Nordic cinema and culture celebrated in Riyadh

Special Nordic cinema and culture celebrated in Riyadh
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Nordic Cultural Week 2022 is launched by the four Scandinavian ambassadors at the Norwegian Embassy in Riyadh. (AN Photo)
Special Nordic cinema and culture celebrated in Riyadh
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Nordic Cultural Week 2022 is launched by the four Scandinavian ambassadors at the Norwegian Embassy in Riyadh. (AN Photo)
Special Nordic cinema and culture celebrated in Riyadh
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Nordic Cultural Week 2022 is launched by the four Scandinavian ambassadors at the Norwegian Embassy in Riyadh. (AN Photo)
Special Nordic cinema and culture celebrated in Riyadh
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Nordic Cultural Week 2022 is launched by the four Scandinavian ambassadors at the Norwegian Embassy in Riyadh. (AN Photo)
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Updated 10 November 2022

Nordic cinema and culture celebrated in Riyadh

Nordic cinema and culture celebrated in Riyadh
  • Four movies from Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland will be screened in Saudi cinemas as part of Nordic Cultural Week 2022
  • Danish Ambassador Liselotte Plesner: We are trying to strengthen the ties between us and the Kingdom through films and culture

RIYADH: Scandinavian culture is coming to Riyadh with the launch of a week-long festival of some of the region’s latest films.

Four movies from Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland are to be screened in Saudi cinemas next week for this year’s Nordic Week. A cookery class is also being planned to let Saudis try some of the region’s best food.

The Norwegian Embassy in Riyadh hosted the launch of the week with guests at a get-together on Nov. 10.

Liselotte Plesner, the Danish ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said that such events were needed to strengthen the ties between Scandinavian countries and the Kingdom. 

“This used to be an annual event before COVID-19, and we’re glad it’s back,” he said. “We’ll have films from each country next week to showcase. Nordic countries are not well known in this region, so we are trying to strengthen the ties between us and the Kingdom through films and culture.”

Thomas Lid Ball, Norway’s ambassador in Riyadh, told Arab News that the embassy event “was part of our annual culture festival that we are having in the Nordic countries: Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. 

“Next week we are screening four movies, one from each country, and we are going to have a cooking event.” 

The films to be screened are “Held for Ransom,” “Bikes vs. Cars,” “Hope,” and “One Last Deal.”

“One Last Deal” is a Finnish film about an elderly art dealer who hunts for information about the past of an unsigned painting that threatens his already troubled career.

“Hope,” from Norway, tells the story of an estranged couple who are brought back together after a cancer diagnosis, and learn how to trust each other again. 

“Held for Ransom” is the story of Danish photographer Daniel Rye, who was captured by Daesh in Syria in 2013 and held hostage for 398 days.

“Bikes vs. Cars” focuses on pedal power and tensions between cyclists, drivers, and our reliance on fossil fuels.


Artistic director bids to celebrate Saudi’s cultural identity with festival

Artistic director bids to celebrate Saudi’s cultural identity with festival
Updated 01 February 2023

Artistic director bids to celebrate Saudi’s cultural identity with festival

Artistic director bids to celebrate Saudi’s cultural identity with festival
  • Festi worked on canceled event to mark opening of G20 summit in Riyadh
  • Italian wants a patron to help with spectacular project in several cities

ROME: One of the most famous Italian artistic directors and producers is looking to organize a festival of Saudi culture to celebrate its unique identity.

Valerio Festi envisages open-air events and installations in several cities to help mark the Kingdom’s history and culture, and its vision for the future.

Bologna-born Festi has been responsible for many international open-air celebrations based on the traditions of the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

For years he has created these spectacular events, in Europe and the Arab world, including his latest, when lights, dance, water and a huge hot air balloon were utilized to mark the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Qatar.

The artist lived in Saudi Arabia for a few months in 2020 to work on the opening event for the G20 summit in Riyadh, but it was canceled because of COVID-19 restrictions.

