Swedish Somali model Ikram Abdi swaps Cannes for Monte Carlo

Swedish Somali model Ikram Abdi swaps Cannes for Monte Carlo
Swedish Somali model Ikram Abdi swapped the Cannes Film Festival red carpet for the racetrack this week as she jetted from the south of France to Monaco. (Supplied)
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Updated 29 May 2023

Swedish Somali model Ikram Abdi swaps Cannes for Monte Carlo

Swedish Somali model Ikram Abdi swaps Cannes for Monte Carlo

DUBAI: Swedish Somali model Ikram Abdi swapped the Cannes Film Festival red carpet for the racetrack this week as she jetted from the south of France to Monaco. 

The model took to Instagram Stories to share exhilarating videos from the stands of the Monaco Grand Prix late Sunday, just hours after she was spotted at the closing ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival.  


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For the closing red carpet, which was followed by a screening of Pixar’s “Elemental,” the model showed off a bold black-and-white gown by French fashion label Nina Ricci.  

“Model @IkramAbdi wore look 36 from (the) Nina Ricci Fall/Winter 2023 collection, designed by @harris_reed — a fully embroidered black-and-white sequin ensemble with (a) wide-brimmed hat and neck flower — to the ‘Elemental’ screening and closing ceremony red carpet at the 76th annual Cannes Film Festival,” the label posted on Instagram, referring to the house’s British American creative director Harris Reed.  

Reed took to Instagram to praise the model, saying “my Cannes carpet icon” alongside a carousel of images of the hijab-wearing runway star.  

Abdi made her catwalk debut in 2018 during London Modest Fashion Week. She would go on to walk for the likes of Iceberg and Charles Jeffrey, as well as front campaigns for major international brands, including Burberry and Nike.   

Meanwhile, Formula One champion Max Verstappen’s lights-to-flag victory at the Monaco Grand Prix gave the Red Bull driver his fourth victory of the season and a record 39th overall for the team as he extended his championship lead to 39 points over teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday. 

Abdi was on hand to take in the race, before she took to Instagram to share photos of her evening in rainy Monte Carlo, including a picturesque shot of yachts in the harbor, as well as snaps of her dinner with a view of the city’s natural surroundings.  

The model was not the only celebrity to attend the race day festivities — Hollywood stars Tom Holland, Orlando Bloom, Michael Douglas and Tom Holland, as well as Paris Saint-Germain football icon Neymar Jr., were among the famous faces at the event. 

Pakistani biryani: a spicy recipe for delectable debate

Pakistani biryani: a spicy recipe for delectable debate
Updated 7 sec ago

Pakistani biryani: a spicy recipe for delectable debate

Pakistani biryani: a spicy recipe for delectable debate
  • Every Karachi neighborhood has its own canteens fronted by vendors clanking a spatula against inside of biryani pots
  • Biryani with beef is a favorite across Pakistan, while vegetarian variants are more popular in largely Hindu India

