Designer Maha Ahmed comes full circle with Milan showcase of contemporary label Autonomie 

Designer Maha Ahmed comes full circle with Milan showcase of contemporary label Autonomie 
Ahmed designs edgy blazers, asymmetric trousers, patchwork-emblazed and stitched tops. (Instagram)
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Updated 29 March 2023

Designer Maha Ahmed comes full circle with Milan showcase of contemporary label Autonomie 

Designer Maha Ahmed comes full circle with Milan showcase of contemporary label Autonomie 

DUBAI: Dubai-based designer Maha Ahmed has come full circle with her latest presentation at the White Milano trade fair in Italy, where the founder of edgy label Autonomie graduated from the world-renowned fashion school, Istituto Marangoni Milano.  

Held on the sidelines of Milan Fashion Week, White Milano is considered the world’s premiere trade show for international apparel, fashion and accessories. 




Ahmed’s brand is based on storytelling. (Supplied)

“It was an experience that was very much close to my heart because this is where I went to school,” Ahmed said in an interview with Arab News. “So going back as a designer, someone with a brand and someone that actually has something to offer… It was a very personal experience for me.”  

Ahmed designs edgy blazers, asymmetric trousers, patchwork-emblazed and stitched tops, jackets made of vegan leather and more. Her brand is based on storytelling — every collection is based on a new story, philosophy or a concept. The label, which now has three collections, was launched in 2020 when its founder moved from Cairo to Dubai.  

“It was a time for people to start questioning a lot of things in life and re-evaluate what you’re doing with your life. And for me, it was no different,” she said of launching her label during the pandemic. “I didn’t really focus on the challenges of running a business during the pandemic at the time, but for me it was more like a now or never kind of thing. The world might end at any moment, so if you’re not going to do what you love now, if you’re not going to risk it now, then when?” 

When she started her brand, it was for self-expression and she did not cater to specific market needs, according to the designer herself. However, now, after three collections, she said the brand has evolved and she has found a balance in order to present her artistic side, while tailoring her designs to market demands.  

“Every season I try to achieve this balance where I do some pieces for me, where I can see an artsy side — so a lot of shapes, volumes, colors and textures,” she said. “Then you have to balance it out with pieces that are more wearable and relatable that people can wear on a day-to-day.” 

The Egyptian designer presented her latest collection at the first-ever iteration of Dubai Fashion Week in March. Walking the runway after she presented her first fashion show was the moment in her career she is most proud of — “it was a crazy rush,” she said.  

“The whole time backstage, I was on autopilot. I couldn’t feel anything. So, the second it started, I remember I actually fell, I sat on the floor, and I had someone that's working with me help me out,” she added. 

“This was probably the proudest moment because usually, if you launch a collection or like you present something online, you don’t necessarily see the direct feedback right away,” she noted.  

 “I hoped this brand will become a regular on the official calendar, showcasing every single season in Paris or Milan,” she said of her future dreams. 

The designer also has plans to expand her product line and create a menswear collection.  


Break in case of emergency: Japanese vending machine to offer free food if earthquake hits

Break in case of emergency: Japanese vending machine to offer free food if earthquake hits
Updated 1 min 25 sec ago

Break in case of emergency: Japanese vending machine to offer free food if earthquake hits

Break in case of emergency: Japanese vending machine to offer free food if earthquake hits
  • Coastal city launches trial of lifesaving devices that will distribute essential supplies in case of disaster

LONDON: Imagine a city with vending machines that unlock during earthquakes and other natural disasters, providing free food and supplies.

That is exactly what is happening in the Japanese coastal city of Ako, in Hyogo prefecture, as the country steps up its natural disaster preparations.

On Friday, Japanese news outlet The Mainichi reported that the city had launched a trial run with two emergency vending machines.

The machines usually sell snacks and drinks, but will also distribute items for free during major earthquakes or typhoons.

As well as 300 bottles of soda and 150 emergency food items, the lifesaving machines contain lockers filled with essential sanitary items, such as portable toilets and masks, the news outlet said.

The vending machines unlock when an evacuation order is issued after a quake or other natural disasters.

The “hygiene supply disaster prevention stockpiling vending machines” have been installed near buildings designated as evacuation shelters.

Ako is located in an area that is vulnerable to severe earthquakes. 

The emergency vending machine project is a collaboration between the municipality and Tokyo-based pharmaceutical firm Earth Corp., which has research and production facilities in Ako.

The company has signed agreements with 17 municipalities across Japan since 2020 to help solve local issues, with the machines in Ako said to be the first of their type in the country.

A company representative said: “We would like to spread this throughout the country as a socially oriented project.”

