LONDON: Dubai has enjoyed a huge boost in tourism as thousands of football fans have decided to base themselves in the UAE during the World Cup after being lured by the city’s relaxed atmosphere, the Financial Times has reported.
Supporters have reportedly preferred the vibrant UAE, making daily trips to Qatar on the shuttle flights that connect the countries during the tournament.
Fans from participating countries have opted for Dubai’s more relaxed vibes and lively nightlife over Doha’s more straitlaced atmosphere.
“If you cannot stay in Qatar, Dubai is the place you would most like to go as a foreign tourist,” said James Swanston, a Middle East and North Africa expert at Capital Economics.
“It is somewhere safe, somewhere more liberal in terms of Western norms. It is the most attractive destination.”
Concerns were raised in the weeks before the tournament about available hotel room space in Qatar, while a controversial 11th-hour U-turn to ban alcohol in and around the stadiums resulted in many fans looking for an alternative place to stay.
Dubai has been buzzing with supporters from all over the world in recent days, and they have added to the many tourists in the city in search of winter sun.
Passenger numbers have surpassed 6 million a month in the latest quarter, topping pre-pandemic levels, according to figures released by airport operators.
“Dubai has extremely strong demand at this time of year and I’m sure there will be people traveling through Dubai to the World Cup,” said Issam Kazim, chief executive of Dubai Tourism. “This tournament will be a boost for the entire region.”
Although exact figures have yet to be disclosed, the Dubai Sports Council said the city was expecting an estimated additional 1 million visitors during the course of the tournament.
Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, previously described the city as “the major gateway” to the World Cup and predicted it would see more tourists than Qatar itself.
However, officials say the number of fans visiting the emirate with the sole purpose of catching games in Qatar is likely to be in the low tens of thousands, or the equivalent of a three percentage point increase in hotel occupancy.
Many match tickets have been sold to expatriates living in the city, which constitute up to 90 percent of Dubai’s 3.5 million population.
Although it is still too early to evaluate the impact of the World Cup across the region, the demand for hotel rooms has seen a massive surge compared to last year.
Many of the fans who chose Dubai as their base to travel to Qatar, or as the main hub to immerse themselves in the tournament atmosphere, have had the opportunity not only to enjoy the city’s lavish lifestyle, but to explore its world-class attractions.
‘Shockwave’ as Dutch producers R3HAB and Afrojack strengthen bond with new single
The new single is out now on MDLBEAST Records
Updated 28 January 2023
LONDON: Dutch producers and longtime friends R3HAB and Afrojack have teamed up again on a new collaborative release, “Shockwave,” in the wake of the 2022 hit and Tomorrowland’s official anthem, “Worlds On Fire,” featuring Au/Ra.
A statement said: “With noticeable elements of big-room, house, and bass sound, it showcases both R3HAB’s and Afrojack’s signature styles, while still standing out.”
With its stabbing synths and dancefloor-friendly bass, “Shockwave,” which is out now on MDLBEAST Records, is said to be “a guaranteed crowd pleaser from these two heavyweights.”
R3HAB and Afrojack have played back-to-back sets at festivals over the last decade, produced music together, remixed each other, and developed a long-lasting friendship along the way.
R3HAB said: “Afrojack and I have worked together for over 10 years, and this last year has been the best yet.
“We released our anthem ‘Worlds On Fire,’ remixed each other’s records, and played sets at the world’s biggest festivals.”
He said they were excited to kick off the year with “Shockwave,” adding: “[It] is unlike any record we’ve worked on yet, it’s been a staple in our sets as we’ve developed it, and it’s finally ready for its official debut.
“Each year keeps getting better, and we can’t wait to see what this one has in store.”
Afrojack said: “It’s been great being back together with R3HAB. We’ve got many records ready to pop; you can find some already in our sets, and we’ve been testing ‘Shockwave’ for a while now and we’re pumped to put it out now.”
Fans of Ronaldo and Rodriguez gathered outside the restaurant to cheer the couple following the celebration.
The model last week featured at the Joy Awards in Riyadh, showing off a midnight blue form-fitting velvet gown by Dubai-based Tunisian designer Ali Karoui. Her look featured a matching veil, gold pumps from Italian luxury shoemakers Le Silla, and jewelry from Kooheji, of Bahrain.
The Netflix star, who now calls Saudi Arabia home after her partner signed a record-breaking deal with Al-Nassr, shared her pictures on Instagram, and wrote: “A big thank you to everyone, love you Saudi Arabia.”
Rodriguez also showed up to support her long-time partner as he made his Al-Nassr debut against Al-Ettifaq in the Saudi Pro League on Sunday.
The footballer, 37, captained the team to a 1-0 win at Mrsool Park in Riyadh, while Rodriguez cheered on from the sidelines in a Ronaldo jersey, paired with cut-off jeans and a jacket.
“For people who liked the jacket of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and are not able to (buy it) because of the price, this jacket is similar to it and has a number of colors and all sizes and a cheaper price,” wrote one user.
Another user noticed that the website ShopStyle increased the price of the vest after it was worn by the crown prince.
In 2021, he was photographed wearing a quilted gilet while chairing a board meeting of the Public Investment Fund.
The prince showed off a $6,551 casual sleeveless vest by UK luxury cashmere brand Franck Namani.
In 2019, he attended the Formula E races in Riyadh wearing a navy-colored Barbour jacket worn over a crisp white thobe that immediately sent the internet into overdrive.
