The Weeknd donates $2.5m to Gaza

The Weeknd donates $2.5m to Gaza
The multi-platinum global recording artist was appointed a goodwill ambassador in October 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 02 December 2023
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The Weeknd donates $2.5m to Gaza

The Weeknd donates $2.5m to Gaza

DUBAI: The UN World Food Programme this week announced that its goodwill ambassador, Canadian singer The Weeknd — whose birth name is Abel Tesfaye — has donated $2.5 million from his XO Humanitarian Fund to aid WFP’s humanitarian response in Gaza.

The donation, which equates to 4 million emergency meals, will fund 820 tons of food parcels that could feed more than 173,000 Palestinians for two weeks, the organization said.

“This conflict has unleashed a humanitarian catastrophe beyond reckoning. WFP is working round the clock to provide aid in Gaza but a major scale up is needed to address the desperate level of hunger we are seeing,” Corinne Fleischer, WFP’s director for the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe, said in a statement.

“We thank Abel for this valuable contribution towards the people of Palestine. We hope others will follow Abel’s example and support our efforts.”

The multi-platinum global recording artist was appointed a goodwill ambassador in October 2021.


Model Loli Bahia builds ties with Louis Vuitton

Model Loli Bahia builds ties with Louis Vuitton
Updated 28 February 2024
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Model Loli Bahia builds ties with Louis Vuitton

Model Loli Bahia builds ties with Louis Vuitton
  • In-demand model is currently in Paris for the city’s fashion week

DUBAI: French-Algerian model Loli Bahia is cementing her relationship with the prestigious luxury brand Louis Vuitton.

This week, the fashion house unveiled its latest campaign for the Spring/Summer 2024 collection, featuring the 21-year-old burgeoning star.

In the promotional clip, Bahia showcased the brand’s pieces accessorizing with a vibrant orange Dauphine bag crafted from supple leather.

Complementing the statement accessory, she donned an oversized blazer dress adorned with multiple buttons, accentuated with white stockings and heels.

This is not Bahia’s first collaboration with the brand.

In March 2023, she walked the Louis Vuitton show during Paris Fashion Week.

Loli Bahia has previously graced the runways for Louis Vuitton. (Getty Images)

She graced the catwalk in a white suit that featured ripped trousers — secured with a thin black belt — and a blazer that was unbuttoned from the center. She donned closed-toed black heels and an off-white purse.

Bahia, who is signed to Women Management Paris, made her runway debut in 2020 at Louis Vuitton’s Fall 2021 show.

She also starred in the Parisian luxury house’s advertising campaign for Fall 2021.

The model is currently in Paris for the city’s fashion week.

On Tuesday, she made a striking debut on the runways walking for Saint Laurent. Dressed in a sheer knee-length beige gown featuring a sophisticated turtleneck, she added a touch of flair with a vibrant red belt adorned with a gold buckle and oversized bangles.

Last week, she opened the Versace runway during Milan Fashion Week in a black mini-dress, complementing her ensemble with a bold pop of color courtesy of a fiery red purse.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Loli bahia (@lolibahiaa)

She took to Instagram to express her excitement. “OPENING VERSACE… my best walk for now so proud,” she wrote adding a video of her walk.

Bahia is one of the most in-demand models in the industry, becoming a runway fixture in just a few months after a breakthrough Spring 2022 fashion season, where she walked in 65 shows.

She has walked for a host of prestigious labels, including Chanel, Tory Burch, Givenchy, Lanvin, Schiaparelli and Valentino.

Bahia also fronted campaigns for Saint Laurent, Tod’s, Isabel Marant, Courreges and Max Mara in addition to starring on the cover of Vogue Italia.


Japanese star Hiroyuki Sanada leads the show on ‘Shogun,’ FX’s new historical drama

Japanese star Hiroyuki Sanada leads the show on ‘Shogun,’ FX’s new historical drama
Updated 28 February 2024
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Japanese star Hiroyuki Sanada leads the show on ‘Shogun,’ FX’s new historical drama

Japanese star Hiroyuki Sanada leads the show on ‘Shogun,’ FX’s new historical drama
  • The historical drama is now available to stream in the Middle East on Disney+

DUBAI: “Shogun,” FX’s latest adaptation of James Clavell’s 1975 bestselling novel set in 1600s feudal Japan, is a far cry from the popular 1980s mini-series, told predominantly from the point of view of its Western protagonist John Blackthorne (played then by Richard Chamberlain, and now by Cosmo Jarvis).