KARACHI: Eying each other across a stream of traffic, rival Pakistani biryani joints vie for customers, serving a fiery medley of meat, rice, and spice that unites and divides South Asian appetites.
Both sell a niche version of the dish, steeped in the same vats, with matching prices and trophies commending their quality.
But in Karachi, where a biryani craze boomed after the creation of Pakistan, it is the subtle differences that inspire devotion.
“Our biryani is not only different from theirs but unique in the world,” says restaurateur Muhammad Saqib, who layers his “bone marrow biryani” with herbs.
“When a person bites into it he drowns in a world of flavors,” the 36-year-old says.
Across the road, Muhammad Zain sees it differently.
“We were the ones who started the biryani business here first,” the 27-year-old claims, as staff scoop out sharing platters with a gut-punch of masala.
“It’s our own personal and secret recipe.”
Both agree on one thing.
“You can’t find biryani like Pakistan’s anywhere in the world,” says Saqib.
“Whether it’s a celebration or any other occasion, biryani always comes first,” according to Zain.
British colonial rule in South Asia ended in 1947 with a violent rupture of the region along religious lines.
Hindus and Sikhs in newly created Pakistan fled to India while Muslim “MoHajjirs” — refugees — went the other way.
India and Pakistan have been arch-rivals since, fighting wars and locked in endless diplomatic strife. Trade and travel have been largely choked off.
Many MoHajjirs settled in Karachi, home to just 400,000 people in 1947 but one of the world’s largest cities today with a population of 20 million.
For Indian food historian Pushpesh Pant, biryani served in South Asia’s melting-pot cities such as Karachi is a reminder of shared heritage.
“Hindus ate differently, Nanakpanthis (Sikhs) ate differently, and Muslims ate differently, but it was not as if their food did not influence each other,” he told AFP from the city of Gurugram outside Delhi.
“In certain parts of Pakistan and certain parts of India, the differences in flavors and foods are not as great as man-made borders would make us think.”
Every Karachi neighborhood has its own canteens fronted by vendors clanking a spatula against the inside of biryani pots.
The recipe has endless variations.
The one with beef is a favorite in Pakistan, while vegetarian variants are more popular in largely India.
Chicken is universal. Along coastlines, seafood is in the mix.
And purists debate if adding potatoes is heresy.
“Other than that, there is Pulao Biryani which is purely from Delhi,” says 27-year-old pharmacist Muhammad Al Aaqib, describing a broth-stewed variation.
“My roots lead back to Delhi too so it’s like the mother of biryanis for us.”
“Perhaps every person has a different way of cooking it, and their way is better,” says 36-year-old landlord Mehran Khoso.
The origins of biryani are hotly contested.
However, it is generally accepted the word has Persian roots and it is argued the dish was popularised in the elite kitchens of the Mughal Empire, which spanned South Asia between the 16th and 19th centuries.
In spite of that pedigree, its defining quality is permutation.
Quratul Ain Asad, 40, spends Sunday morning cooking for her husband and son, MoHajjir descendants of a family that arrived in Karachi from the Indian town of Tonk in 1948.
But at the dinner table, they feast not on an heirloom recipe but a TV chef’s version with a cooling yogurt sauce and a simple shredded salad.
Asad insists on Karachi’s biryani supremacy.
“You will not like biryani from anywhere else once you’ve tasted Karachi’s biryani,” she says.
“There is no secret ingredient. I just cook with a lot of passion and joy,” she adds. “Perhaps that’s why the taste comes out good.”
Cooked in bulk, biryani is also a staple of charity donations.
At Ghazi Foods, 28-year-old Ali Nawaz paddles out dozens of portions of biryani into plastic pouches, which are delivered to poor neighborhoods on motorbikes.
A minute after one of those bikes stops, the biryani is gone, seized by kids and young adults.
“People pray for us when they eat it,” says Nawaz. “It feels good that our biryani reaches the people.”

Model Maya Aboul Hosn named Miss Universe Lebanon 2023  

Model Maya Aboul Hosn named Miss Universe Lebanon 2023  
Updated 28 September 2023

Model Maya Aboul Hosn named Miss Universe Lebanon 2023  

Model Maya Aboul Hosn named Miss Universe Lebanon 2023  

DUBAI: Model Maya Aboul Hosn on Wednesday was named Miss Universe Lebanon 2023.  

The beauty queen will represent Lebanon at the 72nd Miss Universe pageant taking place El Salvador on Nov. 18.  

“Embarking on an incredible journey to represent Lebanon in the Miss Universe competition, the model wrote on Instagram. "With love and pride for my hometown, let’s shine on the global stage!” 

Aboul Horn is not the only Arab taking place in the competition. She will be joined by Moira Tantawy, the 21-year-old model who was crowned Miss Universe Egypt 2023 this week, as well as Miss Universe Bahrain Lujane Yacoub. 

