DUBAI: The veteran Egyptian designer Azza Fahmy’s jewelry has become some of the most sought-after in the world. Her signature gold-and-silver pieces, embellished with Arab designs and engravings, have been embraced by Egypt’s top entertainers, including Soad Hosny and Yusra.
International stars such as Julia Roberts, Kerry Washington and Rihanna have caught on too. “When we explain to them what’s written, they’re happy, because it’s something new,” Fahmy tells Arab News from her base in Cairo. “I’m combining calligraphy, wisdom, and philosophy into what you’re wearing.”
Fahmy started out professionally in the late Eighties, and her hand-crafted work is informed by her passion for the culture and history of the Arab world; be it the poetry of Kahlil Gibran, the symbols of ancient Egypt, or Mamluk architecture. She likes to call it “intellectual jewelry,” that not only reflects her cultivated upbringing but her ongoing drive to inform the public.
“I was raised in a household that reads. Books are very important me. Through them, there were a lot of things I liked that affected me,” says Fahmy. “Our jewelry is intellectual because it holds an Arab identity that could change people’s lives, or delight them. I like to share my love of Arab culture with people.”
Fahmy recently launched a new music-themed collection that pays tribute to iconic Lebanese, Syrian, Egyptian and Algerian singers who flourished between the Sixties and Nineties. In this collection, everyone gets their due — the lyricists and composers behind each song are mentioned too. “The Golden Age of Arab Love Songs” features rings, bracelets, and necklaces studded with romantic lyrics sung by the likes of Warda, Fayrouz, and Sabah Fakhri.
A piece that is particularly close to Fahmy’s heart is an 18-karat gold and sterling silver ring, inscribed with words from Warda’s classic track “Batwanes Beek.”
“I come from the generation of Abdel Halim Hafez, Umm Kulthum, Mohammed Abdel Wahab, and Farid Al-Atrash. They sang great songs,” explains Fahmy. “So I thought to myself, ‘Why don’t I transport that nostalgia?’ Maybe it stirred something in people.”
It is made by blending or mashing the meat in the curry and serving hot with flat breads or on its own.
Here, Prashant Chipkar Qureshi, the culinary head chef at Masti Cocktails and Cuisine, shares his lamb haleem recipe for a hearty iftar.
200 grams broken wheat
200 grams boneless lamb
2 grams red chili powder
50 grams yogurt
5 grams mint
50 grams yellow moong dal
10 grams ginger garlic paste
2 grams turmeric
50 grams haleem masala
20 grams coriander leaves
1-piece green chilies
Salt, to taste
Lemon wedges, 1 lemon
2 grams garam masala powder
1 gram peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
50 grams cashew nuts
To prepare this popular delicacy, wash and soak the broken wheat for half an hour. Trim the lamb (boneless) of any excess fat. Add the lamb to a vassal with about one cup of water and put it over a medium flame. Fry the onion until golden brown and set aside.
To the lamb, add half a tablespoon of ginger and garlic paste, half a teaspoon of salt, red chilli powder and garam masala powder, along with a pinch of turmeric powder. Cook the mixture for eight to 10 minutes and simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes. Shred and keep aside.
Boil the broken wheat along with the yellow moong dal with a tablespoon of ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, green chillies, and peppercorns in eight cups of water until it is cooked completely, and the water is absorbed. Blend this mix for a few seconds.
Heat the oil in another container and add whole spices including a cinnamon stick, cooked and shredded lamb, the remaining green chillies, haleem masala, and half a cup of fresh coriander, and saute for two to three minutes. Add curd and saute for another 10 to 15 minutes. Add three cups of water and bring to a boil.
To this, add the blended broken wheat and dal mixture and mix well while adding a little ghee as you go. Let it simmer and cook slowly for at least 30 minutes. Serve hot garnished with fried onions prepared in step one, mint leaves, cashew nuts, lemon wedges, and the remaining fresh coriander.
Amara Lenses has previously collaborated with regional influencers including Saudi makeup artist Shouq Artist, Kuwaiti fashion blogger Fouz Al-Fahad, Bahraini content creator Zainab Al-Alwan, Kuwaiti influencer Fatima Al-Momen, Egyptian actress Nour Ghandour and more.