He told Arab News: “I had the opportunity of getting to know Saudi Arabia and its people directly, and to appreciate its extraordinary background of culture and traditions, an immense treasury which I believe is not known enough about abroad.

“That memory, that treasury must be publicized and become as well-known as the huge achievements of the Kingdom throughout the years. A story of success could not happen without such a background.”

He added that he is convinced that “the fashion of the Saudi past was father to the country’s present success.”

He added: “That's a story which must be told, with a festival.

“I propose myself to be the art director of that festival, which will be held in Saudi cities and brought alive by local and international artists who would perform and make their mark with lights, music, dance and other works of artistic merit.

“It would bring intensity to such a complex and rich past, which is the basis for a spectacular future.”

Festi is now looking for a patron, someone he describes as a mecenate, for his project.

He said: “I’m looking for someone who wants to organize a series of shows going on at least for one month in several Saudi cities.

“This would be a unique festival for everyone to enjoy. It would be held in open spaces and enriched with installations of Saudi artworks which would mark the dialogue of the Kingdom with its future.”

Festi is supported in his quest by the Italian Saudi Business Group, a not-for-profit association based in Milan. It has operated since 2013 in Jeddah under the patronage of the Italian Consulate General and the city’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

ISBG President Alessandra Serafini said: “Festi represents one of the Italian excellences in his field, and we are happy to collaborate and promote his work in Saudi Arabia.”

 


Mohamed Hadid opens up about parenting Gigi, Bella and Anwar Hadid 

Mohamed Hadid opens up about parenting Gigi, Bella and Anwar Hadid 
Updated 01 February 2023

Mohamed Hadid opens up about parenting Gigi, Bella and Anwar Hadid 

Mohamed Hadid opens up about parenting Gigi, Bella and Anwar Hadid 

DUBAI: Palestinian real estate mogul Mohamed Hadid this week opened up about parenting his children, models Gigi, Bella and Anwar Hadid.  

During an interview with Emirati YouTube host Anas Bukhash, Hadid said that he teaches his US Palestinian Dutch children to not depend on others, even him.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by #ABtalks (@abtalks)

“I don’t really give lectures to my kids. I don’t sit down and say how you should live your life. I let them live their life and create their own,” he said. “Go out and make life for yourself as if I don’t exist and you’re not looking for a man to take care of you. I think that is kind of (what) I see in my kids. 

“They’re all self-made on their own without my help,” he added. “The only thing that I helped them with is that I am there to love them and if they need any advice, they can call me, but be your own person.”  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by #ABtalks (@abtalks)

Hadid has two elder daughters Marielle and Alana.  

“They are — all five of them — I if I pass away tomorrow, I know I left I left them in good hands, their own hands,” he said. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by #ABtalks (@abtalks)

When asked to describe his children in one word each, Hadid said Gigi is a “genius,” Bella is a “princess” and Anwar is a “king.” 

Hadid said that Bella was what the princess of Nazareth was called, and he feels his daughter represents royalty. 

“Gigi is a genius because she I think has found a way to insert herself in the fashion industry in a way that not too many people can,” he said. “She can design, she can model … she is eloquent, she has this combination that is hard to put in one human.” 

“She makes companies famous. People sometimes think a model is just a model. She’s not a model she is really a spokeswoman,” he added. 

He also revealed that Gigi, who is a mother to her two-year-old daughter with Zayn Malik, Khai, wanted to be a forensic psychologist.  

When it comes to Anwar, Hadid said he is “very special.” “He’s an artist. He’s a musician. He’s very down to earth. He has very little need for physical things… I just love the way he is.” 


British supermodel Naomi Campbell spotted in Abu Dhabi with her daughter  

British supermodel Naomi Campbell spotted in Abu Dhabi with her daughter  
Updated 31 January 2023

British supermodel Naomi Campbell spotted in Abu Dhabi with her daughter  

British supermodel Naomi Campbell spotted in Abu Dhabi with her daughter  

DUBAI: British supermodel Naomi Campbell was spotted in Abu Dhabi visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque this week. 

