King Abdulaziz Public Library shows off rare, 400-year-old manuscript about coffee

King Abdulaziz Public Library shows off rare, 400-year-old manuscript about coffee
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King Abdulaziz Public Library has revealed a 400-year-old manuscript that highlights the importance of coffee in Arabic culture. (SPA)
King Abdulaziz Public Library shows off rare, 400-year-old manuscript about coffee
2 / 3
King Abdulaziz Public Library has revealed a 400-year-old manuscript that highlights the importance of coffee in Arabic culture. (SPA)
King Abdulaziz Public Library shows off rare, 400-year-old manuscript about coffee
3 / 3
King Abdulaziz Public Library has revealed a 400-year-old manuscript that highlights the importance of coffee in Arabic culture. (SPA)
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Updated 14 December 2022
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King Abdulaziz Public Library shows off rare, 400-year-old manuscript about coffee

King Abdulaziz Public Library shows off rare, 400-year-old manuscript about coffee
  • The library shared the document with the public for the first time as part of the celebrations for the 2022 Year of Saudi Coffee
  • It was written by Madyan Qusuni, who was Egypt’s chief physician and was also known for his love of literature and history

JEDDAH: A rare, 400-year-old manuscript that highlights the important role of coffee in Arab culture has been shared with the public for the first time. It was written by Madyan Qusuni, a renowned Egyptian physician, writer, and historian during the Ottoman era.

King Abdulaziz Public Library decided to show off the document, which is safely preserved and stored in its private collection, as part of the celebrations for the 2022 Year of Saudi Coffee, which celebrates the role of the beverage in the identity, heritage, customs and traditions of the Kingdom.

The manuscript, which has the numeric reference “1213,” summarizes two books by different authors. The first is “Umdat Al-Safwa fi Hill Al-Qahwa” by Abdulqadir bin Muhammad Al-Jaziri, an Iraqi scholar and historian. The second is a book by scholar Ahmad Shihab Addin Al-Maliki, the first chapter of which is titled “On the Meaning of Coffee.”

The manuscript has a poem in praise of coffee that tells how it has spread to the far corners of the earth, gaining prominence even in China.

Qusuni was the chief physician in Egypt. He was also known for his love of literature and history, and wrote many books in which he combined his knowledge of the medicine of the time with literature. He died in Egypt in 1634.

In its role as a preserver of history and ancient manuscripts, the library in 2020 issued a two-part manuscript index. The first discusses the library’s work to preserve and document the historical manuscripts it holds and make the details available to scholars and researchers. The 664-page volume contains information about 300 manuscripts.

The second part includes details of 646 Arabic manuscripts and 19 in other ancient languages, including Turkish, Bosnian and Persian. They cover a wide range of topics including the arts, religion, jurisprudence, Hadith, biographies of the Prophet Muhammad, literature, poetry, philosophy, astronomy, dictionaries, general knowledge, logic, grammar, history and rhetoric.

The Year of Saudi Coffee initiative was launched by the Ministry of Culture, with the support of the Quality of Life Program, in keeping with the aims of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 development and diversification agenda.


British-Palestinian filmmaker Farah Nabulsi discusses her debut feature ‘The Teacher’

Farah Nabulsi on the set of 'The Teacher' (Supplied)
Farah Nabulsi on the set of 'The Teacher' (Supplied)
Updated 05 December 2023
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British-Palestinian filmmaker Farah Nabulsi discusses her debut feature ‘The Teacher’

Farah Nabulsi on the set of 'The Teacher' (Supplied)
  • ‘What’s happening in Palestine can’t be ignored anymore,’ Nabulsi says
  • The Oscar-nominated filmmaker’s debut feature premieres at the Red Sea International Film Festival on Dec. 5

DUBAI: As the war in Gaza stretches into its second month, “The Teacher,” the feature debut of Oscar-nominated British-Palestinian filmmaker Farah Nabulsi, which screened in competition at the Red Sea International Film Festival this week, could hardly have had a timelier airing in the region.

“The Teacher” is the latest entry in the canon of films chronicling the contemporary Palestinian experience under occupation, and dives into many themes that have been the subject of global discussion as the conflict rages on. In it, a member of the Israeli Defense Forces is held hostage in the West Bank as his parents fight for his release, international aid workers grapple with their role in supporting justice, and a seasoned schoolteacher struggles to keep his community together as local settlers wage a campaign of violence.

But for Nabulsi, who was herself put into the global spotlight after the success of her debut short film “The Present” in 2020, “The Teacher” was never intended as a political statement. First and foremost, the film exists as an exploration of the human condition, as ordinary people are forced to contend with extraordinary circumstances. Its meaning, ultimately, is left for the viewer to decide.