However, the partnership with Rodriguez is the brand’s first with an international star.
The Arab brand sells lenses in various shades of grey, brown, green and blue.
Model Imaan Hammam stars in new H&M, Mugler campaign
Updated 24 March 2023
DUBAI: Dutch Moroccan Egyptian model Imaan Hammam has landed herself another campaign, this time for a collaboration collection between Swedish high-street retailer H&M and French fashion label Mugler.
In the short teaser video Hammam shared on her Instagram stories, three artists are singing in a recording studio until Hammam suddenly breaks down the wall and walks into the scene.
Rising singers Amaarae, Shygirl, Eartheater, and Arca star in the campaign video. They recorded their own take on Stardust’s 1998 dance hit “Music Sounds Better with You.”
Discussions for the collaboration began before founder Manfred Thierry Mugler’s passing in January 2022.
The capsule will be available online and in stores from May 11.
The collection is being crafted under the direction of Mugler’s creative director Casey Cadwallader and will encapsulate “the unique and vibrant spirit of the brand,” H&M said in a statement.
The silhouette of the collection is the recognizable Mugler fit of today: Strong, big shoulders, a tight focus on the waist, an ode to the curves and lines of the body, and a tribute to confidence.
Ann-Sofie Johansson, H&M’s creative adviser, said: “We are proud to celebrate the legacy of Manfred Thierry Mugler with this collection. We were all honored to get to know Manfred, and it feels very special that he was involved at the initial stages together with Casey and the house of Mugler.
“Casey has done such an incredible job at paying homage to history, and to the archive, while making the collection totally contemporary. Under him, Mugler has become one of the most innovative and exciting houses on today’s fashion landscape,” she added.
Cadwallader said: “It is truly an honor to collaborate with H&M. The collection is a celebration of everything that defines Mugler as a house and each piece is authentic Mugler, from the bodysuits, which have become a signature of ours, to the sharp tailoring and worked denims. It is a showcase of our icons.”
Qatar pushes tourism and culture after the World Cup
The tiny Gulf state is looking to capitalize on the exposure it received late last year and the billions invested in hosting the world’s biggest sporting event
Updated 24 March 2023
Rebecca Anne Proctor
DUBAI: After 12 years of preparation to host prestigious FIFA World Cup last year — 12 years that transformed the tiny-gas rich Gulf nation of Qatar — the country is focusing on maintaining its momentum and boosting its tourism and cultural industries.
“The World Cup, to us, was a bonus on top of what we were already doing in the cultural realm,” Sheikha Reem Al-Thani, acting deputy CEO of exhibitions and marketing for Qatar Museums, tells Arab News.
Much of Qatar’s tourism and cultural boom, says Al-Thani, is part of the Qatar National Vision 2030 strategy, which was formalized in July 2008, the same year the Museum of Islamic Art, designed by the renowned Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei, opened in Doha.
The World Cup crowds may have left, but a multitude of projects are ongoing, signaling further growth on the horizon. Throughout Doha and in nearby desert landscapes sit dozens of specially commissioned public art installations, 30 percent of which were commissioned in the year leading up to the World Cup. Works by Qatari artists including Shouq Al-Mana, Ghada Al-Kater, Mubarak Al-Malik and Salman Al-Malek sit alongside creations of acclaimed international names such as Jeff Koons, whose “Dugong” — a massive site-specific polychromed mirror-polished stainless-steel sculpture of the marine mammal that symbolizes Qatar’s natural heritage — is stationed near the Corniche. Richard Serra’s “East West/West East” stands in the Qatari desert, as does KAWS’ “The Promise,” depicting a parent and a child contemplating a globe — stressing the need to protect the environment.
“The public art emphasizes our identity while also giving context to everything that is taking place in Qatar,” says Al-Thani. “For example, before Richard Serra’s artwork, people didn’t have much of a reason to go to that area in the desert. Now they go and are encouraged to explore the local landscape.”
According to the Qatar News Agency, the overall attendance at all the World Cup matches combined was 3.4 million. And visitors are still flocking to Qatar. In January 2023, the country registered 3,559,063 people arriving on flights, according to air transport statistics released by Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority, which marked a 64.4 percent increase from the same period in 2022.
