Syrian swimmer Yusra Mardini walks for Boss

Syrian swimmer Yusra Mardini walks for Boss
The athlete wore a grey shirt, an oversized black blazer, a knee-length skirt, leather boots and a white clutch. (Getty Images)
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Updated 26 September 2023
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Syrian swimmer Yusra Mardini walks for Boss

Syrian swimmer Yusra Mardini walks for Boss

DUBAI: Syrian Olympic swimmer Yusra Mardini this week walked the Boss runway during Milan Fashion Week.

The athlete wore a grey shirt, an oversized black blazer, a knee-length skirt, leather boots and a white clutch.

She walked alongside US-Dutch-Palestinian catwalk star Gigi Hadid, Russian model Natasha Poly and Senegalese-Italian media personality Khaby Lame.

This is not the first time Mardini works with the German fashion label.

In March, Mardini, whose story of fleeing her homeland alongside her sister Sarah was made into a BAFTA-nominated film by Netflix called “The Swimmers,” walked Boss’ runway in Miami.

She also starred in the brand’s digital campaign that month, which featured a long list of Arab and international stars, including DJ Khaled, Hadid, Demi Lovato, Paris Hilton and Bella Thorne.


Indie band Juniper’s Club find their rhythm in Saudi Arabia

Indie band Juniper’s Club find their rhythm in Saudi Arabia
Updated 6 sec ago
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Indie band Juniper’s Club find their rhythm in Saudi Arabia

Indie band Juniper’s Club find their rhythm in Saudi Arabia
  • The Bahrain-based indie outfit have built a fanbase in the Kingdom over the past two years and make their Riyadh debut later this month

ALKHOBAR: “It’s just across the border, but it’s a whole different world, right?” Debbi Francisco, the Filipino frontwoman of Bahrain-based band Juniper’s Club, told Arab News ahead of her group’s show at Alkhobar’s Bohemia Cafe & Records in early June.  

“The Saudi energy is different. While playing, I have the habit of always looking down. And then I look up and I’m like, ‘Wow, they’re actually staring at me.’ The Saudi fans really focus on you,” Francisco’s Indian bandmate, guitarist Sean Fernandes, added with a smile. 

Since the pair formed Juniper’s Club two years ago, they have performed many live shows in Saudi, all in Alkhobar. They love their mini tradition of driving across the King Fahd Causeway to perform. For their gigs, they are joined by John Goodwin on drums and Ryan James on bass.  

Francisco and Fernandes, both in their 20s, met in 2019, when they were both music instructors. “We realized we had a lot of things in common, musically,” Francisco said. “And we actually started a bunch of projects together, but, eventually, we were, like, ‘Yo. Why don’t we just do something with just the two of us?’” 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Their music seamlessly transitions from cutesy indie-pop to full-on rage-rock — but remains danceable, relatable, and sonically cohesive. Fernandes cites Coldplay as a major influence on his guitar playing and mentions Blink 182 and The Beatles as early favorites.  

“I actually started playing music very late. I didn’t play anything until I was 18,” he said. “My brother left his guitars behind when he went to college to pursue sound engineering. I had no siblings around, so I had a lot of free time. I picked up the guitar, and here I am.” 

Francisco, meanwhile, was brought up on gospel music. “That was my main reason for going to church as a kid, I would just watch musicians play,” she said. “I learned by watching people play live. I was also big on the Jonas Brothers — then I grew out of that and into Paramore. I started playing drums because of Paramore. I wanted to learn all their songs.” 

Growing up in Bahrain, neither of them ever ventured into Saudi Arabia. 

“Saudi was like a neighbor you’ve been wanting to say hi to for a long time, but you were a bit shy and they were a bit shy. And then one day they invite you to dinner,” Francisco said. “Now, we’re breaking bread and rocking out! Honestly, it’s such an honor to play in Saudi. Less than 10 years ago that wasn’t in the picture at all. It was almost impossible.” 

They’re now building a solid following in the Kingdom with their mix of indie-pop and alternative rock, featuring haunting, sometimes angsty, lyrics with melodic hooks. Live, their music is considerably heavier than on recordings.  

“We always try to make our shows as energetic and fun as possible,” Francisco said. “We want the crowd to have as much fun as we are. At its core, Juniper’s Club is just me and Sean, but it’s evolved into something else live; it becomes a Juniper’s Club club.” 

On June 28, Juniper’s Club will make their Riyadh debut at The Warehouse in the JAX District. 

“We also have an EP coming out, hopefully by the end of June,” Francisco said. “We’re going to introduce some of those new songs live. We’ve really revamped our setlist, so it might get a bit crazier than usual. It’s going to get loud.” 

-ENDS- 


Actress Laila Abdallah sparks global headlines after beach day with Joe Jonas

Actress Laila Abdallah sparks global headlines after beach day with Joe Jonas
Updated 12 June 2024
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Actress Laila Abdallah sparks global headlines after beach day with Joe Jonas

Actress Laila Abdallah sparks global headlines after beach day with Joe Jonas

DUBAI: US singer Joe Jonas was spotted enjoying a beach day in Greece with Lebanese actress Laila Abdallah as they attended the opening of the One&Only Aesthesis in Athens along with other celebrities.

