Tunisian model Ameni Esseibi shows off sleek style at Paris Fashion Week 

Tunisian model Ameni Esseibi shows off sleek style at Paris Fashion Week 
Esseibi walked down the runway in a multi-colored dress which she paired with pearl white satin gloves. (Getty Images)
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Updated 28 September 2022

Tunisian model Ameni Esseibi shows off sleek style at Paris Fashion Week 

Tunisian model Ameni Esseibi shows off sleek style at Paris Fashion Week 
  • The 24-year-old, considered the first plus-size model in the Middle East, is a staunch advocate for inclusivity and diversity in the fashion industry

DUBAI: Tunisian model Ameni Esseibi made her international runway debut this week by walking for French label Victor Weinsanto at Paris Fashion Week. 

“Mama, I made it to Paris Fashion week,” she wrote on Instagram, sharing a picture of herself on the runway. “This is just the beginning.” 

Esseibi, who was the only Arab model participating in the fashion show, went on to thank the Arab Fashion Council, a non-profit organization representing the fashion industry in the Middle East and North Africa that named the Dubai-based model as its new ambassador earlier this year.

“Thank you so much Arab Fashion Council for helping make my dream come true and Victor Weinsanto for believing in me,” she wrote. 

Esseibi walked down the runway in a multi-colored dress which she paired with pearl white satin gloves. 

The 24-year-old, considered the first plus-size model in the Middle East, is a staunch advocate for inclusivity and diversity in the fashion industry.

Esseibi has worked with a number of esteemed brands including Jean Paul Gautier and H&M and has featured in the pages of multiple publications. 


Biggest Mideast bookstore in Europe to shut amid price surges

Biggest Mideast bookstore in Europe to shut amid price surges
Updated 42 sec ago

Biggest Mideast bookstore in Europe to shut amid price surges

Biggest Mideast bookstore in Europe to shut amid price surges
  • London’s Al Saqi Books closing after 44 years
  • Shop was founded by three Lebanese expatriates in 1978

LONDON: Europe’s biggest Middle Eastern bookstore is set to close after 44 years of business, The Guardian reported.

Al Saqi Books in London blamed a surge in prices of Arabic-language books as well as the economic effects of Brexit.

The bookstore, established in 1978, sells a wide range of literature covering the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Arabic-language books from all categories.

Al Saqi Books will close on Dec. 31, said director Salwa Gaspard, who opened the shop together with Andre Gaspard and Mai Ghoussoub after leaving Lebanon.

The move was a “difficult decision that had to be made because of recent economic challenges, such as the sharp increases in Arabic-language book prices,” she added.

The shop sourced most of its titles from Lebanon, but the country’s economic crisis has led to a surge in prices and difficulty importing books, Gaspard said.

She added: “Publishers have had to raise them (prices) to stay in business, as paper and shipping have effectively doubled in cost.

“Another factor is the exchange rate, which is no longer favorable to us — we used to pay in US dollars.

“Then, of course, there is the rise in the UK cost of living. The costs associated with operating the bookshop have become too high.

“We used to sell many books to the EU, which is no longer feasible because of duties and such (as a result of Brexit).

“Arabic libraries in the UK — another important part of our business — are buying far fewer books. And we have lost a large part of our customer base as Arab visitors from overseas are not visiting in the same numbers.

“There is a generational issue there, as well: Younger people do not stop by as often as their parents did.”

Despite the closure, Al Saqi Books’ small publishing wings Saqi Books and Dar Al Saqi will stay operational.

In a statement, the bookstore described itself as a “leading light not only for Middle Eastern expatriates, but for visitors from across the region keen to obtain works banned in their own countries.”


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.”