Little Asia brings forth worlds of wonder

Special Little Asia brings forth worlds of wonder
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Live music, roaming acts, traditional goods, fine Asian crafts, and an amazing array of costumes are among the festival’s highlights. (Supplied)
Special Little Asia brings forth worlds of wonder
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Live music, roaming acts, traditional goods, fine Asian crafts, and an amazing array of costumes are among the festival’s highlights. (Supplied)
Special Little Asia brings forth worlds of wonder
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Live music, roaming acts, traditional goods, fine Asian crafts, and an amazing array of costumes are among the festival’s highlights. (Supplied)
Special Little Asia brings forth worlds of wonder
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Live music, roaming acts, traditional goods, fine Asian crafts, and an amazing array of costumes are among the festival’s highlights. (Supplied)
Special Little Asia brings forth worlds of wonder
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Live music, roaming acts, traditional goods, fine Asian crafts, and an amazing array of costumes are among the festival’s highlights. (Supplied)
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Updated 18 December 2023
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Little Asia brings forth worlds of wonder

Little Asia brings forth worlds of wonder
  • With eight countries represented, the festival presents vibrant opportunity for cultural exchange, appreciation
  • Culinary adventures are endless — from sipping on refreshing juices and watching the fountains at the Bali Lounge to the harmonious blend of Japanese flavors at Torikati

JEDDAH: At Little Asia, a vibrant array of East Asian cultures are a short stroll away from one another, offering locals and visitors the chance to celebrate rich traditions through immersive experiences, shop for souvenirs, and indulge in a delectable diverse offering of flavors.

With eight different recreational areas that suit all ages and tastes, the redesigned area from City Walk to Little Asia masterfully combines arts and cultures from China, Thailand, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Singapore.

Live music, roaming acts, traditional goods, fine Asian crafts, and an amazing array of costumes are among the festival’s highlights.

Paul Mortensen, participating in Little Asia for the first time and exhibiting his jewelry at Manila Souq, said: “Having been in Manila for the last 10 years, me and my wife started our journey by selling handmade authentic jewelry under the name ‘Crystal Works by Jo.’ We offer unique jewelry designed with real gems, such as sapphire, ruby, and other stones. This being our first time in Jeddah and participating in the event, I am thrilled to see so many customers interested. Our specialty is handmade sapphire bracelets and full sets.”

At Little Asia, visitors can discover a wide array of stops that beautifully represent the customs and traditions of Asia, along with offering a unique shopping experience.

The culinary adventures are endless — from sipping on refreshing juices and watching the fountains at the Bali Lounge to the harmonious blend of Japanese flavors at Torikati, where a variety of dishes including takoyaki balls filled with chicken, octopus, squid, or cheese, as well as grilled meats, take center stage.

In addition to this, visitors can try delectable street food offerings from Hong Kong, Malaysia or Manila.

Marielle from the Philippines who works as a nurse shared her heartfelt experience, saying: “Visiting Little Asia felt like coming home. The sights, sounds, and flavors reminded me of my own country. It was a nostalgic journey that allowed me to reconnect with my roots and celebrate the beauty of Asian cultures.”

Another visitor, Saud Rahman, who came to experience the festival and learn from the diverse cultures said: “As someone eager to explore different countries and immerse myself in their cultures, Little Asia was an absolute delight. I had the opportunity to taste authentic Asian cuisine, witness captivating performances, and gain a deeper understanding of the rich traditions. It’s amazing to have new entertainment zones to enjoy in Jeddah that broadened my horizons and allowed me to enjoy some quality time with my family.”

Visitors can also enjoy a mesmerizing walk through Sakura Garden filled with the cherry blossoms trees and illuminating lights creating a magical ambiance that transports them to Japan in an instant.

One visitor, Sarah James, said: “Walking through Sakura Garden felt like being embraced by the very essence of Tokyo during the sakura season. The blooming cherry blossom tree truly captured the essence of Japan’s beauty and tranquility.”

