RSIFF title ‘Antidote’ sheds light on the challenges faced by Saudi musicians in the past

RSIFF title ‘Antidote’ sheds light on the challenges faced by Saudi musicians in the past
The 20-minute film tells the story of a young boy, Ali, who sets out with his father’s tape recorder to record a folk singer named Abu Hussain. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 04 December 2023
Follow

RSIFF title ‘Antidote’ sheds light on the challenges faced by Saudi musicians in the past

RSIFF title ‘Antidote’ sheds light on the challenges faced by Saudi musicians in the past

JEDDAH: Saudi director Hassan Saeed is set to unveil his short film “Antidote” at the Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah and spoke to Arab News ahead of the screening to explain the themes he explores and why he chose to tell this story. 

The 20-minute film tells the story of a young boy, Ali, who sets out with his father’s tape recorder to record a folk singer named Abu Hussain.

However, Abu Hussain loses his voice after undergoing throat surgery, and Ali reconnects with him through a previous recording. The deliberate use of silence surrounding Abu Hussain serves as a powerful motif, symbolizing his enduring struggle and passion for music, set against the challenges faced by Saudi musicians in the past.

Saeed said that he drew inspiration for “Antidote” from his formative years in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.

“Having grown up in a society where musicians and music were not widely embraced, my goal was to portray the challenges encountered by underground musicians in the 1990s. The film intertwines a personal narrative with a broader cultural context, showcasing the unwavering determination and commitment of artists in the face of adversity,” he said.




Saudi director Hassan Saeed on set. (Supplied)

The director is excited about showing his work to global audiences at the festival, which attracts participation from international industry figures.

“I firmly believe that our stories possess a unique quality, and through ‘Antidote,’ we can offer a fresh and captivating perspective to audiences worldwide. I anticipate the film resonating deeply with viewers, sparking meaningful conversations, and bridging cultural gaps,” he said.

“I am thrilled about the prospect of presenting ‘Antidote’ at the Red Sea Film Festival, as it offers an ideal setting to connect with international directors and producers who share a profound passion for cinema.”

Reflecting on his career as a filmmaker, Saeed said that growing up in a conservative society with limited access to cinema, his fascination with the art form began with a VHS camcorder in the late 1980s. This early exposure to capturing moments on film sparked his love for observing the world through a lens.




The film's poster. (Supplied)

Saeed’s hope is that “Antidote” will allow audiences to connect with the characters and their struggles, and also spark an appreciation for local stories.

“The characters and their journeys are not limited to a specific culture or region; they represent universal experiences that can resonate with people from different backgrounds,” he said.

“Through my work, I hope to bridge cultural gaps and foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of Saudi culture.”

With its unique storytelling and cinematic style, “Antidote” stands out, particularly as a period piece set in the 1990s.

The film was made in collaboration with German director of photography Christoph Schumann, and has garnered widespread recognition, including two Golden Palm awards for best short film and best cinematography at the 2023 Saudi Film Festival.

Saeed said that through “Antidote” and future projects, he hopes to contribute to a “more comprehensive and accurate understanding of Saudi culture on a global scale.”

He added: “Film has the power to transcend boundaries and bring people together, and it is my mission to use this medium to tell meaningful and impactful stories.”


Nora Attal shows off two looks on Stella McCartney runway 

Nora Attal shows off two looks on Stella McCartney runway 
Updated 9 sec ago
Follow

Nora Attal shows off two looks on Stella McCartney runway 

Nora Attal shows off two looks on Stella McCartney runway 

DUBAI: British Moroccan model Nora Attal has been dominating runways since the beginning of the year, seamlessly transitioning from one fashion week to the next.

Her most recent appearance was at Stella McCartney’s ecology-minded showcase at Paris Fashion Week, where the Attal showcased two looks from the brand’s Fall/Winter 2024 ready-to-wear collection. 

The model adorned a sparkly beige mini dress with a trailing train and an elegantly draped neckline. The shoulders boasted padding, while the sleeves cascaded in a loose, oversized fashion. 

Her look was paired with matching heels and a clutch. 

She wore an olive green crepe dress. (Getty Images)

Her second ensemble featured an olive green crepe dress, boasting an elbow-length sleeve on one side and a full-length, flowing sleeve on the other, creating an asymmetrical silhouette. The look was complemented with matching olive green latex boots and a sleek black bag. 

