Industry insiders discuss Saudi Arabia as a production hub at Red Sea 360° 

Industry insiders discuss Saudi Arabia as a production hub at Red Sea 360° 
The Red Sea International Film Festival runs until Dec. 10. (AFP)
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Updated 06 December 2022

Industry insiders discuss Saudi Arabia as a production hub at Red Sea 360° 

Industry insiders discuss Saudi Arabia as a production hub at Red Sea 360° 

DUBAI: International experts in the film industry this week discussed Saudi Arabia’s efforts to become a leading production hub at Red Sea 360° —a four-day industry event at Red Sea Souk during the Red Sea International Film Festival.  

The event hosts a series of talks on production, innovation and finance in the entertainment industry. It is welcoming over 50 panellists from all over the world for the 2022 edition. 

“It’s a new market for us and it’s quickly expanding, and it’s very young when compared to European audiences,” said Livia Van Der Staay, who is in charge of business development at France’s Wild Bunch Intl., during a panel at the event.  

“It’s also interesting from a talent’s perspective because with new audiences comes an emergence of new talent. We’ve worked with Middle Eastern directors many times but never a Saudi, so we are really looking forward to discovering their talent,” he added. 

Van Der Staay also talked about the tax incentives, including the 40 percent cash rebate established this year by the Saudi Film Commission.  

“Everybody knows about the incentives and it’s great to see people taking these opportunities. I am in the middle of a Saudi production where we applied for the rebate, and it’s looking like it will be an efficient system,” he said. 

The panel centered on the importance of creating local productions instead of replicating work done in Western countries.  

“The idea is not to adapt to other standards, is to see the perception the audiences here have of the films and how we can adapt to the specificities of a region,” added Van Der Staay. “The idea is not to renounce a culture, so it fits in a sort of mold.” 

US producer, publisher and media consultant David Uslan said that he is interested in producing stories from the region. “I spend a lot of time in places like Saudi looking for content we can build off from. I have been surprised with the quality of what has been created in this region, so that is what we have been hunting down, the next IP to adapt into franchises,” he said. 


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.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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“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.”  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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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. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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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.” 


Saudi poet, literary editor Ahmed Al-Ali discusses career ahead of Emirates Literature Fest 2023

Saudi poet, literary editor Ahmed Al-Ali discusses career ahead of Emirates Literature Fest 2023
Updated 01 February 2023

Saudi poet, literary editor Ahmed Al-Ali discusses career ahead of Emirates Literature Fest 2023

Saudi poet, literary editor Ahmed Al-Ali discusses career ahead of Emirates Literature Fest 2023
  • Former software engineer gave up his job to pursue his dream in 2012, moving to New York City

DUBAI: Saudi poet, translator and literary editor Ahmed Al-Ali has worn many hats over the course of his career, but the Dubai-based writer — set to speak at a panel at the upcoming Emirates Airline Festival of Literature — started out as a software engineer.

“I wasn’t satisfied being a software engineer who has no time to read books except before sleeping. ‘There are people who read all day and get money for doing that,’ I told myself. By that time, I was aware of the literary scene in the Arab world, had written two poetry collections, translated three titles into Arabic, and had my articles published in newspapers and edited many books. I taught myself everything I needed,” he told Arab News. 

“Then, in 2012, I resigned from my job, applied for a scholarship, and flew to New York City with no clue that I will study publishing. I just went there to be in the center of the world and to have my chance to do something with my life.”

Al-Ali — along with children’s publisher and writer Amal Farah and poet and writer Qasim Saudi — will speak on the panel “How to Market Your Book” at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature on Feb. 3 at 4 p.m. If there were a debate on the topic, it would be fair to assume that Al-Ali would advocate for authors sticking to writing and writing well, and nothing else.

When asked if authors should really be worrying about the marketing side of the publishing business, Al-Ali said: “Marketing books is the tool book sellers and book outlets use to sell the ‘products’ they offer, which is the job of neither the publishing house nor the author. Publishing houses should market their authors and brand them. Why do you think a planner that features quotes by Margaret Atwood would sell more than some of her titles? Authors need to know that writing good books and caring for their public image are all that they can do and ought to do.”

Currently working as the managing editor at Sharjah’s Kalimat Group and its fiction imprint, Al-Ali is responsible for introducing the Arab world to international authors like James Baldwin, Raymond Carver, Julian Barnes, Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood, John Ashbery, Ali Smith, Michael Ondaatje, John Banville and Claire Messud.

He has also personally translated several English novels. “Paul Auster’s ‘The Invention of Solitude’ is so close to my heart because I was discovering NYC in real life and also discovering it through the literature of this author,” he said when asked to pick a favorite.

But what Al-Ali is probably most known for are his poetry collections. Poetry, to Al-Ali, is the medium best suited to “seeking the truth” about the world.

“I tried in each of my books to illuminate one topic. My ‘Facing Skype’ book discovers having an avatar in social media versus your real persona in real social life. ‘The Drifter’s Guide to NYC’ is about the known and hidden gems of the city written in prose poetry. ‘Lavender, Hotel California’ claims that this life is a ‘hotel’ and tests this claim via various poems,” said Al-Ali.  

The author’s current work-in-progress, a project about oil-hunting in the region, is “a work of poetry, research, translation and editing; it embodies everything I can do.”

But, unsurprisingly, the poet inside Al-Ali is jaded by the current state of the literary world.

“My generation and the younger ones are caught in the web of competitions and awards; they are not seeking anything real. If you don’t realize that there are huge efforts to program people, and that we are in a matrix and you must break through, then what do you know as a poet?” he said.


