Emirates Airline Festival of Literature announces 2023 lineup 

Emirates Airline Festival of Literature announces 2023 lineup 
Master storyteller and prolific writer Alexander McCall Smith will delve into his successful writing career at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in February 2023. (Supplied)
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Updated 15 November 2022

Emirates Airline Festival of Literature announces 2023 lineup 

Emirates Airline Festival of Literature announces 2023 lineup 

DUBAI: One of the most anticipated literary events in the Middle East, the Dubai-based Emirates Airline Festival of Literature — celebrating its 15th anniversary from Feb. 1-6, 2023 — announced its lineup at a glittering event at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library on Monday evening. 

Reflecting this year’s theme, “Old Friends,” the festival is bringing together more than 250 of the world’s writers, with several familiar names from previous editions of the festival. 

The lineup includes Brian Cox, Emmy-award winning patriarch of the hit streaming series “Succession;” authors Cecelia Ahern, Mohsin Hamid, Alexander McCall Smith and Jeffrey Archer; Indian politician Shashi Tharoor, and religious commentator Reza Aslan, who will be in conversation with Omar Saif Ghobash and Malaysian journalist and activist Marina Mahathir; notable Bahraini poet Qasim Haddad and Emirati author and poet Maisoon Saker Al-Qassimi, 2022 winner of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award. 

Highlights 

The winner of the 2022 International Booker Prize Geetanjali Shree, who made history as her book “Tomb of Sand” became the first Hindi, Indian and South Asian novel to win the prestigious award, will also make an appearance.  

Best-selling author of the “Dark Iceland” series and one of the top Scandinavian authors Ragnar Jónasson will introduce fans to his latest whodunit. 

For fans of pop culture, social media sensation and creator of the popular webcomic “Strange Planet” Nathan Pyle will be in attendance. Also attending will be renowned video game writer and journalist Rhianna Pratchett, daughter of late fantasy author Terry Pratchett. 

Special events

The literature festival will celebrate the life and works of American Lebanese author and artist Gibran Kahlil Gibran, marking 100 years since the publication of his book “The Prophet,” and the 140th anniversary of his birth.   

There will also be an atmospheric retelling of indigenous folklore and legend as authors gather under the moonlight for “Fables Around the Fire,” revisiting tales from Europe, the Philippines, Arabia and the Yoruba people of Nigeria. 

Competitive wordsmiths can pit their skills against their favorite authors in the festival’s first ever Scrabble Tournament, or show off their literary know-how in the “Big Fat LitFest Quiz.” 

Desert Stanzas, the festival’s signature event transporting poets from around the world to perform amongst the sand dunes, under a starlit sky, will also return. 

Ticket prices start at $7 and there will be 15 percent off general session tickets in a special early bird anniversary offer running from Nov. 15 to Dec. 15. 


Review: Syrian story ‘The Swimmers’ portrays the determination of the human spirit

Review: Syrian story ‘The Swimmers’ portrays the determination of the human spirit
Updated 30 November 2022

Review: Syrian story ‘The Swimmers’ portrays the determination of the human spirit

Review: Syrian story ‘The Swimmers’ portrays the determination of the human spirit

DUBAI: It is reportedly estimated that 5.7 million Syrians have become refugees since war erupted in their country back in 2011. Fleeing the conflict, many attempted to cross the Mediterranean in unseaworthy boats, and if they were lucky, reached European shores.

Among the many asylum seekers who fled were Syrian sisters and swimmers Sara and Yusra Mardini, whose real-life story has been turned into a much-talked-about film, “The Swimmers,” currently streaming on Netflix.

Directed by Welsh Egyptian filmmaker Sally El-Hosaini, “The Swimmers” follows teenagers Sara and Yusra (portrayed by Manal and Nathalie Issa respectively), who are skilled swimmers, thanks to the professional training of their father and coach (Ali Suliman).

Sara is the cool, rebellious and tough sister, who does not believe she will achieve big things in life. Yusra is soft, sensitive, but disciplined with her eyes on the prize. She wants to compete at the Rio Olympics in 2016. “Swimming is where I belong,” she says in one scene.

Initially, their life in Damascus carries on, despite distant bombings, power cuts, and harassment from security officials. As the environment becomes increasingly dangerous, the Mardini family decides that Sara and Yusra should leave for Berlin with their DJ cousin, Nizar (Ahmed Malek), with the hope that the rest of the family would follow.

