DUBAI: The Arab Fashion Council and Dubai Design District (d3) anounced the launch of Dubai Fashion Week at an event in the city on Tuesday night.
The first iteration of the fashion week will take place from March 10-15.
Organizers have billed Dubai Fashion Week as the definitive fashion fixture in the region, featuring men’s, women’s, ready-to-wear and couture collections.
Senior Vice President of d3 Khadija Al-Bastaki praised Dubai’s progress as a fashion capital in a released statement.
“Where there was Paris, Milan, London and New York, there is now Dubai. From economic activity to tourism and creativity, Dubai has carved its own space among the world’s cosmopolitan capitals, and fashion is one industry boosting its status. All eyes are on the Middle East for fashion and creativity, and now the sky is the limit,” she said.
For his part, CEO of the Arab Fashion Council Jacob Abrian noted the city’s contribution to the global fashion industry, saying: “Dubai has arrived on the global fashion stage. Emerging and established creatives have shaped a distinct identity for the region that resonates far and wide. Our region's fashion industry is entering a new chapter as we become increasingly active contributors to the global fashion narrative.”
“Fashion is a cultural expression fueled by tradition but also by the zeitgeist. I strongly believe that Dubai has now the capacity to become a global fashion hub addressing today's questions of sustainability, technology and diversity,” Serge Carreira, head of the Emerging Brands Initiative, at France’s Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, added in a released statement.
The announcement was made in the presence of Abdulla Belhoul, chief executive officer of TECOM Group which d3 is a part of, Issam Kazim, chief executive officer of Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, Ammar Al-Malik, executive vice president – commercial, TECOM Group, Khadija Al-Bastaki, senior vice president of d3 and Jacob Abrian, CEO of the Arab Fashion Council.
US actor Eyas Younis talks Casting Arabia and stellar TV career
Updated 8 sec ago
RIYADH: From Wall Street, to pharmaceutical sales to a bona fide career in acting, US actor Eyas Younis, who is of Jordanian descent, is no stranger to reinventing himself — and with the launch of his new platform Casting Arabia, he hopes to help other performers chart their own paths to success.
The platform came to life in January, after 18 months of meticulous planning, and with more than 1,700 applicants already on the waiting list, it is clear that there was strong demand for such an initiative in the Middle East.
“Drawing on my background in business, I created a free online platform named Casting Arabia,” Younis told Arab News on the sidelines of the recent Ignite forum in Riyadh.
On the portal, any filmmaker can post the roles needed for the cast and crew of their upcoming project, and members of Casting Arabia can apply.
On the flipside, actors and other creative talents in the industry can create non-public profiles and submit themselves for the opportunities posted on the site.
“This is the system in the US on many of the platforms, like backstage, actors, and other casting networks that keep your profile private. By doing it this way, you empower the talent to pick the roles they resonate with,” Younis explained.
The website also features free learning tools, including short and snappy videos on how to take the best headshot, as well as tips for analyzing a script — and more.
It is a valuable tool for up-and-coming actors, made all the more meaningful as Younis himself was once a struggling actor.
Coming from a background in finance, armed with an MBA, Younis worked on New York’s Wall Street until the market crash of 2008, when he returned to Jordan and took up a position at a pharmaceuticals giant in Amman.
“But still, the nagging voice in my head kept searching for excitement, a break from (the) boring corporate world,” shared Younis. One day, he spotted an ad for an acting working on Facebook and, upon arriving, realized it was an open audition.
As daunting as that may sound to the rest of us, Younis gave it a shot — although he admits nerves took over and he sent his brother, who had accompanied him, home, saying “‘I am too nervous for you to sit next to me. Go home.”
He memorized the lines, sang terribly and gave a less-than-stellar performance, but by sheer luck a director named Deema Amr who had just secured her first feature film witnessed the audition and later told him “you were horrible, but there is something there, you should explore it,” according to Younis, who laughs at the memory.
She called him in to audition for a supporting role in “A 7 Hour Difference” — he landed the gig and never looked back.
“I didn’t take the decision to pursue it proficiently. It was a good beginning but it was that feeling of ‘ahhh, this is where I found myself,’” he said.
However, the producer of the film continued to call Younis, offering audition after audition, and he went on landing parts.
