DUBAI: Saudi fashion brands 1886 and Abadia secured historic international investments at an investment roadshow hosted by the Saudi Fashion Commission in New York City on Tuesday.
The first-of-its-kind involvement in Saudi fashion brands by an international investor will see 1886 and Abadia’s founders supported by cash incentives from Turmeric Capital and matching support in services from the Fashion Commission.
The collaboration between Turmeric Capital and the two brands was also complemented by a Memorandum of Understanding between the firm and the fashion, which will see both organizations share resources and expertise to enable the development of globally competitive brands rooted in Saudi culture.
“From Paris to Milan, to New York, the Saudi Fashion Commission is traversing the globe to support the Saudi fashion sector as it grows and supports diversification of the Saudi economy,” said Burak Cakmak, CEO of the Saudi Fashion Commission, in a statement.
“The return to New York this year is an incredible moment where we are witnessing key milestones – for Saudi brands as we help them secure international investment, for the Commission as we continue to put our mark on the global stage and for the Saudi fashion industry as public awareness grows.”
Filmmaker Dur Jamjoom takes emotional personal story to RSIFF
‘We have a new generation in Saudi Arabia that is coming in with great ideas and some stories that has never been heard before,’ Dur Jamjoom told Arab News
‘Kum-Kum’ follows 17-year-old Duna, who witnesses the fatal drowning of a young girl called Salwa
Updated 12 sec ago
DUBAI: Saudi filmmaker Dur Jamjoom is entering the film industry with a bang — her graduation film “Kum-Kum” is set to screen at the Red Sea International Film Festival, which runs from Nov. 30 to Dec. 9.
At just 23, the director already has six short films under her belt, with the 15-minute long “Kum-Kum” joining the pack.
“I feel grateful and blessed that they chose my short film, and it’s just a graduation film,” Jamjoom told Arab News. “I’ve worked so hard on this film and when I heard the news that they’re showcasing it at Red Sea, I was extremely excited and my whole family were excited too.”
“Kum-Kum” is inspired by a true story that happened to Jamjoom in 2012. “It’s about my friend who passed away at the age of 12. I was 12-years-old and it was all new for me to understand the concept of death and life,” she said.
“Because I was a child, people used to call me a robot, because I showed no emotions. whenever I went to funerals, I never understood the idea of people crying because someone passed away,” she recalled.
“When that time came and my friend passed away, it was all new for me. When I got into the funeral, I felt all these kinds of new emotions that started to (rise) up and I experienced new emotions that came into my mind and heart,” she said.
The short film follows 17-year-old Duna, who witnesses the fatal drowning of a young girl called Salwa. Duna is traumatized and struggles with residual feelings of hopelessness and an enduring fear of the water — until she realizes that she must go back to the beach to teach her younger sister how to swim.
“Kum-Kum” examines the philosophical aspects of life and death and “also talks about how someone’s passing can shape someone living,” Jamjoom said.
Jamjoom started working on the movie in 2022 when she took a screenwriting course at Effat University in Jeddah. “I wrote this script, but it was still a work in progress. I put it aside and I said to myself, ‘I don’t want to keep this script on the side forever. I want to work on it later on’,” she said.
“When my graduation project came, I pulled that out from the drawer and said, ‘OK, I’m going to work on this script.”
Her love of filmmaking began at a young age, when her cousin introduced her to TikTok’s precursor, musical.ly.
“I was very introverted. I didn’t know how to express my emotions,” she said. “At the age of 11, my cousin showed me an app that is now TikTok where you record and add music. I was so fascinated, and I started using this app. Every Saturday, I’d gather up all my cousins and I’d start recording them and start making silly videos. It got really serious and we started to think about which song we should choose to match the mood of the song and started doing changing costumes and everything. I was filming and directing them,” she said.
At the end of every week, Jamjoom would present her work to her family.
Jamjoom now works at the Red Sea Film Foundation’s Red Sea Labs, which the filmmaker said “creates multiple programs for feature films, short films, TV series and music. It teaches the new upcoming filmmakers, and the ones who are experienced, how to develop their projects.
“We have a new generation in Saudi Arabia that is coming in with great ideas and some stories that has never been heard before,” she said.
“It’s like a baby growing right now. Saudi Arabia is developing so much, especially with all the new architecture, the new construction and Vision 2030. Everything is happening all at once and cinema is also a part of that development,” she said.