Georgina Rodriguez supports Los Angeles label during mall trip in Saudi Arabia   

Georgina Rodriguez supports Los Angeles label during mall trip in Saudi Arabia   
Updated 01 February 2023

Georgina Rodriguez supports Los Angeles label during mall trip in Saudi Arabia   

Georgina Rodriguez supports Los Angeles label during mall trip in Saudi Arabia   

DUBAI: Argentinian model Georgina Rodriguez this week snapped pictures of herself on a shopping spree in Riyadh — and she took a moment to show some love for her favorite activewear brand, Alo Yoga.  

She visited a mall in Riyadh and opted for a sporty look, wearing a purple top and a miniskirt from the Los Angeles-based label. She paired them with a pair of leggings underneath, a pink cross-body bag, white sneakers and a black-and-white coat.  

She also held a large Alo duffle bag in grey as she posed for a picture in front of the store, before tagging the brand in her Instagram post.  

The Netflix star has been spotted multiple times sporting activewear from the brand.  

When she first arrived in Saudi Arabia with her partner Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and their family in January, she wore a black set from the label and a white beanie.  

On another occasion, she stepped out wearing a white tracksuit with a black cap. In another picture she shared on Instagram on Jan. 14, she wore a faux fur bucket hat to accessorize her black yoga set.  

Last weekend, Rodriguez celebrated her 29th birthday with her family in Riyadh.  

The family was photographed at Armenian restaurant Lavash on The Boulevard. 

She was welcomed with a three-tier birthday cake that boasted flower designs and gold text that read “Happy Birthday” in Portuguese. 

Rodriguez, who now calls Saudi Arabia home after her partner signed a record-breaking deal with Al-Nassr, shared her pictures on Instagram, and wrote: “29 years completed surrounded by people I love with all my heart. Immensely grateful to God for everything. Thank you all for having spent a little of your time congratulating me and sending me so much love.” 

On Jan. 24, the model 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. 


Hijabi ‘indie mothers’ embraced by young Indonesian music fans

Hijabi ‘indie mothers’ embraced by young Indonesian music fans
Updated 01 February 2023

Hijabi ‘indie mothers’ embraced by young Indonesian music fans

Hijabi ‘indie mothers’ embraced by young Indonesian music fans
  • Originally formed 47 years ago as a Qur'an recital group, the all-female Nasida Ria band now numbers a dozen performers, fusing Arabic and traditional Indonesian dangdut music

JAKARTA: At a packed festival in central Jakarta, hijab-clad sexagenarian singer Rien Djamain bursts into an upbeat track about nuclear destruction to a crowd of thousands, mostly young Indonesians.
Behind the frontwoman of the all-female Nasida Ria band are her fellow musicians, dressed in silver and black sequined dresses, backing up her velvety vocals with bongos, violins, mandolins, bamboo flutes and tambourines.
“O cursed creator of the nuclear bomb, why do you invite the day of judgment?” she sang on the track “Bom Nuklir.”
Young concert-goers swung from side to side during the macabre ditty, shouting “mother!” at their favorite band members.
Originally formed 47 years ago as a Qur'an recital group, the band now numbers a dozen performers, fusing Arabic and traditional Indonesian dangdut music, which was once thought tacky and dated in cosmopolitan circles.
Their humorous Islamic pop tunes about serious themes, such as justice and human rights, have caught on with social media-obsessed young people looking for some levity in their playlists.
Riding the wave of Indonesia’s increasingly vibrant music scene, the band’s droll lyrics have gained them a certain notoriety.
Their songs are laden with similes and metaphors, comparing womanizers to “seditious bats” or describing how “monkeys like to carry rifles, humans like to show nipples.”
Twenty-three-year-old Fathul Amin said he thinks the band is “more than just cool.”

The Nasida Ria band performs on stage at a festival in Jakarta on January 6, 2023. (AFP)

“Why? Because all of the members are women who can play more than three musical instruments,” he said.
Screen grabs of Nasida Ria’s expressive words have been widely shared as memes, forging a connection between the band and the younger generation.
“That is how youths communicate nowadays, and that is OK. More importantly, it shows that our messages through the songs are well accepted,” Djamain told AFP.
“I am grateful that despite the mostly old members, Nasida Ria is still loved by the youths. That our music is still enjoyable to them.”

Music consumption in Indonesia is evolving, experts say, with listeners adding combinations of genres that include more traditional sounds — such as dangdut with Javanese lyrics or reggae-pop sung in eastern Indonesian dialects — to their Western favorites.
That growing trend has made Nasida Ria more relevant than ever, according to music journalist Shindu Alpito.
“The younger generations tend to celebrate music with a sense of humor. They are attracted not only to the musical aesthetics but also musical comedy,” he told AFP.
Dangdut music has been increasing in popularity, with acts now playing at festivals across Indonesia, performing for young audiences alongside rock bands, in addition to gigs for their usual crowds in smaller villages.
“A lot of youths in... Jakarta are re-embracing local music. Now, these types of music are what they call a guilty pleasure,” Alpito said.
“Islamic songs are usually serious, with lyrics carefully quoting Islamic teachings. However, Nasida Ria have charmed broader society through a language style that is easy to understand and amusing.”

The group capitalized on the demand for entertainment while the world was stuck indoors and concert venues were closed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nasida Ria’s youngest member, 27-year-old Nazla Zain, attributes their success to modern technology allowing people from all backgrounds to be exposed to their music.
“We are keeping up with the trend by using YouTube and other music applications,” she said.
“So now youths with mobile phones can listen to our songs. That might be a reason why they like us.”
They have seen their YouTube subscriber count surge six-fold since March 2020 to nearly 500,000.
They also boast nearly 50,000 listeners every month on streaming platform Spotify and 38,000 followers on Instagram.
“They are so cool as they still perform at a not-so-young age,” said 32-year-old metal and punk fan Ricky Prasetyo.
“No wonder many people call them the indie mothers.”
 


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.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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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.