Egypt opens restored tomb of scribe of Amun Neferhotep as new Luxor tourist attraction

Special Egypt opens restored tomb of scribe of Amun Neferhotep as new Luxor tourist attraction
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The tomb of Neferhotep, scribe of Amun, in Al-Khokha on Luxor’s West Bank. (Supplied)
Special Egypt opens restored tomb of scribe of Amun Neferhotep as new Luxor tourist attraction
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The tomb of Neferhotep, scribe of Amun, in Al-Khokha on Luxor’s West Bank. (Supplied)
Special Egypt opens restored tomb of scribe of Amun Neferhotep as new Luxor tourist attraction
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The tomb of Neferhotep, scribe of Amun, in Al-Khokha on Luxor’s West Bank. (Supplied)
Special Egypt opens restored tomb of scribe of Amun Neferhotep as new Luxor tourist attraction
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The tomb of Neferhotep, scribe of Amun, in Al-Khokha on Luxor’s West Bank. (Supplied)
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Updated 12 February 2024
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Egypt opens restored tomb of scribe of Amun Neferhotep as new Luxor tourist attraction

Egypt opens restored tomb of scribe of Amun Neferhotep as new Luxor tourist attraction
  • Mostafa Waziry inaugurated the tomb in the Al-Khokha area on Luxor’s West Bank following completion of restoration by an Argentine mission affiliated to the University of Buenos Aires
  • Neferhotep was one of the senior statesmen of his time, holding several titles including the scribe of Amun

CAIRO: Egypt has opened the restored tomb of Neferhotep, the scribe of Amun, as a new Luxor tourist attraction.

Dating back to the 18th Dynasty of 1550 to 1292 B.C. during the era of king Ay (1327 to 1323 B.C.), the burial chamber has taken more than two decades of painstaking work to return to its former condition.

Mostafa Waziry, secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, inaugurated the tomb in the Al-Khokha area on Luxor’s West Bank following completion of restoration by an Argentine mission affiliated to the University of Buenos Aires and headed by Violeta Pereyra under the council’s supervision.

The opening ceremony was also attended by Argentina’s envoy to Cairo and other representatives of the South American country.

Waziry noted that the tomb added an important new tourist destination to the attractions of the western mainland in Luxor with its array of detailed and colorful painted scenes and inscriptions.

Mohammed Abdel-Badie, head of the Central Administration for the Antiquities of Upper Egypt, said Neferhotep was one of the senior statesmen of his time, holding several titles including the scribe of Amun.

He noted that the importance of the tomb lay in its views and inscriptions, which illustrated the changes in funerary practices that occurred after the Amarna period of religious change, that saw the capital move from the north of Egypt to the south.

It also contains a statue of the owner of the cemetery and his wife, Meritamun, who was a vocalist for the god Amun.

Fathi Yassin, director general of antiquities in Upper Egypt, said that the tomb restoration and maintenance project began in 2000.

Experts from the University of Buenos Aires recorded and studied the texts in the tomb before starting their work. Actual restoration work began in 2013, when a German archaeological team cleaned wall paintings in the tomb, and mended damaged stonework and layers of color on inscriptions.

Yassin pointed out that the architectural structure of the lower burial chambers of the tomb was designed on a longitudinal axis and arranged east to west, evoking the regeneration of the deceased and the sun’s daily trajectory.

Fragile surfaces were cleaned using laser technology, restoring clarity to the wall paintings and hieroglyphics.

Pereyra thanked the Egyptian council for its cooperation during the restoration period.

In a statement, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said: “This inauguration marks the addition of a new and important tourist destination to Luxor’s West Bank monuments, amidst the significant influx of tourists during the winter tourism season.

“Featuring a multitude of beautifully painted scenes and inscriptions, the tomb offers visitors a captivating and detailed glimpse into ancient Egyptian history.”


Artist Abdullah Al-Saadi represents the UAE at Venice Biennale

Artist Abdullah Al-Saadi represents the UAE at Venice Biennale
Updated 22 April 2024
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Artist Abdullah Al-Saadi represents the UAE at Venice Biennale

Artist Abdullah Al-Saadi represents the UAE at Venice Biennale

VENICE: Emirati conceptual artist Abdullah Al-Saadi is representing the UAE at the 60th Venice Biennale, curated this year by Adriano Pedrosa under the theme of “Foreigners Everywhere. Stranieri Ovunque.” The pavilion’s exhibition, which opened on April 20 and runs until Nov. 24, was curated by Tarek Abou El-Fetouh.

Al-Saadi has played a pivotal role in the development of the UAE’s evolving art scene — his multidisciplinary practice includes the mediums of painting, drawing, sculpture, performance and photography, as well as collecting and cataloguing found objects and the creation of new alphabets.

