Culture ministry signs deal to support Saudi pop music

Culture ministry signs deal to support Saudi pop music
The signing ceremony took place at the ministry’s headquarters in the Jax neighborhood in Diriyah, where the ministry was represented by Acting CEO of the Music Commission Sultan Al-Bazei. (SPA)
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Updated 09 December 2022

Culture ministry signs deal to support Saudi pop music

Culture ministry signs deal to support Saudi pop music
  • The MoU included a discussion on producing Saudi pop music

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture signed a memorandum of understanding with international companies to develop and produce Saudi pop music, host musical events and train Saudi talents.
The signing ceremony took place at the ministry’s headquarters in the Jax neighborhood in Diriyah, where the ministry was represented by Acting CEO of the Music Commission Sultan Al-Bazei.
The MoU included a discussion on producing Saudi pop music, building a musical ecosystem, discovering Saudi talents and developing Saudi pop content, or S-pop, through a Saudi and Korean creative team of writers and producers.
Also discussed was the possibility of establishing a music education center, a training center, and studios for recording music and video clips.
The agreement falls within the efforts of the ministry and its affiliated entities to advance the cultural sector in the Kingdom, support Saudi creatives and empower them with the necessary skills to further their careers.


Egyptian film ‘Feathers’ wins big at Joburg Film Festival

Egyptian film ‘Feathers’ wins big at Joburg Film Festival
Updated 06 February 2023

Egyptian film ‘Feathers’ wins big at Joburg Film Festival

Egyptian film ‘Feathers’ wins big at Joburg Film Festival

DUBAI: Egyptian director Omar El-Zohairy’s “Feathers” took home the Best Film prize at the 5th Joburg Film Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa, this weekend.  

The much-awarded film was the winner of Cannes Critics’ Week in 2021 and bagged awards at the El-Gouna Film Festival, Carthage Film Festival and Pingyao Film Festival, as well as last year’s Rabat International Author Film Festival. 

“The jury process for 2023’s Joburg Film Festival was an amazing meeting of minds of a highly experienced and diverse African team of filmmakers,” said juror Njoki Muhoho, according to Variety.  

“During the deliberations, the diversity of knowledge and skills in storytelling came into play. The respect for fellow filmmakers’ craft was evidenced in the discipline and attention in which we screened and watched the films,” Muhoho added.  


US actress Megan Fox stuns in Lebanese label at Grammys 2023

US actress Megan Fox stuns in Lebanese label at Grammys 2023
Updated 06 February 2023

US actress Megan Fox stuns in Lebanese label at Grammys 2023

US actress Megan Fox stuns in Lebanese label at Grammys 2023
  • Beyonce broke the record for the most Grammy wins of any artist, scoring her 32nd prize ever

DUBAI: US actress Megan Fox opted for an elegant white gown from Lebanese couturier Zuhair Murad as she supported her musician-fiance Machine Gun Kelly (MGK)  at the 2023 Grammy Awards on Sunday night.

The couple, who were going for a “Romeo & Juliet” look wore complimentary outfits in matching metallics, with Fox opting for a more toned-down look to shine light on her partner.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Maeve Reilly (@stylememaeve)

Fox’s stylist took to Instagram to share the story behind her look. “Story time, when Adam shared the sketch of MGK’s look, I immediately thought of Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ I wanted to find a simple classic white gown for Megan but still something that felt like her with a bit of an edge.

“I knew this was the dress the second I saw it and begged them to ship it in from Paris for me. It was exactly what she wanted and was the only thing she tried on. Tonight was his night so we really wanted to keep her look simple and classic so he could shine,” posted Maeve Reilly on Instagram.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Megan Fox (@meganfox)

The "Transformers" actress, 32, added to the glam with a custom 14K carat white gold and diamond nail set by Marrow Fine Jewelry and Nails and jewelry from designer Lorraine Schwartz.

This year, MGK was up for best rock album for “Mainstream Sellout,” but ahead of the ceremony, the win went to Ozzy Osbourne's “Patient Number 9.”

Meanwhile, superstar Beyonce broke the record for the most Grammy wins of any artist, scoring her 32nd prize ever and fourth of the night to resounding applause.

She won the title by winning the Grammy for Best Dance/Electronic Music Album for her smash “Renaissance,” surpassing the late classical conductor Georg Solti, who had 31 awards.

“I’m trying not to be too emotional,” the singer-songwriter said as her husband Jay-Z stood and applauded her. The singer thanked her late uncle, her parents, Jay-Z and her children for supporting her. “I’m just trying to receive this night. I want to thank God for protecting me. Thank you, God.”

Former One Direction member Harry Styles won the award for Best Pop Vocal Album for “Harry's House.” The singer said recording the song was one of the “greatest experiences of my life. It’s been my greatest joy.”