The British American designer had star-studded endorsements — a front row with two members of The Beatles, Ringo Starr and her father, Paul McCartney, in a seldom-seen joint appearance — and the backing of the luxury conglomerate LVMH to spotlight the urgent need for the industry to reckon with its impact on the planet.

The fall collection began with an expletives-laden film voiced by Oscar winners Olivia Colman and Helen Mirren inviting the world to protect the earth. McCartney’s message was clear: Glamour need not come at the Earth’s expense.

The model adorned a sparkly beige mini dress with a trailing train and an elegantly draped neckline. (Getty Images)

Cue sequins made from recycled aluminum, sparkling faux-diamond crystal lattice details and alternative leather handbags. Mock crocodile-skin trenchcoats were fashioned from AppleSkin, a vegan leather made from apple waste.

Dramatic wool coat-dresses (one showcased by model of the minute Lila Moss, Kate Moss’s daughter) sported cascading hoops, prompting one fashion insider to christen it the “new fur coat.”

In terms of aesthetic, stiff shoulder pads offered a broad shouldered look this season with more than a whiff of the ‘80s, while a stylish, asymmetrical vegan leather stud dress provided a nice flash of punk.

Sometimes the silhouette got lost in the shaggier looks — such as one limp black jumpsuit — but to dwell on that would be to miss the point.

In a fact sheet diligently sent to guests, McCartney noted that 90% of this season’s ready-to-wear is crafted from “responsible materials.” 


Saudi art, music execs speak at Culture Summit Abu Dhabi

Saudi art, music execs speak at Culture Summit Abu Dhabi
Updated 04 March 2024
Follow

Saudi art, music execs speak at Culture Summit Abu Dhabi

Saudi art, music execs speak at Culture Summit Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI: Two women leading the conversation on culture in Saudi Arabia took to the stage on two separate panels at the Culture Summit Abu Dhabi on Monday to talk about their respective institutions.

Aya Al-Bakree, the CEO at Diriyah Biennale Foundation, and Nada Alhelabi, the strategy and XP Music Futures director at MDLBEAST, were both in the spotlight at the event.

Al-Bakree was speaking as part of the panel “Cultural Leadership in Our Complex World.” She was joined by Francesca Colombo, managing and cultural director at Biblioteca degli Alberi Milano; DooEun Choi, vice president of Artlab at Hyundai Motor Company; and Justine Simons, deputy mayor for culture and creative industries in London.

Al-Bakree said: “The purpose of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation is to craft perspectives. It does that by staging ... the Contemporary Art Biennale at Jax District and the Islamic Arts Biennale, which takes place at Jeddah Airport. This is a very special location, an Aga Khan Award-winning location, because it used to be the Hajj terminal, used by the Hajj travelers, which we basically repurposed to have art programs. And we are also developing a creative district called Jax.

“The foundation is meant to support artists full circle. I’m happy to say that the success is very much there because the art was always there. The creation of the Diriyah Foundation is a culmination rather than an overhaul. It just created a framework and an ecosystem for everything to shine.”

Al-Bakree spoke of the inaugural edition of the Islamic Arts Biennale in 2023 attracting more than 600,000 visitors, adding: “That’s a large number of people for such a young event.”

Alhelabi spoke at a later panel called “The Time to Pursue a Career in the MENA Music Industry.”

Moderated by Mayssa Karaa, a singer-songwriter and artistic director at Berklee Abu Dhabi, the panel also featured Karima Damir, A&R director for the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region at Warner Music Group.

Alhelabi said: “We are at the right time for creatives. We have a lot of opportunities.

“For us at XP, collaboration is key. And passion. For all of us in Saudi, we did not have any music education. I remember I was 7 years old and wanted to learn the piano, but there were no stores and there was no one teaching piano at the time. And look at us now.

“So, the key point is definitely passion. And if someone is starting to get into the music industry, every skill and every experience you had in your life matters.”

She stressed that there are many avenues within the music industry to explore. She also pointed to XP Music Futures’ two-week Artist Management Bootcamp as an example of the kind of exposure that individuals in the region are being exposed to when it comes to new careers in the field of music and entertainment.

She added: “Whether you want to work on your own brand and design the events; whether you want to work in production, or you want to do programming, or even artist booking, there are so many fields in the music industry you can contribute to.

“In addition to working as artists, the artists themselves need a village, a surrounding team, for them to be successful.”


