‘Saudi Arabia gave me the freedom to conduct research,’ says L’Oreal Women in Science laureate in Paris

The event recognized five women scientists for their research in the field of physical sciences, mathematics and computer science. (Supplied)
The event recognized five women scientists for their research in the field of physical sciences, mathematics and computer science. (Supplied)
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Updated 19 June 2023
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‘Saudi Arabia gave me the freedom to conduct research,’ says L’Oreal Women in Science laureate in Paris

‘Saudi Arabia gave me the freedom to conduct research,’ says L’Oreal Women in Science laureate in Paris
  • The event recognized five women scientists for their research in the field of physical sciences, mathematics and computer science
  • “It is a huge honor to represent this country and this region where I have lived for thirteen years. This is my house now,” says Professor Nunes

PARIS: Having lived and conducted research in Saudi Arabia for the past 13 years, Suzanna Nunes, professor of Chemical and Environmental Science and Engineering at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), was made a laureate of the L’Oreal-UNESCO International Award for Women in Science held in Paris.

The event celebrated five women scientists from around the world for their research in the physical sciences, mathematics and computer science.

2023 laureates of the FWIS award

- Prof. Suzana Nunes - Chemistry – Laureate for Africa and the Arab States

- Prof. Anamaria Font – Physics – Laureate for latin America and the Caribbean

- Prof. Aviv Regev – Bioinformatics – Laureate for North America

- Prof. Lidia Morawska - Earth and environmental science – Laureate for Asia and the Pacific

- Prof. Frances Kirwan - Mathematics – Laureate for Europe

“It’s a demonstration that we are at the frontier of research and that research and science are not limited to a single country. It doesn’t have borders. It’s a huge honor to represent this country and this region where I have been living for the past 13 years. It’s my home now,” said Nunes in an interview with Arab News en Francais.

As the laureate representing the Middle East and the GCC region, Nunes describes the conditions, facilities and freedom of research at KAUST as important elements to conduct advanced research.

“It would be difficult to find another institution where I would have the same level of support,” she said.

“It’s a very good feeling to be part of a country changing towards sustainability and women’s empowerment under Vision 2030.”

Nunes specializes in integrating membrane technology to enable lower carbon emissions, with applications in high energy consuming sectors (industrial, transportation and residential).

Her research work involves developing membrane-based technology for air dehumidification, distillation, and for more sustainable separations in the chemical and petrochemical industry.




Professor Suzana Nunes (chemistry), laureate for the Africa and Arab States region. (Supplied)

The transition to a fully sustainable economy based on renewables is a multi-step process.

The Kingdom is suitable terrain for her research with its increased investment and efforts toward renewable energy transition and reducing carbon emissions.

The latter is part of the award ceremony, the host country’s decarbonization goals, as well as L’Oreal Group’s strategy.

For Nunes, inspiring and accompanying younger students is essential in improving the numbers of women in STEM. It is a collective responsibility, alongside universities and schools across the Kingdom and around the world to “inspire the young generation to give,” she said.




Professor Suzanna Nunes in Saudi Arabia, surrounded by her students of 13 different nationalities (Supplied)

“They must be exposed, they must have the opportunity to pursue studies and research in chemical, electrical or mechanical engineer, if they were interested in it.”

This year’s ceremony marked the 25th anniversary of the L’Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science awards.

The idea that “the world needs science and science needs women” led the Fondation L’Oreal and UNESCO to commit, 25 years ago, to promoting women scientists and shedding light on their achievements.

For Alexandra Palt, chief corporate responsibility officer and executive vice president of the Fondation L’Oreal, said the Women in Science program is an “opportunity to break the cycle of invizibilization of women scientists.

“Women represented 25 percent of scientists 25 years ago. Today we are at 33 percent. It is a relevant evolution but there still is progress to be made.”

Looking across history, “a lot of women scientists who have invented or discovered anything were erased from history or their inventions, their discoveries, were attributed to men,” she added.

FASTFACTS

- 33% of researchers worldwide are women

- 15% of high-level academic positions in Europe are held by women

- Fewer than 4% of scientific Nobel Prizes have been awarded to women

Some of the topics that the Fondation L’Oreal is addressing include women’s representation in STEM fields, namely computer science, mathematics, and physics, but also their representation in leadership positions. “Only 15 to 18 percent of institutions are led by women,” Palt said.

