“Since that time, I have had an abiding passion for the Arabian world, but after visiting Saudi Arabia, I felt truly inspired by the remarkable young filmmaking talent coming up across the region and to see how they are now capturing the attention of the global film community.”
The Academy Award-nominated auteur is known for being a master storyteller across film, opera, theater and music, as well as his critically acclaimed filmography, including double Academy Award-winning “The Great Gatsby,” “Strictly Ballroom,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Moulin Rouge,” “Elvis” and “Australia.”
Review: Be prepared for deep story and complexity in ‘Baldur’s Gate 3’
Latest incarnation of the 1998 series creates very human experience despite outrageous fantasy world
Updated 26 September 2023
LONDON: The “Baldur’s Gate” series dates to 1998 and this latest incarnation (available for both PC and PS5) allows gamers into a vast and hugely complex fantasy world of Dungeons and Dragons, with hundreds of customization options as you weave your story from the depths of the Underdark, to the glittering rooftops of the Upper City.
For those unfamiliar with the series, adjusting to this world, its history and lore, as well as the practical aspects of turn-based role-playing game, or RPG, combat, can be difficult. But, if you are willing to persevere, you are rewarded with a story of incredible depth all shaped by your choices.
The story begins — following significant time choosing your character’s class and appearance — with you trapped on a nautiloid ship where you witness an Illithid also known as “mind flayer” place a tadpole into your brain. One dramatic air battle with dragons later and you are free and desperate to cure this contagion.
As ever with RPGs, you balance a central quest alongside a steadily increasing number of side quests. There is a fair amount of dialogue but the choices within it, which often involve going to the role of a dice, feel substantive and the silky tones of the narrator give you greater immersion into the impressive world that you find yourself in.
Combat is turn-based and akin to a game of chess with each of your four-person team possessing certain skills and strengths that need to be knitted together for success. Again, the pace of this style of game is very different from the quick reactions of other more conventional fighting fantasies like “Elden Ring” but again after a time complexity becomes familiarity.
Movement around the battle space is limited, jumping becomes an important attribute and enemy spells or actions like throwing grease can force some of your party to miss their turn, sometimes with lethal implications. Leveling up is a serious affair offering a host of new skills, but patience is required to read and understand each.
The dice mechanic can seem a bit arbitrary at first but once you get to grip with the logic of a character’s developing strengths it can reinforce the sense that your choices matter. Charismatic characters can persuade non-playable characters to do what they want, whilst stronger ones can try and use intimidation to get to a similar outcome. Again, it is worth spending time slowly understanding the menus, dialogue histories and item effects to really get the most out of the game.
The world is varied and can be fast-travelled. Music and atmosphere are both solid but one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game is the relationship between your tadpole-infected group of four. It is your choices that determine who you travel with, and the world’s history will mean some companions will not get on with each other. Time spent resting in the game’s “camp” facility offers further dialogue and the chance for your characters’ relationships to become stronger. This all means that “Baldur’s Gate 3” creates a very human experience despite the outrageous fantasy world in which it is based.
During the final question and answer segment, Tantawy was asked: “What do you think is the biggest reason why poverty still exists in many countries in the world?”
Her winning answer was: “I believe the main reason why poverty still exists in many countries is the lack of resources such as education or the lack of economic opportunities, and if I were to be Miss Universe Egypt, I would work with both local and international organizations to create (a) micro-funding environment and to empower these people that are stuck in the unfortunate circumstance of poverty, and just empower them to break out of the cycle.”
The competition was organized by Dubai-based Yugen Group, the same entity behind this year’s Miss Universe Bahrain pageant.
Josh Yugen, owner and national director of Miss Universe Egypt, said in a statement: “On behalf of Miss Universe Egypt organization, we are very honored to crown our new Miss Universe Egypt 2023 with our utmost goal of celebrating a platform that gives a voice to the empowerment of young women, to highlight their incredible and innovative contribution to our society and to inspire other women to break stereotypes not only in Egypt but all throughout the world.”
“Our new queen is quintessentially graced with passion, cocooned with courage and armored with pursuit of love, sisterhood and kindness,” he added.
A guide to uncovering Europe’s Islamic heritage this autumn
Updated 25 September 2023
As the leaves begin to fall and Europe’s landscapes are painted in autumnal hues, a captivating expedition awaits travelers. It is a voyage that invites you to retrace the steps of Arab-Muslim pioneers who left an indelible mark on this continent, from the bustling bazaars of Sarajevo to the elegant Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain.
Day 1: Arrival in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
As the first light of dawn breaks over the horizon, your journey begins in the heart of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This city, where East meets West, is an emblem of resilience and cross-cultural heritage. The echoes of its Ottoman past resound through the labyrinthine streets of the Baščaršija, Sarajevo’s old bazaar and the historical and cultural center of the city built in the 15th century. The air is infused with the fragrant aroma of spices, and the calls of merchants create a symphony of languages as diverse as the goods they offer.
