Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures

Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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The third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites. (SPA)
Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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The third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites. (SPA)
Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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The third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites. (SPA)
Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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CEO of the Ministry of Culture’s Theater and Performing Arts Commission Sultan Al-Bazie. (Supplied)
Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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The third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites. (Supplied)
Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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The third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites. (Supplied)
Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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The third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites. (Supplied)
Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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The third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites. (Supplied)
Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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The third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites. (Supplied)
Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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The third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites. (Supplied)
Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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The third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites. (Supplied)
Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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The third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites. (Supplied)
Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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The third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites. (Supplied)
Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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The third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites. (Supplied)
Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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The third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites. (Supplied)
Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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The third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites. (Supplied)
Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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The third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites. (Supplied)
Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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The third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites. (Supplied)
Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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The third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites. (Supplied)
Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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The third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites. (Supplied)
Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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The third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites. (Supplied)
Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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The third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites. (Supplied)
Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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The third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites. (Supplied)
Special Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
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The third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites. (Supplied)
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Updated 24 January 2024
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Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures

Abha festival in Saudi Arabia shines spotlight on world’s mountain cultures
  • Historic sites of the Kingdom hosting local, international dance performances
  • 20 Saudi groups and 25 international groups from countries like Argentina, Spain, Uganda, Mexico and Peru paraded through the streets

JEDDAH: A festival to celebrate the cultural heritage of the world’s mountain regions is leaving a mark on the landscape of Saudi Arabia’s Asir region.

Organized by the Ministry of Culture’s Theater and Performing Arts Commission, the week-long third Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performance Arts will run until Jan. 27 across eight archaeological sites, showcasing the rich tapestry of mountain performing arts and drawing visitors from around the world.

The festival’s opening day featured an outdoor carnival parade along Prince Sultan Road in Khamis Mushayt. A total of 20 Saudi groups and 25 international groups from countries like Argentina, Spain, Uganda, Mexico and Peru paraded through the streets, presenting more than 40 mountain styles in diverse and colorful costumes.

For centuries, mountainous cultures have maintained traditions in some of the world’s most isolated places, preserving distinctive linguistic and cultural heritage that is rarely seen or heard by wider society. The Saudi cultural extravaganza not only entertained audiences, but also provided a glimpse into some of the oldest traditional dances from around the world.

Following the parade, Sultan Al-Bazie, CEO of the commission, told Arab News: “At the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, we are committed to hosting high-quality cultural events. We firmly believe that the uniqueness of mountain performance arts is unique and internationally recognized.”

The festival, which in 2022 began as a local event for the Kingdom’s mountain regions — from Tabuk in the north to Jazan, Najran and Asir in the south — has evolved into an international platform, creating global cross-cultural dialogue.

The second edition of the festival involved 14 countries and featured 16 Saudi groups presenting traditional dances from across the Kingdom.

This year, in its third edition, the festival further increased the number of countries represented, covering almost all the world’s continents, the commission reported.

Abha, the first city in the Kingdom to win the Capital of Arab Tourism title in 2017, played a significant role in hosting the celebrations.

Al-Bazie said: “The main goal of this event is to draw comparisons between mountain performances around the world. We find many commonalities, whether in rhythms, performances or body movements. This cultural blend between world nations provides diversity, connecting different cultures and giving the Saudi audience in the Asir region a chance to experience performing arts from around the world.”

In the audience was well-known Bahraini YouTuber Omar Al-Farooq, also known as “Omar Tries.” He told Arab News: “Despite traveling to many countries and continents, this massive carnival parade made me realize how vast the world is with its diverse cultures and traditions. I am now excited to visit these countries and explore their arts further.”

He added: “The lively spirit of the Latin American performances was especially beautiful and engaging.

This year’s event features 13 Saudi folk performances from the Asir region, five from Al-Baha, three from Najran, one from Tabuk, one from Madinah, one from Taif and two from Jazan.

Mashari Aseery, a local father of two daughters, said: “The festival was incredible! The energy, the music, and the overall vibe were just amazing. It was such a great way to celebrate our local culture and showcase the performance arts of our ancestors.”

Another Abha local, Salma Al-Malki, who is studying fashion design, said: “I attended the festival for the first time this year, and I was blown away. The organizers did a fantastic job of bringing together a diverse range of performers and activities from around the world. The highlight for me was the fashion area, where I got to explore more about ancient fashion from across the globe.”

The opening night ended with a musical concert with Yemeni singer Fouad Abdulwahed and Lebanese singer Melhem Zein, who captivated a large audience with Lebanese songs and diverse dabke performances.

Dabke, a folklore dance popular across the Levant, and Lebanon in particular, involves performers — both men and women — forming a row, an arc or a circle. The first dancer leads the performance and guides the direction of the group, as well as displays extra motions that showcase his skill.

During the six-day festival, daily performances by 45 Saudi and international groups are taking place in eight heritage villages: Basta Al-Qabil, Shamsan Castle, Bin Adwan Heritage Village, Malik Historical Palace, Al-Mushait Palaces, Al-Abo Sarrah Palaces, the Castles of Abu Nuqata Al-Mutahmi and Bin Hamsan Village.