“Then I was approached by Basim Ghandour for a short film, on set I decided I would quit. I remember (it was) March 15, 2011. I went to take acting classes in New York, but I wasn’t in a hurry to move there. I kept thinking there was too much competition. Who wanted another Arab actor?
“I vowed never to play a terrorist and never will. But bravely, I signed up for an acting course at the (Stella Adler Studio of Acting). The intensive course program ran for several months, I attended various classes from 9 a.m. till 8 p.m. daily. We covered everything from Shakespeare to acting for TV and film. It was very intense… I remember I decided after the course that there would be more opportunities for me in the US than in the Arab world. I just had that feeling that I could do it here,” he said.
“After selling my car and furniture and quitting my job, I moved to New York in May 2011. I got a manager in July and booked a play in September. I was on the prime-time TV show ‘Deception,’ playing an Albanian mafia boss… so, in less than a year, I was on TV.
“I still remember when I called my mum and said I would be on TV, and she knew I wasn’t coming home,” he added.
Cue roles in CBS’s “Unforgettable,” “Homeland” and “NCIS: LA” and it’s safe to say that Younis has found his calling.
What to watch in Ramadan: The latest slate of TV shows to hit your screens this month
Updated 2 min 30 sec ago
DUBAI: It is no secret that Ramadan TV series are among the most eagerly anticipated of the year, with fans across the Middle East — and the world — settling in to watch the latest hot new show after iftar each evening.
This year, regional production houses are offering up a slate of shows, including classic comedies, heart-felt roadtrips and even a docuseries focused on Anas Bukhash, who is famous for his YouTube talk show #ABTalks and has interviewed the likes of American Palestinian Netflix star Mo Amer, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal, Gigi and Bella Hadid’s father Mohamed, and Mohammed Diab, director of Marvel’s “Moon Knight,” among others.
‘A Sitdown with Anas and Hala’
Starring: Anas Bukhash, Hala Kazim
With #ABtalks, Anas Bukhash has cemented himself as a top Arabic-language interviewer, inviting stars from across the region onto his show for a series of often-heartfelt conversations about the human experience. In “A Sitdown with Anas and Hala” he hosts a very special guest — his own mother. The six-episode docuseries will follow Anas and Hala as they discuss grief, creating boundaries, and making connections, all on a quest to find their inner selves. Airing weekly in 30-minute episodes, each installment will find the two in their home as they discuss life, the universe, and everything.
‘Gaafar El Omda’
Starring: Mohamed Ramadan, Zeina, Hala Sedki
Where: MBC Shahid
Love him or hate him, Mohamed Ramadan is the prime Arabic-language television season’s biggest star, each year turning in a role that becomes both must-watch and hotly debated, driven either by his on- or off-screen antics. Two years ago, his period piece “Moussa,” set in 1940s Egypt, was condemned by his peers after a seemingly unflattering portrayal of Egyptian comedy icon Ismail Yassine. Last year, “El Meshwar,” a series in which he plays a man in the throes of a curse, was also poorly received by many. “Gaafar El Omda” looks to be a return to form for the talented leading man, reuniting him with writer Mohammed Samy, who previously crafted the acclaimed Ramadan 2020 hit “Al Prince.” This time around, he plays a rich businessman and village elder named Gaafar, who offers a woman a loan on the condition that she become his wife for 400 days.
‘El Keteeba 101’
Starring: Asser Yassin, Amr Youssef, Khaled Elsawy
Where: MBC Shahid
After a huge hit last year with “Suits Arabia,” an Arabic-language remake of the popular American legal series, Asser Yassin is back with a gun in his hand in “El Keteeba 101,” a military drama that pairs him with acclaimed actor Amr Youssef (from 2016’s massive hit “Grand Hotel”). The series is set in the Sinai Peninsula in 2014, as the Egyptian Army’s 101st Battalion wages war against terrorist organizations, striving to overcome what appear to be impossible odds. Yassin has cemented himself as one of the best action stars in the Arab world, especially after his 2022 hit “The Eight,” and a pairing with Youssef should prove impossible to resist.
