DUBAI: On Oct. 28, a concert took place in Beirut honoring the late Lebanese composer Wadia Sabra, who died in 1952.
Sabra should — by rights — be renowned in his homeland. He wrote the Lebanese national anthem, established its first conservatory, and was reportedly the first to compose an opera in his native tongue. However, over the years, he has largely been forgotten. Now, Lebanese baritone Fady Jeanbart is trying to revive his memory.
Jeanbart was commissioned to research the composer’s archive, which was donated to the Lebanese Musical Heritage Center by his family in 2016.
“Everything had been forgotten and lost because the family was hiding the archives for two main reasons,” Jeanbart told Arab News. “First, there were family feuds and then, when Sabra passed away, his wife asked the Lebanese government for a retirement pension, since Sabra was the founder and longest-standing director of the National Conservatoire, but he got nothing, he died penniless. She was so frustrated, she hid everything.”
In 1892, when Sabra was just 16, he won a scholarship to study music at the Conservatoire de Paris, becoming the first Lebanese student at the renowned institution, where the likes of Claude Debussy and Georges Bizet were educated.
A classical musician who added touches of oriental music to his repertoire, Sabra opened Lebanon’s first conservatory in 1910 (it is still open today). The 1920s was a productive time for him; not only did he set music to the words of the Lebanese anthem in 1927, but he also wrote an Arabic opera, “The Two Kings,” in the same year. Over the following decade, Sabra mainly composed French operettas.
This was all happening at a time when Lebanon was emerging from Ottoman control, which ended in 1918. Through his music, Sabra contributed to the making of the young nation’s identity. “When he was born in 1876, there was no Lebanon,” said Jeanbart. “So, he is really symbolic of the birth of Lebanon.”
The recent Beirut concert featured Jeanbart, soprano Lara Jokhadar and mezzo-soprano Natasha Nassar, among others. They performed three operas, as well as the national anthem in its original key.
“The purpose was to shed light again on our past,” said Jeanbart. “It is important to remember it to know how to go forward.”
The restaurants in Saudi cities offering a taste of Persia on a plate
Restaurants in the Kingdom offer flavor-packed Persian dishes, including the national dish of Iran
Launched in 1999, the Persian restaurant Alshaya has expanded to nine locations around the Kingdom
Updated 21 March 2023
RIYADH: Persian cuisine is popular around the world for its healthy, hearty and luxurious dishes.
The aromatic and flavorful cuisine includes perfectly cooked fluffy rice, grilled or stewed meat such as chicken, lamb, goat or fish, and vegetables that are enhanced by a variety of nuts, fruits, herbs and rich spices like cardamom, saffron, cinnamon, cloves, sultanas, berries and dried rose petals, among others.
Bordered by Iraq, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Oman and Turkemenistan, Iran comprises diverse ethnicities, with neighboring countries having a huge influence on its food.
Popular Persian dishes include ghormeh sabzi, chelo kabab, dizi, kabab koobideh, khoresht gheymeh, zereshk polo, tahdig, faloodeh and tulumba, among others.
Renowned Saudi food blogger Hisham Baeshen is known for his cooking videos on Instagram. With about 4 million followers, Baeshen makes dishes from around the world, including Saudi Arabia.
Baeshen said that he has cooked Persian food, with his favorite being the national dish of Iran — ghormeh sabzi, a stew prepared with meat and kidney beans with a side dish of zereshk polo, a mixture of white and saffron flavored basmati rice topped with barberries.
“I consider sabzi as the king of Persian foods. With a side order of zereshk rice, which I consider one of the staple dishes in Persian food,” Baeshen told Arab News.
Drawing similarities between Saudi and Persian cuisine, the blogger said: “I would absolutely recommend Saudis cook Persian food at home, because all the materials that you need for the Persian kitchen are available in the Saudi kitchen and the techniques used in cooking Persian food are not very different than the Saudi cuisine.
“Many people have tried Persian recipes and loved them. Honestly — very beautiful and delicious.”
Here are some restaurants in the Kingdom offering a taste of Persia on a plate.
Founded in 1990 in Bahrain, Isfahani has expanded its presence to eight locations across Bahrain and in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, with branches in Dhahran and Alkhobar.
Ahmed Alqaseer, vice president of Isfahani group, said that Isfahani started when his uncle, Elias, gave his father, Jalil Alqaseer, the business.
Ahmed’s father took it upon himself to learn more about Persian culture from top Persian chefs by visiting Iran and Lebanon.
“The most important thing for us is to explore and share is the quality of the food. We keep on tracking, developing and adding more dishes,” Ahmed said.
With many great options to choose from, chelo kabab remains by far the the most popular choice among diners.
“Chelo kabab is the dish that gets the most recommendations and gets sold out the quickest in Isfahani locations and food delivery applications like Talabat,” Alqaseer said.
Isfahani’s target for 2023 is to expand to new locations and focus on its design, ambience and food.
“I want the customers to have a great restaurant experience and taste, as if they are in another world. We keep on developing the food and getting new recipes all while maintaining the quality of the food. The new restaurant will have customers will feel like they are in a very modern Persian restaurant,” Alqaseer added.
Mohammed Abduljabar is the owner of Zahra Zad, one of the only Persian restaurants in Al-Qatif.
“We decided to open a Persian restaurant because we saw that there weren’t any in the city of Qatif. The people of the city love Persian food and we wanted to give them something to indulge in,” said Abduljabar.