The villages are also hosting antique shops, live music performances, fashion displays, local food areas, art platforms, children’s activities and more.

The Qemam festival also features seminars and workshops on folkloric traditions, including the history of dabke, among other topics.

The festival has raised awareness of the theater and performing arts sector as a vital cultural field, and has also created job opportunities for talented people in the region.

The commission’s commitment to fostering international cultural exchange aligns with the goals of the National Cultural Strategy under the umbrella of Saudi Vision 2030.

The festival will conclude with a grand carnival parade and a closing musical concert.


Saudi Arabia’s Film AlUla scores trophies at Global Production Awards

Saudi Arabia’s Film AlUla scores trophies at Global Production Awards
Updated 22 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s Film AlUla scores trophies at Global Production Awards

Saudi Arabia’s Film AlUla scores trophies at Global Production Awards

DUBAI: The Royal Commission for AlUla’s film agency Film AlUla on Wednesday received the Emerging Location Award and Film Commission Award at the Global Production Awards held on the sidelines of the 77th Cannes Film Festival.

The award show recognizes efforts in producing and filming movies and shows. It highlights projects that set high standards in sustainability, diversity and local economic benefits from production activities.

Charlene Deleon-Jones, the executive director of Film AlUla, said in a statement: “Less than five years ago, Film AlUla was established to develop a vibrant film industry, while diversifying the local economy, providing opportunities for local filmmakers and fostering global collaboration.

“Since then, we have been dedicated to building the infrastructure, policies, and teams that will transform the lives of a generation of filmmakers and filmgoers alike,” she added. 

Film AlUla this week hosted a screening of clips from short films by the first four winners of the AlUla Creates Film Programme, which supports Saudi female directors. The winners received mentoring to turn their ideas into festival-ready films.

On May 23, the film “Norah,” shot entirely on location in AlUla with an all-Saudi cast, will become the first Saudi feature to appear as part of the official selection at Cannes in the 77-year history of the festival.


Saudi filmmakers showcase their upcoming short films in Cannes   

Saudi filmmakers showcase their upcoming short films in Cannes   
Updated 22 May 2024
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Saudi filmmakers showcase their upcoming short films in Cannes   

Saudi filmmakers showcase their upcoming short films in Cannes   

DUBAI: Saudi filmmakers Hana Alfasi, Maram Taibah, and sister duo Raneem and Dana Almohandes showcased snippets of their upcoming short films — which are being created as part of the ‘AlUla Creates: Film Program’ platform — to a select audience of industry professionals this week at the Saudi pavilion during the 77th Cannes Film Festival.

Alfasi, director of “When the Shelves Hymn,” told Arab News: “It’s a great opportunity to have industry professionals attend a screening of a scene from our new short film.

Raneem and Dana Almohandes. (AN/ Ammar Abd Rabbo)

“We hope this film will find its way to A-list festivals, gaining the spotlight it deserves through screenings like the one we’re having today,” she added.

Alfasi hopes that the screening will connect her and her team with more professionals as she prepares to direct a feature film, for which she will need additional financial funding and support.

Taibah’s “Malika” is a short fantasy film about a young girl who goes on an adventure to find her dying grandmother’s lost crown, only to discover unexpected parts of herself, the filmmaker said. 

Maram Taiba (L). (AN/ Ammar Abd Rabbo)

“I’m very proud of what we made. It was such a delightful process to work with such talented visionaries starting from my producer, cinematographer, and casting director to the postproduction team,” Taibah said.

Taibah believes that Saudi Arabia has many untold stories. 

“Each filmmaker in Saudi is showing one piece of the tapestry and mine shows the magical side of our culture and the treasured relationships we have with our grannies,” she said. “I hope to share the magic of the film and raise anticipation for the completed piece here in Cannes.”

The Almohandes sisters felt “honored” to showcase their movie “Mosquito” to industry experts. 

“Since the beginning of our careers, we always looked forward to showing our films at Cannes and here we are and we’re extremely grateful to the AlUla Creates program for making this happen,” they said. 

The sisters just wrapped up the post-production phase of their animated film, which is about an ambitious mosquito who wants to become the Umm Kulthum of the mosquito world, and she goes on a journey to make her dream come true.

Raneem and Dana have big dreams themselves.

“Our dream is to show our stories and share our voices with international audiences,” they said. 

“It’s just the beginning with this short film and we aim to have the first Saudi musical here at Cannes very soon.” 


Speakers, headliners pull out of UK’s Great Escape festival over Gaza

Speakers, headliners pull out of UK’s Great Escape festival over Gaza
Updated 21 May 2024
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Speakers, headliners pull out of UK’s Great Escape festival over Gaza

Speakers, headliners pull out of UK’s Great Escape festival over Gaza

DUBAI: Keynote speakers and headliners scheduled to take part in the UK’s annual Great Escape music festival in Brighton refused to appear at this year’s event due to the war in Gaza.  

According to The Guardian, numerous acts withdrew due to a pro-Palestinian boycott targeting the event’s sponsorship by Barclays Bank. Campaigners allege that Barclays has increased its investments in arms companies that trade with Israel.