Another must-visit zone is the thrilling Hong Kong horror encounter at Trend, where a host of costumed characters, from monsters to zombies, will keep visitors on the edge. For those seeking even more excitement, the Ninja Playground, climbing walls, football, trampolines, and virtual reality games will ensure that both children and adults can enjoy.

At the festival, a number of booths showcased various goods or services to represent Asian nations. Owner of Woodboom Interior, Abdullakutty Edassery, proudly made his debut in Jeddah with a unique line of handcrafted teakwood furniture and home decor from Indonesia.

The handmade calligraphy frames with Qur’anic verses on them, painstakingly created over 45 days by an Indonesian woman, were the piece de resistance. Visitors were notably in awe of the items on display in his booth.

Abdulrahman Alruntaysi, general manager of Otaku store specializing in selling figures, cosplay dresses, and katana swords of anime characters, said: “We have participated in Jeddah Season before, but this year was different as many people showed interest, and the sales were really good. The anime figures represent a significant aspect of Asian culture, and Little Asia was the perfect place to showcase and attract attention.”

Ayman Basheer, co-founder of Tenang Massage Center, offered visitors an authentic Bali experience with special massages. He said: “At Tenang Massage Center, we provide the complete Bali vibes, delivering exceptional massage services.”

The cost of admission to the Little Asia Festival is SR55 ($15) on weekends and SR35 on weekdays and the festival will run until Sunday, March 3, 2024.


Johnny Depp appears at UK premiere of Saudi-backed film ‘Jeanne du Barry’

Johnny Depp appears at UK premiere of Saudi-backed film ‘Jeanne du Barry’
Updated 17 April 2024
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Johnny Depp appears at UK premiere of Saudi-backed film ‘Jeanne du Barry’

Johnny Depp appears at UK premiere of Saudi-backed film ‘Jeanne du Barry’

DUBAI: US actor Johnny Depp said he felt “strangely, oddly, perversely lucky” to have been offered the role of French King Louis XV at the UK premiere of his new film “Jeanne du Barry.”

Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival Foundation provided post-production support for the period drama, marking the first time the foundation co-produced a French movie.

Depp was accompanied by the film’s co-star and director Maïwenn on stage at the Curzon theater in Mayfair, where the duo briefly introduced the film.

“I feel very lucky to have been [offered the role] – strangely, oddly, perversely lucky,” he said on stage in London, according to Variety. “Because when Maïwenn and I first actually met and talked about the notion of me doing the film and playing Louis XV, the King of France — see that’s when instantly what happens in your brain is you instantly go back to Kentucky, where, like, everything is fried. So you realise that you’ve come from the bellybutton of nowhere and suddenly you end up playing the King of France.”

 


Egyptian film ‘East of Noon’ heads to Cannes

Egyptian film ‘East of Noon’ heads to Cannes
Updated 17 April 2024
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Egyptian film ‘East of Noon’ heads to Cannes

Egyptian film ‘East of Noon’ heads to Cannes

DUBAI: Egyptian director Hala Elkoussy’s film “East of Noon” has been selected for screening at the Cannes Film Festival Directors’ Fortnight, selected by artistic director Julien Rejl as part of an international line-up of 21 films, putting the spotlight on global directors and their stories.

Rejl revealed the line-up at a press conference in Paris on Tuesday for the Cannes parallel section run by French directors’ guild the SRF.

Elkoussy’s “East of Noon” is one of eight films directed or co-directed by women among the 21 films selected this year.

 


Saudi Arabia’s Wadi AlFann launches Venice Art Biennale showcase ahead of book launch

Saudi Arabia’s Wadi AlFann launches Venice Art Biennale showcase ahead of book launch
Updated 14 min 4 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s Wadi AlFann launches Venice Art Biennale showcase ahead of book launch

Saudi Arabia’s Wadi AlFann launches Venice Art Biennale showcase ahead of book launch

DUBAI: Wadi AlFann, Saudi Arabia’s major new cultural destination for art, design and performance, is presenting a showcase titled “Journeys in Land Art, Towards Wadi AlFann, AlUla” during the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.