Ancient astronomical device reveals ties between Muslims, Jews in medieval Europe

Ancient astronomical device reveals ties between Muslims, Jews in medieval Europe
Updated 04 March 2024
Follow

Ancient astronomical device reveals ties between Muslims, Jews in medieval Europe

Ancient astronomical device reveals ties between Muslims, Jews in medieval Europe
  • Astrolabe is believed to have been produced in 11th-century Al-Andalus
  • Historian discovers hidden Arabic, Hebrew, Western etchings after chance online encounter

London: A reappraisal of an ancient astronomical device in Italy has sparked new interest in the medieval interaction between Muslim and Jewish scientists, The Times reported on Monday.

The astrolabe, an instrument once used by astronomers to measure time and distance based on the position of stars, has been on display at a museum in Verona for decades.

But a historian’s chance online encounter with the device, long thought to be a fake, has opened new theories about social and scientific interactions between the Islamic and Jewish faiths in medieval Europe.

Federica Gigante from Cambridge University came across an image of the astrolabe in an online post, and traveled to the museum to investigate the object.

The device is believed to have been produced in Al-Andalus, the Muslim-ruled kingdom of the Iberian Peninsula that encompassed much of modern-day Spain and Portugal.

At the museum, Gigante held the astrolabe in the sunlight and discovered a series of hidden Arabic, Hebrew and modern Western etchings.

She said: “The museum didn’t know what it was and thought it might be fake. It’s now the single most important object in their collection.”

The device is said to be from 11th-century Toledo, during a period known as the Convivencia, or Coexistence, when members of all three Abrahamic faiths lived in relative harmony.

The first markings on the astrolabe are in Arabic and denote the times of Muslim prayers in Toledo and Cordoba.

A brass plate later added to the device allowed the user of the astrolabe to determine prayer times in North Africa.

Further Arabic etchings contain two Jewish names, suggesting that the device was later used by Sephardic Arabic-speaking communities in Al-Andalus.

Hebrew text is also inscribed on the astrolabe, implying that “at a certain point the object left Spain or North Africa and circulated among the Jewish diaspora in Italy,” Gigante said.

Further Hebrew etchings translate the Arabic terms for the astrological signs Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces and Aries.

Gigante believes that the astrolabe may have reached Italy in the 12th century. Once in medieval Verona, Western numerals are believed to have been added to the device by a Latin or Italian speaker.

A 17th-century Veronese nobleman, Ludovico Moscardo, is thought to have obtained the astrolabe, before it was passed to the prominent aristocratic Miniscalschi family which, in 1990, founded the museum where the device remains today.

Gigante said: “The Verona astrolabe stands out, attesting to the contacts and exchanges between Arabs, Jews and Europeans in the medieval and early modern periods.”


Art auction at London’s Dorchester Hotel raises over $200,000 for Palestine

Art auction at London’s Dorchester Hotel raises over $200,000 for Palestine
Updated 04 March 2024
Follow

Art auction at London’s Dorchester Hotel raises over $200,000 for Palestine

Art auction at London’s Dorchester Hotel raises over $200,000 for Palestine
  • A miniature sculpture of Banksy’s “Flower Thrower” fetched the highest bid of £16,000

LONDON: A prestigious art auction in London has raised £165,000 ($208,800) for nonprofit organizations providing medical aid in Gaza and advocating for Palestinian human rights, its organizers said on Sunday. 

Voices of Palestine, which took place on Feb. 25 at the prestigious Dorchester Hotel, featured 15 pieces of Arab artwork, including a Banksy-designed miniature sculpture of his “Flower Thrower,” painted by local Palestinian artists. This piece, originally sold at the Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem, fetched the highest bid of £16,000.

The proceeds from the auction are earmarked for two primary causes: supporting Fajr Scientific’s comprehensive healthcare initiative in Gaza, and the efforts of the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians.

The event hosted a panel discussion featuring a high-profile list of speakers. (AN Photo/Tamara Turki)

Egyptian activist and Editor-in-Chief of Scoop Empire Rahma Zein told Arab News: “These kinds of events are important to reiterate the message that we need to empower ourselves to have the right kinds of discussions as to how to do that, be it economically or politically.”

The 30-year-old went viral in a video confronting CNN’s Clarissa Ward for her reporting at the Rafah border. She was then invited to appear on Piers Morgan’s TalkTV show to discuss Palestinians’ suffering.

She added: “Right now there is a void; there is an empty space because the veil has fallen.

“We’ve seen that these institutions that we deemed as prestigious, these news outlets that we deemed as prestigious, are no longer the case; they’re duds.

“Now is the time to look inwards, and look regionally and see so that we’re not looking at token politicians that look like us but speak in the name of Zionism or appease the colonizers.

