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.
Film UlUla, Stampede Ventures reveal films to be shot in Saudi Arabia under 10-project deal
Updated 3 min 34 sec ago
JEDDAH: Hollywood movies “Fourth Wall” and “Chasing Red” are set to be filmed in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla in 2024 as part of a 10-project deal between Film AlUla — the Royal Commission for AlUla’s film agency — and global media company Stampede Ventures.
The announcement was made at the Red Sea International Film Festival on Saturday. Stampede Ventures CEO Greg Silverman and executive director of Film AlUla Charlene Deleon-Jones gave further details of the three-year deal, which also includes the already-shot dramatic comedy “K-Pops!”
“Fourth Wall” follows a former child star from a popular TV sitcom who is kidnapped and wakes up in a complete recreation of the show’s set with the rest of the cast, where she must work through her trauma and recreate iconic moments from the series to stay alive and find a way out.
Meanwhile, “Chasing Red” is a romance centered around straight-A student Veronica and wealthy playboy Caleb. It is an adaptation of a book by Filipino-Canadian author Isabelle Ronin and is being directed by Jessika Borsiczky, who told Arab News that the story attracted her because “romance is so universal, especially first love, and especially stories about women finding who they are and then finding who they are in relation to the world.”
Stampede Ventures will be among the first to use Film AlUla’s production facility, which includes a 30,000-square-foot soundstage, backlot, production support buildings, workshops, warehouses, recording studio and training and rehearsal space.
There will be emphasis on using Saudi talent during the production process, Deleon-Jones said, adding: “One of the most significant parts of what we’re doing is the training and development, because this gives us an opportunity to really develop below-the-line crew in somewhere like AlUla, where traditionally the main careers open to you would have been agriculture. We have a young working population who are vibrant and digitally engaged somewhere which is seen as one of the more remote places, (and now) you have this whole new exciting career path.”
The key, she said, was to prove to talent in Saudi Arabia that the film industry is a “sustainable” career choice. Silverman echoed that, saying the deal was “designed specifically so that people can come in and get a chance to prove (themselves) and then there’s another movie coming in the next month that they can be pulled into.”
Silverman is an entertainment industry veteran known for his track record at Warner Bros. where he shepherded over 125 films to more than $38 billion in worldwide box office, most notably the “Harry Potter” series, Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” trilogy, Zack Snyder’s “300,” Todd Phillips’ iconic “Hangover” trilogy, and “Joker.”
Previous Hollywood productions shot in AlUla include the Gerard Butler-led action-thriller “Kandahar,” directed by Ric Roman Waugh, and “Cherry,” starring Tom Holland and directed by Anthony and Joe Russo.
DUBAI: The UN World Food Programme this week announced that its goodwill ambassador, Canadian singer The Weeknd — whose birth name is Abel Tesfaye — has donated $2.5 million from his XO Humanitarian Fund to aid WFP’s humanitarian response in Gaza.
The donation, which equates to 4 million emergency meals, will fund 820 tons of food parcels that could feed more than 173,000 Palestinians for two weeks, the organization said.
“This conflict has unleashed a humanitarian catastrophe beyond reckoning. WFP is working round the clock to provide aid in Gaza but a major scale up is needed to address the desperate level of hunger we are seeing,” Corinne Fleischer, WFP’s director for the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe, said in a statement.
“We thank Abel for this valuable contribution towards the people of Palestine. We hope others will follow Abel’s example and support our efforts.”
The multi-platinum global recording artist was appointed a goodwill ambassador in October 2021.
Johnny Depp walks the red carpet at ‘Jeanne Du Barry’ Red Sea Film Fest premiere
Updated 01 December 2023
JEDDAH : Hollywood superstar Johnny Depp on Friday walked the red carpet at the Red Sea International Film Festival for the regional premiere of his film “Jeanne Du Barry.”
The actor wore a black suit as he posed for pictures on the red carpet.