The showcase spotlights the first five artists commissioned for Wadi AlFann: Manal AlDowayan, Agnes Denes, Michael Heizer, Ahmed Mater and James Turrell.

On April 19, Wadi AlFann Publications is also launching books by AlDowayan and US artist Mark Dion titled “Oasis of Stories” and “The Desert Field Guide.”

The duo will host a panel discussion to delve into their books, exploring how participation is fundamental to their practice as well as delivering insights on the desert.

Wadi AlFann, AlUla. (Supplied)

Meanwhile, a series of renders, drawings, maquettes and interviews, including drawings gathered by AlDowayan — the artist representing Saudi Arabia at La Biennale di Venezia 2024 — through her participatory workshops with communities across AlUla, are being displayed at the event in Venice.

A series of studies by Mater revealing the artist’s plans for his Wadi AlFann commission titled “Ashab Al-Lal” are also on display.

The installation, inspired by the scientific and philosophical thinkers of the Islamic Golden Age, aims to explore the mythic space between subjective imagination and objective reality.

Nora Aldabal, executive director of arts and creative industries at the Royal Commission for AlUla, said in a statement: “We are delighted to introduce Wadi AlFann to Venice, during the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, through the Wadi AlFann showcase.”

She added: “It provides a glimpse at the journey toward AlUla’s new global destination for land art. Visionary arts initiatives like Wadi AlFann play a crucial role in AlUla’s development strategy, and we cannot wait for you to see it in person.”

Guided tours will be available at the biennale from April 18-20 and from April 25-27.

Wadi AlFann will bring compelling artwork from around the world to AlUla, the desert region of northwest Saudi Arabia steeped in thousands of years of natural, historical and cultural heritage.


Young Saudi artist finds beauty in the ordinary

Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif.
Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif.
Updated 16 April 2024
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Young Saudi artist finds beauty in the ordinary

Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif.
  • Dana Almasoud’s works are inspired by historical Middle Eastern and European art aesthetics

RIYADH: When picking up a pencil or paintbrush to create an artwork, self-taught Saudi artist Dana Almasoud channels her inner child.

“As soon as a child picks up a pencil, they attempt to draw or capture a sense of what they see through their eyes on paper. The majority of them stop at some point in their childhood, for whatever reason,” Almasoud told Arab News.

Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif. (Supplied)

“Fortunately, I was one of the few who never did. I had the luxury of a supportive mother who always looked forward to my next scribble.”

While pursuing her undergraduate studies in finance, as a freelance artist Almasoud explores a variety of styles, from fine art to surrealism and fantasy inspired by everyday scenes.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Much of Dana Almasoud’s work is inspired by Islamic historical art, characterized by its symbolism and emphasis on the beauty of spirituality.

• One of her first works inspired by Saudi culture was a commission from a man who wanted a portrait in the orientalist style.

• The artist says her work is an attempt to fill the void that excess simplicity and minimalism has created in recent years.

“The warm morning sun, the singing of the birds, the stoplights and the people. I am surrounded by life and I do my best to pour what I see into my work. What makes us human is how we make things from nothing,” she said.

Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif. (Supplied)

Speaking about the “sanctuary” she has created in her room, she said: “It took me years of collecting, arranging and a lot of dedication to get it to how it is now.”

Much of Almasoud’s work is inspired by Islamic historical art, characterized by its symbolism and emphasis on the beauty of spirituality.

As a freelance artist Dana Almasoud explores a variety of styles, from fine art to surrealism and fantasy inspired by everyday scenes. (Instagram/esotericdana)

“In order for me to create things that resemble life, it only makes sense to use colors that already exist in nature,” she said.