“We will continue to give awards to women scientists … we have fields of research that are completely abandoned by young girls including mathematics, computer science and physics. I don’t want to live in a world where computer science and artificial intelligence is solely programmed by men,” Palt added.

UNESCO AND L'OREAL

The Women in Science program is one of the first public-private partnerships with UNESCO. Out of the women scientists participating in the L’Oreal impact survey:

- 93% of the women scientists said that the program boosted their confidence and leadership skills

- 95% declared having had more visibility, which was an asset in their career development

- 81% said that it opened doors for their professional careers

“When science is open, it is more effective and more relevant. Closing off science, preventing it from opening to other goals, other methods and other perspectives, impedes scientific innovation. This is the conviction that underpins UNESCO’s Recommendation on Open Science, adopted by our member states in November 2021. It is also the conviction at the heart of the L’Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science program,” said Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO director-general, during the event’s opening speech.

For Jean-Paul Agon, chairman and former CEO of L’Oreal, “the fight for inclusion overtakes the question of gender.” He added: “the Fondation L’Oreal will continue to be fully active so that they (women scientists) have the opportunity and the capacity, on equal terms, to build a better world, for all women and men.”

The event was attended by laureates’ family, friends, as well as influencers and public figures, among others. Three displaced women scientists from Afghanistan, Iraq and Nigeria were honored at the ceremony.

To date, the Women in Science program has provided support for 127 laureates and more than 4,100 young talents, doctoral and post-doctoral students, through research grants awarded each year in over 110 countries.

The L’Oreal Foundation has mobilized the necessary resources and is investing in women and scientific research to break the glass ceiling, which is still a present reality.


Saleh Saadi explores Palestine through the eyes of tourists in upcoming series

Saleh Saadi explores Palestine through the eyes of tourists in upcoming series
Updated 59 min 41 sec ago
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Saleh Saadi explores Palestine through the eyes of tourists in upcoming series

Saleh Saadi explores Palestine through the eyes of tourists in upcoming series

DUBAI: Through an open-call competition, Palestinian director Saleh Saadi was selected by MENA-based broadcasting network OSN to film his upcoming six-episode series, “Dyouf” (meaning “guests” in Arabic). 

Saadi submitted his project in response to OSN’s Writer’s Room mentorship program, which was also organized by The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, that aims to support aspiring filmmakers and writers from the region. 

Originally from the bedouin village of Basmat Tab’un, Saadi has previously created two social-themed short films that dealt with his native Palestine: “Borekas” (2020) and “A’lam” (2022).

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Saleh Saadi (@_salehsaadi)

The filmmaker says that he did not grow up in an environment that had a film institute, let alone an overall industry, but that didn’t stop his creativity, which began at home with simple means. 

“My family doesn’t have an artistic background. Their focus was to give us a good life, but they used to take pictures of us with a small camera,” Saadi told Arab News. “My siblings would film with a video camera and make little plays. . . I don’t know why it stuck with me.”

From a young age, he taught to edit and filmed sketches with his family members, who acted in his creations. “To them it was good fun, but I took it seriously,” he recalls. Saadi grew up “glued to the television set,” watching sitcoms. He also admires the work of notable Palestinian director Elia Suleiman, whose films have been shown at the Cannes Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival.

Saadi’s winning submission “Dyouf,” a dramedy which is in the process of development, centers around the protagonist Shadi, who returns to his homeland after living abroad and feels lonely. His mother has set up a guesthouse that is being frequented by tourists. 

Each episode, delving into the themes of relationships and identities, will focus on one tourist. “Through these guests, we understand the country more. One of the main characters is the country,” Saadi explains. “It shows a certain reality, the day-to-day life and little moments of the day. I think different people will be able to relate to the show in different ways.”

Saadi adds that shooting in Palestine comes with its own set of tricky challenges, from funding to on-site disturbances. “Things are more and more difficult. I don’t want to be cheesy, but it’s also become more and more important. There are difficulties from start to finish, where anything can happen.”

Despite the ongoing bombardment of Gaza, Saadi is heartened by how Palestinian cinema is slowly on the rise in the region and abroad, through film festivals and cultural events. “I am very happy because I feel like there are more films on Palestine. They tell our stories,” he said

“We have so much love for our people, our family and our land. All kinds of art have an important role to play. Through art, we are showing that, despite all difficulties, the love is still there.”  