French director Maïwenn’s period drama features the director as the titular 18th Century courtesan Madame du Barry opposite Depp, who plays King Louis XV. The director also hit the carpet at the Red Sea Mall.
RSIFF provided post-production support for the period drama, marking the first time the foundation co-produced a French movie. The film had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May.
On Thursday, Depp attended the opening night of the festival alongside US star Will Smith, US actress Michelle Williams, German actress Diane Kruger, Lebanese songstress Maya Diab, Brazilian model Alessandra Ambrosio, Saudi singer Aseel Omran — among many more — it was an affair to remember.
The glittering event kicked off with a gala screening of Dubai-based Iraqi director Yasir Al-Yasiri’s “HWJN,” which is based on a YA novel by Saudi writer Ibraheem Abbas. Set in modern-day Jeddah, “HWJN” follows the story of a kind-hearted jinn — an invisible entity in Islamic tradition — as he discovers the truth about his royal lineage.
This year’s celebrity-studded festival jury is presided over by director Baz Luhrmann, joined by Swedish-American actor Joel Kinnaman (“Suicide Squad”); Freida Pinto (“Slumdog Millionaire”); Egyptian actor Amina Khalil (“Grand Hotel”) and Spain’s Paz Vega (“Sex and Lucía,” “The OA”).
The Red Sea International Film Festival runs from Nov. 30 to Dec. 9 and boasts 11 categories of films: Special Screenings; Red Sea: Competition; Red Sea: Shorts Competition; Festival Favorites; Arab Spectacular; International Spectacular; New Saudi/ New Cinema: Shorts; Red Sea: New Vision; Red Sea: Families and Children; Red Sea: Series and Red Sea: Treasures.
The theme of year’s festival is “Your Story, Your Festival.”
Visitors to compose their own symphony of lights at Noor Riyadh 2023
Updated 01 December 2023
RIYADH: From Nov. 30 to Dec. 16, Noor Riyadh, the largest annual light art festival in the world, returns for its third edition, boasting 120 large-scale works from 100 contemporary artists from over 35 countries.
The festival lets every visitor follow the map to glowing artworks within each location, with pieces spread not just across Riyadh, but throughout the landscapes of the five main festival hubs: King Abdullah Financial District, Salam Park, Wadi Hanifa, Wadi Namar, and Jax District.
“For us, it’s very important that people in Riyadh feel like this is their festival. The main purpose of it is to be part of the fabric of Riyadh … It’s to make the city vibrant, beautiful, and relevant to the citizens and residents,” Miguel Blanco-Carrasco, adviser at the Royal Commission for Riyadh City and Riyadh Art, told Arab News.
After running over 20,000 surveys across the Saudi populace, the team found that Riyadh’s citizens and residents preferred a more concise experience.
Nouf Almoneef, director of the festival, told Arab News: “Last year, a lot of people didn’t get the chance to go to the other locations …We want accessibility for everyone.”
Their approach was to create a contained, yet conspicuous experience: last year’s 40 locations became the five main hubs, each containing over 15 artworks, and some partnering activations in other areas.
“Our mission is to transform the city to a gallery without walls … We’re building this legacy for artists to grow and show their works internationally. Our aim is to highlight our artists and the festival globally and for the people to also come and visit,” Almoneef said.
What truly marks out the festival is its strong curatorial narrative which leaves visitors to build a narrative out of the existing pieces placed across Riyadh.
Jerome Sans, co-founder of Palais de Tokyo in Paris and lead curator of this year’s festival, said: “We invented this as a symphony with different acts. You can take it in any order.
“Here for example, in KAFD, the story starts in the city — from mineral to nature; from the Financial District to the door of the desert, or vice versa. Salam Park is a way for us modern people to create our own garden, to shape it, but then there’s a real nature in itself. So we create all different flavors and steps where you can go from one to the other.”
Sans, supported by curators Pedro Alonzo, Fahad bin Naif, and Alaa Tarabzouni, took six months in curation to orchestrate a symphonic storyline within the city’s multifaceted landscape.