Iraqi artist Adel Abidin discusses his Ithra Art Prize-winning work 

Iraqi artist Adel Abidin discusses his Ithra Art Prize-winning work 
Updated 28 September 2023

Iraqi artist Adel Abidin discusses his Ithra Art Prize-winning work 

Iraqi artist Adel Abidin discusses his Ithra Art Prize-winning work 
  • The artist’s ‘On’ represents an ancient slave rebellion in his homeland  

DUBAI: The Helsinki-based Iraqi artist Adel Abidin’s work “On” (‘Aan’ in Arabic) was unveiled at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) this month. His proposal for the work won Abidin the Ithra Art Prize earlier this year. 

The large-scale mural, imbued with abstract inked figures on Japanese rice paper, takes center stage inside Ithra’s Great Hall. It explores the intricate relationship between history, memory and identity while also touching on the intangible and crucial aspects of oral storytelling, particularly, as Abidin emphasizes, in the context of Arab history, much of which is shrouded in ambiguity and differing interpretations. 


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Abidin’s design was selected from more than 10,000 submissions by a jury comprising gallerists, academics, curators and artists. His prize was $100,000, in addition to the full funding required to bring his project to fruition. It is now part of Ithra’s permanent art collection.  

Abidin’s work confronts the subjectivity of historical discourses by reexamining oral accounts of the Zanj rebellion against the Abbassid Caliphate, which began in 869 CE in southern Iraq. He has, he says, tried to incorporate greater nuance with the inclusion of previously overlooked perspectives. The repeated stamping of the word “Aan” in Arabic script reflects the word-of-mouth stories that have been lost from historical records, while overlapping visual representations of varied, even contradictory, versions of the tale of the rebellion, result in an abstract work that allows the viewer to interpret it for themselves. 


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“The piece examines the intangibility of history through the tradition of oral storytelling and the narration of history. Recently, I have been very interested in studying history, especially its intangible and vulnerable aspects,” Abidin tells Arab News. “But I couldn’t just study history in general; I needed a case to focus on. And I found this very interesting revolt that took place in southern Iraq, with the aim of emancipating slaves. I found this matter to be worth digging deeper into.” 

In 869, slaves (referred to as “Zanj” in numerous sources) — mostly of African origin and enslaved in Basra — rose up against their masters and against the Abbasid caliphate in protest against the harsh conditions in which they lived. 

“When I won the award and began really researching this story, I realized how everyone told a different story about his or her origins,” says Abidin. “It’s almost as if no one really knew where she or he was from. It is fascinating and it makes for great material.” 


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Abidin found that the oral reports of the rebellion had been modified. Such ambiguity in the storytelling served as his impetus for naming his artwork “On.” 

“This process creates a vivid representation of the 14-year rebellion against the Abbasid Caliphate and offers a fresh perspective on this significant event in Arab history,” he stated. “The resulting wall installation highlights the ultimate fragility of history and the organic, but unreliable, nature of memory.” 

Abidin, who moved to Finland from Iraq in 2001, has, for much of his career, created works that combine politics, art, memory and identity. He has used various mediums to present his bold and thought-provoking visions, including video, installation, sculpture and painting.  

His Ithra Art Prize-winning work is more delicate in nature — and less ‘edgy’ than the artist’s previous works. But, as Abidin points out, it is equally audacious in its own way.  

“When I began the work, I was out of my comfort zone; I had never worked this way before,” he explains. “I have never used this technique before; I’ve never worked with ink or rice paper in this manner in my entire life."  

Abidin hired a specialist in the use of Japanese rice paper and traditional gluing techniques to teach him. “I learned and now I want to continue,” he says.  

“I wanted to give the piece every sound and sight — the entire story — but I didn’t want to be a historian,” he continues. “The best way to do that was to stamp it with the word ‘on.’ By stamping that word, I am interpreting what happened with my own emotions.” 

Viewing the work, one can see that Abidin pressed down harder with the stamp in some places, so there are a variety of shades within the iterations of “on.”   

“Technically, I was very keen to create a work that gives the feeling of a tapestry of history,” he says.  

He has succeeded. The ethereal yet grand nature of “On” gives it a sense of historical importance — although it is still very much of the present too, with its abstract lines and forms shifting in and out of each other like they are dancing, or fighting, or rebelling, in an echo of the actual uprising that happened so long ago and is now brought back to life through Abidin’s work. 

