London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors

London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors
Foodies at the sixth edition of the Halal Food Festival in London. (Supplied)
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Updated 28 September 2022

London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors

London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors
  • With 150 vendors, festival showcases 25 cuisines from around the world
  • Festival’s mission is to help support halal SMES

LONDON: The Halal Food Festival returned to the UK capital this year for its sixth edition with 25 cuisines on offer at more than 150 stalls.

At least 18,000 people attended the two-day event, which ran from Sept. 24-25 at London Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The scale and scope of the festival mean London now hosts one of the largest specifically halal food gatherings in the world, according to organizers. 

Kevin Jackson, director of Algebra Festivals, launched the festival with his partner Waleed Jahangia seven years ago. 

“We created an event that would put food at the heart of the community. There’s no better way of sharing culture than through food,” he said.

After two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers have invested heavily in infrastructure, transforming the festival into an experience that goes beyond food.

The event featured a VIP lounge, shopping stalls, live entertainment, cookery theater, picnic area, kids play area, mechanical bull and fun competitions. 

One of the highlights was a live demonstration by NHS doctor and former “MasterChef” winner Dr. Saliha Mahmood Ahmed. 

Using bread dough to teach women how to examine themselves for early signs of breast cancer, Ahmed aimed to overcome cultural taboos that contribute to low cancer awareness among the Muslim community in the UK. 

The new additions reflect the growing view that halal is more than just about food but is a lifestyle, too. 

Jackson recalled that when he and Jahangia launched the festival, most Muslim events in London were held in community centers or school halls. 

But the London Stadium event shows the Muslim community now has access to some of the most renowned venues in the capital. 

The festival has also evolved into a cultural melting pot, with both its cuisine and its foodies coming from around the globe. 

“We’ve got people from Manchester, Birmingham, people who came on a day trip from Paris yesterday. We’ve got people from Spain. We’ve got people from Scotland. This is such a big event for the Muslim community that they travel for miles to come to it,”  Jackson said.  

Chef Fatima El-Rify of Mama Hayam reported positive feedback from visitors tasting her Egyptian cuisine. 

“They didn’t know what it was completely. They knew a little about kosheri, but now they have a really strong idea. They’re coming back for more. They’re bringing their friends. They really love kosheri and mahshi, so that’s really good.” 

She added: “I think there is nowhere else in London that you can try all these different cuisines and just have this ease of it all being halal.” 

The festival also features the timeless and the contemporary, from Jordan’s traditional Anabtawi Sweets to London’s Lola’s Cupcakes.

Apart from catering to Muslim visitors, it aims to provide an international platform for the halal economy, while helping to nurture halal small and medium enterprises. 

“We’re building business relationships. The traders all trade with one another. The suppliers, our partners here, Tariq Halal, are providing products for our exhibitors,” Jackson said. 

Founder Shahin Bharwani of Mocktail Company, which sells non-alcoholic beverages,  said that she was fortunate to have been able to exhibit at the Halal Food Festival in 2016 within months of launching her business. 

“It was brilliant in terms of being a startup to get the brand exposure needed at this type of event.” 

Festival vendors reflected on the halal industry’s growth in the past decade. 

Bharwani said: “There’s so many variations of businesses here, particularly the food. Years ago you could never imagine halal tacos hell or gourmet burgers, that type of thing, so to have those kinds of halal options now is amazing.” 

Co-partner Abid Haider of Proper Burgers said that the event “just keeps getting bigger and bigger.” 

With the industry now worth billions, the London festival is part of a growing movement placing halal on high street.

 


Canadian model Winnie Harlow spotted at Formula E Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia

Canadian model Winnie Harlow spotted at Formula E Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia
Winnie Harlow attends the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Scott Garfitt)
Updated 29 January 2023

Canadian model Winnie Harlow spotted at Formula E Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia

Canadian model Winnie Harlow spotted at Formula E Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: Canadian model Winnie Harlow was spotted in Saudi Arabia this weekend attending the Formula E Diriyah E-Prix.

 The model was part of the thousands of fans who watched on as 22 of the fastest electric race cars ever built raced for the second time this weekend.

 “The experience at Formula E is unmatched and I’ve really enjoyed the vibe, people, atmosphere, and racing. I’ve been to Saudi Arabia a few times and always have a great experience, so I love that Formula E is in Diriyah,” Harlow said in a released statement.

“Living in a more sustainable world and being able to enjoy motorsports at the same time is incredible,” she added. 

Harlow rubbed shoulders with the likes of John Legend, Martin Garrix, Miguel and French Montana, who performed at the event’s after-race concert series.

Netflix series “Emily in Paris” star Lucien Laviscount was also in attendance.

“I’m a massive fan of motorsport and anything to do with cars. Seeing the new GEN3 race car on track for the first time was insane,” he said in a released statement. “It looks like a fighter jet on wheels and sounds like it’s from a sci-fi movie. Formula E are leading the world in electric car innovation. I’m in line for an electric vehicle and this has really given me a taste.”


Review: More dungeons and more dragons — ‘The Legend of Vox Machina’ season two is a ‘critical’ hit  

Review: More dungeons and more dragons — ‘The Legend of Vox Machina’ season two is a ‘critical’ hit  
Updated 29 January 2023

Review: More dungeons and more dragons — ‘The Legend of Vox Machina’ season two is a ‘critical’ hit  

Review: More dungeons and more dragons — ‘The Legend of Vox Machina’ season two is a ‘critical’ hit  

DUBAI: It would not be an understatement to say that we are living in the golden age of television when it comes to sheer diversity in terms of content. That much is evident when a Dungeons & Dragons game that started out in someone’s living room is now a full-blown animated series on a massive streaming platform — and it has returned for a second season.   