On the theme, the lead curator noted that desertification is a growing issue globally, not just within Riyadh, which is located in the heart of the Nafud desert. The theme “Bright Side of the Desert Moon” contemplates the light within the arid.
Like the moon, the hubs physically circle Riyadh. As visitors approach each location, they create a celebratory cross-city bonfire marked by gleaming artworks.
For Sans, the concise number of locations act as members of the “family,” bringing the festival to a much more human scale and “easier for everyone to understand.”
For Bjornstjerne Christiansen, one of the three founders of Copenhagen-based collective SUPERFLEX, the theme lay close to the group’s way of thinking as an expanded collective, that “we need to change our behavior and perspective, and we believe we can do that through art,” he told Arab News.
Public art is an important aspect of SUPERFLEX’s work, bringing unique projects to corners of the globe, like the famous Superkilen Park in Denmark with works from 80 nationalities, The Bank urban park in UAE’s Sharjah, a projection on the UN headquarters in New York City, and many others.
Noor Riyadh, under the umbrella of Riyadh Art, aims to create space for the city’s populace to engage with art in a much more dynamic way. It strays away from confining the works merely within an art space and incorporates them within everyday locations, such as KAFD, a home to many corporate buildings and popular dining spots, and Salam Park, where families go to picnic and play.
SUPERFLEX’s artwork “Vertical Migration” explores territories buried within the depths of the sea projected on a high-rise building in KAFD. It highlights the importance of understanding the ocean’s health through a siphonophore, a creature that comes in trillions every night from the bottom to the surface to clean.
“It’s very beautiful but has a lot of layers of politics in it. And that’s the good thing about art: you can look at it as beauty or aesthetics while also having many layers,” Christiansen said.
Saudi artist Dur Kattan’s “Closer than They Appear” is a collection of approximately 400 car side mirrors, using the blindspot within them as a metaphor for people’s collective blindness to our own humanity.
“In a city like Riyadh, things are very busy. It’s amazing, all these changes that are happening, but you also have to somehow ground yourself and find time to reflect on yourself, your own blindspots, and that will basically protect you from crashing,” Kattan told Arab news.
Kattan is an emerging artist whose contribution to the festival becomes her second showcase after her debut in the exhibition “Heartache” by Very Public earlier this year. While the festival hosts big-name international artists like Yayoi Kusama, it also acts as a platform for younger contemporary names to surface.
Noor Riyadh has become a staple event in the city’s events calendar, the success of which was made possible by “these amazing, talented (artists) and the teams behind the festival” as well as the interaction of the public, Almoneef said.
New Zealand brings ‘Miles from Nowhere’ to Red Sea International Film Festival
Updated 01 December 2023
JEDDAH: The latest production from New Zealand film company Homegrown Pictures will be unveiled at the third edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival, which runs until Dec. 9.
“Miles from Nowhere” tells the story of Said, a young Muslim living in Auckland, who forms a dangerous friendship with the Security Intelligence Service agent spying on him and risks his whole community to fulfil his dreams.
Using dark comedy, it explores the immigrant experience of Arab families in New Zealand’s multicultural neighborhoods.
Homegrown Pictures is joined by two other leading New Zealand film companies, NHNZ Worldwide and Greenstone, which are also set to make their debut appearances at the festival.
Julie Christie, CEO of NHNZ Worldwide — an Emmy-winning, specialist factual documentary production company — will attend the festival to “build on (the company’s) extensive relationships and collaborations in the region.”
Greenstone, which is growing its programs and partnerships in the Middle East, is working to take stories about and from the region out into the world.
Barney Riley, New Zealand’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said: “We are thrilled to have Homegrown Pictures, NHNZ Worldwide, and Greenstone representing New Zealand at the Saudi Red Sea International Film Festival for the first time.
“Their presence demonstrates the quality and diversity of New Zealand’s film and television industry. We are proud to support our homegrown talents as they take their creative works to a global audience.”