The 500-year-old multi-domed Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque stands as a masterpiece of Ottoman architecture, a silent witness to the history that unfolded within its walls. The intricate details of the mosque’s facade tell stories of faith, culture, and the intertwining of civilizations.
Day 2: Sarajevo Exploration
The sun rises over Sarajevo, casting a warm glow on the city’s rich history. Today, you will embark on an exploration that delves deeper into the layers of this dynamic city. Svrzo’s House stands as a living museum, offering a glimpse into the daily life of an Ottoman-era family. The Sarajevo War Tunnel, constructed between March and June 1993 during the Siege of Sarajevo in the midst of the Bosnian War, is a stark reminder of the city’s recent past and speaks to its enduring spirit and resilience.
Day 3: Travel to Skopje, North Macedonia
It is time to journey to the captivating city of Skopje in North Macedonia. A short flight whisks you away and as you land, you’re greeted by the majestic Vardar River, which has witnessed the ebb and flow of history.
One of the oldest and largest marketplaces in the Balkans is Skopje’s Old Bazaar, a labyrinth of cobblestone streets and artisan shops. It beckons with its Ottoman-era charm. Here, you’ll find hidden courtyards and intricately designed facades that harken back to a bygone era. Built on Roman foundations under the patronage of Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror, the Stone Bridge, an iconic symbol of the city, spans the river, connecting the past with the present.
Day 4: Skopje and its surroundings
Today, you’ll delve further into Skopje’s rich history and venture beyond its borders. A day trip to Tetovo offers a glimpse of the Arab-Muslim influence in the region. The 600-year-old Painted Mosque, adorned with vibrant frescoes and intricate designs, is a testament to the enduring cultural exchanges that have shaped North Macedonia.
Returning to Skopje, the city’s architectural wonders continue to unfold. Situated on the highest point in the city overlooking the Vardar River, the Kale Fortress with foundations dating back to the early 6th century offers panoramic views of the cityscape. As the sun sets, you’ll find yourself immersed in the enchanting blend of cultures that defines Skopje.
Day 5: Journey to Granada, Spain
Your journey takes a new turn as you bid farewell to Skopje and set your sights on the sun-drenched landscapes of Granada, Spain. A flight transports you to a land where Moorish architecture and European charm intertwine harmoniously. As you check in to your accommodation, the Alhambra Palace looms in the distance, promising a glimpse into a world of architectural marvels.
Dating back to 1238, Alhambra, a masterpiece of Islamic art and culture, is your gateway to centuries past. The Nasrid Palaces with their intricate stucco work and delicate mosaics showcase the artisans’ dedication to perfection. The Generalife Gardens, a tranquil oasis of fountains and greenery, provide respite as you traverse this living testament to history.
Day 6: Granada’s Albaicín and Albayzín
The allure of Granada extends beyond the Alhambra’s walls. The Albaicín and Albayzín neighborhoods, with their narrow winding streets and white-washed houses, transport you to another era. The Mesquite Mayor de Granada, a former mosque, reflects the city’s multicultural history and spiritual significance.
Day 7: Travel to Lisbon, Portugal
Leaving behind the enchanting vistas of Granada, you board a flight to Lisbon, Portugal – a city that echoes with tales of explorers, poets, and a rich mosaic of cultures. Settle into your accommodation and venture into the Alfama district.
As you wander through the tangled alleys of Alfama, the Moorish influence is palpable. It’s in the graceful archways that frame your path and the ornate tilework that adorns the buildings, each tile whispering stories of centuries past.
The soulful strains of fado music fill the air, evoking a deep sense of nostalgia and longing. This genre of music, with its roots in Portuguese-Arabic poetry, encapsulates the complex emotions of saudade — a deep, melancholic yearning for something lost.
Alfama’s essence is a testament to the enduring legacy of the Moors and Arabs who once called this district home. Their architectural marvels and cultural contributions continue to shape the identity of Lisbon and remind us of the rich tapestry of influences that have shaped Europe’s heritage.
Day 8: Algarve Adventure
Your journey takes you south to the Algarve, where the golden beaches and rugged cliffs meet the azure waters of the Atlantic. Silves, a town with a rich history, showcases remnants of Arab-Muslim influence in its red sandstone castle and archaeological sites. In Faro, the Algarve’s capital, the Arco da Vila gate serves as a gateway to the past, inviting you to explore its charming streets.
As your nine-day journey draws to a close, take a moment to reflect on the threads of history you’ve traced through these remarkable destinations. Cherish the memories of Sarajevo’s bustling bazaars, Skopje’s Ottoman architecture, Granada’s Alhambra, Lisbon’s Alfama, and the Algarve’s coastal splendor.
From the bustling markets to the serene courtyards, from the opulent palaces to the humble neighborhoods, each step you’ve taken has been a step through time.