Also, notably, actress Viola Davis emerged from Sunday's show an EGOT — a term for those who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony — after her win for best audio book, narration and storytelling recording.


US actress Tessa Brooks shows off Saudi label Eman Alajlan in Los Angeles  

US actress Tessa Brooks shows off Saudi label Eman Alajlan in Los Angeles  
Updated 05 February 2023

US actress Tessa Brooks shows off Saudi label Eman Alajlan in Los Angeles  

US actress Tessa Brooks shows off Saudi label Eman Alajlan in Los Angeles  

DUBAI: US actress, social media star and dancer Tessa Brooks showed off a sleek look by Saudi designer Eman Alajlan at the 2023 MusiCares Persons of the Year event in Los Angeles over the weekend.  

US actress and social media star Tessa Brooks showed off a sleek look by Saudi designer Eman Alajlan. (Getty Images)

The 23-year-old multi-hyphenate showed off an all-black ensemble by Alajlan at an event that honored retired American record executive Berry Gordy and legendary Motown singer Smokey Robinson at the Los Angeles Convention Center. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Check the Tag (@checkthetag)

The pair of creatives are the architects behind a generation of soul-pop hits and they stood side-by-side on Friday night to accept a double-billed MusiCares Persons of the Year honor. MusiCares is non-profit wing of the Recording Academy and holds the annual gala ahead of the Grammy Awards, which took place on Sunday night.  

Brooks opted to show off a Saudi design on a red carpet that welcomed the who’s who of the entertainment industry — performers who took to the the stage at the event included Brandi Carlile, Jimmie Allen, PJ Morton, Trombone Shorty, John Legend, Sheryl Crow, Mumford & Sons, Isley Brothers, Michael McDonald, The Temptations, Rita Wilson and The Four Tops, Molly Tuttle and more.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by MusiCares (@musicares)

Musical icons Stevie Wonder and Lionel Richie also made on-stage appearances.  

Brooks chose a sculptured look by Alajlan, featuring a form-fitting bodice and skirt topped with a wrap-around collar dusted with gemstones.  

The social media star showed off her outfit of choice to her 19 million Instagram followers by way of a set of Instagram Stories.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Tessa Brooks (@tessabrooks)

The model and actress also recently posted about her visits to Saudi Arabia, where she attended the Red Sea International Film Festival in December before jetting back to the Kingdom to visit the historical site of AlUla in January.  

“Sunrise in AlUla,” she captioned a carousel of shots on Instagram in which she can be seen basking in the Saudi sun wearing a toweled robe.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Tessa Brooks (@tessabrooks)

Alajlan, who has a store in Riyadh, established her label in 2007 and specializes in couture, bridal and pret-a-porter dresses. She has dressed a number of regional celebrities for international events, including the 2019 Venice Film Festival when Saudi actresses Mila Alzahrani and Dae Al-Hilali hit the red carpet in her creations. 


Famed historian Lucy Worsley explores Agatha Christie’s life at Emirates Literature Festival in Dubai

Famed historian Lucy Worsley explores Agatha Christie’s life at Emirates Literature Festival in Dubai
Lucy Worsley (center) and Ragnar Jonasson (left) at the Emirates Literature Festival. (Supplied)
Updated 05 February 2023

Famed historian Lucy Worsley explores Agatha Christie’s life at Emirates Literature Festival in Dubai

Famed historian Lucy Worsley explores Agatha Christie’s life at Emirates Literature Festival in Dubai

DUBAI: In a sold-out, hour-long session at the Emirates Literature Festival, British historian and broadcaster Lucy Worsley and Icelandic thriller writer Ragnar Jonasson talked about all things Agatha Christie (1890-1976), the venerable British detective author. Actively writing for more than five decades, the best-selling “Queen of Crime” led a remarkable life and career of highs and lows.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Lucy Worsley (@lucy_worsley)

She taught herself to read at 5 years old, wrote 66 detective novels, surfed in Hawaii, and survived infidelity and a painful divorce. She sold over 2 billion books and was knighted by the queen in her 80s. One can say that Christie was a fighter, and the pen was her weapon of choice.

Both Worsley and Jonasson are long-time admirers of Christie. Worsley has a new biography about the writer, while ever since his teens, Jonasson has translated more than a dozen of Christie’s novels into Icelandic. “You go back to the books again and again, just like comfort reading,” he said.

“Somebody like Agatha Christie can sometimes be put into this box that’s marked with the words ‘difficult women.’ You aren’t immediately likable, aren’t immediately knowable, aren’t all sweet and light,” Worsley told the Dubai audience. “It strikes me that very often when a woman is put into that category in people’s minds it’s because she is breaking the rules as they are perceived for women at the time.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Lucy Worsley (@lucy_worsley)

Worsley, who wrote her book during the pandemic, had access to Christie’s family archive and conducted research at her Georgian holiday home in Devon, England. Christie began seriously writing her books in the 1920s, often dubbed the “golden age of crime fiction.” Worsley believes it was the First World War, when Christie was a nurse, that kicked things off for her.