Vending machines can be found on almost every street in Japanese cities and sell a wide variety of items —  some as unique as bear or whale meat.

In a similar initiative, a vending machine with a radio that automatically broadcasts emergency information was installed in a Tokyo park earlier this year.

The radio will be activated by severe earthquakes, and transmit evacuation and other vital information from a local community station.

Japan is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world. On May 26, a 6.2 magnitude quake struck east of Tokyo.


Princess Rajwa Al-Hussein shows off surprise Dolce & Gabbana gown at wedding reception

Princess Rajwa Al-Hussein shows off surprise Dolce & Gabbana gown at wedding reception
Updated 02 June 2023

Princess Rajwa Al-Hussein shows off surprise Dolce & Gabbana gown at wedding reception

Princess Rajwa Al-Hussein shows off surprise Dolce & Gabbana gown at wedding reception

DUBAI: Jordan’s new Princess Rajwa Al-Hussein, who is from Saudi Arabia, stepped out in a surprise second look at the state reception after she wed Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah II on Thursday.

The bride greeted international royals and dignitaries in a white cap-sleeve ballgown with a sweetheart neckline and swirling embellishments by Italian luxury label Dolce & Gabbana — however, she retained the  delicate diamond tiara, designed by Yan Sicard from Fred Jewelry, and matching earrings from earlier in the day.

The Jordanian royal family greeted guests at the state reception. (Royal Hashemite Court) 

Meanwhile, Queen Rania, who opted for a chic Dior look at the wedding ceremony, stepped into a cream-and-gold gown by Lebanese couturier Elie Saab for the reception dinner.

Guests included dignitaries and royals from around the world, including the UK’s Prince and Princess of Wales William and Kate Middleton; US First Lady Jill Biden; Qatar’s Sheikha Moza bint Nasser; the king and queen of Malaysia; the king and queen of The Netherlands; King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofía of Spain; Prince Sébastien of Luxembourg; Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark; Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Prince Daniel, Duke of Västergötland; Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway and Hisako, Princess Takamado and her daughter, Princess Tsuguko of Takamado of Japan, among others.  

Princess of Wales Kate Middleton (far right) attended the state reception. (Royal Hashemite Court) 

The Princess of Wales showed off a gown by British designer Jenny Packham.

US First Lady Jill Biden wore a lilac dress, featuring heavy floral embroidery, accompanied by a light pink shawl.

UK's Princess Beatrice and her husband, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, were also in attendance. While it marked the second time that Princess Beatrice, 34, wore a tiara in public, it also marked a first for her: the first time she sported the York tiara. The special headpiece was bought by Queen Elizabeth for her mother, Sarah Ferguson, and worn by Fergie at her 1986 wedding to Prince Andrew. 

While it marked the second time that Princess Beatrice, 34, wore a tiara in public, it also marked a first for her: the first time she sported the York tiara. (Royal Hasemite Court)

Earlier in the day, Al-Hussein unveiled her wedding gown as she married Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah II in Amman.

The bride, formerly Rajwa Al-Saif, wore a classic white gown by celebrity-loved Lebanese couturier Elie Saab for the nuptials and following public reception. The full-sleeved gown featured a dramatic veil that trailed for several meters behind her, while the neckline stood out for its chic draping. 

She accessorized the look with a glittering tiara and matching diamond earrings, along with white strappy shoes, as she held a bouquet with white flowers.


Review: ‘Star Wars Jedi: Survivor’ brings a galaxy far, far away into your home 

Review: ‘Star Wars Jedi: Survivor’ brings a galaxy far, far away into your home 
Updated 02 June 2023

Review: ‘Star Wars Jedi: Survivor’ brings a galaxy far, far away into your home 

Review: ‘Star Wars Jedi: Survivor’ brings a galaxy far, far away into your home 

LONDON: For as long as there has been “Star Wars,” there have been spin off computer games, all the way back to the arcade classics of the early 1980s. The phenomenal success of the franchise has meant that the games cover more or less all of the genres, from flight simulators, strategy and resource management to more epic role-playing games like “Knights of the Old Republic.” The games are in a sense both a mirror of the technology of the time as well as the culture. 

With that in mind, the latest edition, “Star Wars Jedi: Survivor,” combines the power of the PlayStation 5 with the character development of the more sensitive modern hero.  

This is the second game for lead character Cal Kestis. In the first, “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order,” Cal is on the run following the massacre of the Jedi, with his initial focus on hiding his powers and avoiding trouble.

By the end of the story, he was a more fully formed leader and resistance fighter against the all-powerful Empire, which is where this game starts, and such is the scale of the narrative arc that there is a fair balance of time-watching cut sequences versus actual gameplay.  