“Since I was a student, four decades ago, art has been an integral part of my daily life,” Al-Saadi said in a statement. “My art is the result of interactions with places, people, ideas, and aesthetics that I encounter every day where I live and in my journeys. I find myself driven to document these experiences visually or in written diaries and contemplations, seeking to transfigure the ordinary with the passage of time.”

“I am representing myself in Venice as an artist foremost and then as a local Emirati artist,” Al-Saadi told Arab News. “This pavilion will showcase my artistic journey over a long period of time since after university through eight works, two of which are new commissions,” he said of the ongoing show titled “Abdullah Al-Saadi: Sites of Memory, Sites of Amnesia.”

One of the artistic journeys he made that will serve as a new artwork took place amid the Arabian landscape.

“I spent seven days in the valley studying the tea, the coffee, and bread,” Al-Saadi explained to Arab News. “Then after one week I rode my bicycle, and I went to the mountains. During that time, I was reading a book on the Silk Road and trying to imagine how it was to travel on the Silk Road and I compared my way of traveling with how it was to travel on the Silk Road long ago.”

“Abdullah’s work is comprised of multiple aspects, from his diaries to sketches, to landscapes, scrolls and other objects that he creates,” Laila Binbrek, Director of the National Pavillion UAE, explained to Arab News. “They all stem from his diary — a diary he has been keeping for the last 40 years. Every day he writes in his diary.” 


Christie’s Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds auction highlights rare finds in London

Christie’s Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds auction highlights rare finds in London
Updated 22 April 2024
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Christie’s Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds auction highlights rare finds in London

Christie’s Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds auction highlights rare finds in London

LONDON: Christie’s Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds spring sale will see 261 lots —including paintings, ceramics, metal work, works on paper, textiles, rugs and carpets — go under the hammer at a live auction at their London headquarters on April 25.

Arab News was given an exclusive viewing of some of the works prior to their public pre-sale showing from April 21-24.

Sara Plumbly, Christie’s Head of Department for Islamic and Indian Art, gave her expert insights into some selected pieces.

These included lot 45, an exquisite miniature octagonal Qur’an, dated AH 985/1577-8 AD, which was made in Madinah, the Qur’an has an estimate of $13,000-19,000.

“We very rarely see manuscripts that were copied in the holy cities. So this being copied in Madinah makes it very rare,” she explained.

“It has a Naskh script. This a very steady, cursive script which is relatively easy to read — unlike some of the others. For example, Nastaliq script, which is copied on the diagonal, is much trickier to read. For Qur’ans you would almost always see a Naskh script for ease of reading. Nastaliq is usually reserved for poetic manuscripts,” she said.

This miniature Qur’an would be small enough to carry with the owner on a daily basis, usually around the neck. Alternatively, they would be hung in their silver boxes on an ‘alam (standard or flag) and carried into battle.

Plumbly, who completed her master’s degree in Islamic Art and Archaeology at the University of Oxford, has lived and travelled extensively across the Middle East and North Africa, including extended periods in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

Another stunning item in the sale is a Watercolor Album depicting a selection of known prestigious and rare Iznik ceramics from the Louis Huth collection. It comprises 44 single and double-page watercolor paintings of Iznik bowls, flasks, ewers and dishes.

Watercolor paintings of Iznik bowls, flasks, ewers and dishes will go under the hammer. (Supplied)

It was also fascinating to see a rare and complete illustrated manuscript copy of the Khamsa of Nizami by 12th century Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi, together with the Khamsa of Amir Khusraw Dihlavi, a 13th century Persian Sufi singer, musician, poet and scholar. The colors in the illuminations leap off the pages as though created yesterday.

Plumbly also pointed out the exceptional workmanship of an early 13th century Kashan pottery bowl, excavated in Iran’s Kashan in 1934.

A Khashan pottery bowl inscribed with three Persian quatrains, or poetic verses. (Supplied)

“This type of Kashan ceramics have a wonderful luster. It’s a very difficult technique to perfect. This bowl has a really beautiful dark gold color which is very well controlled. The condition is remarkable. It’s one of those ‘best of type’ objects,” Plumbly observed.


Merwas — Riyadh’s beating heart of creativity

Merwas — Riyadh’s beating heart of creativity
Updated 20 April 2024
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Merwas — Riyadh’s beating heart of creativity

Merwas — Riyadh’s beating heart of creativity
  • World’s largest music production studio is nurturing Saudi talent, streamlining local industry

RIYADH: Riyadh’s Merwas, considered the biggest art and entertainment factory globally, is proving to be one of Saudi Arabia’s greatest music industry assets.

Nada Al-Tuwaijri, co-founder and CEO of Merwas, told Arab News that the facility, which holds the Guinness World Record for the largest music production studio, “is home to all artists.”