The paparazzi shots sparked an international internet manhunt for Abdallah, who was previously identified by magazines around the world as a “mystery brunette,” according to the Daily Mail.

The pair did not attend the opening event together, and mingled among other high-profile guests, including former Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach, actor Welsh actor Luke Evans, French designer Olivier Rousteing and Australian pop icon Kylie Minogue, among others.

But paparazzi at the resort were solely focused on Jonas and Abdallah, who enjoyed a beach day on Monday.

Jonas, who filed for divorce from British actress Sophie Turner in September, was photographed swimming in the sea and lounging on the shore along with Abdallah and others.

Although the snaps sparked international headlines and speculation amongst fans, neither camp has commented on the photographs and according to multiple reports they are just friends.

The 28-year-old actress was born in Kuwait to Lebanese parents on Jan. 8, 1996, and began acting in the early 2010s, landing roles in Arab TV series.

Laila Abdallah attended the opening of the One&Only Aesthesis in Athens. (Getty Images)

Abdallah can speak in sign language as she was raised by parents who are deaf and mute. The actress is the oldest of four siblings and previously spoke to Emirati podcast host Anas Bukhash about that responsibility.

“Because I’m the oldest among my siblings, and always I’m the one who does everything… I mean, I call myself the man of the house, the father, the big sister, I’m everything, so it’s impossible for anyone to see me cry, impossible,” she said.

Abdallah previously starred in a music video for Saudi singer Abdul Majeed Abdullah but her first acting role was in the TV show “Saher Al-lail” in 2010,  which was directed by Muhammad Daham Al-Shammari. The director also cast her in a recurring role in his series “Tu Nahar.” Abdallah most recently starred in the TV series “London Class” in 2023.

She boasts five million followers on Instagram and is known for sharing behind-the-scenes shots from her international travels, as well as her red carpet moments — notably, she recently hit the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

In December 2017, she married Iranian actor Abdallah Abass, but they divorced in 2018.


‘Ultraman: Rising’ sees iconic Japanese hero take on an ‘emotional, entertaining’ new challenge

‘Ultraman: Rising’ sees iconic Japanese hero take on an ‘emotional, entertaining’ new challenge
Updated 12 June 2024
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‘Ultraman: Rising’ sees iconic Japanese hero take on an ‘emotional, entertaining’ new challenge

‘Ultraman: Rising’ sees iconic Japanese hero take on an ‘emotional, entertaining’ new challenge
  • ‘He is massive in a way that we don't understand (in the US) – for people in Japan, and all over Asia, he’s bigger than Superman or Spider-Man,’ the director said
  • In this film, the titanic superhero meets his match when he adopts a 35-foot-tall, fire-breathing baby kaiju

DUBAI: Set to release on Netflix on June 14, 3DCG-animated feature film “Ultraman: Rising” sees Tokyo threatened by rising monster attacks when baseball star Ken Sato returns home to take on the mantle of Ultraman.

Ultraman is already an international pop-culture phenomenon and has been a fan favorite since the Japanese television series “Ultra Q” in 1966, with countless reboots and sequels across different mediums released over the years.

In statements shared exclusively with Arab News in the Middle East, Emmy-winning artist and filmmaker Shannon Tindle shares how his childhood influenced the decision to create “Ultraman: Rising.”

“When I was a kid, I loved sitting on the floor with my parents, watching kung fu movies, Godzilla, and, most of all, Ultraman. The image of a towering, monster-fighting superhero was forever burned into my brain (and heart) and would eventually inspire this film,” he said.

In this film, the titanic superhero meets his match when he adopts a 35-foot-tall, fire-breathing baby kaiju whom he protects from nefarious outside forces.

“Although family has always been a part of the Ultraman legacy, we’re leaning into parenthood in a way that hasn’t been explored before. What does it feel like to have this incredible power and still be overwhelmed by a child? There’s something deeply emotional and incredibly entertaining about that shared experience,” Tindle explained.

As for the responsibility of creating the next step in a revered Japanese franchise, the Kentucky-born director and writer says it is not something he took lightly.

“I learned that he is massive in a way that we don't understand (in the US) – for people in Japan, and all over Asia, he’s bigger than Superman or Spider-Man,” Tindle explained, adding: “Our goal was for Japanese folks to see themselves in the film, from how people engage with one another to what their houses and signage look like … we worked with our cultural consultant, Mayumi Yoshida, who is a talented filmmaker in her own right, and we also had our own internal team that included both Japanese and Japanese-American folks who would have weekly meetings to review all of our materials,” he said.

VFX supervisor Hayden Jones and animation supervisor Mathieu Vig took aesthetic inspiration from manga and anime for the film, that The Wrap critic Rafael Motamayor described as featuring “dazzling and memorable stances and shots.”