Arab female narratives in the spotlight at Hayaty Diaries’ debut exhibition in London
Exhibition curated by Lebanese and Egyptian-Saudi curators Christina Shoucair and Kinzy Diab
Collection, realized in a range of colors and techniques, explore various social issues
Updated 07 December 2023
LONDON: Rhinestoned niqabs worn with cowboy boots, women gathered around a dining table, and anime-inspired depictions of Egyptian pop culture were just some of the scenes recently on display at a gallery space in London.
The exhibition, which was called “Through Their Eyes: Perspectives Unveiled” and ran from Nov. 29 to Dec. 4 at Oxo Tower, showcased an eclectic collection of contemporary art by women from Lebanon, Egypt, Oman, Jordan, Palestine, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and the UAE.
Lebanese curator Christina Shoucair told Arab News: “Diversity took center stage in our selection process, not just in terms of artistic style, medium, and process, but also in the artists’ identities, representing a range of geographical, religious, and cultural backgrounds.”
Kinzy Diab, 24, co-curated the exhibition and told Arab News: “As Arab women we are often confined to fragments of our identity, defined solely by our gender, religion or perceived oppression.
“It is important to recognize the diversity of the Arab female experience. While there is a shared sense of relatability among Arab women, so much individuality often goes unrecognized.”
The exhibition was a labor of love with each artist creating works which delved into the profound question of where the true meaning of art resides. Is it inherent in the work itself? Discerned through the observer’s gaze? Reflected in the creator’s vision?
While all the artists engaged with the broader theme of viewer perspective, their subjects were diverse and explored various societal issues.
Shoucair, 24, said: “Some (artists) achieve ... by encouraging visitors to intimately examine their artworks, inviting close inspection to peel back the deeper layers of meaning.”
In “Titled: You,” by Bahraini artist Huda Jamal, three women were gathered around a table, their gazes fixed intently on the viewer, creating a role reversal in which the painting itself was staring at the observer. The nuanced expressions on the women’s faces invited viewers to delve into their unique psyches, encouraging contemplation of their unspoken thoughts and concealed messages.
Saudi artist Amira Nazer exhibited a more conceptual approach by printing images of thobe and shumagh onto fabric, creating a multi-layered visual experience.
The photo sculptures “Fidelity” invited viewers to interpret the significance of traditional clothing amid rapid societal changes in Saudi Arabia.
Other artists employed symbolism and imagery that encouraged introspection on social and political realities.
In her photographic series “Crevice,” Jordanian-Palestinian artist Farah Foudeh drew parallels between the physicality of the male-dominated desert landscape and the female form, confronting the commodification and politicization of women’s bodies.
Emirati artist Aliyah Alawadhi’s “The East is a Career” highlighted the absurdity of notions that justified colonial intervention through combining distorted visuals from a 1940s film on Middle Eastern oil exploration and subtitles inspired by the language of Nabati poetry.
Diab said: “Art often holds a certain level of inherent meaning derived from the creator’s vision, but it gains depth through the diverse perspectives and experiences of the audience.
“Situated perspectives play a crucial role in shaping these evolving meanings as viewers engage with art through the lens of their personal experiences, socio-political background, and current geographic context.”
“Through Their Eyes” marked the launch of Shoucair and Diab’s art collective Hayaty Diaries.
Netflix shines spotlight on Arab women at the Red Sea International Film Festival
Updated 06 December 2023
JEDDAH: Streaming giant Netflix is taking part in Jeddah’s Red Sea International Film Festival — set to run until Dec. 9 — with the “Because She Created” space, an installation at the event that shines a spotlight on female talent in the Arab world.
Organizers have focused on Adwa Bader, the Saudi-American interdisciplinary artist and star of Netflix’s upcoming local film “NAGA”; Saudi Arabia writer, performing artist, actor and director Fatima Al-Banawi, who is about to release her directorial debut “Basma”; and Haya Abdelsalam, who is the lead and creative producer behind Kuwaiti Netflix series “Devil’s Advocate.”
Bader spoke to Arab News about the initiative, saying it was important because “we as women have beautiful and powerful stories to tell, and the support of the industry is needed to not only help integrate us better but also recognize our work and the great stories that so many incredible Arab women are telling for the first time.”
Nuha El-Tayeb, content director for the Middle East, Africa and Turkiye at Netflix, echoed those sentiments, telling Arab News that it was critical to spotlight women, in particular, when it comes to the film industry in the region.
“It’s critical to authentic storytelling. Amplifying underrepresented voices, which includes Arab women, gives more people a chance to see their lives reflected on screen,” she said. “Arab women filmmakers are shifting perspectives and revolutionizing the industry in the region, creating Oscar-nominated films and representing the region at international film festivals and major platforms. It’s clear that they have important stories to tell.”