That makes “Survivor” as close to an immersive “Star Wars” film that we have across the vast number of titles that preceded it. Beyond the stunning renditions of classic locations from the films, along with the iconic music and sound effects, the key to the title’s true homage to its cinematic peers is its combat engine.

Cal can choose from a range of lightsaber configurations — including the color of the blade and design of the handle — and can learn, by acquiring skill points, a vast array of different combat moves. Many involve combining use of the Force or whether Cal is up against one or multiple enemies. Whilst there is a balance of art against the carnage of button smashing, it tends to reward the former, which makes for a genuine sense of being in the shoes of a Jedi warrior.  

Beyond combat, the second main aspect of gameplay that needs mastering is around the gymnastic abilities Cal uses to move around the various worlds he visits. It is essentially space parkour, with Cal running along walls, flipping and sliding his way across seemingly inaccessible environments. Again, this is high-adrenaline fun, but there is a trade off as the vast worlds Cal inhabits are not truly open and accessible, but rather hide a set route that the player must take to proceed.  

The game’s main story tells of how Cal comes to terms with being one Jedi up against the Empire that has killed so many of his friends. The main character carries an aura of loss and isolation with him as he travels from planet to planet, reinforced by the fact that his best friend is the droid BD-1, who also helps with practical things like providing health top ups and hacking computers.  

“Survivor” is a bigger and more ambitious game than its predecessor, with a number of side quests and micro-missions giving variety and more choice to the player. There is humor in the dialogue, and the ability of Cal to sense “Force echoes” allows for depth and detail of this impressive snapshot of the “Star Wars” universe.
 


Good leadership begins with happiness, says Egyptian author Mo Gawdat at Riyadh conference

Good leadership begins with happiness, says Egyptian author Mo Gawdat at Riyadh conference
Updated 01 June 2023

Good leadership begins with happiness, says Egyptian author Mo Gawdat at Riyadh conference

Good leadership begins with happiness, says Egyptian author Mo Gawdat at Riyadh conference
  • Mo Gawdat: You become a successful leader because you prioritize happiness
  • Deepak Chopra: It’s good to have a timed target; on the other hand, you have to be process-oriented in the present moment

RIYADH: Authors Deepak Chopra and Mo Gawdat revealed their methods for successful leadership and embracing the future of AI at a conference in Riyadh. 

Chopra and Gawdat were among the many speakers at the Annual Leadership Conference, which explored how managers must adapt in a rapidly changing world to build a sustainable future.

In an interview with Arab News, Gawdat, a former Google employee, said he managed his flourishing company, One Billion Happy Foundation, with unconventional methods.

“You become a successful leader because you prioritize happiness,” he said. “We think that leaders are all about controlling everyone and everything. That’s not true at all. Leaders, by the meaning of the word, are in the front, chasing their vision and dream, where others want to be behind them.”

Gawdat said he created his firm seven years ago after the loss of his son, vowing to make one billion people happier. That task started with his own employees.

“We’re always happy. And the reason is because with that happiness, you create that connection, and with that connection, you achieve more success, and you become a better leader,” Gawdat said.

“You give your people reasons to find happiness in what they do, that you give your people purpose in your vision,” he added. 

Gawdat said coping with what life throws your way is all about making better choices on what we decide our stressors will be. 

“Eighty percent of the things that break us are not things that we necessarily need to have in our life. We can be very effective at weeding out the stuff that doesn’t really require our attention,” he said. 

“Everything from waking up in the morning to a very loud alarm instead of a kind alarm. Or maybe even sleeping a little early, so that you don’t need an alarm.”

The conference held a signing of Chopra’s book “The Soul of Leadership” and Gawdat’s second book, “Scary Smart: The Future of Artificial Intelligence and How You Can Save Our World.” 

Gawdat said his work looked at the need to commit to a “dynamic, fast-moving … world with AI.”

It explored how “accepting the fact that this is upon us … and then committing to becoming the best user of it,” would allow people to get the “best outcome of this situation.”

In a panel discussion, Chopra broke down the skills needed to be a successful leader: Look and listen, Emotional bonding, awareness, doing, empowerment, responsibility, and synchronicity.

Chopra, who has written 93 books, said effective leadership in a workplace required a shared vision, maximum job diversity, and a leveraging of the strengths of team members. 

“It’s good to have a timed target; on the other hand, you have to be process-oriented in the present moment,” Chopra said. “In cognitive science, we call it awareness. It’s not in time, it’s in between every thought, breath, movement, perception, sensation, is this presence.”

Chopra is also a clinical professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California and the founder of Chopra Foundation. 

The conference, themed “Creating a sustainable and resilient global economy: the convergence of finance, business, and technology,” was held in the King Abdullah Financial District. 