“I did not make this film with a message,” Nabulsi tells Arab News. “I didn’t even set out to make a political film, but, by default, any film about Palestine is going to be considered political somehow. It can certainly be interpreted as including statements about the socio-political environment we exist in, but it is storytelling first and foremost, not an essay. I’m more interested in the individual journeys of people in that landscape, the human dynamics and the emotional experiences.

“If I can create one moment that an audience member is left contemplating long after the film ends, if I’ve created one character whose humanity forges a genuine connection to this situation for the viewer, then I’ve accomplished what I set out to do,” she continues. “If the film does contain a deeper meaning, it should be a personal one that the viewer comes to on their own. That’s what exists in the movies that inspired me, and that’s what I want in my movies, too.”

While Nabulsi did enter filmmaking with the idea of highlighting the plight of the Palestinian people — turning her back on investment banking after an illuminating trip to the West Bank — she could never have predicted the journey her first short would take. “The Present” garnered awards at nearly every festival in which it screened, and ended up earning a BAFTA, as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Short Film. Soon after that, it was trending worldwide on Netflix, with former CIA director John Brennan even penning a New York Times opinion piece about it entitled “Why Biden Must Watch This Palestinian Movie.”

“I came to filmmaking late, but the deeper I got into it, the more it became clear to me that the industry has a graveyard of brilliant films that no one will ever see — films that people poured their hearts and souls into, but that, for one reason or another, never captured the world’s attention,” Nabulsi says. “It was astounding what happened to ‘The Present,’ but I’m keenly aware that I can’t rest on my previous accolades and expect the same formula to be repeated each time. And if I try to pander to that same audience in order to provoke the same result, it will do me no good either.

“In approaching a follow up, I had to unburden myself from all of that success. I’ll be grateful forever for what that film gave me, but to hold myself to that with every subsequent endeavor would be ridiculous,” she continues. “In order tell the next story, I had to focus on doing justice to these characters and their plight, I had to be sure that my artistic expression never lost its integrity, and then let the chips fall where they may.”

It's clear to Nabulsi that “The Teacher” will not be as easy for audiences to process as “The Present” proved to be. The latter followed a father named Yusef (Saleh Bakri) and his daughter Yasmine (Miriam Kanj) as they made their way through checkpoints in the West Bank in order to bring home a gift for her mother, leading to a final conflict with border patrol agents that ends with a surprisingly optimistic result. “The Teacher” features Bakri in the title role playing something much closer to an “anti-hero,” in Nabulsi’s words, and resolves in a far more complicated fashion.

“There’s a lot to absorb compared to the simple story of ‘The Present.’ There are a couple layers of injustice in ‘The Teacher’ and with these various characters and journeys on both sides of the conflict, there’s a lot to digest — especially if you’re not familiar with the reality on the ground,” says Nabulsi.

“But even as people may have wildly different interpretations of the film, I think a lot of people are coming from a place of goodwill and good intentions. Most who will watch a film like this just want to understand, because what’s happening in Palestine can’t be ignored anymore. And with what’s happening in Gaza now, though the timing of the film is coincidental, people are more focused on these issues than perhaps ever before,” she continues.

Now that the film is completed and continuing its acclaimed run on the festival circuit, Nabulsi is able to sit back and begin to chart her own journey. “The Teacher” was an experience of personal growth too, one in which she developed not only as an artist, but as a person.

“If you looked at the runtimes of (my) two films, you’d say (‘The Teacher’) should be six times harder, but it was honestly hundreds of times more difficult. Perhaps I have myself to blame — I put so much pressure on myself, wore so many hats from beginning to end, and spent three years living and breathing this film, all day each day. And the sacrifices that come with that are heavy,” says Nabulsi.

“Sometimes it’s not easy to enjoy the journey. But there are moments — truly beautiful moments. I think I’ve become more able to recognize those triumphs and appreciate them, and then, when they’re over, get down the mountain and get ready to start again,” she continues. “And as difficult as this can all get, it becomes clearer and clearer to me that nothing great can come without hardship.”

 


Chris Hemsworth shares career insights at RSIFF 

Chris Hemsworth shares career insights at RSIFF 
Updated 05 December 2023
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Chris Hemsworth shares career insights at RSIFF 

Chris Hemsworth shares career insights at RSIFF 

JEDDAH: Marvel superstar Chris Hemsworth held a panel discussion during the Red Sea International Film Festival this week — and he gave fans insight on his career choices during the talk.  