Starring: Saad Aziz, Saleh Abu Amra, Muhammad Al-Shehri
Where: MBC1 and MBC Shahid
Perhaps the greatest joy of the Ramadan television season is the surprises. In Saudi Arabia last year, that was “Road Trip” (Sikat Safar), a hilarious and heartfelt dramedy following three brothers who set off on the road after the death of their father. The second season reunites the trio of Mohammed Alshehri, Saleh Abuamrh, and Saad Aziz, this time to help their uncle run a small hotel that is threatened with demolition, all set in the gorgeous backdrop of the green southern part of the Kingdom. After Abuamrh’s widely-loved portrayal as the boss in the Saudi Arabian remake of “The Office,” expect this series to fully transition from underdog hit to Ramadan mainstay.
Starring: Ibrahem Al-Hajjaj, Fayez Bin Jurays, Khalid Al-Farraj
Where: MBC Shahid
Saudi comedian Ibrahim Al-Hajjaj is undoubtedly the most popular actor in the country at the moment, with his action-comedy “Sattar” still setting box-office records in the Kingdom, inching closer to number two on the all-time list overall, and his Netflix hit “Al Khallat+” still ranking in the country’s top five after nine weeks of release. Expect the second season of his Ramadan hit to be even bigger than the first, then. Here, Al-Hajjaj returns in a comedy following a conflict between two brothers who are attempting to run a company together but can’t seem to agree on how. Season two promises an unexpected love story, with Al-Hajjaj’s unique brand of physical comedy on full display throughout the month.
Starring: Ahmad Fahmy, Ahmed Salah El-Saadany, Shams
After two decades behind the camera making only films, Egyptian director Khaled Youssef is making his hotly anticipated TV debut with this historical drama that follows a young man in search of the secret shrine of Sultan Hamed, supposedly in a village in the Egyptian countryside. The show is set across two timelines, one present day, and one in the French-Egyptian war of 1798, with parallel characters existing across both. A strongly political filmmaker who serves in the Egyptian parliament, Youssef’s films often tackle social justice and corruption with the gritty cinema veritè style and signature use of improvisation that has made him one of the Arab world’s most distinctive voices.
‘Al Kabeer Awi’
Cast: Ahmed Mekky, Bayoumi Fouad, Mohamed Sallam, Rahma Ahmed
Where: MBC Shahid
Now in its seventh season, this long-running Egyptian hit continues to capitalize on the undeniable charisma of star Ahmed Mekky as the titular Al Kabeer, the mayor of Al-Mazareeta, a small town in the northern part of the country, as well as his twin brother, who returns to the country from the US to claim their father’s fortune. As the series has progressed, Mekky even added a third and fourth brother to the mix, while never losing audiences, even as the plots grew increasingly absurd. The latest season follows Al Kabeer after his latest marriage, and a mysterious potion transforms his grown son into a child.
‘Bab Al Hara’
Starring: Nizar Abu Hajar, Nijah Sefkouni, Fadia Khattab, Tayser Iddriss
No Ramadan TV list would be complete without the show that has become most synonymous with the season. “Bab Al Hara,” set to debut its 13th season, is still going strong, though many fans may debate in which season the show dropped from its peak. It follows the same family in Syria as the country continues its social and political transformation. In this season, set in 1945 and 1946, beloved star Nizar Abu Hajar returns as the characters grapple with an Evacuation Day that will see the final French soldiers leave the country ahead of April 17, 1946 — Syrian Independence Day. With Abu Hajar back front and center, will “Bab Al Hara” recapture its former glory? Stay tuned.
Recipes for success: Chef Shun Shiroma offers advice and a tasty roast potato recipe
Updated 23 March 2023
DUBAI: Omotenashi is a Japanese concept of hospitality historically related to hosts of the traditional tea ceremony. The term itself is divided into two parts, “omote” (public face) and “nashi” (nothing). “Together, it combines to mean service that comes from the bottom of the heart — honest, no hiding, no pretending,” according to the Michelin guide.
Omotenashi seems to be the guiding principle of Shun Shiroma, the executive chef of 3Fils, one of Dubai’s top restaurants. Overlooking Dubai Harbor, it’s a casual eatery that specializes in Asian- and Japanese-style dishes, including flavorful salmon carpaccio, Hokkaido scallops, and wagyu beef burgers. There is also a fresh offering of “Arabese” food, where the Middle East meets the Far East, such as their concoction snaa’tar, consisting of fine slices of Tai snapper covered with the deep flavors of zaatar.
