Saleh Saadi explores Palestine through the eyes of tourists as part of AFAC residency program

Saleh Saadi explores Palestine through the eyes of tourists as part of AFAC residency program
Originally from the bedouin village of Basmat Tab’un, Saadi has previously created two social-themed short films that dealt with his native Palestine. (Supplied)
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Updated 04 March 2024
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Saleh Saadi explores Palestine through the eyes of tourists as part of AFAC residency program

Saleh Saadi explores Palestine through the eyes of tourists as part of AFAC residency program
  • The mentorship program designed by OSN and The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture offers creators in the Arab region the opportunity to pitch their projects for potential development and distribution
  • Director Saleh Saadi is taking part in the program with his short film script for ‘Dyouf’

DUBAI: Through an open-call competition, Palestinian director Saleh Saadi was selected by MENA-based broadcasting network OSN as one of its six winners to take part in a residency program organized in conjuction with The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture that aims to support aspiring filmmakers and writers from the region.  

Saadi is taking part in OSN’s Writer’s Room mentorship program with a project titled “Dyouf” (meaning “guests” in Arabic). The mentorship program designed by OSN and The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture offers creators in the Arab region the opportunity to pitch their projects for potential development and distribution. 

Originally from the bedouin village of Basmat Tab’un, Saadi has previously created two social-themed short films that dealt with his native Palestine: “Borekas” (2020) and “A’lam” (2022).

The filmmaker says that he did not grow up in an environment that had a film institute, let alone an overall industry, but that didn’t stop his creativity, which began at home with simple means. 

“My family doesn’t have an artistic background. Their focus was to give us a good life, but they used to take pictures of us with a small camera,” Saadi told Arab News. “My siblings would film with a video camera and make little plays. . . I don’t know why it stuck with me.”

From a young age, he taught to edit and filmed sketches with his family members, who acted in his creations. “To them it was good fun, but I took it seriously,” he recalls. Saadi grew up “glued to the television set,” watching sitcoms. He also admires the work of notable Palestinian director Elia Suleiman, whose films have been shown at the Cannes Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival.

Saadi was selected as one of the six winners from the Writer’s Room Open Call. His dramedy submission “Dyouf” centers around the protagonist Shadi, who returns to his homeland after living abroad and feels lonely. His mother has set up a guesthouse that is being frequented by tourists. 

Each episode, delving into the themes of relationships and identities, will focus on one tourist. “Through these guests, we understand the country more. One of the main characters is the country,” Saadi explains. “It shows a certain reality, the day-to-day life and little moments of the day. I think different people will be able to relate to the show in different ways.”

Saadi adds that shooting in Palestine comes with its own set of tricky challenges, from funding to on-site disturbances. “Things are more and more difficult. I don’t want to be cheesy, but it’s also become more and more important. There are difficulties from start to finish, where anything can happen.”

Despite the ongoing bombardment of Gaza, Saadi is heartened by how Palestinian cinema is slowly on the rise in the region and abroad, through film festivals and cultural events. “I am very happy because I feel like there are more films on Palestine. They tell our stories,” he said

“We have so much love for our people, our family and our land. All kinds of art have an important role to play. Through art, we are showing that, despite all difficulties, the love is still there.”  


Milan’s Istituto Marangoni to open campus Riyadh

Milan’s Istituto Marangoni to open campus Riyadh
Updated 56 min 40 sec ago
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Milan’s Istituto Marangoni to open campus Riyadh

Milan’s Istituto Marangoni to open campus Riyadh

RIYADH: Milan-based Istituto Marangoni, in collaboration with the Saudi Fashion Commission, will open a Higher Training Institute in Riyadh offering courses specialized in fashion and luxury, with plans to inaugurate the institute in 2025. 

According to a released statement, the institute’s mission in Saudi Arabia is to explore new avenues for local talent development and generate employment opportunities in the relevant industries.

The new institute in Riyadh will offer three-year advanced diplomas available in specific areas such as Fashion Design, Fashion Management, Fashion Product, Fashion Styling & Creative Direction, and also in the management of Fragrances & Cosmetics and Interior Design. (Supplied)

 “We are very excited to do a partnership with Istituto Marangoni. It's one of the leading global educational institutions focused on fashion and design. They have many campuses around the world, but for Saudi Arabia, it's the first time they are opening their campus. And they are also the first educational institution to come into Saudi Arabia as a foreign direct investment, which shows their commitment to the potential in the Saudi market, especially for creatives and businesses, and through this partnership, we'll be able to educate and provide employment to all the local creatives in the industry in Saudi Arabia,” Burak Çakmak, chief executive officer of the Fashion Commission under Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture, told Arab News.