While Jarvis’ Blackthorne gets ample screen time in the new iteration of “Shogun,” now streaming on Disney+ in the Middle East, co-creators and husband-wife duo Justin Marks and Rachel Kondo were keen to center the story around its Japanese characters.

Cosmo Jarvis as John Blackthorne ‘Shogun.’ (Courtesy of Disney+)

“Shogun” follows the story of Lord Yoshii Toranaga, played by producer Hiroyuki Sanada, as he fights for his life against enemies on the Council of Regents who unite against him. When a mysterious European ship is found marooned in a nearby fishing village, its English pilot, John Blackthorne, comes bearing secrets that could help Toranaga tip the scales of power and devastate the formidable influence of Blackthorne’s own enemies.

In the meantime, Toranaga’s and Blackthorne’s fates become inextricably tied to their translator, Toda Mariko (Anna Sawai), a mysterious noblewoman and the last of a disgraced line.

Talking about the relevance of the book and why they wanted to revisit the story now, Marks told Arab News: “This book has such a great legacy that so many movies, television shows and other stories have taken from it over the decades since it came out. So, how do we tell something new? And, fortunately, when you open up the book, you realize Clavell is already playing with some of these very modern ideas of how we encounter other cultures, how we encounter ourselves within those cultures, and he’s doing so with really great sensitivity. As we began to talk about that, we realized this is a story that has to be told again, already 50 years later, because it seems like we’ve forgotten a lot of its lessons.”

Kondo said: “It almost feels like it was meant to be told again, in that it felt weirdly and unexpectedly modern — it felt timeless. And so, here we are a few generations later.”

Hiroyuki Sanada plays Toranaga, a Japanese lord loosely modeled on Tokugawa Ieyasu, the military ruler who helped to unite Japan in the early 17th century after a long period of civil war.
(Courtesy of Disney+)

Playing the central Japanese character in the show is Sanada, who plays Toranaga, a Japanese lord loosely modeled on Tokugawa Ieyasu, the military ruler who helped to unite Japan in the early 17th century after a long period of civil war, introducing a period of peace that lasted for more than 200 years.

Sanada, who broke into Hollywood with the 2003 film “The Last Samurai,” is also a producer on the show and was keen to bring his years of experience working in Japanese films to Hollywood.

And to make sure he could play the part when he was in front of the camera, it was important to Sanada that all matters of production were taken care of in advance.

“I made sure to prepare everything beforehand before I sit in front of the camera,” Sanada told Arab News.

“So, first of all, we tried to get the Japanese crew who are specialists for Samurai movie-making, then we got specialists for the wigs, costumes, props, master of gesture, master of tea ceremony, everyone. So, we had a good team for each department to make the show authentic as much as possible. And we also had a rehearsal training for the young actors and extras. So, before starting shooting, I prepare everything. So, when I was on set as an actor, I felt freedom, relaxed. It was fun. It felt like a reward,” he added.

Anna Sawai as Lady Mariko in ‘Shogun.’ (Courtesy of Disney+)

And this authenticity is exactly why co-creators Marks and Kondo were ecstatic to have Sanada join the team.

“The thrill of getting to have Hiro onboard, not just as our star, but, really, as a resource, as a producer on the show, was what made the difference between a show you’ve seen before and a show you’ve never seen before,” said Marks.

“In our early conversations with him, we asked him: ‘You’ve been working in Hollywood for 20 to 25 years, what have we gotten wrong? And how can we change the way that we work in order to improve upon that?’ And, from the very beginning, he would just sort of say, here’s who you need to hire on this show, you need a cultural adviser, you need a language adviser, a historian, a Japanese playwright, period pros who can add a little bit of modernity, but also make something feel like it’s a touch classical as well. And these are all things for us as Americans coming into this, you know, that are far over our heads. And so, without having Hiro, we wouldn’t have been able to reach for the level of authenticity that we were after.”

