Arab hopefuls shine during Miss Universe preliminary rounds in El Salvador

Arab hopefuls shine during Miss Universe preliminary rounds in El Salvador
Miss Universe Lebanon Maya Aboul Hosn hit the stage in El Salvador. (Supplied)
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Updated 23 November 2023
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Arab hopefuls shine during Miss Universe preliminary rounds in El Salvador

Arab hopefuls shine during Miss Universe preliminary rounds in El Salvador
  • Fans in the Gulf region can tune in on Sunday morning at 5 a.m. on the official Miss Universe YouTube account to watch the finale

DUBAI: Three contestants from the Arab world put on a show during the preliminary rounds of the 72nd Miss Universe pageant in El Salvador over the weekend.

With the final competition set to take place on Nov. 18, hopefuls from around the world hit the stage for the preliminary catwalk round and the national costume portion of the event this weekend.

Miss Universe Bahrain Lujane Yacoub, Miss Universe Egypt Mohra Tantawy and Miss Universe Lebanon Maya Aboul Hosn all showed off glamorous evening gowns and national costumes.

Yacoub’s national costume paid tribute to Bahraini pearls.

“Miss Universe Bahrain @lujaneyacoub’s message on her national costume is the preservation of Bahrain’s Pearl Heritage,” the model posted on Instagram. “Natural pearls are one of the world’s great treasures and a key part of the Gulf country’s culture and economy. She is wearing a farasha (butterfly) cut modern jalabiya embellished with pearls by couture designer Carla Fuentes,” the statement added.

For her part, Tantawy paid tribute to the Nile.

“The name of the national costume is Wafaa el Nil Meaning ‘fidelity of the Nile’ … Mohra Tantawy’s message on her national costume is the preservation of the Nile.
The Nile has played a critical role in the history of Ancient Egypt. Famous as the longest river in the world, ‘Wafaa el Nil’ is also the name of the Egyptian festival that celebrates the flooding of the Nile. One of the main reasons the flooding was so treasured was that the flooding would leave behind black silt, the silt was rich in minerals and vitamins that made the land very fertile allowing the crops planted not only to grow but to flourish in what was otherwise desert all around,” read a statement posted on her Instagram page.

The three models spoke to Arab News ahead of the competition and gave their supporters a glimpse of their challenges and goals.

“I am no longer speaking for myself, but for the entire GCC on this global stage. It’s forced me to look at many important issues and see where Bahrain stands on things, as a collective,” Yacoub said.

Tantawy is still wrapping her head around the events of the past few months. 

“I never expected myself to be here. I didn’t grow up with pageantry. It wasn’t something that was instilled in me at a young age, but I am a strong believer of what is meant for you will find you and that is exactly what Miss Universe Egypt did, it found me,” she said.  

Meanwhile, Aboul Hosn hopes to use her platform to be a role model in the Arab world. 

“My main cause is to be a role model for every girl. I come from a very humble family. I’m not a wealthy princess. I worked hard to achieve what I want. And that’s what I want every girl to know. If you work hard, you can achieve your dreams and goals,” she said. 

The 72nd Miss Universe is taking place on Nov. 18 evening in El Salvador, so fans in the Gulf region can tune in on Sunday morning at 5 a.m. on the official Miss Universe YouTube account


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.


Nadim Naaman takes the stage as first Arab lead star in ‘The Phantom of The Opera’ at Dubai Opera

Nadim Naaman takes the stage as first Arab lead star in ‘The Phantom of The Opera’ at Dubai Opera
Updated 23 February 2024
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Nadim Naaman takes the stage as first Arab lead star in ‘The Phantom of The Opera’ at Dubai Opera

Nadim Naaman takes the stage as first Arab lead star in ‘The Phantom of The Opera’ at Dubai Opera
  • Lebanese-British theater performer realizes lifelong ambition after growing up with the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical

DUBAI: The moment has finally come for Lebanese-British theater actor Nadim Naaman. For over a decade, he has been associated with the popular musical “The Phantom of The Opera,” initially joining as an ensemble member.

The play, which centers on the theme of unrequited love, was written by the famed English composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, and made its debut in London in 1986. 

Growing up in the British capital, Naaman had seen the play’s posters on buses and taxis. It was a big deal in the world of theater.

Naaman worked his way up and recently landed the lead role of Phantom, making him the first actor of Arab origin to play the coveted male character on stage. (Supplied)

“I think I was probably 15 or 16 and my parents took my brother, sister and I to see it, like a family outing, and I remember thinking, ‘This is the best thing I’ve ever seen,’” Naaman told Arab News. 

Naaman worked his way up and recently landed the lead role of Phantom, making him the first actor of Arab origin to play the coveted male character on stage.

Until March 10, “The Phantom of The Opera” will be playing at the UAE’s Dubai Opera, with a production team of over 100 cast and crew members from around the world. 

For the actor, who has visited Dubai for three decades for family reasons, performing in the UAE feels like a full-circle moment. Last year, he also played the Phantom during the show’s run in Riyadh.

“I always knew that this was my dream role, and I just have to be patient and, hopefully, one day the opportunity would come,” he said ahead of the show’s opening night in Dubai.

For the actor, who has visited Dubai for three decades for family reasons, performing in the UAE feels like a full-circle moment. (Supplied)

“To be the first Arab to do so in this region, in Saudi and Dubai, is the perfect combination of circumstances ... I couldn’t have dreamt that would happen.”   

The award-winning musical is based on the early 20th-century novel “Le Fantome de l’Opera” by the French author Gaston Leroux. Set at the Palais Garnier opera house in Paris, the venue is haunted by the hidden Phantom, a disfigured and passionate outcast, who falls for his protege, the young Swedish soprano Christine Daee. Things become intense when Christine’s lover, Raoul (played by Dougie Carter in the Dubai play), enters the picture. 

“It’s such a strong story. It’s a love triangle, which is always a winner. There is an element of recluse — someone who doesn’t fit in society and, of course, everyone at some point in their life can relate to that,” the English actress Harriet Jones, who plays Christine, told Arab News.

“The story of Christine is really a coming-of-age story, which suits my journey with the show because I first played her 10 years ago. Nadim and I have known each other for 10 years now. We’ve kind of grown up together on this show.”

Naaman, who formerly played Raoul, says that the Phantom is unlike any other character he has taken on.

Naaman says that the Phantom is unlike any other character he has taken on. (Supplied)

“With Raoul, it did always feel quite close to me. The Phantom is the complete opposite. To get ready to play a character and to look in the mirror and see somebody who is nothing like you, who behaves in a way that is nothing like you, is a really exciting and quite liberating experience because every single move you make or word that comes out of your mouth has a motivation that you have to really discover. It’s not easy, it’s hard work, but that’s what makes it rewarding.”

The other bit of hard work has also been wearing a face prosthetic (of a burn scar) covered with the mask, along with a wig, for every performance. The fitting takes more than an hour but helps Naaman get into character.

Around 20 shows have been scheduled at Dubai Opera, and for Naaman and Jones, it is still a thrill singing in front of an audience every night.

“Standing backstage and listening to the overture, which is so loud and big and it goes through your chest, that is almost when it starts for me. It’s an incredible feeling,” said Jones.  

Why has the musical been a hit with millions? Naaman believes it is the universality of its story that has made it popular until today, finding its way to new audiences in the Middle East.

“The show has been around for 40 years, but there is a new generation of audiences getting to experience it for the first time,” he said.

“Those key themes of love, unrequited love, and wanting to fit in and be accepted are relatable to all cultures, all ages, backgrounds. The key ingredients just keep people engaged the whole way through.”