The journey is long, arduous and humiliating. They join other refugees, including children, departing from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos. They are packed onto a boat for the journey. But trouble arises where the engine dies in the midst of choppy waters.

With the boat sinking, the people begin throwing their possessions overboard. There is a heartbreaking moment when Yusra has to drop her medals into the water. Will she ever achieve her dream? The pivotal moment of the film happens with Sara and Yusra bravely jumping into the water and leading the boat and fellow passengers all the way to the island.

With a cast of new faces, the film is gripping, well-paced, and at times, quite intense. There are tearjerking moments of despair, as well as hope and kindness, found in the camaraderie of the refugees. Later they would receive similar help and support from Sven (Matthias Schweighofer), who trains Yusra for the Olympics at a swimming club in Berlin.

Visually, the film features several powerful and memorable shots, taken from above and below, that emphasize the magnitude of the conditions which the sisters had to overcome.

If there is a film to watch before the year ends, “The Swimmers” is it. It is a reminder of the determination of the human spirit, and that sometimes in life, with its twists and turns, achieving things may eventually occur, but in a way one could never imagine.


Palestine’s Nadeen Ayoub nabs runner up title at Miss Earth beauty pageant

Palestine’s Nadeen Ayoub nabs runner up title at Miss Earth beauty pageant
Palestinian contestant Nadeen Ayoub has been named Miss Earth Water. (AFP)
Updated 30 November 2022

Palestine’s Nadeen Ayoub nabs runner up title at Miss Earth beauty pageant

Palestine’s Nadeen Ayoub nabs runner up title at Miss Earth beauty pageant

DUBAI: Palestinian contestant Nadeen Ayoub has been named Miss Earth Water at the Miss Earth beauty pageant, which was held in Manila on Nov. 29.

Mina Sue Choi, a communications student from South Korea, won the Miss Earth crown, while three other hopefuls nabbed the elemental titles of Miss Fire, Miss Water and Miss Air.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Miss Earth (@missearth)

Columbia’s Andrea Aguilera was named Miss Earth Fire, while Australian hopeful Sheridan Mortlock scored the Miss Earth Air tiara.

Ayoub is the first woman to represent Palestine at the event, which was launched in 2001 and is recognized as one of four main international beauty pageants. Miss World, Miss Universe and Miss International round out the list.

Ayoub is a fitness coach and nutrition consultant and was one of two Arabs to compete — the other hopeful was Jihan Majid from Iraq.  

This year, 86 women competed in the pageant.


Lebanon’s Nadine Labaki, Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor to receive awards at Red Sea International Film Festival

Lebanon’s Nadine Labaki, Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor  to receive awards at Red Sea International Film Festival
Nadine Labaki was nominated for a Best International Feature Film Oscar for 2018’s “Capernaum.” (AFP)
Updated 29 November 2022

Lebanon’s Nadine Labaki, Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor to receive awards at Red Sea International Film Festival

Lebanon’s Nadine Labaki, Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor  to receive awards at Red Sea International Film Festival

DUBAI: Lebanese director and actress Nadine Labaki and Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor will receive Variety International Vanguard Awards at the upcoming Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah.

Labaki, who was nominated for a Best International Feature Film Oscar for 2018’s “Capernaum,” will also appear at the festival as part of the “In Conversation” series on Dec. 3.

Kapoor rose to fame in 2007 with “Saawariya” and has since starred in 30 films.

“Nadine Labaki and Ranbir Kapoor are two remarkable talents in the film industry,” said Red Sea fest CEO Mohammed Al-Turki in a statement. “We are honored to be partnering with Variety to recognize their huge talent and contribution to the industry, and to be hosting ‘In Conversation’ events with each of them to hear about their past success and hopes for the future. Each a unique storyteller, we look forward to welcoming them to Jeddah.”


Nigerian artist Rema tops first-ever Official MENA Chart

Nigerian artist Rema tops first-ever Official MENA Chart
Nigerian artist Rema has nabbed the top spot on the first-ever regional chart with his hit “Calm Down.” (Supplied)
Updated 29 November 2022

Nigerian artist Rema tops first-ever Official MENA Chart

Nigerian artist Rema tops first-ever Official MENA Chart

DUBAI: The first-ever Official MENA Chart has been released with the support of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

Here, we take a look at the songs that claimed the top six spots in this week’s countdown.  