Masterpieces from Christie’s upcoming Art of the Islamic and Indian Worldsauction showcased in Dubai

Masterpieces from Christie’s upcoming Art of the Islamic and Indian Worldsauction showcased in Dubai
Updated 28 September 2023

Masterpieces from Christie’s upcoming Art of the Islamic and Indian Worldsauction showcased in Dubai

Masterpieces from Christie’s upcoming Art of the Islamic and Indian Worldsauction showcased in Dubai

DUBAI: A meticulously crafted carpet from 16th century Persia went on display at Christie’s Dubai this week, marking a prelude of what is to come in Christie’s autumn edition of the Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds auction in London, taking place on Oct. 26. 

The sale will offer a curated selection of ceramics, manuscripts, carpets, textiles, works on paper and metalwork from the Islamic world spanning the 9th century to the 20th century and featuring a diversity of artistic traditions, hailing from a geographical area stretching from Spain through to Central Asia. 

The Baron Edmond de Rothschild “Bird and Palmette” Imperial Safavid carpet is one of the stars of the auction. Likely woven between 1565-1575 in Qazvin in central Persia, during the reign of the enlightened Shah Tahmasp, it is a jewel to behold, utterly mesmerizing for its ornate attention to detail and sumptuous coloring. It is being sold for a starting estimate of £2,000,000–3,000,000.  


“With so few examples remaining in private hands of this quality it is a rare opportunity to appreciate such a superbly preserved icon of Safavid art, firsthand,” said Louise Broadhurst, International Head of Rugs and Carpets, in a statement. “The sale showcases further extraordinary examples of carpet weaving from an unpublished early 16th century ‘Lotto’ rug to the cherished 17th century central Anatolian rug of the American connoisseur James F. Ballard, and more recent 19th century carpets perfect for today’s interior decorators.” 

The carpet, which survives in impeccable condition, was produced during the Golden Age of carpet weaving under the Safavid dynasty (1501-1732). The carpets of this period, like this one, are impressive for their meticulous attention to detail, ornate design, and use of sumptuous materials and colors.  

“This is the leading lot of the auction,” emphasized Broadhurst to Arab News. “It was created during the reign of one of the greatest Shahs of the Safavid dynasty who was responsible for reigniting and re-identifying with the arts.” 

A horse and three grooms. (Supplied)

The synergy of art and design during this period produced Safavid art. The design, creative process and aesthetic detail and breadth of the works and objects produced, is, explains Broadhurst, reflected in the Safavid carpet. 

This carpet's provenance can be traced back to the early 19th century, to Baron Edmond James de Rothschild (1845-1934) and his wife Adélaïde, who were members of the banking industry at the time.  

Sarah Pumbly, Head of Department of the Islamic and Indian Worlds, told Arab News: “Not only does the sale include the various owner sales, but it includes this single owner sale of 150 paintings, Indian paintings, which come from the collection of Toby Falk, one of the foremost academics in the field of Indian and Islamic painting until he died in 1997. It was compiled over three decades, before he passed away and it is the first time that the paintings have come to the market in 25 years.”  


There are examples of painting from various schools across India, from Mughal to Pahari, Deccani, Company School as well as some of the lesser-known Rajasthani centers. Toby felt it was important to identify schools that people hadn't yet appreciated or understood. 

The collection of Toby Falk comprises more than 500 years of Indian painting, including highlights like “A Lesser Coucal” (1777) commissioned by Sir Elijah and Lady Mary Impey as part of the Impey Album, one of the most well-known and sought after group of natural history Company School paintings. There is also a small number of Persian paintings from the 16th to the 19th century as well as one mesmerizing 16th century Ottoman album page.  

Other highlights from the sale include a large Khorassan Bronze Incense Burner in the form of a lion from northeast Iran, dating to the 12th century and going for an estimate of £400,000-600,000. Lions have served as a symbol of power and authority since prehistoric times. In Iran, the lion was an important symbol from as early as the Achaemenid period.  