She added: “The methodology behind it is to create solutions through the subsidiaries, and invest in both talent and infrastructure.

“Alongside it being a one-stop shop for all content creators, we strive to take our local talents from local to global and create a unique stamp in the industry.”

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, Merwas fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, along with hosting workshops, networking sessions, and community events. (AN photos by Abdulrhman Bin Shalhoub/Supplied)

The entertainment zone and audiovisual production studio, located in Boulevard Riyadh City, houses 22 main studios alongside its academy.

Some of the top musicians in the world have visited Merwas since it opened in 2022. These include DJ Khaled, the acclaimed Saudi singer Rabeh Saqer, and the Emirati singer Ahlam. Afrojack, a world-renowned Dutch DJ and producer, also led an electronic music boot camp to nurture local talent and inspire a new generation of Saudi artists.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Merwas, located in Boulevard Riyadh City, houses 22 main studios alongside its academy.

• The academy’s classes offer local creatives and artists direct access to seasoned expertise.

• The Earth Sound Studio, or ESS, named after the late Saudi composer Talal Maddah.

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, the culture factory fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, while providing artists with access to top-tier services, facilities and industry expertise.

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, Merwas fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, along with hosting workshops, networking sessions, and community events. (AN photos by Abdulrhman Bin Shalhoub/Supplied)

The Earth Sound Studio, or ESS, named after the late Saudi composer Talal Maddah, features state-of-the-art technology, such as the SSL console, which is used to create depth on music tracks and ensures the true soul of the artist’s voice is protected.

This live recording space is booked almost every day by various artists, and has been used by some of the Arab region’s biggest stars.

The facility, which holds the Guinness World Record for the largest music production studio, is home to all artists according to co-founder Nada Al-Tuwaijri. (Supplied)

One of the only five Neve consoles in the world can be found in the Neve Studio. The panel is known for its high-quality sound and warmth, and is ideal for music recording, vocal tracking, and mixing for exceptional audio quality.

Its live studio can accommodate over 120 orchestra members and their instruments to provide a unique recording experience.

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, Merwas fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, along with hosting workshops, networking sessions, and community events. (AN photos by Abdulrhman Bin Shalhoub/Supplied)

Specifically designed for electronic music production, the EMP Suite is a DJ’s dream, with cutting edge synthesizers and digital audio workstations ensuring an artist leaves the room with a fully produced track.

Merwas is also home to three production suites, designed for content creators who require a comfortable and professional environment for music production, editing, and mixing. Each suite is equipped with industry-standard gear, software, and acoustics to support a wide range of projects.

Nada Al-Tuwaijri, Merwas cofounder and CEO

The studio also provides private rehearsal spaces to ensure Saudi talents are nourished to their full potential. The versatile space is designed for musicians, performers, and other artists to rehearse and refine their craft within a comfortable environment with access to instruments and equipment.

Part of the charm of recording studios is the live jam sessions that have given birth to some of the most iconic records to date. Merwas’ Band Live/Control Room also captures the spontaneity of live performance within its soundproof walls.

Alongside (Merwas) being a one-stop shop for all content creators, we strive to take our local talents from local to global and create a unique stamp in the industry.

Nada Al-Tuwaijri, Merwas cofounder and CEO

Championing audiovisual pursuits, the studio has made space for high-quality podcasts and videos to come to life.

The podcast suite and FM radio recording spaces are tailored to immerse listeners with unbeatable audio clarity, while the 25-meter-long Green Screen room helps ideas come to life, whether commercial, film, or music video.

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, Merwas fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, along with hosting workshops, networking sessions, and community events. (AN photos by Abdulrhman Bin Shalhoub/Supplied)

Material can then be edited at the color-grading suite, which is essentially a small theater with 4K projector. Producers, directors, writers, and engineers gather here to put the final visual touches on video projects through its DaVinci color grading software and hardware.

Academy Classes offers local creatives and artists direct access to seasoned expertise. These feature advanced stations for sound production, engineering, and technical programs, with everything necessary for a basic understanding and training of music production.

The studio hosts workshops, networking sessions, and community events in an effort to flourish the music industry locally while making it a magnet for international talent. Anyone can be a part of this community by booking a suite or signing up for a workshop on their website merwas.sa.

Merwas has positioned itself at the the forefront of the entertainment industry being the first of its kind in the MENA region. In less than a year since its launch, it has already became a hotspot for musicians across the globe to visit and utilize its services, from rising talents to international A-listers.

Founded by Al-Tuwaijri and Chief Content Officer Rumian Al-Rumayyan in partnership with Sela, Merwas treasures Saudi creativity and is a vital part of building an ecosystem and community for local artists.

Their partnership with the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property has set a new focus on preserving the rights of local creatives, pillared by the aim to enrich the culture of the Kingdom while empowering its citizens and their creativity in an environment of abundant knowledge, education in culture, art, entertainment and music.