3Fils is known for having its own rules, such as not serving soy sauce on the side as it might affect the freshness of the fish. But people are happy to keep coming back to what has been voted the fifth-best restaurant in the MENA region.
“There’s an ambience to it,” the restaurant’s representative Khalil Khouri told Arab News. “We want people to feel at home. You can come in shorts and flip-flops. You’re by the water and there’s that fresh air and fresh ingredients. We’ve expanded, and there’s still a queue. It’s testament to what the kitchen does.”
Shiroma was raised in Okinawa and started his career aged 16 at a sushi restaurant there. By 2009, he was in a completely different environment: Jamaica. This was followed by stints in Singapore and New York, among other places.
No matter where he has been, though, his love for the cuisine of his home country has never left him. “We have many categories and variety: Sushi, sashimi, tempura, ramen, and curry,” Shun told Arab News. “It’s healthy and simple.”
Here, Chef Shun discusses Japanese hospitality, the importance of cleanliness, and shares a recipe for korya roast potatoes.
Q: What’s your earliest food memory?
A: I think I was three or four years old. I remember my mom making some bread, butter, and jam. I was shocked by how sweet it was. That’s when my addiction to jam started. [Laughs.]
When you started out as a professional, what was the most common mistake you made?
When I was cutting something, like fish, my chopping board became dirty and it needed to be washed. But I moved on and did something else. My boss said, “Why are you not washing your chopping board?” I was giving 50 percent of myself to the work. My boss told me that nice presentation for guests is important, but it’s just as important to be clean in the kitchen.
What one ingredient can instantly improve any dish?
Just one? [Laughs.] If I give you a cucumber with nothing, you can eat it. But, if I crack it, you can eat it easily. So, this is the ingredient: My heart. This is the best ingredient for food: “Omotenashi.”
Are you a disciplinarian in the kitchen? Do you shout a lot? Or are you more laidback?
We’re busy enough here already, so I don’t need to shout at anyone. I trust our sous-chefs. I just give them small bits of advice sometimes.
What’s your favorite dish to cook?
I love Japanese curry. I make it at home and my kids and wife also eat it. I’m a chef here, but at home, I’m totally not.
When you go out to eat, do you find yourself critiquing the food?
I don’t judge the food, but when I taste something different I’m always asking, “Why have they done that?” It interests me. I just imagine the culture, the history and the nature, then I understand why the dish tastes like that. Then I go back to my kitchen and maybe I’m inspired.
What’s your top tip for amateur chefs?
To be hospitable and to make your own story.
Chef Shun’s Korya Roast Potatoes
3 agria potatoes, washed
30g olive oil
3 pinches black pepper powder
20g spring onion, chopped
10g crispy fried garlic
50g 3Fils Gochujang mayo
Salt to taste
1. Place the potatoes (whole) in a pan of water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 mins.
2. Cut the potatoes into wedges, transfer to a tray lined with baking paper and season with salt and black pepper powder.
3. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 10 mins at 180 C.
4. Transfer to a plate, drizzle with Gochujang mayo and garnish with crispy garlic and spring onion.
Qatar’s Museum of Modern Art celebrates Beirut’s golden age with major exhibition
Updated 23 March 2023
Rebecca Anne Proctor
DUBAI: Music in a gallery room in Doha’s Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art signals a celebratory scene — it is, in fact, part of “Beirut and the Golden Sixties: A Manifesto of Fragility,” a new exhibition of artworks, films and archival material co-curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath.
The exhibition charts the 1960s in Beirut, a decade often described as the city’s “golden age.” Featuring 230 artworks and 300 archival documents from around 40 collections worldwide, the show explores a period of creativity during the heightened political years from 1958 to 1975, an era that ended with the Lebanese civil war.
Lebanon is again facing a period of upheaval amid an economic crisis, political stalemate and the fallout from the 2020 Beirut port blast.
“Staging an exhibition about Beirut at this particular moment comes with a heightened sense of responsibility,” Bardaouil told Arab News.
“We are aware of the struggles and challenges that many people are facing on a daily basis in Lebanon, and doing an exhibition that looks at Beirut’s cultural history is, in a way, an attempt to understand the roots of a lot of the problems that are still at play today.”
