, Martin McDonagh’s “The Banshees of Inisherin” is part of the ongoing second edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah. McDonagh’s latest adventure got its lead star Colin Farrell an acting award in Venice.  

Much like the director’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” which won its lead star Frances McDormand an Oscar in 2018, “Banshees” is a poignant story. 

This time it is about a broken friendship between two men. It is set in 1923 on the fictional island of Inisherin as the sound of Irish civil strife is heard wafting across the sea. This is a harbinger of things to come – of an internecine struggle that is knocking on the door of dairy farmer Padraic (Colin Farrell) and his best friend is Colm (an equally brilliant performance by Brenden Gleeson). While Padraic is a simpleton, who can talk for hours about horse manure, Colm is an artist, writing music and playing the fiddle, and is prone to bouts of melancholy.

 The pair are inseparable, but something triggers a stand-off. Colm begins to avoid Padraic. The musician sits on his chair in deep thought and the film never makes the reason clear — leaving us as confused as the poor Padraic, who nags his sister, Siobhan (Kerry Condon), for information. “Perhaps, he just does not like you no more,” she quips. This may have sounded like a joke, but the truth leads to horrifying incidents.  

Colm is anxious about the passing years and does not want to waste his time with a “limited man.” He is serious about keeping Padraic away, and every time he tries to connect, the tortured artist cuts off one of his fiddle-playing fingers. But in the midst of all this macabre, there are lighter moments that will make the audience laugh.  

Cinematographer Ben Davis and production designer Mark Tildesley create artistic interiors which look like a 17th century Vermeer painting. Meanwhile composer Carter Burwell makes the film feel like a fairy tale. The cast is absolutely flawless and “The Banshees of Inisherin” has an excellent chance of making a mark at the upcoming Oscars.