 “The Legend of Vox Machina” is based on the hugely successful D&D actual play series Critical Role, in which players livestreamed themselves playing the tabletop game. The adult animated series made fans in its debut season for its ability to carefully balance juvenile humor with immense character depth, set against a lore-heavy fantasy setting.   

Season two builds on that promise and comes back even stronger with greater character arcs for its seven main characters: Half-elf rogue Vax’ildan (Liam O’Brien), his ranger twin sister Vex’ahlia (Laura Bailey), half-elf druid Keyleth (Marisha Ray), gnome bard Scanlan (Sam Riegel), goliath barbarian Grog (Travis Willingham), his BFF gnome paladin Pike (Ashley Johnson) and human gunslinger Percy (Taliesen Jaffe). This is an impressive feat to achieve given that the episodes have a run time of under 30 minutes.   

The new season picks up exactly where season one left off — with a group of large and ancient dragons attacking the city of Emon. Our motley crew of mercenaries/heroes, clearly underqualified for the job of defeating these powerful beings, must now go on a continent-hopping jaunt to retrieve magical artifacts that will help them in this mission.   

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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It is helpful here to remember that “TLOVM,” unlike any fantasy series or movie that you may have watched so far, is not based on a book or video game: It is based on a story created by a group of friends as they played a game over several years, albeit with an audience watching on Twitch and YouTube.   

And, hence, what makes the animated show such an engrossing watch, despite having a story that may seem familiar to most fans of fantasy media, is that “TLOVM” manages to accurately capture the bond between the players and translate it into endearing television.   

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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And while the personal stakes are dialed up to 11 this time around, the larger plot is not ignored either. As big as the emotional punches are, they are matched in intensity with the beautifully realized action scenes and set pieces, which will again feel familiar to anyone who has ever played a role-playing game with their friends.   

With Critical Role announcing that they will also be animating their second campaign, Mighty Nein, for Amazon, and if you are a fan of all things magic, camaraderie and epic battles, there has never been a better time to tune in and let “Vox Machina” enthrall you. 


‘Star Wars’ C3PO actor Anthony Daniels to attend MEFCC 2023 in Abu Dhabi  

‘Star Wars’ C3PO actor Anthony Daniels to attend MEFCC 2023 in Abu Dhabi  
Updated 29 January 2023

‘Star Wars’ C3PO actor Anthony Daniels to attend MEFCC 2023 in Abu Dhabi  

‘Star Wars’ C3PO actor Anthony Daniels to attend MEFCC 2023 in Abu Dhabi  

DUBAI: The force is strong with “Star Wars” fans in the Middle East.   

British actor and mime artist Anthony Daniels, best known for playing the lovable golden droid C3PO in the “Star Wars” franchise, is headed to the Middle East Film and Comic Con, set to take place in Abu Dhabi from March 3-5.   

He is the only actor to have either appeared in or been involved with all theatrical films in the series, having starred in 10 “Star Wars” films, apart from being involved in several TV shows, video games and radio serials.   

It has also been heavily hinted at that British actor, writer and filmmaker Andy Serkis will be in attendance in Abu Dhabi at the three-day event. Serkis is best known for his performance capture roles comprising motion capture acting, animation and voice work for computer-generated characters such as Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings” franchise, Caesar in the “Planet of the Apes” reboot trilogy, and Supreme Leader Snoke in the “Star Wars” sequel trilogy   

He most recently portrayed Kino Loy in the “Star Wars” Disney+ series “Andor.”  

However, Serkis’s attendance has not been confirmed by the organizers as of yet.  


UAE’s Blackpink fans enjoy birthday surprise at Abu Dhabi concert  

UAE’s Blackpink fans enjoy birthday surprise at Abu Dhabi concert  
Blackpink performs onstage at the 2022 MTV VMAs at Prudential Center on August 28, 2022. (AFP)
Updated 29 January 2023

UAE’s Blackpink fans enjoy birthday surprise at Abu Dhabi concert  

UAE’s Blackpink fans enjoy birthday surprise at Abu Dhabi concert  

ABU DHABI: Fans of K-Pop supergroup Blackpink were treated to a concert and surprise birthday celebration for band member Rose at the group’s performance in Abu Dhabi on Saturday night.

The chart-topping group hit the stage and performed a number of their greatest hits — including “Pink Venom” and “Lovesick Girls” — before Korean-New Zealand singer Rose, whose birthday is on Feb. 11, was surprised with a multi-tiered cake on stage. She is set to turn 26.

Bandmember Jennie was also spotted visiting Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque before the show.

Abu Dhabi is the second Middle Eastern stop on the “Born Pink” world tour after the group performed in Riyadh on Jan. 20.


US singer John Legend closes out Diriyah E-Prix 2023 with a bang 

US singer John Legend closes out Diriyah E-Prix 2023 with a bang 
Updated 29 January 2023

US singer John Legend closes out Diriyah E-Prix 2023 with a bang 

US singer John Legend closes out Diriyah E-Prix 2023 with a bang 

DUBAI: US singer-songwriter John Legend made a resounding comeback to the Middle East with his performance at the final day of the Diriyah E-Prix races in Saudi Arabia. 

From up-tempo, dance tracks like “All She Wanna Do” to his famous ballad “All of Me,” Legend had the packed audience screaming for more and singing along to every word. 

Moroccan American rapper French Montana and Egyptian singer-songwriter Mohamed EL-Hamaki also took to the stage on Saturday night. 

Returning for its ninth season and after a two-week break following an opener in Mexico City, the Diriyah E-Prix kicked off on Friday in the Saudi capital with two days of racing on the Diriyah Street Course.