For Sanada, who began acting at the age of five and trained in martial arts soon after, “Shogun” is a chance to introduce the rest of the world to Japanese culture, but sans the Western gaze.

“I think this is a great novel — a great story to introduce our culture to the world. Earlier, our audience can see feudal Japan through Blackthorne’s blue eyes. But this time, it is more like a novel. We tried to create the script, like not only blue eyes, but put more Japanese lens on the script and then go deeper for each character or details,” said Sanada.


Best of the East: Saudi artists on show at Riyadh’s Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale

Best of the East: Saudi artists on show at Riyadh’s Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale
Updated 28 February 2024
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Best of the East: Saudi artists on show at Riyadh’s Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale

Best of the East: Saudi artists on show at Riyadh’s Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale
  • Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale celebrates work from around the world
  • Many pieces being shown for the first time in public

RIYADH: Work by several of the best artists from the Kingdom’s Eastern Province will be among the offerings at this year’s international Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale in Riyadh.

Among them is Abdulrahman Al-Soliman, who has been a force in the Saudi art world for many decades. He has also written several books on the subject, including his 2000 work, “The Journey of the Saudi Fine Arts Movement.”

At the exhibition, which has the theme “After Rain,” his series of ink drawings, titled “Palm, Bow and Fragments” (1990-91) is on show for the very first time.

Mohammad Al-Faraj. (Supplied)

Born in 1954 in Al-Ahsa, Al-Soliman told Arab News he created the collection during the Gulf War, more than 30 years ago, and that the paintings reflected the unfolding chaos that engulfed neighboring Kuwait.

“I lived with the side effects of the Kuwaiti conflict and its liberation. I started organically, I didn’t know it would become a series,” he said.

“I’ve always loved drawing since I was young, I would scribble daily, it is part of my life. At school, I was good at art only, nothing else.

Mohammad Al-Faraj. (Supplied)

“Since 1970, I have been making art. And this series on display at the biennale — some in color, some not — I rolled them up and put them aside. This is the first time anyone has seen them displayed, even my family at home didn’t see this. The curators came to my studio and selected them,” he said.

Another Eastern Province artist whose work is on show is Nabila Al-Bassam, who founded the Arab Heritage Gallery in Alkhobar in 1979. She also is also showcasing previously unseen works at the event.

“I was invited to join the biennale and said yes because I am an artist and I have a lot of artwork and no one has seen it,” she told Arab News.

Armin Linke and Ahmed Mater. (Supplied)

“I have my own gallery. It was one of the first in the Kingdom and it’s still working, so I’m very happy about it. But I don’t really exhibit a lot of my own work, I exhibit other people: Saudi artists and others who draw about the Middle East.”

Al-Bassam is a mixed-media artist who uses traditional textile-making processes to produce and create multi-layered collages. She said she was delighted to be among the artists on show.

“What stood out to me at the biennale was the works of Saudi women artists, I really was surprised,” she said.

Nabila Al-Bassam. (Supplied)

“I’ve seen many beautiful works. The installations, the hangings — very, very interesting, made out of metal and things like this. There’s a lot to be excited about. They were large works and they were new works, completely new, modern and a new way of thinking.”

Several of the younger generation of Eastern Province artists are also exhibiting in Riyadh.

Tara Aldughaither. (Supplied)

Among them is Tara Aldugaither, 34, who grew up in Dhahran and in 2020 founded Sawtasura — “voice of the image” — a community-based platform that collects and reimagines the musical histories of Arab women.

Another is Mohammad Al-Faraj, a 31-year-old from Al Ahsa whose work reflects his environment. His playful pieces regularly feature palm trees.

The Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale is being held in the city’s JAX district and runs until May 24.


Amira Al-Zuhair, Arab models turn heads on the runway

Amira Al-Zuhair, Arab models turn heads on the runway
Updated 27 February 2024
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Amira Al-Zuhair, Arab models turn heads on the runway

Amira Al-Zuhair, Arab models turn heads on the runway

DUBAI: Part-Saudi model Amira Al-Zuhair, alongside British Moroccan star Nora Attal and Moroccan Italian model Malika El-Maslouhi, turned heads at a futuristic Missoni show in Milan before heading to Paris Fashion Week.