Gigi Hadid, Arab models walk Versace runway

Gigi Hadid, Arab models walk Versace runway
Updated 24 February 2024
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Gigi Hadid, Arab models walk Versace runway

Gigi Hadid, Arab models walk Versace runway

DUBAI: US-Dutch-Palestinian model Gigi Hadid, a staple on Versace runways, made a remarkable return to the Italian brand’s catwalk this week during Milan Fashion Week.

The supermodel stunned the runway in a black sheer, collared dress featuring intricate button-down detailing and a daring thigh-high slit. Complementing her ensemble, she sported black latex gloves and accentuated her look with sharp eye makeup.

Hadid was joined by other part-Arab models, including Imaan Hammam, who is Moroccan, Egyptian and Dutch, and Loli Bahia, who is French Algerian.

Hammam donned a printed blazer layered over a brown top. (Getty Images)

Hammam donned a printed blazer layered over a brown top, completing her ensemble with black tights and thigh-high leather boots. Just like Hadid, she accessorized with latex gloves and striking eye makeup.

Bahia wore a black mini-dress. (Getty Images)

Bahia opened the runway show in a black mini-dress, complementing her ensemble with a bold pop of color courtesy of a fiery red purse.


From finance to fame: Yasmine Al-Bustami discusses her journey to Hollywood stardom

From finance to fame: Yasmine Al-Bustami discusses her journey to Hollywood stardom
Updated 24 February 2024
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From finance to fame: Yasmine Al-Bustami discusses her journey to Hollywood stardom

From finance to fame: Yasmine Al-Bustami discusses her journey to Hollywood stardom

LOS ANGELES: From working in finance to gracing the stage and screen, Yasmine Al-Bustami has emerged as a dynamic talent on the rise.

Known for her roles in “The Originals,” “NCIS: Hawai’i” and “The Chosen,” the actress was born in Abu Dhabi to a Palestinian-Jordanian father and a Filipino mother.

Al-Bustami grew up in Texas and began work in the world of finance, but soon found that she was not fulfilled and began to dig for something more exciting.

“I had never taken acting classes or anything, but I knew to get auditions you needed an agent,” she said. “So I just emailed all the Dallas agents and one of them was so sweet, emailed me back … I was sending in my business resume, too, I didn’t even have an acting resume. I was like, ‘this is where I went to university. I have a finance degree.’ None of that. They don’t care.

“And (the agent) goes, ‘well, clearly, you have no idea what you’re doing. Go to class. And here are some acting class recommendations.’ Then from that, I just kept taking classes in Dallas, then moved to Los Angeles,” she said.

Al-Bustami began with a brief appearance in a health-related commercial before making her television debut in “The Originals,” appearing in the recurring role of Monique Deveraux, a villain in the first season.

The actress was born in Abu Dhabi to a Palestinian-Jordanian father and a Filipino mother. (Getty Images)

Today, she has a role in hit spinoff “NCIS: Hawai’i” and the historical drama “The Chosen,” which recently moved to the theater.

“On ‘The Chosen,’ I play Ramah,” she said. “And when you meet her, it’s in season one. I’m in one of the episodes, episode five, and I basically work with Thomas the Disciple, and we have a little bit of romance there. We are very flirtatious with each other, and then you start to see that develop from seasons two to now, the season that is out right now is season four.”

Part of the challenge Al-Bustami faced was gaining the approval of her parents and finding roles true to her ethnicity.

On the latter note, she has scored a role representing women of color in the dark comedy show “Immigrants.”

“We just finished the pilot and that is by my friend Mustafa Knight, and it’s basically how we have described it is like ‘Friends,’ but with color,” she said.

“I’ve never been more proud to be an immigrant because now I also have an outlet to express that to people through storytelling,” the actress added. “It’s a different kind of gratefulness whenever you get the opportunity to play something that you are actually.”

The show is described as a dark comedy series following the “misadventures of six unlikely friends through their trials and tribulations on what it really means to be American in America.”