“We need to empower ourselves. We need to own back our narrative and these are the events to do so.”

Fajr Scientific CEO Dr. Mosab Nasser has detailed a $55 million post-war plan aiming to enhance Gaza's medical infrastructure by adding 120 hospital beds, numerous operating rooms, and intensive care units over the next three years.

Meanwhile, the ICJP focuses on strategic legal actions and advocacy to align foreign policy with the realities Palestinians face, guided by international law.

Palestinian Ambassador to the UK Husam Zomlot and South African High Commissioner to the UK Jeremiah Nyamane Mamabolo. (AN Photo/Tamara Turki)

The event hosted a panel discussion featuring a high-profile list of speakers including Rahma Zein and Nasser alongside Palestinian Ambassador to the UK Husam Zomlot, award-winning journalist Ahmed Eldin, surgeon Dr. Ghassan Abu-Sitta, and Israeli-British historian Avi Shlaim.

The panelists tackled a wide range of issues on Israel’s war in Gaza, which has killed over 30,000 people. Eldin spoke on the democratization of the media and its role in challenging Western narratives about Palestine, while Abu-Sitta shared harrowing experiences of treating patients under siege in Gaza, including Israel’s bombing of hospitals.

The event drew 450 attendees, with tickets sold at between £150 to £250.
 


Culture Summit Abu Dhabi kicks off with call to ‘create a world of understanding’

Culture Summit Abu Dhabi kicks off with call to ‘create a world of understanding’
Updated 03 March 2024
Follow

Culture Summit Abu Dhabi kicks off with call to ‘create a world of understanding’

Culture Summit Abu Dhabi kicks off with call to ‘create a world of understanding’
  • World-renowned Syrian poet Adonis gave the first keynote speech of the summit
  • Mohamed Al-Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, stressed his desire to ‘create a world of understanding’

ABU DHABI: Culture Summit Abu Dhabi kicked off its sixth edition in the UAE capital with a diverse program of keynote speeches, creative talks, panel discussions and cultural performances.

On the first day of the three-day event, held under the theme of “A Matter of Time,” the summit explored the role of culture in creating collective memories while looking at alternatives to the linear concept of time.

Mohamed Khalifa Al-Mubarak, chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi, at Culture Summit Abu Dhabi 2024. (Supplied)

In his opening remarks, Mohamed Al-Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), said, “‘A Matter of Time’ is the theme for this year's Culture Summit Abu Dhabi, which serves as an invitation for us all to reflect and pause. Culture Summit is more than just words — issues will be discussed and tangible solutions will be found for global communities. Culture will allow us to understand each other, respect each other, accept and preserve each other’s culture. Once we attain this level of harmony, we will create a world of understanding.”

Al-Mubarak also made a call to attendees to make connections at the conference. “These are not just words in summits like this. Our job is to make sure we find platforms and other solutions to be a positive voice for our youth,” he said. “They will be the catalyst to make sure all of our actions and all of our fruits bear.”

Al-Mubarak then introduced world-renowned Syrian poet and philosopher Adonis, who gave the summit’s first keynote speech where he framed the relationship between people and time, exploring both in the context of technological advancements.

“Time is a creation and we are living in an era of technological advancements and modernism, enslaving us where it should have set us free. At the culture summit, we share one common goal with distinct yet similar views on culture, poetry and art. We are living in an era where nature and creativity are the need of the hour. Technology cannot be creative, cannot think, breathe or feel — technology is not the problem but relying too much on it is,” said Adonis.

"When man lives according to his creative nature, they will be a source of continuous innovation," he continued. "Understanding that is the key to a person's relationship with himself, to others and the world."

Emirati celebrity singer and Goodwill Ambassador at Large Hussain Al-Jassmi also took part in a conversation with Egyptian talk show host Mona Al-Shazly. “The UAE is a strong enabler for creative talents, including emerging artists. I personally received great support from the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, who I believe was the first supporter of creative talents in the UAE. In addition, the UAE is the best example of coexistence and harmony, embracing residents of more than 200 nationalities — you can walk across any walkway in the UAE and come across five different dialects and languages.”

Nobel Prize in Literature winner, playwright, and professor of theater at NYU Abu Dhabi Wole Soyinka sat in conversation with Manthia Diawara, professor in the department of cinema studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts to discuss the intricacies of African culture as well as issues around identity, as well as his thoughts on restitution.

Culture Summit Abu Dhabi, which runs until March 5, is organised by DCT Abu Dhabi.