The Italian luxury fashion label’s runway showcased an abundance of printed designs featuring lines in various orientations over the weekend.

From horizontal stripes on flowing dresses to diagonal lines adorning tailored jackets and vertical stripes enhancing structured coats, the collection offered a diverse array of patterns. 

Her outfit comprised vertically striped tights, diagonal striped shorts and a printed cover-up. (Getty Images)

Each garment exemplified Missoni’s expertise in knitwear, with the interplay of lines adding depth and dimension to the pieces. 

Al-Zuhair, born in Paris to a French mother and Saudi father, made a striking statement in a black, white, and grey ensemble on the runway. Her outfit comprised vertically striped tights, diagonal striped shorts and a printed cover-up. 

The leggings were integrated into her shoes, adding a unique twist to her ensemble.

Completing the look, she adorned a headpiece that echoed the leggings and accessorized with brown and white shades.

El-Maslouhi captivated in a black-and-white dress featuring a short cape and a thigh-high slit. (Getty Images)

Meanwhile, El-Maslouhi captivated in a black-and-white dress featuring a short cape and a thigh-high slit, elegantly paired with the same vertically striped tights worn by Al-Zuhair.

Attal also showed off a sophisticated black-and-white ensemble, wearing tailored trousers paired with a cropped fur coat.

In addition to the monochrome ensembles worn by all the aforementioned models, the Fall/Winter 2025 women’s collection showcased a burst of color without fixating on specific hues. From vibrant purple and pink to earthy brown, fiery orange, cool blue and every shade in between, the collection embraced a diverse spectrum of colors.

Attal also showed off a sophisticated black-and-white ensemble, wearing tailored trousers paired with a cropped fur coat. (Getty Images)

According to the brand’s website, the stripes symbolize “a new beginning” and intertwine “to create the drawings of the renowned (fashion) illustrator Brunetta (Mateldi).”

Al-Zuhair has made her mark on the fashion world by walking for an array of esteemed brands beyond Missoni. Her runway presence has been felt in shows for renowned fashion houses such as Maison Alaia, Brunello Cucinelli, Balmain, Dolce & Gabbana, Giambattista Valli, Giorgio Armani, Elie Saab and many more. 

In addition to her runway appearances, Al-Zuhair has been featured in campaigns for various high-profile brands including Prada, Chanel and Carolina Herrera.

All three models will no doubt hit the runway at the ongoing edition of Paris Fashion Week, with past appearances suggesting they will walk for a clutch of high-end fashion houses during the event that wraps up on March 5.


Aziz Ansari, Tom Segura to headline first-ever Abu Dhabi Comedy Week

Aziz Ansari, Tom Segura to headline first-ever Abu Dhabi Comedy Week
Updated 27 February 2024
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Aziz Ansari, Tom Segura to headline first-ever Abu Dhabi Comedy Week

Aziz Ansari, Tom Segura to headline first-ever Abu Dhabi Comedy Week

DUBAI: The first-ever Abu Dhabi Comedy Week is set to kick off in May this year, with Aziz Ansari and Tom Segura announced as headliners for the inaugural event, to be held from May 18–26 at the Etihad Arena.

Ansari, who rose to fame for his role in “Parks and Recreation,” as well as his Emmy-winning Netflix show “Master of None,” will take to the stage on May 18.

US actor-writer Segura, one of the biggest names in the comedy business, will take the stage on May 25. He is best known for his Netflix specials “Ball Hog,” “Disgraceful,” “Mostly Stories” and “Completely Normal.” In July 2022, he released his New York Times bestselling book, ‘I’d Like To Play Alone, Please,” which was described as “laugh out loud funny” by Forbes. 

“We are thrilled to be a part of Abu Dhabi Comedy Week, the capital’s new annual celebration of joy and laughter, underscoring our commitment to presenting premier entertainment offerings to the vibrant community of Abu Dhabi,” said James Craven, president of Live Nation Middle East.

“With an incredible line-up featuring some of the biggest names in the industry brought to the festival by Live Nation Middle East, Abu Dhabi Comedy Week will offer unforgettable experiences for comedy fans across the region. Having already established ourselves on the comedy circuit, hosting the biggest comedy show seen in the UAE last year, this is another incredible step in our live entertainment journey.”