Princess Rajwa stuns in Elie Saab as Queen Rania wears Dior at Jordan’s Royal wedding

Princess Rajwa stuns in Elie Saab as Queen Rania wears Dior at Jordan’s Royal wedding
Updated 23 min 49 sec ago

Princess Rajwa stuns in Elie Saab as Queen Rania wears Dior at Jordan’s Royal wedding

Princess Rajwa stuns in Elie Saab as Queen Rania wears Dior at Jordan’s Royal wedding
  • Full-sleeved gown featured a dramatic veil that trailed for several meters behind the bride, while the neckline stood out for its chic draping

DUBAI: After weeks of speculation, the new Crown Princess of Jordan Rajwa Al-Hussein unveiled her wedding gown as she married Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah II in Amman on Thursday. 

The bride, formerly Rajwa Al-Saif, wore a classic white gown by celebrity-loved Lebanese couturier Elie Saab. The full-sleeved gown featured a dramatic veil that trailed for several meters behind her, while the neckline stood out for its chic draping. 

She accessorized the look with a glittering tiara and matching diamond earrings, along with white strappy shoes, as she held a bouquet with white flowers.

For his part, the crown prince donned a suit that drew inspiration from the design worn by King Abdullah II on his wedding day in 1993. The suit’s sleeves paid homage to the style favored by both King Abdullah II and King Abdullah I.

The reveal follows weeks, if not months, of speculation about what label the royal family would pick for the Saudi national to walk down the aisle in. Luxury labels Dior and Bruce Oldfield were floated by celebrity stylists and fashion magazines around the world, with some industry insiders throwing British designer Sarah Burton’s name into the ring.

Jordan’s ever fashionable Queen Rania wore a gown by French label Dior. (Royal Hashemite Court)

Jordan’s ever-fashionable Queen Rania wore a gown by French label Dior that hailed from the luxury label’s fall 2022 couture collection.

Meanwhile, the UK’s Princess of Wales was among the high-profile royal guests at the ceremony.

Kate, Princess of Wales, and William, Prince of Wales, were among the high-profile royal guests at the ceremony. (RHCJO)

For the highly anticipated occasion, she wore an elegant Elie Saab gown from the brand’s fall/winter 2017 couture collection.

The pastel piece featured a high neck, full bell-shaped sleeves, as well as embroidery and lace detailing.

Princess Beatrice, who attended with her husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, wore a long-sleeved sequined dress by British brand Needle & Thread. (Courtesy of Royal Hashemite Court)

Also from the Britain, Princess Beatrice, who attended with her husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, wore a long-sleeved sequined dress by British brand Needle & Thread. She matched the black belt of the dress with a black bow adorning her flowing locks.

US first lady Jill Biden, accompanied by her daughter Ashley Biden, wore a light purple gown by Lebanese designer Reem Acra. (Courtesy of Royal Hashemite Court)

US First Lady Jill Biden, accompanied by her daughter Ashley Biden, wore a lilac gown by Lebanese designer Reem Acra. She was also spotted wearing the dress in April during a state dinner at the White House.

Denmark’s Crown Princess Mary, accompanied by Crown Prince Frederik, wore an Erdem cream gown with blue floral print. The luxury label was founded in London by Canadian Turkish fashion designer Erdem Moralioglu.

Denmark’s Crown Princess Mary, accompanied by Crown Prince Frederik, wore an Erdem cream gown with blue floral print. The luxury label was founded in London by Canadian-Turkish fashion designer Erdem Moralioglu. (Courtesy of Royal Hashemite Court)

Earlier, the bride stayed true to her Saudi roots at her May 22 henna night by wearing a custom-made gown by Saudi designer Honayda Serafi. 

The designer took inspiration from the Al-Shaby thobe of the Najd region in Saudi Arabia, home to the bride’s family. 

“The brief was that she wanted to wear something very modest and something from Saudi Arabian culture, but with a modern twist. She wanted the piece to be very elegant, and she also wanted it to be white,” Serafi previously told Arab News. 

Apart from the references to Al-Saif’s Saudi heritage, the dress also featured nods to Jordanian culture.

Serafi included the seven-pointed white star that is present on the Jordanian national flag, which symbolized the seven verses of Surat Al-Fatiha in the Qur’an.

Other details in the dress included Saudi Arabia’s palm trees, which symbolize life and vitality, as well as a verse by famous Tunisian poet Aboul Qacem Echebbi — “When my eyes see you, life becomes right” — etched into the dress in Arabic lettering.

“My intention behind designing this dress was to document the eternal love and the history of the royal wedding. And, of course, I have used traditional threads and it is all hand embroidered,” said Serafi.