Moderated by director Baz Luhrmann, who is also the head of the jury for this year’s edition of the film festival, the pair discussed Hemsworth’s involvement in the upcoming “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” movie. “There’s a lot of anticipation for myself and from the fanbase that has been there for the 45 years,” Hemsworth said. 

Luhrmann and Hemsworth also addressed how “Mad Max” franchise director, George Miller, was brave enough to create a fictional universe from scratch, with Hemsworth adding:  

 “Taking leap, doing something different, thinking outside the box. The fear and the anxiety that comes with that is something to face and overcoming that and choosing to tell a story from your perspective, to be influenced by other people but not to be directly mimicking anyone else … there’s courage to that.” 

Hemsworth later shared with the audience that the escapism offered by films attracted him to the art of storytelling from a young age — he also noted that the ability to shapeshift and inhabit different characters is part of the reason he got into the film industry. 

“From a very young age, whether it would be books or television films, I enjoyed the fantasy, I enjoyed the escapism, the journey that the narrative and the story would take me one,” he said.  

“I think the vivid imagination of me as young kid carried through and still does now and that was the attraction to inhabit different spaces and different worlds and be taken on a journey,” he added. 

 Hemsworth appeared at the festival as part of the In Conversation series that has already featured the likes of US actor Will Smith, Bollywood star Katrina Kaif and Arab stars Amina Khalil and Yasmine Sabri. 


Tuwaiq Sculpture event to display works from 30 artists

Qian Sihua’s ‘Harmony in Diversity’ (2023) expresses the power of form shaped by harmony and difference. (Riyadhart)
Qian Sihua’s ‘Harmony in Diversity’ (2023) expresses the power of form shaped by harmony and difference. (Riyadhart)
Updated 05 December 2023
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Tuwaiq Sculpture event to display works from 30 artists

Qian Sihua’s ‘Harmony in Diversity’ (2023) expresses the power of form shaped by harmony and difference. (Riyadhart)
  • This includes interactive workshops, school visits and discussion sessions, covering elements of architecture, sculpture, art and design

RIYADH: The Riyadh Art program’s Tuwaiq Sculpture 2024 event, which will be held from Jan. 14 to Feb. 24, will feature 30 prominent local and international artists who will showcase their work under the theme “Dimensions of Movement.”

The registration for the fifth edition of the event witnessed an overwhelming response, attracting more 650 applications from 80 countries. A committee of experts in art and sculpture meticulously evaluated the submissions, culminating in the selection of 30 artists representing 20 countries.

Tuwaiq Sculpture stands as a creative platform to inspire artists worldwide to craft distinctive artworks. (SPA)

The artists will create public art sculptures using stones sourced from the Kingdom, thereby enriching the cultural and artistic landscape of the capital.

FASTFACT

The artists will create public art sculptures using stones sourced from the Kingdom, thereby enriching the cultural and artistic landscape of the capital.

Marek Wolynski, lead curator of Tuwaiq Sculpture 2024, said that the fifth edition of the event will offer an immersive experience that amalgamates innovation, ambition and expansion.

He added that the event’s thematic focus on “Dimensions of Movement” mirrors the transformation of the capital through various projects under the Riyadh Art program.

The judging panel for Tuwaiq Sculpture 2024 comprises experts in the fields of art and sculpture.

Tuwaiq Sculpture stands as a creative platform to inspire artists worldwide to craft distinctive artworks.

The collaboration among artists from diverse cultures and backgrounds is integral to the event, with the fifth edition incorporating an expanded community partnership program.

This includes interactive workshops, school visits and discussion sessions, covering elements of architecture, sculpture, art and design.

 


Heritage, landscape inspires artist at Saudi Feast Food Festival

Heritage, landscape inspires artist at Saudi Feast Food Festival
Updated 05 December 2023
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Heritage, landscape inspires artist at Saudi Feast Food Festival

Heritage, landscape inspires artist at Saudi Feast Food Festival
  • Walaa Hosawi will be selling planters, hand-poured candles and more at her booth at the Saudi Feast Food Festival, which runs until Dec. 9
  • Walaa Hosawi: The idea is whenever you purchase anything from my work, you could use it for more than one purpose

RIYADH: Saudi heritage and tradition are the inspirations behind artist Walaa Hosawi’s handcrafted decoupage art.

Hosawi will be selling planters, hand-poured candles and more at her booth at the Saudi Feast Food Festival, which runs until Dec. 9.