The 52-year-old catwalk star shared images of herself at the touristic hotspot in the UAE wearing a leopard print abaya with a grey headscarf.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Dr Naomi Campbell (@naomi)

Campbell visited the mosque with her daughter. In some of the pictures she shared on Instagram, Campbell can be seen standing in one of the mosque’s halls holding her little girl’s hands.  

“Splendor of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque,” she wrote on Instagram to her 14 million followers. “Thank you (for the) breathtaking tour,” she added, thanking her organizers.  

Since announcing the arrival of her daughter in May 2021, Campbell has only shared a few images of her child. 


Christie’s Dubai turns itself into a garden of jewels to attract Gulf collectors

Christie’s Dubai turns itself into a garden of jewels to attract Gulf collectors
Updated 31 January 2023

Christie’s Dubai turns itself into a garden of jewels to attract Gulf collectors

Christie’s Dubai turns itself into a garden of jewels to attract Gulf collectors

DUBAI: Christie’s Dubai has transformed itself into a veritable garden until Feb. 3 to present its latest jewelry-selling exhibition, “Garden of Wonders,” featuring pieces estimated between $10,000 to a whopping $4.5 million. 

Partnering with A2Z, an art advisory service founded by Abdulrahman H. Al-Zayani for private clients in the Gulf who wish to expand their jewelry collections, the exhibition is an opportunity for visitors to dive into an exotic garden filled with jewelry inspired by nature.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by A2Z (@a2zadvisory)

The exhibition features a finely curated selection of pieces made from precious gemstones including diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies alongside a large selection of important natural saltwater pearl pieces, including pearls originating from the Gulf region. 

“It is a privilege for Christie’s to work with A2Z. Our friend, Abdulrahman, has been a colleague for years now, but he was a collector even before he was a colleague. He’s always had good eyes and is an esteemed friend,” said Julien Brunie, senior director and international head of private sales jewelry at Christie’s, in an interview with Arab News.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by A2Z (@a2zadvisory)

Brunie went on to explain how the partnership with the art advisory is a way for Christie’s to ensure quality and selectivity in the pieces they offer. 

“Christie’s is the world’s leading auction house since 1766. We have a fabulous network of experts, clients, friends and collectors. But we don’t have Christie’s branded pieces to sell. So, we bring to the market what we think is the best,” added Brunie. 

The exhibition is led by a stunning diamond bracelet by Harry Winston comprising 99 emerald-cut diamonds of 141.00 carats in total with a central stone of 11.32 carats. Made in 1975, this comes from a private collection in the Middle East. 

Al-Zayani, who founded A2Z advisory in 2018, spoke about the designers and jewelers to watch out for at the exhibition. 

“We have bigger, older names such as Harry Winston, Cartier and Van Cleef. And then from the newer names, we tried to collect or curate from all over the world. This time we’re starting from India with jewelers like VAK, for example. Vishal (Kothari) is a very young, dynamic guy based out of Mumbai, and he works very nicely with cutting stones. His prices are not steep yet. He just recently showcased his work at Bergdorf Goodman in New York. So, he’s fun,” said Al-Zayani, adding other up-and-coming names like Greek designer Nikos Koulis, Brazilian designer Fernando Jorge, and London-based jeweler Noor Fares to the list. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by A2Z (@a2zadvisory)

Al-Zayani also pointed to the establishment of Christie’s Dubai as a catalyst for the growing interest in jewelry collection in the Middle East. “I think Christie’s has definitely added a lot by creating this space in Dubai International Financial Center. They’ve spent beautifully on it, and it’s next to the nicest restaurants. It’s a very nice atmosphere and, most importantly, you feel so safe. Even if you’re walking on the street with a $10 million ring, there’s no way anyone’s going to touch you,” he said. 