Syrian panels. (Supplied)

There’s also the sword (tulwar), and scabbard from the personal armory of Tipu Sultan (reigned 1782-99) from Mysore, Deccan, India, dated Mauludi 122[4]/1796-97 AD, and estimated at £1,500,000-2,000,000. This sword and another offered have a richly documented provenance, coming from the collection of Charles, the first Marquess and second Earl Cornwallis to whom they were presented during the 18th century. 

The sword has been passed down through the family since the 18th century when came into the possession Charles, 1st Marquess Cornwallis and 2nd Earl Cornwallis KG PC (1738-1805) after the death of Tipu Sultan at the fall of Seringapatam. 

The Safavid carpet and other highlights from the sale from India made their way to Dubai — a market, including that of Saudi Arabia, which is growing in importance for the auction house. 

“The GCC market, with its many new museums and art initiatives that are opening up, they have probably the primary people that I would suspect and expect to be interested in a carpet of like this as there are very few available,” said Broadhurst. 

“There’s been a growth in new institutions in the UAE and Qatar,” she continued. “We expect very much increased growth and awareness of the art market in Saudi Arabia.” 

Amira Al-Zuhair opens Balmain show at Paris Fashion Week     

Amira Al-Zuhair opens Balmain show at Paris Fashion Week     
Updated 28 September 2023

Amira Al-Zuhair opens Balmain show at Paris Fashion Week     

Amira Al-Zuhair opens Balmain show at Paris Fashion Week     

DUBAI: Saudi model Amira Al-Zuhair on Wednesday opened the Balmain show during Paris Fashion Week.  

The rising star, who was born in Paris to a French mother and Saudi father, wore a white polka dot jumpsuit with colorful three-dimensional flower designs around the chest.  

The London-raised model took to Instagram to share pictures and videos of the show. “Started off PFW with @balmain, thank you @olivier_rousteing @bitton @twodadstwokids for having me,” she wrote, thanking the brand’s team. 

When Gertrude Stein, a close confidant of house founder Pierre Balmain, penned “a rose is a rose is a rose,” she likely never envisaged its metamorphosis into a Paris runway’s guiding theme. Yet, designer Olivier Rousteing, embracing this iconic friendship, orchestrated a floral ode for Balmain’s Spring 2024 show. 

Rousteing channeled the essence of Balmain’s couture from the late 1940s and early 1950s, celebrating Balmain’s architectural wizardry. With every fold, cut and stitch, he echoed the legacy of the maison, fused with his own brazen touch. Sprinklings of the petit pois (polka dot), a staple from Monsieur Balmain’s era, added whimsy amid the blossoming rose narrative. 

The runway flourished with sheeny sheaths, bejeweled appliques, and rose-pink boleros. The rose, in its myriad avatars — crafted from materials as eclectic as latex, porcelain, and recycled plastic— took center stage, a fragrant nod to Pierre’s couture designs. 


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Vibrant shades played alongside strict monotones, Parisian precision met flowing contours, and age-old couture traditions fused with contemporary touches. 

In his show notes, Rousteing reflected, “Love is complex—every rose, after all, comes with its thorns.” This sentiment materialized across the collection, from thorn-touched accessories to edgy eyewear. 

The recently concluded Balmain Paris fashion show was marked by challenges as a van transporting 50 outfits destined for the runway was hijacked days prior to the event. The robbery took place between one of Paris’ main airports and Balmain’s headquarters, adding to the tension of the showcase. 


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In a note distributed after the show, Rousteing detailed the unexpected setback, stating, “The recent robbery of 50 of our pieces was definitely not the type of news that my team and I were hoping to hear in the days leading up to this presentation.”  

He went on to acknowledge the fashion industry’s unpredictable nature, emphasizing the need to handle unexpected challenges. 

Rousteing extended gratitude to the Balmain team for rallying together. “You were exhausted already, but you found the strength needed to help ensure that a robbery would not affect our runway,” he mentioned.