More acts pull out of UK festival Latitude in protest against sponsor Barclays’ links to Israel

More acts pull out of UK festival Latitude in protest against sponsor Barclays’ links to Israel
Updated 12 June 2024
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More acts pull out of UK festival Latitude in protest against sponsor Barclays’ links to Israel

More acts pull out of UK festival Latitude in protest against sponsor Barclays’ links to Israel
  • Comedians Sophie Duker, Grace Campbell and Alexandra Haddow are the latest performers to withdraw from the event in Essex next month
  • Barclays has been accused by the protest group Palestine Action of having financial interests in Israel’s weapons trade and fossil fuel industry

LONDON: Three comedians said on Tuesday they were pulling out of the UK’s Latitude Festival in protest against ties between the event’s main sponsor, Barclays, and Israel.

The withdrawals by Sophie Duker, Grace Campbell and Alexandra Haddow follow a similar decision last week by Irish singer-songwriter CMAT. Other musicians that have pulled out include Pillow Queens, Mui Zyu and Georgia Ruth, Sky News reported.

Acts such as Keane, Kasabian and London Grammar are still scheduled to perform at the event in the English county of Suffolk from July 25 to 28.

Barclays has been accused by the protest group Palestine Action of having financial interests in Israel’s weapons trade and fossil fuel industry. Members of the group this week splashed red paint on 20 of the bank’s branches across England and Scotland.

Comedian Duker posted a short video on social media in which she confirmed she would no longer be performing at the festival, despite her experience there being “magical in the past,” because she said Barclays was “profiting from the production of weaponry” used by Israeli forces in Gaza.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by DUKER (@sophiedukebox)

“I am committed to minimizing my complicity in what I consider to be a pattern of abhorrent, unlawful violence,” she said, adding that her stance had attracted “violent abuse, targeted pile-ons and death threats.”

Haddow shared a similar message on Instagram in which she said she could not “in good conscience take the fee” for performing at the event and that boycotting it was “one of the only things I can actively do.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Barclays said it recognizes “the profound human suffering” caused by the war in Gaza but added: “We provide vital financial services to US, UK and European public companies that supply defense products to NATO and its allies.

“Barclays does not directly invest in these companies. The defense sector is fundamental to our national security, and the UK government has been clear that supporting defense companies is compatible with ESG (environmental, social and governance) considerations.

“Decisions on the implementation of arms embargoes to other nations are the job of respective elected governments.”


Jeddah university alumna’s film selected for Tribeca festival

Jeddah university alumna’s film selected for Tribeca festival
Updated 11 June 2024
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Jeddah university alumna’s film selected for Tribeca festival

Jeddah university alumna’s film selected for Tribeca festival
  • ‘Kum Kum,’ directed by Dur Jamjoom, has been chosen for the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in New York
  • Jamjoom completed the film as her graduation project at Effat University in 2022

JEDDAH: Dur Jamjoom’s graduation film from Effat University, “Kum Kum,” has been chosen for the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

Founded by actor Robert De Niro, Tribeca is one of North America’s most important festivals. This year’s event began on June 5 and runs until June 16.

Jamjoom completed the film as her graduation project at Effat University in 2022. She said: “I’m incredibly honored and blessed to be the first Saudi female as part of the shorts program at the Tribeca Festival. This opportunity wouldn’t have been possible without my incredible team.”

The autobiographical film is deeply personal, centering on the untimely passing of Jamjoom’s best friend in 2012. Just 12 years old at the time, the tragic event introduced her to a range of unfamiliar emotions.

As the story unfolds, each person recounts the event from their own perspective. Jamjoom brings these diverse narratives together to form a cohesive story, highlighting the profound impact of one person’s suffering on the lives of others.

She said: “I was hesitant to delve into the memory of my friend who is no longer with us, fearing disrespect. But I realized I’m actually honoring my friend, who made me into the person I am today.”

During production, Jamjoom faced numerous challenges. “We shot the movie in the sea, but the waves were uncooperative, and many people were getting seasick,” she said.

“The underwater housing case for the camera posed unique challenges I had never encountered before. I had to trust my team and stay focused on directing.”

She hopes the film inspires audiences to see the light after darkness, emphasizing that “where there is grief, there can also be healing, and the transformative power of overcoming life’s challenges.”

Speaking about the film’s deeper meanings, she said: “In the movie, ‘Kum Kum’ serves as a traditional Saudi game that holds symbolic significance. The game metaphorically represents how life presents unexpected moments, and individuals must adapt to the changes. ‘Kum Kum’ explores the intricate connections between faith, suffering, resilience, and personal growth.”

Mohamed Ghazala, chair of the Cinematic Arts School at Effat University, expressed his pride and joy in celebrating this incredible achievement. He said: “Jamjoom, one of our finest graduates, has dedicated countless hours to honing her craft at our campus, passionately writing, filming, animating, directing, and documenting real stories.

“The selection of her graduation film for the esteemed Tribeca Film Festival is a tremendous honor for us and for Saudi Arabia as a whole. To be shortlisted from a pool of 8,000 submissions is a remarkable feat that showcases the incredible talent being nurtured within our institution. We are filled with optimism and enthusiasm as we look forward to witnessing more groundbreaking achievements from our talented students in the future.”

He added: “This remarkable accomplishment is a true testament to the impactful teaching at Effat University, empowering students with the strong tools necessary to bring their stories to life, captivating not only local audiences but also international viewers.”