“I incorporate Najdi designs and textiles into my work,” Hosawi told Arab News. “The culture of our country has greatly influenced my work. It made me delve deeper into the cultures of the region and try to convey them in the form of a masterpiece. (My work) combines the authenticity of our culture, the beauty of its colors and geometric shapes, and the art of decoupage.”

After using the technique — which embellishes materials such as wood, glass and metal — to design planters, Hosawi pairs them with eco-friendly farmable pencils.

“I thought of this product for recycling, agriculture and to be environmentally friendly. After you finish using the pencil, take the upper part and plant it in the soil.” The pencils come in several varieties including parsley, basil and chili pepper.

Hosawi hand-pours her boat candles with a special personalized mixture of wax and scents, and then decorates them.

Speaking about the inspiration she finds in the Saudi landscape, she added: “I find myself greatly stimulated by nature and contemplating the landscapes of our country. This inspired me a lot and helped me produce artistic pieces.”

Hosawi also creates colorful multi-functional stands that can be used in different ways, such as a room centerpiece or perfume stand. She said: “The idea is whenever you purchase anything from my work, you could use it for more than one purpose.”

Hosawi said creating art gave her a sense of escape and tranquility: “I consider art a means that helps with health and psychological stability. Art is an outlet; it helps one find peace, calm and a sense of comfort, and that is why it is important for art to have a place in our society.”

A university course sparked Hosawi’s imagination, though she had been interested in art for some time. This also led her to explore various different media.

“I started designing fashion due to my studies in the college of textiles and sewing,” she said. “Then I delved deeper into the world of arts until I met decoupage. Here I felt I found myself and my passion began.”

Since designing her first decoupage piece — a wooden jewelry box that “still holds dear value” — Hosawi has seen her work change and develop.

She said: “All of this is thanks to God and the support I received from my country and my family to reach a better level.”

Through support from friends, family and other initiatives, Hosawi has prospered. She says such encouragement has been “the fuel that pushed me to continue producing unique artistic pieces through which I showcase the beautiful culture of my country.”

The Saudi Feast Food Festival features 13 zones that include culinary art heritage, theater, the Gourmand Awards, a children’s interactive farm and more.


Oscar-nominated director Kaouther Ben Hania talks challenges faced filming ‘Four Daughters’

Oscar-nominated director Kaouther Ben Hania talks challenges faced filming ‘Four Daughters’
Updated 04 December 2023
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Oscar-nominated director Kaouther Ben Hania talks challenges faced filming ‘Four Daughters’

Oscar-nominated director Kaouther Ben Hania talks challenges faced filming ‘Four Daughters’

LOS ANGELES: After winning the L’Oeil d’or award for best documentary following its premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania’s movie “Four Daughters” will now screen at Jeddah’s Red Sea International Film Festival.

Ben Hania is no stranger to critical acclaim and saw her 2020 feature "The Man Who Sold His Skin" nominated at the Academy Awards in the best international feature film category. Tunisia has now submitted her latest film in the same category for the 2024 Oscars, with the nominations yet to be announced. 

She spoke to Arab News about the challenges involved in filming the flick.

 

 

She said: “It’s not about one scene or another. It’s about how to translate all the complexity of this story, all the layers of this story, because it’s a movie about motherhood.

“It’s a movie about transmission between generations, transmission of trauma also. It’s a movie about Tunisia. All those themes were very important to me.”

The film tells the true story of Olfa Hamrouni, a heart-broken Tunisian mother of four daughters. The two eldest, aged 15 and 16, disappear in 2015 after being radicalized by extremists.

Ben Hania started working on “Four Daughters” in 2016, when she first heard the story on the news in Tunisia.

“I started thinking about making a documentary about it. But when I met Olfa and her daughters, I thought that I could do a fly-on-the-wall documentary. It took me some years to come up with the actual form of the movie,” she added.

Professional actresses filled in for the missing sisters, while renowned Egyptian actress Hend Sabri replaced Hamrouni as memories started to weigh heavy on the mom. This created a unique hybrid of fiction and documentary in the co-production between Tunisia, France, Germany, and Saudi Arabia.  

Ben Hania said: “I needed actresses in the movie directed by the real character so we could summon the past and have access to their trauma.

“It’s Olfa who gave me the idea because she’s a huge fan of Hend Sabri, so I thought it would be very interesting to ask Hend to play Olfa and be directed by her.

“The shooting was very intense because it’s a real story. It’s not an easy life. So, it was very intense, but also it was funny, because they are really funny.

“Their way to cope with this tragedy is to laugh about it, which was really amazing, so we were laughing and crying,” she added.