Bands Boycott Barclays (BBB), the organization spearheading the campaign, asserted that the bank was engaged in “laundering its reputation” through its association with the music festival, a claim that Barclays refutes.

A BBB spokesperson told the BBC that 163 acts, four showcases and two venues had pulled out of the festival.

The Great Escape is an annual music festival held in Brighton, showcasing emerging artists from around the world. It features hundreds of performances across various venues, along with industry panels and networking opportunities.

It is the event that has been key in launching the careers of artists such as Stormzy, AlunaGeorge, Fat White Family and Anna Calvi.


‘Material Woman’ exhibition in London creates synergy of Arab women’s fashion and art

‘Material Woman’ exhibition in London creates synergy of Arab women’s fashion and art
Updated 21 May 2024
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‘Material Woman’ exhibition in London creates synergy of Arab women’s fashion and art

‘Material Woman’ exhibition in London creates synergy of Arab women’s fashion and art
  • Curation tells a “story about how women use their hands to craft their destinies,” Shoucair says

LONDON: The worlds of fashion and art from Arab female creatives converged this week at the “Material Woman” exhibition in London.

The exhibition, held from May 17 to May 19 at Soho Revue, is the brainchild of the art collective Hayaty Diaries, in collaboration with the fashion platform and pop-up series 3eib.

"The Warmth of My Bed" (2023) and "Thulathia" (2024) by Lebanese artist Yasmina Hilal. (Supplied)

Featuring an eclectic mix of sculptural art, mixed media, projection installations, fashion and jewelry, the exhibition explored craftsmanship and materiality.

“Each element came together to tell a cohesive and beautiful story about how women use their hands to craft their destinies and honor their heritages through both creative worlds of art and fashion,” Lebanese curator and Hayaty Diaries co-founder, Christina Shoucair, told Arab News. 

The curatorial process began with the pairing of artists and designers, creating a harmony between the works. 

"Communion" (2023) and "Wound" (2023) by Bahraini artist Zayn Qahtani

Bahraini artist Zayn Qahtani’s shrine-like objects, featuring delicate ethereal drawings on date paper, explore themes of venerative mourning. These are paired alongside a series of rustic sculptures and draped garments by Egyptian designer Nadine Mos.

Lebanese artist Yasmina Hilal’s photo sculptures, which incorporate her distinctivve metalwork and soldering technique, are complemented by a curated display of contemporary silver and gold accessories by Celine Dagher, a Lebanese jewelry designer.

Meanwhile, Egyptian artist Hanya Elghamry examines the process of remembering by graphically recreating various details and narratives in her installation “Abandoned Projection.” Set as a backdrop against her floating “Tampered Redux” series, along with Moroccan designer Hanan Sharifa’s mesh and delicate dresses, the space offers visitors an immersive experience.

Garments designed by Nadine Mos on display at "Material Woman" in London. (Jules Foad)

“Christina and Kinzy presented the vision for The Material Woman and I loved the idea of blending the worlds of fashion and art together and utilizing the theme of materiality as a vehicle of creative empowerment and liberation,” 3eib founder, Dania Arafeh, told Arab News. 

Hayaty Diaries, which focuses on celebrating the artwork of Arab women, marked its debut last December with its inaugural exhibition, “Through Their Eyes: Perspectives Unveiled,” in the British capital. 

“Our Hayaty Diaries journey has been incredible. We’ve had the privilege of meeting many creatives from the region and have felt the warmth and support of the community. We are immensely grateful for all the encouragement we have received along the way,” Egyptian-Saudi curator and Hayaty Diaries cofounder Kinzy Diab told Arab News.

The London-based collective is now preparing for its exhibition “Levitate,” which will run from June 6 to June 16 and center around themes of fantasy and imagination.
 


Hoor Al-Qasimi appointed artistic director of the Biennale of Sydney

Hoor Al-Qasimi appointed artistic director of the Biennale of Sydney
Updated 18 May 2024
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Hoor Al-Qasimi appointed artistic director of the Biennale of Sydney

Hoor Al-Qasimi appointed artistic director of the Biennale of Sydney

DUBAI: The Biennale of Sydney announced this week that Emirati creative Hoor Al-Qasimi will become its artistic director for 2026.

The 25th edition of the biennale will run from March 7 to June 8.

Since its inception in 1973, the biennale has grown to become one of the longest-running exhibitions of its kind and was the first biennale established in the Asia-Pacific region.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by IBA (@biennialassociation)

Al-Qasimi created the Sharjah Art Foundation in 2009 and is currently its president and director. Throughout her career, she acquired extensive experience in curating international biennials, including the second Lahore Biennale in 2020 and the UAE Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015.

In 2003, she co-curated the sixth edition of Sharjah Biennial and has remained the director of the event since.

Al-Qasimi has been president of the International Biennial Association since 2017 and is also president of the Africa Institute. She has previously served as a board member for MoMA PS1 in New York and the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, among other roles.

She is also the artistic director of the sixth Aichi Triennale, scheduled to take place in Japan in 2025.