Saudi Cup kicks off in Riyadh with a showcase of traditional fashion

Saudi Cup kicks off in Riyadh with a showcase of traditional fashion
Updated 24 February 2024
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Saudi Cup kicks off in Riyadh with a showcase of traditional fashion

Saudi Cup kicks off in Riyadh with a showcase of traditional fashion
  • From bespoke creations designed exclusively by and for style icons to bold original outfits, guests were dressed in striking attire for the event
  • The Saudi Cup carries a prize fund of $35.4 million, with the $20 million Saudi Cup race itself maintaining its position as the most valuable race in the world

RIYADH: The Saudi Cup, the Kingdom’s annual international horse race, returned this weekend in Riyadh for its fifth edition with a head-turning display of fashion.

From bespoke creations designed exclusively by and for style icons to bold original outfits, guests were dressed in striking attire for the event that takes place Feb. 23 and 24.

Princess Nourah Al-Faisal, special adviser to the chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, spoke to Arab News about fashion at the event — and the vision of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the event. 

Princess Nourah Al-Faisal wore an intricately embroidered tulle covering over a robe with embroidered detailing on the cuffs. (Photo by Huda Bashatah)

He “really had a vision, and not just for fashion, but he had this idea that he wanted the event to represent our culture and our heritage in every way possible,” she said.

“I have to say I am delighted and super excited by it and especially this reintroduction of our heritage to the younger generation … (and) seeing what this younger generation is doing with that, you know the experimentation,” she added.

Princess Nourah donned an intricately embroidered tulle covering over a robe with embroidered detailing on the cuffs from Art of Heritage.

Influencer and model Rakan Alhamdan also showed off attire inspired by his country.

“Today, I’m wearing Siraj Sanad — he’s a Saudi (designer) in Jeddah. As you can see, it is heritage-style clothing with three embroidered triangles which Najd is known for,” he said, referring to the Saudi region of Najd which is famous for its triangles visible in architecture and embroidery.

Influencer and model Rakan Alhamdan. (Photo by Huda Bashatah)

Other guests showed off a rainbow of colors at the fashion-forward event, with modern takes on Saudi attire spotted across the venue — from gemstone-covered burqas to elegant kaftans complete with heavy embroidery.

The Saudi Cup carries a prize fund of $35.4 million, with the $20 million Saudi Cup race itself maintaining its position as the most valuable race in the world.

- Additional reporting by Hams Saleh


Bella Hadid expands portfolio with launch of new brand Orebella

Bella Hadid expands portfolio with launch of new brand Orebella
Updated 23 February 2024
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Bella Hadid expands portfolio with launch of new brand Orebella

Bella Hadid expands portfolio with launch of new brand Orebella
  • Speculation that model will sell fragrances, incense, body lotions, oils, shampoo, conditioner and candles

DUBAI: Bella Hadid is launching a new brand, Orebella, that is likely a venture into the perfume and beauty market.

The US-Dutch-Palestinian supermodel shared a teaser on Instagram on Thursday.

“Ôrəbella founded by Bella Khair Hadid,” she captioned the post teasing the brand’s launch in May. “Reveal your alchemy on 5/2.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid)

The 10-second video showcases a close-up of Hadid’s face intertwined with clips of the universe, culminating with the brand’s logo.

Gigi Hadid showed support for her younger sibling, writing: “YAAAAAYYYYY.” This was accompanied by a genie emoji.

While specifics about the brand and its offerings remain under wraps, WWD Magazine reported that Hadid’s trademark filing, dating back to 2022, hints at Orebella’s focus on scent-related products. These may include fragrances, incense, body lotions, oils, shampoo, conditioner and candles.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Orebella (@orebella)

In 2021, Hadid co-founded Brooklyn-based Kin Euphorics with Saudi Arabia-raised Jen Batchelor.

The brand boasts non-alcoholic tonics “made to transform the world’s oldest social ritual, drinking, into a conscious act of better being,” according to its website.

The name Kin Euphorics is a nod to the Greek word “euphoros” — meaning a state of well-being.

The brand claims that many of its key ingredients, such phenylethylamine and rhodiola rosea root extract, improve cognitive function and increase energy levels. Kin drinks will also soon be infused with lavender grown on the Hadid family farm in Pennsylvania.

Hadid has walked for some of the top fashion brands in the world, including Burberry, Off-White, Fendi, Versace, Givenchy, Max Mara and Moschino.

She has had multiple covers in France, Italy, UK, Japan, China and other countries.