Luxury estate Gleneagles sees Gulf clients explore the great Scottish outdoors

Luxury estate Gleneagles sees Gulf clients explore the great Scottish outdoors
Exploring Scotland’s great outdoors has become a much sought-after holiday for the Gulf’s high roller. (Supplied)
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Updated 30 January 2024
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Luxury estate Gleneagles sees Gulf clients explore the great Scottish outdoors

Luxury estate Gleneagles sees Gulf clients explore the great Scottish outdoors

LONDON: Exploring Scotland’s great outdoors has become a much sought-after holiday for the Gulf’s high rollers, and for those who set out to explore its glens, mountains and stunning scenery there is a good chance they will cross paths with Yuri Janssen.

The South African, a former game ranger and now the Head of Adventure at the sprawling country estate Gleneagles, proudly claims the title of having the best job in Scotland – perhaps even the world.

His uniform is a wax jacket and boots, while his offices are 850 acres of unspoilt land — a playground boasting everything from a clay pigeon range to falconry, off-road driving and three championship golf courses.




Royal lochnagar suite. (Supplied)

Over the years, Gleneagles, often dubbed the Riviera of the Scottish Highlands, has played host to everyone from John Travolta to Prince William in its gorgeous suites, which gaze out over the hills.

Now Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait are driving a major uptick in Middle East visits as Arab travellers seek a taste of Scotland’s famous outdoors – and cooler weather.

The number of Gulf guests coming through the hotel’s fabled front doors has doubled every year for the past five, with “traditional, authentically Scottish country pursuits” ranking highest on itineraries.




Now Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait are driving a major uptick in Middle East visits as Arab travellers seek a taste of Scotland’s famous outdoors – and cooler weather. (Supplied)

At Gleneagles, where the world’s first falconry school sprouted its wings in 1982, it is perhaps unsurprising that hunting with striking white saker falcons has resonated strongly with guests from the Gulf.

Yet, Janssen points out, it’s the enchanting allure of wrestling salmon, stalking deer in their natural habitat and picnicking with ponies on rolling hills that truly capture the hearts of Middle Eastern visitors.

“During our outdoor pursuits, guests discover what it’s like to have a country estate at their disposal,” he explains. “They can spend a day in the life of a Highland hunter, learning about and embracing traditions that are hundreds of years old.”




Yuri Janssen is a former game ranger and now the Head of Adventure at the sprawling country estate Gleneagles. (Supplied)

This being Scotland, all these activities happen under a healthy drizzle of rain — not that guests from the Middle East find it to be a problem.

Janssen recalls warning a group of ladies visiting from the Gulf about a looming weather front that threatened to pour cold water over their planned trip to one of the surrounding glens.

“They said, no – this is exactly what we want … they even asked to open the windows on the way to let the drizzle in,” he said.

Another time, after an arduous climb through lashing rain with an Arab family that had insisted on continuing despite the grim forecast, the clouds dramatically broke at the summit’s peak.

The sodden glens were suddenly “dappled in a beautiful, soft, golden light” and the group celebrated the moment by performing their first ever Highland Fling – a traditional Scottish ceilidh dance.




At Gleneagles, where the world’s first falconry school sprouted its wings in 1982, it is perhaps unsurprising that hunting with striking white saker falcons has resonated strongly with guests from the Gulf. (Supplied)

“It was just incredible,” says Janssen. “Had it been a summer’s day like everyone was hoping for, the experience wouldn’t have been nearly as memorable.”

Janssen’s career is as colourful as it is impressive, from leading daring expeditions through the untamed wilds of the Central African Republic and Tanzania, to navigating the Arctic Circle in pursuit of the salmon-rich rivers of Russia’s Kola Peninsula.

It’s this adventurous background that makes him a perfect fit for the grandeur of Gleneagles, infusing a touch of the wilderness into its aristocratic charm.




Off-road driving at the luxury estate. (Supplied)

Under Janssen’s expert guidance, and with the help of a team of “playground planners,” excursions can be tailored to the individual, offering an array of bespoke experiences that range from the tranquil to the exhilarating.

Picture seaplane journeys to remote islands, private falconry hunts amidst the hotel’s lush grounds, or even tailor-made fishing trips where the catch of the day is transformed into a gourmet feast by a personal chef.

Janssen says: “We understand the true meaning of bespoke, and there are very few hotels in the world that offer what we do.