The new institute in Riyadh, to be accredited by the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation, will offer three-year advanced diplomas available in specific areas such as Fashion Design, Fashion Management, Fashion Product, Fashion Styling & Creative Direction, and also in the management of Fragrances & Cosmetics and Interior Design. Students will be able to choose whether to complete the advanced diploma in Riyadh, with the option of stepping into the fashion industry through a six-month internship during the last year of study, or complete studies for a bachelor’s degree at any international Istituto Marangoni campus.

The institute’s mission in Saudi Arabia is to explore new avenues for local talent development and generate employment opportunities in the relevant industries. (SupplieD)

The institute has campuses in Milan, Florence, Dubai, Paris, London and Miami.

In a released statement, Stefania Valenti, Global Managing Director of Istituto Marangoni, said: “We created this important partnership with the Saudi Fashion Commission because we believed that they are going to have a very strong agenda that is going to create a fashion (and) luxury system in Saudi (Arabia).

“We want to provide our knowledge and skills to the new generation, because there is a strong appetite here for the young generation, for the women, that they want to start to study in Saudi, they don't want to study abroad,” she added. 


Romanian Jordanian designer Amina Muaddi teases new collection

Romanian Jordanian designer Amina Muaddi teases new collection
Updated 23 April 2024
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Romanian Jordanian designer Amina Muaddi teases new collection

Romanian Jordanian designer Amina Muaddi teases new collection

DUBAI: Romanian Jordanian designer Amina Muaddi teased her new collection, titled “High Summer,” on social media this week.

The celebrity-loved designer will release her new drop worldwide at 3 p.m. Central European Time on Tuesday.

Muaddi shared a teaser with her 1.3 million followers featuring a model opening a cream-colored clutch, revealing a mirror on the inside of the bag.

In addition to her collection of shoes, Muaddi’s jewelry and bag lines are also gaining acclaim among her celebrity clientele. The shoemaker’s label has garnered a loyal list of famous fans, including Dua Lipa, Gigi Hadid, Kylie Jenner and Hailey Bieber Baldwin. 

Muaddi launched her eponymous footwear line in August 2018, about one year after departing from her role as co-founder and creative director of luxury footwear label Oscar Tiye.

The creator also helped design the shoes for Rihanna’s Fenty collection. The collaboration received the Collaborator of the Year award at the 34th edition of the FN Achievement Awards in 2020.

A year later, she landed a spot on Women’s Wear Daily and Footwear News’ 50 Most Powerful Women list.

Her jewelry collection encompasses rings, earrings and bangles.

The rings boast spiral-shaped designs, bombe rings with a crystal centrepieces available in both silver and gold, and a silver band adorned with crystals.

In the earring selection, versatility reigns supreme. Alongside simple rectangle and circular hoops embellished with crystals, she offers intricate multi-ring hoop designs.

The designer’s handbag range includes a variety of styles, from sleek clutches with striking embellishments to bold totes and crossbody bags.

Some of the bags are embellished with sparkling crystals or intricate sequins, while others are made from satin or leather and feature metallic finishes. The color palette includes classic cream, brown, black, red and silver.

Muaddi previously spoke to Footwear News about her rise of one of the most in-demand footwear designers in the industry.

“I was so passionate, so I was willing to go through any hardship,” she told the publication. “There’s a reason why only so many people get to this point, because you get tested a lot.

“Many times, I was close to giving up. I had to part ways with my partner, with producers; I’ve had (orders) cancelled. It’s not about what you go through, it’s how you survive the situation and how you thrive after it. It’s a never-ending lesson,” she added.