“She turned to writing detective fiction during the quiet hours in the hospital dispensary, when she was waiting for the prescriptions to come in,” she explained. “It was her job to mix up the drugs and produce the medicines (and) poisons that could either save life or take life.”

During her peak years, between the 1920s and 1940s, Christie always seemed to outshine other contemporary crime authors. “She was simply the best one,” said Jonasson, complimenting her genius plots. “The others were writing very good detective stories, but she always had this extra layer of a twist at the end…Her ideas are sometimes so simple that you explain them in one sentence.”

The session also delved into Christie’s personal hardships, including her infamous 1926 disappearance, when she hid away from society for 11 days as a result of her first husband’s adultery. In the later years of her life, suffering from the early stages of dementia, Christie’s books were not as successful as her previous ones.

But there were some positive points too. Her adventurous trips to the Middle East gave the world all-time classics, such as “Death on the Nile” and “Murder on the Orient Express.” It was in Iraq that she would meet her second husband of 40-plus years, archaeologist Max Mallowan. Interest in Christie’s writings remains high, as films and TV shows inspired by her books continue to be in production. Not only do these attract longtime fans but also, and perhaps most importantly, they introduce her work to younger generations.


Saudi creative Ahmed Al-Saif showcases African tribal life at Xposure International Photography Festival

Saudi creative Ahmed Al-Saif showcases African tribal life at Xposure International Photography Festival
Updated 05 February 2023

Saudi creative Ahmed Al-Saif showcases African tribal life at Xposure International Photography Festival

Saudi creative Ahmed Al-Saif showcases African tribal life at Xposure International Photography Festival
  • Fascinating culture in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley, says artist
  • Sharjah event features 74 photographers with 1,794 prints

DUBAI: Creatives are gearing up for the seventh edition of the Xposure International Photography Festival, which is set to take place in the UAE from Feb. 9 to 15.

Organized by the Sharjah Government Media Bureau, the event at the Expo Center Sharjah will feature 74 world-renowned photographers and a display of 1,794 prints.

One of the participating artists is Saudi photographer Ahmad Al-Saif, who specializes in travel and culture-focused photography.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ahmad Alsaif (@saif.photo)

 

Al-Saif said his work would take visitors on a journey to Africa to learn about the tribes of the Omo Valley in Ethiopia.

“The focus of these nations in my work is to illustrate their fascinating lifestyle and heritage. They distinguish themselves from other tribes with unique body paints, scarification and lip and ear plates,” he said. “These body modifications and beautifications, as they consider them, have a deep-rooted heritage and reasons.

“I wish I could find the words to describe what it feels like to visit these tribes and I aspire to convey a little bit of their beauty in this exhibition,” he said.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ahmad Alsaif (@saif.photo)

 

One of his favorite pictures to be showcased at the exhibition is “Glance” — a photograph taken of the Karo tribe.

“This picture was taken (in) the first few minutes when I reached the Karo tribe land,” he said. “The picture captured a child’s curiosity to see me for the first time, which had a similar reflection of my curiosity when I saw them.”

“Glance” was awarded an honorary award in the Sheikh Hamdan International Photography Competition in 2016.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ahmad Alsaif (@saif.photo)

 

Al-Saif’s infatuation with photography started in early 2007 when he was only 20 years old.

He started experimenting using his father’s compact camera at first. He then bought his first DSLR camera in 2009 and started taking professional photos of Saudi Arabia’s local communities and cultural heritage, especially in his home city of Al-Ahsa.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ahmad Alsaif (@saif.photo)

 

“As a child, I was curious and liked to try new things. Similar to photography, I have practiced swimming, football and drawing,” he recalled. “However, the love for photography kept growing inside me until I had the chance to get my own camera when I was 21 years old. At this age I knew that I had the passion and the drive to pursue photography professionally.”

Al-Saif considers photography an integral part of his identity. He believes that travel photography has made him “a different person.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ahmad Alsaif (@saif.photo)

 

“I learned to see all things with a beautiful eye, and I became more accepting with respect to the difference in people, cultures and religious beliefs,” he explained.

However, being a travel photographer does come without its challenges. “One of the main issues is the restriction that is imposed in some regions or countries as well as safety. The other thing is expenses of these trips that limit our travel duration and frequency,” he explained.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ahmad Alsaif (@saif.photo)

 

Despite having a photography career that spans over 13 years, Al-Saif believes he is only starting.

“The first thing I always tell myself and other ambitious youth is to start sailing in the world of exploration and travel, and to capture beautiful moments that you see with your eyes, to share experiences with the world,” he said.