One bedroom whisky suite. (Supplied)

“Whatever your age, background or level of experience, we have something for everyone, from taster experiences to fully immersive all-day experiences in the mountains and rivers.”

Janssen adds: “We love Middle Eastern guests because they don’t spend a lot of time indoors. They’re out every day doing something, whether it’s racing gun dogs, hiking up mountains or wading through rivers.

“They truly take advantage of every moment they’re here – regardless of the weather.”

Scotland has seen a surge in visitors from the Middle East, thanks in no small part to Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, who has a sprawling estate on the Isle of Skye off the country’s northwest coast.

His Instagram feed has become a window into a series of Highland adventures, dotted with snapshots of rugged landscapes and misty glens.


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.


Eiza Gonzalez stuns at premiere of Saudi-backed film ‘The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare’

Eiza Gonzalez stuns at premiere of Saudi-backed film ‘The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare’
Updated 16 April 2024
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Eiza Gonzalez stuns at premiere of Saudi-backed film ‘The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare’

Eiza Gonzalez stuns at premiere of Saudi-backed film ‘The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare’

DUBAI: Mexican actress and singer Eiza Gonzalez this week turned heads at the premiere of the Saudi-backed action movie “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” in New York City. 

The star dazzled in a metallic gold strapless gown by New York-based label Jason Wu. The dress boasted intricate three-dimensional designs accentuating the waist and chest. 

Complementing the ensemble, she showed off matching gold heels from Maison Ernest and Cartier jewelry. Her brunette bob was styled in a voluminous blowout. 

Complementing the ensemble, she showed off matching gold heels from Maison Ernest and Cartier jewelry. (Getty)

She posed on the red carpet alongside her co-stars Henry Cavill, Henry Golding, Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Cary Elwes, Babs Olusanmokun, Henrique Zaga and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. 

The premiere was attended by Mohammed Al-Turki, film producer and CEO of Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Foundation. 

The Saudi foundation, which backed the movie, took to Instagram to share pictures of the premiere captioning the post: “Live from New York, the premiere for ‘The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare,’ Red Sea Film Foundation is proud to have supported through its Red Sea International Film Financing initiative.”

 

 

Based on recently declassified files of the British War Department and inspired by true events, the movie is an action-comedy that tells the story of the first-ever special forces organization formed during WWII by UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill and a small group of military officials, including James Bond author Ian Fleming. 

The top-secret combat unit, composed of a motley crew of rogues and mavericks, goes on a daring mission against the Nazis using entirely unconventional and utterly “ungentlemanly” fighting techniques. Ultimately, their audacious approach changed the course of the war and laid the foundation for the British SAS and modern Black Ops warfare.

The film is directed and co-written for the screen by Guy Ritchie (“Sherlock Holmes,” “The Gentlemen” and “Wrath of Man”) and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (“Top Gun: Maverick,” “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “National Treasure”).

“The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” will be released in cinemas in the Middle East on April 18 and internationally on April 19.


Amir El-Masry, Pierce Brosnan to dramatize British Yemeni boxing legend’s story

Amir El-Masry, Pierce Brosnan to dramatize British Yemeni boxing legend’s story
Updated 16 April 2024
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Amir El-Masry, Pierce Brosnan to dramatize British Yemeni boxing legend’s story

Amir El-Masry, Pierce Brosnan to dramatize British Yemeni boxing legend’s story

DUBAI: British Egyptian actor Amir El-Masry will star alongside Pierce Brosnan in the sports drama “Giant,” based on the story of British Yemeni boxer Naseem “Naz” Hamed.

El-Masry will play Hamed, who competed from 1992 to 2002, and Brosnan is set to portray his Irish-born boxing trainer Brendan Ingle. The film will be written and directed by Rowan Athale (“The Rise,” “Gangs of London,” “Strange But True”) and Sylvester Stallone is on board to executive produce, alongside other Hollywood executives.

“Giant” tells the story of the boxer’s humble beginnings in a working class area of Sheffield and his discovery by Ingle. Hamed shot to fame amid rampant Islamophobia and racism in 1980s and 1990s Britain.

El-Masry won a Scottish BAFTA for his performance in the film “Limbo” in 2021 and was cast in the fifth season of Netflix’s historical drama “The Crown” as the young Egyptian billionaire Mohamed El-Fayed, among other acting credits.