“I take a lot of inspiration from historical art, both from Europe and the Middle East, since the pigments they used were extracted from natural sources and were perfectly saturated.”

Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif. (Supplied)

She enjoys experimenting with new mediums, but drawing with a pencil is her preferred choice.

“I also do enjoy the occasional challenge of an ink brush, because once it sets its bristles on paper, you cannot go back. When it comes to painting with color (watercolors, acrylics, oils), I still consider myself in the process of learning,” she said.

The warm morning sun, the singing of the birds, the stoplights and the people. I am surrounded by life and I do my best to pour what I see into my work.

Dana Almasoud, Saudi artist

“I also experiment with pyrography, doll making, embroidery, linoleum block printing and, soon, murals.”

Almasoud said one of her first works inspired by Saudi culture was a commission from a man who wanted to look like an orientalist.

Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif. (Supplied)

Her most recent painting is of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green “shoulders” that are prevalent in Qatif.

“These tomatoes are known for a special flavor and a lot of farmers from various lands tried to grow it themselves, but to no avail. For some reason, these tomatoes only taste special when they grow on that specific piece of land,” Almasoud said.

She said she had been told her work had “a layer of fog, where the edges are never harsh,” which reflects the high levels of humidity in the Eastern Province where she lives.

“I can see the Arabian Gulf from the window of my room. You can imagine the high rates of humidity, which is where I think that layer came from,” she said.

“I will always wonder how this translated into what I draw, but regardless, I do love it.”

Almasoud said her art was an attempt to fill the void that excess simplicity and minimalism has created in recent years.

“My art is an attempt to inspire people back to see the beauty in complexity and the intricacy of the small things in life.”

Speaking about the importance of art in the modern world, she said: “With the increase in the pace of the world, art has become even more important. It gives people and their minds something to hang on to, for them to not lose themselves and their identities in a busy world.”

For more information about the artist visit @esotericdana on Instagram.

 


Israeli artist shuts Venice Biennale exhibit until ‘ceasefire agreement happens’

Israeli artist shuts Venice Biennale exhibit until ‘ceasefire agreement happens’
Updated 16 April 2024
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Israeli artist shuts Venice Biennale exhibit until ‘ceasefire agreement happens’

Israeli artist shuts Venice Biennale exhibit until ‘ceasefire agreement happens’

DUBAI: Israeli artist Ruth Patir has shut down her national pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale, saying that she will only reopen it when a “ceasefire agreement happens” between Israel and Hamas.  

Patir said in a statement on Instagram: “I feel that the time for art is lost and I need to believe it will return. We (Tamar, Mira and I) have become the news, not the art. And so, if I am given such a remarkable stage, I want to make it count.

“I have therefore decided that the pavilion will only open when the release of hostages and ceasefire agreement happens,” she added. “This has been our decision and we stand by it. I am an artist and educator, I firmly object to cultural boycott, but since I feel there are answers, and I can only do what I can with the space I have, I prefer to raise my voice with those I stand with in their scream, ceasefire now, bring the people back from captivity. We can’t take it anymore.”

In February, thousands of people, including artists, curators and museum directors, signed an online appeal calling for Israel to be excluded from this year’s art fair and accusing the country of “genocide” in Gaza.

“Any official representation of Israel on the international cultural stage is an endorsement of its policies and of the genocide in Gaza,” said the online statement by the Art Not Genocide Alliance (ANGA) collective.

ANGA said the Venice Biennale had previously banned South Africa over its apartheid policy of white minority rule and excluded Russia after its 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Italian Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano said the appeal was an “unacceptable, as well as shameful ... diktat of those who believe they are the custodians of truth, and with arrogance and hatred, think they can threaten freedom of thought and creative expression.”

Dubbed the “Olympics of the art world,” the Biennale is one of the main events in the international arts calendar. This year’s edition, “Foreigners Everywhere,” is due to host pavilions from 90 countries between April 20 and Nov. 24.