The outerwear item by the British heritage brand sparked its own Arabic hashtag on Twitter — that translated to “crown prince’s jacket” — with many taking to the social media platform to admire the look.
Saudi writer, director and producer Ali Al-Kalthami talks success
As one of the co-founders of Telfaz11, the writer-director-producer is now reaping the rewards of years spent establishing an authentic entertainment industry in the Kingdom
Updated 28 January 2023
DUBAI: Ali Al-Kalthami is trying not to let it all go to his head. But that’s easier said than done. As one of the three co-founders of the pioneering Saudi production company Telfaz11, Al-Kalthami is one of the pillars of the Kingdom’s film future. And, as we’ve seen over the last two months, that future is now.
In that short span of time, Telfaz11’s film “Raven Song” became the latest Saudi submission to the Academy Awards, their theatrical release “Sattar” became the highest-grossing Saudi film in history, and their latest feature, “Al Khallat+,” just became the first Netflix original film from Saudi.
“This is not overnight success, of course,” Al-Kalthami explains to Arab News. “It’s been 12 years of experience, 12 years of staying true to our stories, our philosophy, and our talents. We’re grateful that all of these projects are flourishing at the same time, but we’ve been working a long time for these things to take place, and we’re most proud that we got here by doing it the right way — doing it our way.”
We’re speaking to the writer/director/producer over Zoom and he doesn’t want to turn his camera on. It’s nothing personal, he explains, he’s just been filming for 12 hours straight, directing his upcoming theatrical feature “Night Courier,” a dark crime comedy, in Riyadh and he doesn’t want anyone to see him. His mood, however, belies his exhaustion — he’s still thrilled to gush about “Al Khallat+,” perhaps the Telfaz11 project that is closest to his heart.
The film is a continuation of the 22-episode anthology web series he created, which has amassed an astounding 1.5 billion views — a viewership far too big to qualify this as a ‘cult hit.’ Rather, Al-Kalthami and co., through their years of viral YouTube videos, have defined what Saudi Arabia’s mainstream entertainment looks like, building grassroots support with content that is wholeheartedly Saudi, made with a love and authenticity that allows them to push boundaries and subvert expectations, an aesthetic that is defined in “Al-Khallat.”
“From the start, I thought about doing a show that reflects the Saudi psyche. We wanted to capture everyday life in a way that that appeals to real people with engaging, well-crafted storytelling,” the creator explains.
While “Al Khallat+” tells a number of unrelated stories — two thieves crash a wedding to rescue their captured partner, a chef risks his restaurant trying to save his parent’s marriage, a mother searches for her husband who in turn is searching for his son in a nightclub — they each share a defining theme, one that Al-Kalthami and his collaborators discovered while holed up writing together during COVID-19 lockdowns.
“We went back to the 22 episodes we’d released on the internet, and wanted to figure out what worked and what didn’t as we started to work on the feature. And for some strange reason, we found that the stories that worked had something in common. In each of them, there was a character who had to hustle their way out of an issue brought on by society’s restrictions — and we don’t mean that negatively,” Al-Kalthami says.
“If you think about Saudi Arabia as a largely conservative society, that comes with a lot of rules that cause restraints on social life. Watching people hustle around those restraints becomes funny, because people can relate to those situations. We approach it with a very local mindset, and that allows Saudis to come along for the ride with us.”
While “Al Khallat” has a perspective purely his own, Al-Kalthami is always quick to give credit to his collaborators. If he is proud of anything personally, it’s that he’s created a platform which has allowed the Kingdom’s rising talent to thrive, from the myriad actors featured to the crew behind the camera, many of whom he has known for years.
“When I saw the first edit, I was very emotional. I was able to see in front of my eyes so clearly all the ideas that we’d written come to life through such great production. Fahad Alammari, the director, executed this so well, for example, and seeing all these actors — all of my friends — having fun bringing these characters to life is so rewarding,” says Al-Kalthami.
“From the beginning, I always wanted this to go somewhere beyond the internet. I had no other experience at the time, but I knew we would get there eventually. To have something that I created with my friends get picked up and treated as a franchise is very humbling.”
The challenge that Al-Kalthami now faces is to keep pushing forward and rewriting the template that he and his collaborators have made.
“As a writer, you often create this illusion around yourself when you create something successful. If you’re not careful, there’s a barrier that rises between you and reality. You have to force yourself not to believe the hype, to be true to who you are and true to the society you live in — and force yourself to keep living in it. You can’t isolate yourself and become carried away by your success,” he says. “You have to embrace life, and live like a normal person, and get inspired the right way. I’m always trying to force myself to stay grounded, which can be very tricky with this kind of success, especially when you’re in on the ground floor. You have to force yourself to continue to push the envelope, break boundaries and do great work, and you have to help build this industry the right way. That’s the responsibility of pioneers.”
While Al-Kalthami is usually focused on the future — committed to pushing himself as a writer and helping Saudi talent flourish both within his own projects and theirs — he does, occasionally, allow himself to look back and take stock of all he and Telfaz11 have accomplished over the last dozen years. Often, the emotion hits when he least expects it.
“Somebody sent me a TikTok video last week. In it, someone had put together pictures of all the Telfaz11 founders, filmmakers and family members, spanning every moment they could find from 2010 to 2022. They wrote that we were the voice of our local inner life, that we were filmmakers that Saudis believe in. It was just so poetic, so nice, and so innocent. It just really got to me,” Al-Kalthami says. “I was so overwhelmed, I could hardly control it. To know that a lot of people in Saudi feel we represent their voice, their authentic life, truly means everything.”