#1  

Nigerian artist Rema has nabbed the top spot on the first-ever regional chart with his hit “Calm Down.” The weekly chart includes music streaming data from Anghami, Apple Music, Deezer, Spotify and YouTube. 

#2 

In at number two is Egyptian artist Farid with “Ba’amaret Meen,” a lilting melody with heartfelt lyrics. 

#3 

The influence of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar is apparent, with K-Pop superstar Jung Kook’s hit “Dreamers,” which he performed with Kuwaiti singer Fahad Al-Kubaisi at the event’s opening ceremony, nabbing the number three spot.  

#4 

Egyptian pop singer Ahmed Saad’s “Wasa3 Wasa3” came in at number four, proving the Egyptian music scene is one to be reckoned with.  

#5 

Another FIFA World Cup anthem, Ozuna, GIMS and RedOne’s “Arhbo” is currently a popular hit in the region. The hit features lyrics in French, Spanish, English and Arabic. 

#6 

In at number six is “Unholy” by British singer Sam Smith, featuring German singer Kim Petras. The song went viral on TikTok earlier this year.  


Designer Amina Muaddi to be honored at FN Achievement Awards in New York

Designer Amina Muaddi to be honored at FN Achievement Awards in New York
Amina Muaddi will receive the designer of the year prize at the 2022 FN Achievement Awards. (File/ Getty Images)
Updated 29 November 2022

Designer Amina Muaddi to be honored at FN Achievement Awards in New York

Designer Amina Muaddi to be honored at FN Achievement Awards in New York

DUBAI: Celebrity-loved Romanian Jordanian footwear designer Amina Muaddi has given her 1.3 million Instagram followers a glimpse of her recent trip to Japan before she receives the designer of the year prize at the 2022 FN Achievement Awards in New York on Nov. 30.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by AMINA MUADDI (@aminamuaddi)

The Footwear News awards is hosted by the American industry magazine that specializes in covering the international shoe industry. This year, Muaddi will be granted the designer of the year award, while Christian Louboutin will be given the lifetime achievement award. The best collaboration award will go to the “Manolo Blahnik for Birkenstock” collection, while the year’s best shoe has been unveiled as the Louis Vuitton x Nike Air Force 1 by late designer Virgil Abloh.

Muaddi — who flew to Japan after visiting Qatar, where she attended the recent Fashion Trust Arabia awards — shared two carousel posts on Instagram, giving her followers an inside peek at her time in the country.

In the bevy of stylish photos, Muaddi can be seen enjoying Japanese cuisine, posing beside a luxury pool and exploring Tokyo by night.

The designer was joined by a number of friends on the trip, including US Palestinian model and musician Fai Khadra. 

Muaddi gave readers insight into her jet set lifestyle and career highs and lows in a telling interview with Footwear News in September.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by AMINA MUADDI (@aminamuaddi)

“I was so passionate, so I was willing to go through any hardship,” she told the publication. “There’s a reason why only so many people get to this point, because you get tested a lot.

“Many times, I was close to giving up. I had to part ways with my partner, with producers, I’ve had (orders) canceled. It’s not about what you go through, it’s how you survive the situation and how you thrive after it. It’s a never-ending lesson,” she added.

The designer told the magazine that this year alone, her brand’s global sales revenue will total $55 million but added that after becoming an established shoes and accessories maker, her hardships have changed.

“It’s a matter of navigating and continuing no matter what,” she said.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by AMINA MUADDI (@aminamuaddi)

Muaddi launched her eponymous footwear line in August 2018, approximately one year after departing from her role as co-founder and creative director of luxury footwear label Oscar Tiye.

The shoemaker’s eponymous label’s distinct pumps, sling-backs, mules, boots and sandals in an array of vibrant colors and holographic designs have since garnered a loyal checklist of famous fans, including Dua Lipa, Gigi Hadid, Kylie Jenner and Hailey Bieber Baldwin.

She helped design the shoes for Rihanna’s Fenty collection. The collaboration was so successful that it received the Collaborator of the Year award at the 34th edition of the FN Achievement Awards.

In 2020, she debuted a range of jewelry and handbags and collaborated with Austrian brand Wolford on an exclusive 17-piece capsule collection of ready-to-wear looks in 2021.

In October 2021, she landed a spot on Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) and Footwear News’s 50 Most Powerful Women list.