The soft opening of the restaurant, which is adorned with paintings highlighting Persian culture, architectural style and clothing, took place in February this year.
“We try to capture the true essence and atmosphere of a traditional Persian restaurant through these paintings and decorations. We have all sorts of paintings that symbolize Persian society and dress. Additionally, we added Persian music to add to the ambience.
“I think before starting any project, it is very important for us to study the culture thoroughly so that project truly succeeds,” Abduljabar said.
He added that the most popular dishes are mixed Persian grills — a mixture of beef and chicken kabab — and kashk bademjan, a Persian eggplant dip.
To satisfy one’s sweet tooth, Zahra Zad offers saffron cake and bastani sonati, a rich pistachio ice cream with saffron and rose water.
Taking accessibility and inclusivity into consideration, Abduljabar has kept its ground floor exclusive to people who are unable to climb stairs.
To make the restaurant attractive for customers of all ages, Zahra Zad also contains a shisha cafe.
Alshaya is another Persian restaurant with branches in Riyadh and the Eastern Province. Started in 1999, Alshaya has expanded to nine locations around the Kingdom. The restaurant offers traditional Persian dishes such as kabab, sultani steak and morgh chicken kabab, among others.
“@TaylorSwift wore for her Night 2 of The Eras Tour a custom #ZMCouture pink tulle ball gown, with a starburst bodice and cross strap back (sic),” the fashion house posted on Instagram, referring to the look that was styled by Joseph Cassell Falconer.
Taylor Swift’s “Eras Tour” kicked off on Friday night in Glendale. She performed a three-hour show that ran through hits from every era of her 17-year career and followed it up with a second show in the city.
The first episode of the series, “Roots,” features Al-Zahrani and a mother figure, portraying the bond between mother and child. In the clip and the images, both women wear the brand’s Serpent Bohème jewellery.
Created in 1968, Serpent Bohème was the first of Boucheron’s iconic collections. It is reimagined yearly and the new campaign sees Al-Zahrani show off the newest white gold Serpent Bohème Solarité earrings paved with diamonds.
“Evolution,” the second episode in the campaign, features the Saudi actress and a sister figure. The two women wear jewels from the Quatre collection.
Finally, the third video, “Future,” transports viewers to a modern metropolis where Al-Zahrani is seen wearing pieces from the new Quatre Double White Edition.
Frédéric Boucheron founded the label in 1858 and it has grown from its traditional home on Place Vendôme in Paris to more than 85 boutiques worldwide.
Riyadh-born actress Al-Zahrani was unveiled as the label’s Middle East ambassador in November 2022.
The announcement was made at a Boucheron brand experience in Riyadh in November, titled “La Maison,” which was hosted to showcase their Carte Blanche Ailleurs High Jewelry collection for the first time in the Middle East.
The collection was first presented during Paris Haute Couture week in July.
“The Middle East is a historic and crucial region for Boucheron from a business standpoint, as it still holds tremendous potential,” said Helene Poulit-Duquesne, CEO of Boucheron, in a released statement at the time.
“In Saudi Arabia, as in the rest of the region, we operate at the very top of the market, selling to highly educated and savvy collectors. This is something I am proud of, which is why Boucheron returned to Riyadh to host the second edition of our ‘La Maison’ event,” she added.
“Put it on your must-see list if you haven’t already” Winfrey posted on Instagram on Sunday about her recent trip to Jordan’s “Rose City,” Petra.
The show host shared a carousel of photos in which she can be seen riding a camel in Petra and visiting religious sites in the country.
“Visited Jordan this week and there was so much to see and experience! We visited the site where John the Baptist baptized Jesus, Petra and all its fascinations, camels, and the spot where the big boulder comes rolling out of Indiana Jones. So much history there in the ‘Rose City,’ voted one of the 7 new wonders of the world. It takes 3 days to really see it all we only spent 3 hours. Put it on your must see list if you haven’t already!” she posted on Instagram.
Dior reveals design details about Princess Iman of Jordan’s wedding dress
Updated 20 March 2023
DUBAI: French fashion house Dior has shared details about Princess Iman bint Abdullah II of Jordan’s wedding gown, which she wore as she wed Jameel Alexander Thermiotis in a ceremony in Amman’s Beit Al-Urdon Palace last week.
Princess Iman, 26, opted for a traditional white wedding dress with a sheer lace panel at the neckline, lace-cuffed sleeves and a flowing skirt. The bridal look was completed with a matching veil and tiara by Chaumet.
“Take an exclusive look into the #DiorSavoirFaire behind the wedding dress specially designed by @MariaGraziaChiuri for Jordan’s princess, H.R.H. Princess Iman. The gown is imbued with beloved codes of the House like flourishes of florals on the lace neckline and sleeves,” the label posted on Instagram on Sunday.
Dior added that the elegant gown featured floral details and intricate lace work.
“For Jordan’s Princess Iman, @MariaGraziaChiuri incorporated delicate floral details into the collar and sleeves of her sleek wedding dress. Contemporary yet timeless, the white gown is adorned with immaculate lace work and precise tailoring as a testament to the refined excellence of the House’s atelier. The glowing bride beautifully embodied the irresistibly feminine silhouette for her special day,” Dior said.
Italian fashion designer Maria Grazia Chiuri was named the creative director of Dior in 2016, after stints working at Fendi and Valentino.