Brunie chimed in to also point out that the Middle East, in general, has always had good taste when it comes to jewelry.

“We were discussing only yesterday about the collection in the region and that it’s rare to find outdated pieces in the region. You find classic pieces. That’s something that speaks to the taste for good jewels here,” said Brunie.  
 


‘Exciting, overwhelming’: Officials and visitors hail Islamic Arts Biennale in Jeddah

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Supplied)
The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Supplied)
Updated 30 January 2023

‘Exciting, overwhelming’: Officials and visitors hail Islamic Arts Biennale in Jeddah

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Supplied)
  • US art professors praise Saudi pride in national narrative

JEDDAH: After several years in the making, Jeddah’s Islamic Arts Biennale is offering visitors from across the Kingdom and around the globe ‘eye-opening’ access to Islamic art.

Themed “Awwal Bait,” or “The First House,” the event is taking place at the 1983 Aga Khan award-winning Western Hajj Terminal, which began accepting guests on the Jan. 23 launch.

The 118,000-square-meter space is housing five galleries, two pavilions and one grand canopy, 280 artifacts, as well as more than 50 new commissioned artworks from around the Muslim world.

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Photo/Diriyah Biennale Foundation)

Rakan Al-Touq, the vivacious vice chair of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, and also general supervisor of cultural affairs and international relations at the Ministry of Culture, hailed the event’s launch success.

Wearing a crisp white thobe and flashing a genuine smile, Al-Touq was visibly moved by how the event came together.

“We were super excited — this is a project a few years in the making, since 2019. It’s also been a passion project for me, personally. And we have a stellar group of people who came together for this project — a small but mighty team,” he told Arab News.

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Photo/Diriyah Biennale Foundation)

Al-Touq stressed the need for non-commercial experiences in which all hands are brought on deck to elevate concepts and cultures within Islamic art.

Bringing together never-before-seen priceless artifacts juxtaposed with freshly commissioned contemporary pieces within the space was like building a jigsaw puzzle from scratch, he added.

FASTFACTS

• Bringing together never-before-seen priceless artifacts juxtaposed with freshly commissioned contemporary pieces within the space was like building a jigsaw puzzle from scratch, said Rakan Al-Touq, the vice chair of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation.

• The Islamic Arts Biennale is also meant to serve as a global reframe of Islamic art as a discipline, with the diversity of curators at the Islamic Arts Biennale a notable achievement.

To create a cohesive and visually stunning space in which different areas and sensibilities were represented was quite a feat, Al-Touq said. Securing the iconic location to launch the world’s very first Islamic biennale was also significant to him and the team, he added.

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Photo/Diriyah Biennale Foundation)

Al-Touq said that the cooperation and support from the Saudi leadership, including Prince Badr Al-Saud, the minister of culture and governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla, has ensured the success of the monumental project.

The vice-chair’s praise went beyond the glamorous opening night ceremony, attended by many members of the royal family and public.

He took pride in the fact that half of the artists taking part in the event are Saudi.

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Photo/Diriyah Biennale Foundation)

“In 2019, we were planning for 2023 and the meeting point of doing something that is so, frankly, related to the identity of the Ministry of Culture and to Saudi Arabia, in a format that has never been done.

“To think about a biennale format for Islamic arts, that can bring together ancient history and current, and hopefully inspire future productions of art, just felt like the right thing to do.

We’re just really moved and we just feel like students, wide-eyed observing and learning, and taking it all in. It’s going to be amazing to take that all back into our classrooms.

Dr. Stephennie Mulder, Professor in Islamic Art at University of Austin, US

“The team and the Diriyah Biennale Foundation started looking at options of locations and how we ended up here at the Hajj Terminal is also an important thing,” Al-Touq said.

