CAIRO: JPMorgan Bank is directing its clients toward the Grand Egyptian Museum in its annual brochure.
The publication is distributed to the organization’s distinguished clients around the world.
It lists suggested recreational, artistic, and cultural activities to enjoy during holidays, while highlighting the most important attractions and places around the world.
This year’s brochure includes many locations, and among them is a picture of the soon-to-be-opened Grand Egyptian Museum, accompanied by some information about the attraction.
It says that the museum of ancient Egyptian civilization will display the complete collection of the boy king Tutankhamun.
Ahmed Issa, Egyptian minister of tourism and antiquities, appreciated the bank’s gesture in recommending the museum to its clients.
The museum’s opening is eagerly awaited and it will be considered one of the most important establishments of its kind in the world.
The minister said that its opening date will be decided as soon as possible, adding that kings, presidents, and senior officials from around the world will attend its inauguration.
Soha Ali, CEO of JPMorgan Bank in Egypt and North Africa, held a meeting with Issa recently, and thanked the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities for its cooperation, and for providing information on the museum, as well as photographs.
JPMorgan Bank, the largest in the US and one of the biggest in the world, issues its booklet on an annual basis.
London’s Victoria & Albert Museum hosts ‘open iftar’ for hundreds
Updated 26 March 2023
DUBAI: More than 500 people flocked to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum on Friday for an ‘Open Iftar’ event organized by the Ramadan Tent Project charity.
“Ramadan 2023 marks 10 phenomenal years of the Ramadan Tent Project and our signature Open Iftar events. Over the past nine years, our humble tent on a patch of green grew and grew, before it traveled to landmark locations,” the project said.
Similar events will take place this year at Shakespeare’s Globe theater, Wembley Stadium, Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium and the Royal Albert Hall.
“The theme to mark our 10-year anniversary is ‘Belonging’. For the past decade we’ve connected and convened over half a million people from all backgrounds. Our passion in bridging between different communities is rooted in sharing our authentic selves with the world.
“True belonging shouldn’t require you to change who you are – rather, it’s to celebrate who you are,” read an additional statement on the website.
Since 2013, the Open Iftar events have hosted more than 500,000 people across the UK at some of the country’s most iconic cultural spaces including Trafalgar Square, the BALTIC Museum, Bradford’s Centenary Square and Coventry Cathedral.
Finding treasures at the Islamic Arts Biennale’s Al-Matjar in Jeddah
Sustainability key to the concept store; more than 620 rare, custom-made items on display
Updated 26 March 2023
JEDDAH: Visitors to the inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale in Jeddah can pick up Ramadan-themed items and intricate works of art at the on-site Al-Matjar concept store, a retail space developed by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation.
“The biennale store is never, ever the same. We change it every week. The only constant is that you’ll see is the Diriyah Foundation merchandise,” Dalia Al Akki, the store representative, told Arab News.
According to Al Akki, the DBF hopes the shop can become one of Jeddah’s new cultural destinations. It aims to have something for everyone — and allow them to take a bit of the Biennale’s “Awwal Bait” (First House) theme back home with them.
“The idea of this collaboration is that the Diriyah Foundation wants to open a platform to support digital artists. It’s like a marketing tool for us to use their illustrations and create merch with them, or stationery, or puzzles,” she said. “We didn’t want to just do merchandise this year; we wanted to really enhance this idea of collaboration.”
Since the biennale is a temporary exhibition, the idea was to create tangible items that people can take back home with them.
After thorough research, they reached out to around 180 brands, of which 95 made it to the shelves. Since the DBF is a non-profit organization, it was obligated to use the space as a launching pad for brands and to cultivate creativity.
“Some of these items are very rare and very beautiful, and soon they’ll be collectible,” Al Akki said proudly.
The store prioritizes collaborating with brands that focus on sustainability, and many of the over 620 items are rare and custom-made. According to Dalia Al Akki, every item in the store will be reused, including the wayfinding flags that will be repurposed into tote bags later.
It was always meant to be a pop-up shop, which is perhaps part of the allure. If you like something, pick it up and buy it instantly or it might be gone. Maybe forever. Many items were custom-made for the shop and won’t ever be sold anywhere else.
There’s one section that is distinctly pre-owned. It is dedicated to selling secondhand books and Al Akki hopes this will help shift people’s perception of pre-owned and think of it as ‘pre-loved.’
“We know a guy that collects books from all over the region, so we really wanted to add that in,” she explained. “A lot of artists actually just buy books and end up throwing them. A lot of people in the Kingdom don’t know the value of these books. But for us, secondhand books are still valuable. We even have vintage magazines.”
She said that she has been surprised by the popularity of the secondhand books and have had to replenish their stocks.
“We also work with a lot of product makers (who focus on) sustainability. Nothing in the store is going to be thrown away; everything is going to be reused — even the wayfinding flags; we are actually taking them and making tote bags out of them for next year,” she said. “We are supporting local and international artists and sustainability is a main goal.”
It was crucial for the curation of the products to be inclusive of different countries and styles, as well as price ranges, and to provide something that non-Muslims could buy too.
“What’s amazing about the whole idea of this pop-up store is that we really get to know the community — beyond the Kingdom. We can’t wait for the (next Biennale cycle) because there’s so many places you could go. I mean, this was limited, challenging, but definitely worth it,” Al Akki said. “We’ve learned, we’ve grown, we’ve met many beautiful people along the way.”
One of those people is Sultan bin Mohammed, the shy-but-charming millennial leader of the Galag Garage clothing brand (Galag translates to “nuisance”).