El-Tayeb went on to highlight some of the projects that the initiative has supported over the years — including the “Because She Created” writing program, AFAC-Netflix Creative Equity Fund and “Women in Film,” a training program for emerging talent.
“‘Because She Created,’ while born in the Arab world, is a borderless endeavor. Through content on the service, financial grants, upskilling initiatives, and exposure at regional film festivals, we’re providing an avenue for female storytellers to help break the glass ceiling for women in entertainment,” El-Tayeb said.
She added that when it comes to pitches, Netflix is interested in “stories that are authentic and relatable. Stories with universal themes that have broader appeal and can resonate with our members at home.”
When it comes to the entertainment industry in Saudi Arabia, Bader noted the importance of representation on screen.
“It’s a young industry,” the actress added of the film scene in Saudi Arabia. “And we have been waiting to see representation in an authentic way in film and culture. We’ve been waiting to tell our stories and see them on screen, and it’s incredible to witness the transformation,” she said.
When it comes to encouraging Saudi Arabia’s youth to see film as a viable career, the actress believes education is key.
“Art is for everyone, and it can be a viable career if one is willing to take that risk. It’s not easy to be an artist, it’s an emotional job and it’s risky because not everyone can relate, but that’s exactly the reason why it’s even more important to integrate art in formal education to support future generations and support their career choices,” she said.
Gulf dish harees, Palestinian dabke added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list
Updated 06 December 2023
DUBAI: The Middle Eastern dish harees, popular in the Gulf region, has been added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list alongside other practices and dishes from the Arab world.
The name harees comes from the Arabic word harasa, which means to mash or to squash. Just as the name suggests, in the preparation of harees wheat is ground with goat meat or mutton, and then cooked over low heat until it gets creamy.
The list also includes six other cultural traditions from the Arab world, including the Palestinian version of the dabke – the Levant folklore dance, Iraq’s traditional craft skills and arts of building called Al-Mudhif and Lebanon’s man’ouche, the flatbread topped with thyme, cheese or ground meat.
From Syria, UNESCO added the glassblowing technique that artisans use for the craft of creating glass objects from pieces of waste glass using a handmade brick oven.
The list also includes Sudan’s Al-Molid procession, which is a parade that celebrates the Prophet’s birthday. It takes place in the third month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
The last thing on the list is the arts, skills and practices associated with engraving on gold, silver and copper, which is popular in Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Mauritania, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisian and Yemen.
Kate Beckinsale, Jameela Jamil step out in Arab gowns in Los Angeles
Updated 06 December 2023
DUBAI: British actresses Kate Beckinsale and Jameela Jamil this week stepped out in head-turning ensembles by Arab designers at Elle’s Women in Hollywood celebration at Nya Studios in Los Angeles.
Beckinsale — famous for her roles in “Snow Angels,” “Fool’s Paradise” and “Click” — opted for a figure-hugging gown from Lebanese couturier Zuhair Murad’s ready-to-wear Fall/Winter 2023 collection.
The dress boasted cut-outs with gemstone detailing at the waist.
The event was attended by A-list stars including Jennifer Lopez and her husband Ben Affleck, Eva Longoria, Bella Ramsey, Jodie Foster, Jameela Jamil, Kerry Washington, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Alexandra Shipp and many more.
British Indian Pakistani actress and activist Jamil wore a heavily-embellished gold mini dress from Dubai-based Tunisian designer Ali Karoui. To complete her dazzling ensemble, she wore reflective gold heels by Jimmy Choo.
Jamil took to Instagram to share snippets from the event with her followers. “I love Jodie Foster so much,” she captioned a video, and in another she wrote: “Oprah brought on ICONIC Fantasia Taylor Barrino.”
US singer and actress Taylor Barrino also turned to an Arab designer — Yousef Akbar.
She donned an electric blue jumpsuit by the celebrity-loved Saudi couturier. The ensemble had an asymmetric skirt attached to the waist and a chunky gold chain that crossed over her chest.
The ELLE Women in Hollywood Awards honors “the women who are influencing Hollywood today from the best red carpet appearances, the women behind the camera, to ELLE’s very own cover stars,” according to the publication’s description.
This year’s honorees include Lopez, Taylor Barrino, Longoria, Foster, Nina Garcia, America Ferrera, Danielle Brooks, Greta Lee, Lily Gladstone and Taraji P. Henson.