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Photo/Diriyah Biennale Foundation)

CEO of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation Aya Al-Bakree, Al-Touq’s co-pilot in launching the event, said: “We are keen for people to join the dialog and experience the sense of community that the faith can evoke through art.”

The Islamic Arts Biennale is also meant to serve as a global reframe of Islamic art as a discipline , with the diversity of curators at the Islamic Arts Biennale a notable achievement.

Jennifer Pruitt, assistant professor in Islamic Art History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, traveled from the US to the Kingdom to visit the biennale with her friend, Dr. Stephennie Mulder, a professor in Islamic Art at the University of Austin, US.

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Photo/Diriyah Biennale Foundation)

Although immersed in the Middle East through their work, the two had very few expectations but were cautiously optimistic about their first visit to the Kingdom.

Before basking in the works displayed at the Islamic Arts Biennale, they spent eight whirlwind hours in Madinah and managed to explore AlUla before arriving in Jeddah.

“It's been a really exciting and overwhelming experience. My friend and I are here together and we’re both professors of Islamic arts. We’ve read about this space — we’ve read about Saudi Arabia,” Pruitt said.

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Photo/Diriyah Biennale Foundation)

“I knew that people would be friendly and warm, which everyone has been, in fact. We were commenting on the fact that unlike any trip we’ve taken, we literally haven’t encountered anyone that has been rude or annoying.

“Really everyone has been exceptionally warm and forthcoming,” she told Arab News.

“We’ve been to a lot of Islamic art shows and I think I think we all … we both agree that this is kind of in a really high category of quality and ambition, and execution,” she added.

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Photo/Diriyah Biennale Foundation)

The pair’s trip to Madinah was eye-opening — something that they were happy to experience first before venturing to the biennale.

“It was really powerful to see people kind of streaming to this sacred spot in Madinah. It was incredibly moving,” Mulder told Arab News.

“What we teach in our classes, which is that the power of Islam is all of these people converging like that … that that the power is not in the relic or in the architecture, but in these places where people pray … and I think that was really embodied seeing all these people from all over the world streaming into Madinah,” she added.

The inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale is showcasing 280 rare and priceless artifacts. (Photo/Diriyah Biennale Foundation)

Due to earlier periods of restrictions, Saudi Arabia had been absent from the center of the Islamic art world for a long time.

But the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the introduction of tourist visas as well as academic trips has sought to change that.

“For me, like Jennifer, I just wanted to come here and be a student, and learn and observe,” Mulder said.

“We have this feeling that we’re here at the moment … of a people really discovering and being proud of and being able to construct their national narrative collectively.

“And having the freedom to do that — maybe for the first time very openly, and with a kind of joy.”

Both professors said that the enriching experience has encouraged them to change the way they teach upon their return to the US.

Although a picture is worth a thousand words, the pair said that Islamic art archive images are often “sterile,” and fail to encapsulate the feeling of experiencing art in person.

The sensation of standing beneath a monument while the Adhan (call to prayer) reverberates cannot be replicated through archives, they said.

The two professors are also keen to work and collaborate with Saudi archaeologists.

“We’re just really moved and we just feel like students, wide-eyed observing and learning, and taking it all in. It’s going to be amazing to take that all back into our classrooms,” Mulder said.

“I’m going to teach differently now; it’s kind of been percolating for a few days. I was telling Jennifer, even to have photographs of things we didn’t know before.

“We’re both architectural historians — it’s really important for us to have a sense of space and how people move through it.”

The biennale is free of charge for all visitors. It is also hosting 117 education workshops and more than 25 panel discussions.

The public programming schedule, including talks and screenings, is updated in real time.

The Islamic Arts Biennale, launched to the public on Jan. 23, will remain open until April 23.

Tickets can be booked via the official Diriyah Biennale website and on social media channels.

The space is open for visitors to roam the grounds and exhibits between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Thursdays, and between 2 p.m.  and 11 p.m. on Fridays.