On display is the work of internationally renowned Lebanese artists, including Etel Adnan, Huguette Caland, Paul Guiragossian, Saloua Raouda Choucair, and Shafic Abboud, as well as celebrated artists working in the region, such as Adel Saghir, Cici Sursock, Nadia Saikali and Rafic Charaf.
The show unfolds through a series of rooms arranged by themes, beginning with “Le Port de Beyrouth: The Place,” which depicts Lebanon and its many contradictions, including those who benefitted from Beirut’s prosperity and those who watched on in destitution.
An oil painting of the city by Caland, titled “Une Ville” (1968), sits amid archival materials and exhibition posters. Another work by Adnan, titled “Le Port de Beyrouth” (1974), made with charcoal on paper, offers an almost endearing abstract sketch of the city.
Another section, “Monster and Child: The Politics,” traces the rapid escalation of political and social tensions from the late 1960s until the outbreak of war in 1975.
Regional crises, such as the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, also broke out during this time. In this section, Aref El-Rayess’ “Fifth of June (The Changing of Horses),” an oil on canvas completed in 1967, depicts a row of beheaded men and another of mourners — a reference to the events of June 5, 1967, when the Israelis occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip.
“By staging the exhibition at Mathaf you can contextualize the story of modern art in Beirut and Lebanon within a larger picture, and that is very important,” Bardaouil said.
“The contributions of these artists, their connections with artists from other countries, neighboring countries, and the common thread to common questions that each of these artists were articulating — this is a very important exercise in contextualization.”
Artworks displayed capture the same contradictions that continue to plague Lebanese society. Politically charged works are shown alongside works that show festivity, joy and desire.
The section “Lovers: The Body” features acclaimed Lebanese female artists, such as Simone Fattal, and explores how changing social values in Beirut and across the world during the 1960s inspired new artistic movements.
The notion of the past mirroring the present is underscored in a newly commissioned multimedia installation by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige about the devastation caused by the 2020 port explosion.
Staged in the final section of the exhibition, titled “Blood of the Phoenix: The War,” the installation includes footage shot from the Sursock Museum on Aug. 4 when the deadly blast occurred.
In a digital work titled “But my head is still singing,” Hadjithomas and Joreige recount the Greek myth of Orpheus and draw parallels with Lebanon’s tragedy.
After the death of his wife Eurydice, who Orpheus tried to bring back from the dead with his enchanting music, he was torn to pieces by a group of irate women. According to the myth, however, his severed head kept singing even after death.
As Hadjithomas tells Arab News: “Even after such a tragedy we are like Orpheus; we are still singing.
What We Are Watching Today: ‘New Saudi Voices’ on Netflix
The flicks were first showcased by emerging Saudi filmmakers at the Red Sea Film Festival in 2021
Updated 22 March 2023
RIYADH: “New Saudi Voices,” a collection of 11 short films, was released by Netflix in 2022. Each story has its own flare and characters on unique journeys.
The flicks were first showcased by emerging Saudi filmmakers at the Red Sea Film Festival in 2021 under the New Saudi/New Cinema Shorts program.
All short movies stayed true to their genre including horror, science fiction, and comedy. The videography shots in the non-animated episodes reflected the mood of the story through light or dark hues.
However, some films fell short and had gaps in the storytelling process, leaving the viewer feeling underwhelmed or surprised by the turn of events. Many others delivered thought-provoking messages.
Khalid Fahad’s “Little Bird” had won the American Film Award and the Best Short Film Award at the Saudi Film Festival.
In the story, a boy named Malik has a difficult life and the film captures his loneliness, sadness, and frustration, with a tragic revelation at the end.
While the idea behind the movie is explained through a statement at the end, the initial viewing alone does not capture it fully and is somewhat shrouded in ambiguity. What makes the project bold is its foray into a topic that is seldom covered by films in the region.
“The Day I Lost Myself” by director Rami Alzayer highlights the daily struggles of people suffering from anxiety disorder. In the film, Salem is on his way to a job interview and gets stuck in an elevator with a stranger where they dive into a conversation about his condition.
The film contributes to an important conversation about mental health and brings awareness and understanding on the topic through the character’s personal journey.
Overall, “New Saudi Voices” is an ambitious and effective project that brings an array of diverse storytellers together to depict various facets of Saudi life.