REVIEW: ‘Returnal’ — a thoughtful and challenging sci-fi adventure

REVIEW: ‘Returnal’ — a thoughtful and challenging sci-fi adventure
Updated 23 April 2024
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REVIEW: ‘Returnal’ — a thoughtful and challenging sci-fi adventure

REVIEW: ‘Returnal’ — a thoughtful and challenging sci-fi adventure

LONDON: Right from the start, before you even take control of Selene Vassos, a reconnaissance scout who has crash landed on a prohibited and mysterious planet, you are warned that “Returnal” (available originally for PS5 but now PC too) is “intended to be a challenging experience.” Such difficulty may deter the casual gamer used to a steady progression of character and exploration through a games environment. However, “Returnal” is a thoughtful and rewarding adventure that lays claim to much originality of thought in its set up. The key theme is that when you die, you return! But not to the same environment that you were in before. Instead, each new cycle postures new challenges and progress can only be made by unlocking upgrades that allow you to make more meta progress in Selene’s journey.

Selene herself is a super professional, unfazed character who doesn’t appear too bothered when she comes across a body of her former self that died in this strange world where the laws of physics and time appear not to apply. Staying alive is obviously crucial, particularly as it allows her to retain better weapons for longer. In addition, avoiding damage allows for boosts of agility, vision and more, making for a more lethal Selene. The environment is varied and surprising with each incarnation and the weapons on offer come complete with a range of exciting alternative fire mechanisms such as homing missiles or laser-like items. A hostile environment where even plants are a threat to life is mitigated by your technology, the core of which you can improve despite the reset of deaths, through fancy smart “xeno-tech” that becomes integrated with alien kit left around.

There is a paradox in “Returnal” described by Selene herself that she is trapped in an environment that is “always the same, always changing,” which literally makes no sense. Players have to be patient in the early chapters getting used to the sapping dynamic of death and return. Once that makes more sense, the loneliness of both her alien environment and the impossibility of even dying to escape it make for a pretty special atmosphere that a smart shooting engine then complements.


Simi, Haze Khadra share entrepreneurial insights at Harvard

Simi, Haze Khadra share entrepreneurial insights at Harvard
Updated 22 April 2024
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Simi, Haze Khadra share entrepreneurial insights at Harvard

Simi, Haze Khadra share entrepreneurial insights at Harvard

DUBAI: US Palestinian beauty moguls Simi and Haze Khadra took to the stage at the Arab Conference at Harvard in the US to share insights into their business, SimiHaze Beauty.

The twins — who are often spotted alongside the likes of Kylie and Kendall Jenner as well as Canadian musician The Weeknd — spoke at the conference that ran from April 19-21.

“Thank you for having us as speakers at Harvard’s ACH24, discussing our unwavering values in our lives and business which has not only brought us more purpose, but also more success. We also discuss the next frontier of the beauty business as founders (of) @simihazebeauty,” the pair shared on Instagram.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Simi & Haze (@simihaze)

The brand is set to be available in the GCC via French multinational retailer Sephora starting from May 2024, with the sisters scheduled to jet to Dubai for a launch event on May 2.

The twins launched their US-born cosmetics brand in 2021 with a range of stick-on makeup designs that can be placed on the face for a bold beauty look achievable within seconds. The sticker book features an array of edgy designs inspired by their favorite DJ looks from the past, such as chrome wings, neon negative space eyeliner and holographic cat-eyes.

SimiHaze Beauty has expanded to include a range of products, including lipsticks, bronzing powders, a lifting mascara and more.

The beauty entrepreneurs and DJs, who grew up between Riyadh, Dubai and London, are known for their contemporary beauty looks and are often spotted in public with futuristic makeup, something they have managed to encapsulate in their brand.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Simi & Haze (@simihaze)

Earlier this month, the sisters celebrated their birthday with a call for donations to Gaza.

“Thank you for all the sweet birthday messages. Feeling all the love and radiating it all back to you. All we want for our (birthday) is for you to help us build a NICU for the babies in Rafah,” the sisters posted.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Simi & Haze (@simihaze)

“Many premature babies in Gaza are in dire need of help as a result of the ongoing blockade by Israel. Newborns share incubators as supplies run low at the few swamped remaining hospitals that have not been attacked. @heal.palestine is actively working on building a new NICU in Rafah while supporting the only other existing NICU at the Emirati Hospital by providing medication and all the other supplies to help give premature babies the care they need,” the sisters posted on Instagram earlier this week, referring to US-based nonprofit organization Heal Palestine.

The pair have been vocal about the conflict in Gaza, posting frequently on their social media platforms as well as hosting video discussions on YouTube on various aspects of Israeli-Palestinian politics.


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.”