 


Hollywood Arab Film Festival: Showcasing Arab cinema in Los Angeles

Hollywood Arab Film Festival: Showcasing Arab cinema in Los Angeles
Updated 20 April 2024
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Hollywood Arab Film Festival: Showcasing Arab cinema in Los Angeles

Hollywood Arab Film Festival: Showcasing Arab cinema in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES: The third annual Hollywood Arab Film Festival began this week, bringing the best of 2024’s Arab cinema to Los Angeles and giving fans a chance to see the films in theaters as well as introducing a new audience to the Arab world’s top talent.

The event, which runs until April 21, was attended by a number of celebrity guests including Egyptian producer and screenwriter Mohamed Hefzy, Tunisian actor Dhaffer L’Abidine, renowned Egyptian star Elham Shahin and Egyptian producer Tarek El-Ganainy.

 

 

At the event, Hefty said: “Arab cinema really needs a platform to tell our stories and to show who we are, our identity, our hopes and dreams, our pains, and all the different social topics that are tackled in some of the films that are being presented are maybe more relevant today than ever. So I think it’s a great opportunity to have this dialogue.”

Hefzy’s film “Hajjan” was showing at the event. It is a Saudi Arabia-based film directed by Egyptian filmmaker Abu Bakr Shawky.

“Hajjan is a film about a young boy who got a very special connection to his camel, who has a brother who was a camel jockey and races,” Hefzy said. “And, one day when something really unexpected happens to his brother, and shatters his world, it forces him to step into his brother’s shoes and become a camel jockey, and so starts racing himself.”

The movie is a co-production between the Kingdom’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, or Ithra, and Hefzy’s Film Clinic.

“It was a film made in Saudi Arabia with Saudi talents and actors with an Egyptian director, but with the Saudi co-writer and Saudi actors and shot mostly in Saudi Arabia,” Hefzy said. “So I think it’s, it was a great experience, and learned a lot about Saudi Arabia, learned a lot about the culture.”

The festival featured cinema from various Arab countries, presenting films from 16 different nations. Marlin Soliman, strategic planning director of HAFF, highlighted the inclusion of six feature films, ten short films and six student films.

Spanning five days, HAFF offered its audience a vibrant experience, including a red-carpet affair, panel discussions on filmmaking and diversity in Hollywood, and, of course, screenings of high-profile films.

The festival also saw several filmmakers singing the praises of Saudi Arabia’s expanding film industry.

L’Abidine, the writer and director of “To My Son,” said: “I’m thrilled to be back again with my second feature film ‘To My Son,’ a Saudi film… I think there is a great evolution of Saudi cinema that’s been happening in the last few years.”


Art Jameel announces open call for Hayy Jameel Facade Commission

Art Jameel announces open call for Hayy Jameel Facade Commission
Updated 19 April 2024
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Art Jameel announces open call for Hayy Jameel Facade Commission

Art Jameel announces open call for Hayy Jameel Facade Commission
  • Antonia Carver, director of Art Jameel, said: “At Art Jameel, we are committed to fostering the role of the arts in public life

JEDDAH: The Hayy Jameel Facade Commission is inviting new and established artists in Saudi Arabia to reimagine the facade of the Hayy Jameel art building in Jeddah.

In its fourth year and third open call process, the commission will select a winning artwork that serves as conversation starter between the complex, the community it serves and the broader public.

Antonia Carver, director of Art Jameel, said: “At Art Jameel, we are committed to fostering the role of the arts in public life.

“Through this annual commission which positions the facade as the first point of contact with the Hayy Jameel community, we are providing a platform that propels mid-career artists forward and challenges them to produce a large-scale, highly imaginative work that remains in-situ, front and center in Jeddah, for around 10 months.”

The commission encourages artists to consider the site-specific nature of the project and the technical requirements of a public work.

Sustainability considerations are also appreciated in managing the carbon footprint of the artwork and its installation.

Eligibility is open to all Saudi and Saudi-based artists and collectives, with at least one member required to be a Saudi citizen or resident if applying as a collective.

The commissioned artists will receive a work fee and a production budget managed by Art Jameel.

The jury, consisting of local and international art professionals, curators, artists and museum directors, will select a single work for production.

Applicants are required to submit a concept statement (200-500 words), up to four sketches and diagrams, and an estimated production schedule through the application portal.

The deadline for the facade submission has been extended to May 1, with the launch scheduled for October. Following the unveiling, there will be a public viewing period from October 2024 to September 2025.

Previous works displayed on the building have showcased the talent of artists such as Nasser Al-Mulhim, Tamara Kalo, Mohammad Al-Faraj and Dr. Zahrah Al-Ghamdi.