The country has set several ambitious targets. By 2030, it aims to attract six million visitors a year and increase the contribution of the tourism sector to its GDP from 7 percent to 12 percent. To that end, the country is investing billions into culture, art, technology and tourism. In February this year, Doha was recognized as the Arab Tourism Capital 2023 by the Arab Tourism Organization.
Qatar Creates, a government-backed, year-round cultural movement conceptualized at the opening of the National Museum of Qatar in 2019 has evolved into an extravaganza combining museum exhibitions, film, fashion, hospitality, cultural heritage, performing arts and private-sector initiatives.
Earlier this month, Qatar Creates Week presented a host of exhibition openings and events, including the Tasweer Photo Festival Qatar — the second biennial program of exhibitions, awards, commissions and collaborations that aims “to diversify practices and dialogues of photographers from Qatar and the Western Asia and North African regions,” “Beirut and the Golden Sixties,” a show at the Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art, and Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson’s “The Curious Desert” at the NMOQ, bringing together a dozen new site-specific installations located in the desert near the Al-Thakhira Mangrove in Northern Qatar as well as an extensive gallery presentation.
Other highlights include the Doha Film Institute’s Qumra, an initiative offering mentorship and other opportunities for filmmakers in Qatar and around the world.
Elsewhere, “Lusail Museum: Tales of a Connected World” at Qatar Museums’ Gallery Al-Riwaq in Doha introduced the new museum, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, currently under development in Lusail, Qatar’s second-largest city. It will be dedicated to Orientalist art, archaeological artifacts, and media from prehistoric times to the 21st century.
The Lusail Museum is one of three new museums that Qatari global art patron Sheikha Al-Mayassa Al-Thani announced in March to expand the country’s cultural offerings. The others are the Qatar Auto Museum and the Art Mill on Doha’s waterfront promenade, which is due to open in 2030 and that will transform a former industrial flour mill on the Doha Corniche, forming a triangle with the already existing Jean Nouvel-designed NMOQ and the Museum of Islamic Art. Designed by Chilean studio ELEMENTAL, Art Mill aims to be, according to its website, “a pioneering institution in the non-Western world representing the modern and contemporary arts of all regions of the globe on an equal basis.”
While a bonanza of cultural events continues in Qatar, what officials stress is how the cultural scene has grown in tandem with, and even prior to, the country winning the right to host the World Cup. The Mathaf Art Museum of Modern Art opened in Doha in 2010 — the same year the nation won the bid and two years after the opening of the Museum of Islamic Art. Since then, particularly under the patronage of Sheikha Al-Mayassa, Qatar has injected billions of dollars into culture and tourism. Its goal is not only to build a robust art scene and strengthen its national identity, but also to diversify its economy to reduce dependency on petroleum and natural gas.
Even during the five years of blockade, from 2017 to 2021, when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic relations with Qatar, the country continued to develop its cultural and tourism sector.
“The World Cup definitely gave us a drive to move faster,” says Al-Thani.
“However, for us it has always been about maintaining and developing our cultural and creative economy, educating people and really making sure that what we’re doing is (done) in a very thoughtful and homegrown way.”
During the World Cup, she adds, 80 percent of exhibitions staged were conceived by Qatar Museums through its collections.
“Very little came from the outside,” she says. “We wanted to focus mainly on the MENASA.”
In February this year Qatar’s $450 billion sovereign wealth fund stated that it was looking to rebalance its portfolio and considering investments in football, finance and technology.
“The World Cup offered us a tremendous awareness boost, exposing Qatar to many (new) people,” Qatari businessman Tariq Al-Jaidah tells Arab News. “The event gave us enormous exposure on a global level. We are already feeling its impact, especially with the increase in regional tourists that are coming.”
The Peninsula Qatar reported in February that 58 cruise ships carrying around 200,000 visitors are expected to arrive in Qatar by the end of April. The new Grand Cruise Terminal opened in November 2022, and is ideally located for tourists within walking distance of the National Museum of Qatar, Msheireb Downtown and Souq Waqif — all of which are decorated with works of public art — among others.
“The World Cup, new hotels and existing and upcoming museums have all served to help Qatar mature as a tourist destination on the cultural front,” added Al-Jaidah.
The country looks well set to capitalize on that exposure and translate it into a cultural and economic boom.