He was proud to take part in this pop-up store in his hometown of Jeddah and is shaking up the shop — one stitch at a time.
The filmmaker and entrepreneur showed Arab News his exclusive capsule Galag collection, created in collaboration with the Diriyah Biennale Foundation store. Rows of durable-but-soft hoodies, t-shirts, tote bags and caps with the word “Galag” written in Arabic using the custom biennale font and typography.
“They (Diriyah Biennale Foundation) wanted really to represent the structures in the Hajj terminal. So I wanted to recreate that, but give a bit of a retro-wave design,” he told Arab News.
He also added elements that are distinctly ‘Galag,’ such as images of vintage cars.
“We wanted something that’s wearable, has a bit of style, has a bit of weight to it — something that people would be happy and comfortable with. We decided to do very simple but high-quality material with interesting colors,” bin Mohammed told Arab News.
Most of those color inspirations were derived from local nature. The sandy hoodie has a bit of saturated blue that pops — meant to represent the sky. The white hoodie, in contrast, was meant to be muted.
“Every color choice here is meant to look better with age; so the longer we wear it, the better it looks — that was the concept,” he said.
Like Al Akki, bin Mohammed was adamant that he wanted to produce something that would last.
“Sustainability is a huge thing. We really wanted to use something that lasts — something that you can wear for years, maybe put in your closet then bring it out and it still keeps its shape; it keeps the quality and it doesn’t disintegrate,” bin Mohammed said.
He was also keen to have the date incorporated into the t-shirts. “It’s the first Islamic Arts Biennale and to have the date on it to commemorate it was really important. I think it’s really cool to have a piece of history. It’s great that we’re a small part of that,” said bin Mohammed.
Saudi Fashion Commission chief among international panelists at first-ever Egypt Fashion Week
The event will kick off with an opening night on May 12 at the Egyptian Museum, featuring the “Best of Egyptian Designers” fashion show curated by US stylist Julie Matos, followed by a gala dinner
Updated 25 March 2023
DUBAI: Saudi Fashion Commission CEO Burak Cakmak is set to speak at the first edition of Egypt Fashion Week, which will take place from May 12 to 15.
The event will also be attended by US fashion blogger Diane Pernet, Nigerian entrepreneur Omoyemi Akerele and co-founder of the Egyptian Fashion & Design Council Austrian Egyptian Susan Sabet.
Sabet said in a statement: “We are very proud and grateful to have won over so many distinguished speakers and major worldwide media partners and attendance to ensure that all eyes will be on Egyptian fashion.”
The fashion week, which has been in the making for about four years, is titled “Past, Present & Future” and is set to celebrate Egypt’s rich heritage and civilization, inspired by its culture, and to show the world Egypt’s present.
“Inspired by the rising number of emerging designers and growth of the local fashion industry, we knew the time had come to show the world our pool of creative talents and local cotton and textile industry,” Sabet added.
“The EFW program goes far beyond fashion shows and exhibitions and aims to connect the local, African and Middle Eastern markets through design, craftsmanship, education, sustainability, production and retail.”
The event will kick off with an opening night on May 12 at the Egyptian Museum, featuring the “Best of Egyptian Designers” fashion show curated by US stylist Julie Matos, followed by a gala dinner.
The following two days will be held at the Museum of Agriculture, one of the most important museums of its kind in the world, which will open its doors for the first time after five years of renovation for EFW.
The museum traces the history of agriculture and cotton in Egypt from prehistory to modernity, acknowledging agriculture as the basis on which Ancient Egyptians built a civilization.
The fashion week’s guests will discover designer exhibitions curated by the Saudi Fashion Commission, Lagos Fashion Week, Jordan Fashion Week and GTEX-ITC.
EFW will also host panel talks by local, regional and international industry leaders in the fields of design, education, craftsmanship, production, retail, sustainability, women’s empowerment and finance.
Launchmetrics, a partner of New York and Paris fashion weeks, is EFW’s logistics partner.
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.
‘Dubai Collection Nights’ puts the focus on art events
Week-long initiative promises panel discussions, film screenings, visits to private collections, studios
Updated 23 March 2023
DUBAI: The Dubai Collection has announced the launch of a week-long series of art events set to take place from March 25-31, the Emirates News Agency has reported.
The inaugural edition of “Dubai Collection Nights” will include panel discussions on institution building and collecting by influential art professionals, film screenings, unique opportunities to visit patrons’ private collections, and studio visits by acclaimed UAE-based artists.
It will provide insight into A.R.M. Holding’s corporate collection, illustrating how companies are increasingly becoming a part of Dubai’s creative landscape.
The Dubai Collection is an initiative that aims to provide the public with a chance to explore important artworks, while also encouraging a new, long-term collecting culture in the emirate.
Muna Faisal Al Gurg, chair of the Dubai Collection’s Curatorial Committee, said: “Our new initiative, ‘Dubai Collection Nights,’ underscores Dubai Collection’s mission to build a community of committed patrons of the arts and ignite creativity across the city.
“It is created to offer a new platform for local audiences to explore the stories in the collection and connect our communities of artists, collectors, and art professionals.”
Benedetta Ghione, executive director of Art Dubai, said: “‘Dubai Collection Nights’ is the first dedicated initiative that will bring together the wider Dubai Collection community in the city for the first time.
“The lineup of activities is an important opportunity for our local audiences to see the collection and connect with Dubai-based artists and patrons.
“Talks and debates will bring to the fore the voices of professionals and collectors committed to changing the landscape of institutional collecting, whilst every day during the week-long event there will be an opportunity for the public to see artworks and learn more about the collection.”