Jessica Chastain flaunts Elie Saab look at Breakthrough awards in Los Angeles

Jessica Chastain flaunts Elie Saab look at Breakthrough awards in Los Angeles
Updated 14 April 2024
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Jessica Chastain flaunts Elie Saab look at Breakthrough awards in Los Angeles

Jessica Chastain flaunts Elie Saab look at Breakthrough awards in Los Angeles

DUBAI: US actress and producer Jessica Chastain sparkled in a purple jumpsuit by Lebanese designer Elie Saab at the Annual Breakthrough Prize Ceremony at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles.

Chastain — who has previously championed looks by Lebanon’s Zuhair Murad, among other Arab designers — hit the red carpet in the sequined number that boasted a plunging neckline and bootleg-style pants. Celebrity stylist Elizabeth Stewart finished off Chastain’s look with a statement necklace by Damiani jewelry.

US actress and producer Jessica Chastain sparkled in a purple jumpsuit by Lebanese designer Elie Saab. (Getty Images)

French Canadian scientist Michel Sadelain was awarded an "Oscars of Science" for his research into genetically modifying immune cells to fight cancer at the event, AFP reported.

The genetic engineer was awarded the Breakthrough Prize at a glitzy ceremony attended by tech giants such as Elon Musk and Bill Gates, and an array of celebrities including Chastain, Robert Downey Jr. and Bradley Cooper.

His work has led to the development of a new form of therapy called CAR-T that has shown exceptional efficacy against certain blood cancers.

"This prize is an extraordinary recognition," Sadelain told AFP on the red carpet at the Oscars Museum. "It's all the more of an honor because ... my scientific colleagues told me for a long time that it would never work.

Honorees Dr. Michel Sadelain, right, and Dr. Carl H. June accept awards onstage during the 10th Breakthrough Prize Ceremony. (Getty Images)

"The greatest pleasure, however, is to see patients... who no longer had a chance and who thank us, who are alive today thanks to CAR-T cells," added Sadelain.

Launched in 2010, the Breakthrough Prize awards "the world's most brilliant minds" in fields including life sciences, fundamental physics and mathematics, styling itself as the Silicon Valley-backed answer to the Nobels.

Dubbed the "Oscars for Science", founding sponsors include Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg.

Sadelain will split the $3 million prize money with American immunologist Carl June, who also led groundbreaking research into the field independently of his co-winner.

Sadelain studied medicine in Paris, then immunology in Canada, before taking up postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1989.

Other celebrity guests at the event includes actresses Zoe Saldana and Margot Robbie, director Olivia Wilde and Oscar-winner Michelle Yeoh, among others.


Saint Levant addresses Gaza war on stage at Coachella music festival

Saint Levant addresses Gaza war on stage at Coachella music festival
Updated 16 April 2024
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Saint Levant addresses Gaza war on stage at Coachella music festival

Saint Levant addresses Gaza war on stage at Coachella music festival

DUBAI: Saint Levant, a Palestinian French Algerian Serbian rapper, performed at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival music festival in California on Saturday.

The musician used the opportunity to address the ongoing war in Gaza, saying: “Coachella, my name is Saint Levant and I was born in Jerusalem and raised in Gaza … as I hope all of you are aware, the people of Gaza have been undergoing a brutal, brutal genocide for the past six months. And the people of Palestine have been undergoing a brutal occupation for the past 75 years.”

Saint Levant performed a series of his hits, including “Nails,” “From Gaza, With Love” and a slowed-down version of “Very Few Friends.” The artist also performed “Deira” and “5am in Paris,” which was released last week.

“It’s about exile,” he said, describing the new song. “A feeling that us Palestinians know a bit too well.”

Born Marwan Abdelhamid in Jerusalem, the singer previously spoke to Arab News about his childhood.

“The actual cultural makeup is my mom is half-French and half-Algerian. My dad is Serbian, half-Palestinian. And they actually both grew up in Algeria. But they decided, in the early 90s, post the Oslo Accords, that Palestine was going to be free.

“So they went back, my dad went to live in Gaza in the early 1980s. And my dad actually built a hotel there and that’s where I grew up,” he said.

“For everyone, childhood is very meaningful. And for me, it was a juxtaposition because I remember the sound of the drones and the sounds of the bones. But more than anything, I remember the warmth, and the smell … and the taste of food and just the odd feeling of soil.”