Irish performer ‘cries’ after Israel reaches Eurovision final as UK venues cancel watch parties

Irish performer ‘cries’ after Israel reaches Eurovision final as UK venues cancel watch parties
The artist will perform “Doomsday Blue” in the final. (AFP)
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Updated 11 May 2024

Irish performer ‘cries’ after Israel reaches Eurovision final as UK venues cancel watch parties

Irish performer ‘cries’ after Israel reaches Eurovision final as UK venues cancel watch parties

Bambie Thug, Ireland’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest, claims to have cried  after Israel qualified for the final to be held on Saturday. 

“It is a complete overshadow of everything, goes against everything that Eurovision is meant to be,” Bambie Thug told journalists ahead of the event at Malmo Arena in Sweden. “I cried with my team.”

The 31-year-old singer and songwriter wore a keffiyeh and carried Irish flags while urging the European Broadcasting Union to show “conscience” and “humanity.”
The artist will perform “Doomsday Blue” in the final.

Israel’s performer, Eden Golan, will present her song “Hurricane” at the competition. The track underwent revisions after the initial version, “October Rain,” was deemed too political by the EBU.

Although the contest’s motto is “united by music,” this year’s event has attracted protests from Palestinians and their supporters, who say Israel should be excluded because of its conduct of the war in Gaza.

Thousands of people are expected to march for a second time this week through Sweden’s third-largest city, which has a large Muslim population, to demand a boycott of Israel and a ceasefire in the seven-month conflict. 

In Finland, a group of about 40 protesters stormed the headquarters of public broadcaster YLE on Saturday, demanding it withdraw from the song contest because of Israel’s participation.

Venues across England are canceling their gigs after Palestine protest groups instructed their followers to pressure pubs showing the contest - leading some venues to close due to staff safety concerns.

The Duke of York cinema in Brighton called off its Eurovision event this week, telling ticket holders it was doing so “due to safety concerns for our staff and customers,” the Guardian reported. The Brighton Palestinian Solidarity Campaign called the decision a “massive win.”

Ahmed Mater: The Saudi artist documenting a kingdom in flux

Ahmed Mater: The Saudi artist documenting a kingdom in flux
Updated 29 min 56 sec ago

Ahmed Mater: The Saudi artist documenting a kingdom in flux

Ahmed Mater: The Saudi artist documenting a kingdom in flux
  • Christie’s London is hosting ‘Ahmed Mater: Chronicles,’ a retrospective collection of his work, until Aug. 22
  • The exhibition highlights major milestones of the physician-turned-artist’s career

LONDON: Using metal filings, X-rays adorned with calligraphy, and a grandiose mihrab transformed into a body scanner, leading Saudi artist Ahmed Mater is documenting a kingdom undergoing a swift process of change.

Born in Tabuk in 1979, Mater grew up in Abha in southwestern Saudi Arabia, close to the militarized Yemeni border, at a time of immense social change in the region.

The first presentation of his art outside the Kingdom came in 2005 at an exhibition hosted by the British Museum in London. Just over a decade later, he became the first artist to host a solo exhibition in the US, with “Symbolic Cities: The Work of Ahmed Mater” in 2016.

Now, the 44-year-old has returned to England with the exhibition “Ahmed Mater: Chronicles,” hosted by Christie’s London until Aug. 22. The mid-career retrospective collection features more than 100 of his works, and promises to highlight the major milestones of his career.

Ahmed Mater at the opening of ‘Chronicles.’ (AN photo)

“It’s very amazing and extraordinary for me to be back and connect again with the audience here in London after 2005, and now, maybe, with more artwork to share and 20 years of experimental work,” Mater told Arab News on the exhibition’s opening day.

“So, it’s something that, really, I want the audience to share all of this — the experiment and the time and sharing all of this journey together.”

Despite being heavily influenced by his mother’s work as an Asiri calligrapher and painter, and art being the “passion and DNA” of his childhood, Mater began his professional life working in medicine.

Mater first encountered city life as a teenager in Abha. (AN photo) 

“At that time, there was no … you have to do something, especially in Saudi Arabia, there was no school of art,” he said.

“So, medicine was very close to me. I studied a more human science; that’s very close to me.”

Despite “building a lot of things and experiences” during his work as a physician, Mater returned to his roots in art “because it became the only voice that I could continue with.”

The artist began experimenting with X-rays during his medical studies. (AN photo)

The physician-turned-artist described the difference between his two careers as one of “subjectivity versus objectivity.”

Mater’s oeuvre, from the satirical to the striking, details the changes, big and small, in a kingdom undergoing unprecedented social, religious and economic transformation.

“I think it’s a kind of synergistic study of all of the artwork together,” he said. “When you are an artist, you are also a philosopher, you are a thinker, and all of these events together shape our generation at a time, our societies.

“I was really fascinated by studying a community — about urban change surrounding me. Maybe I take this from medicine, maybe I take it from the art, or maybe I take it from my transition from the village to the city.”

In the photograph “Hajj Season” (2015), which is part of his “Desert of Pharan” collection documenting change in Makkah, masses of pilgrims wait patiently in a gated courtyard. Behind them, KFC and Burger King restaurants can be seen.

“Stand in the Pathway and See” (2012) shows a narrow alleyway bisecting dilapidated buildings, part of an old settlement that was soon to be demolished to make way for new hotels. A young boy sits in the shadows amid the waste and graffiti. The alley appears to be illuminated by the fierce glow of Makkah’s Clock Tower, which looms ominously, or as a figurative light at the end of the tunnel, over the old city.

The dual meaning of the photograph is a hallmark of Mater’s work. In “Nature Morte” (2012) and “Room With a View ($3,000/night)” (2012), Mater again reveals some of the peculiarities of Makkah’s transformation through simple photographs.

Left to right: ‘Nature Morte,’ ‘Stand in the Pathway and See’ and ‘Room With a View ($3,000/night).’ (AN photo)

In both, the Kaaba and masses of pilgrims are seen at a low angle through the windows of a luxury hotel room, replete with a bowl of decorative fruit and cable TV. Viewers will inevitably be divided in their reaction.

Mater’s status as a passive spectator taking the photographs reinforces his self-described role as a documenter of change, and is part of the subtlety that typifies much of his work.

For other pieces he takes a more direct approach, however. Viewers are met with loud beeping and flashing red lights in his simple but ingenious “Boundary” (2024), for example. The artist combines a mihrab, a prayer niche from the interior of a mosque, with a body scanner; the result is a striking summation of modern-day security fears and the commercialization of religion.

Viewers should expect a surprise with Mater’s modern mihrab. (AN photo)

Many of Mater’s works explore the theme of the individual sublimating to the group, which emerges as a distinct entity. This is epitomized in “Magnetism IV” (2012), a diminutive model of the Kaaba surrounded by perfectly arranged iron filings, representing a swirling mass of pilgrims.

The artist depicts the magnetism of Islam’s holiest site. (AN photo)

To create a similar effect in a photograph, Mater used a long exposure to capture the Kaaba at the height of Hajj in “Tawaf” (2013), an image in which the resulting movement of pilgrims resembles a hurricane around the holiest site in Islam.

The artist admits that the theme might be an unconscious effect of his Islamic upbringing.

 The artist depicts the magnetism of Islam’s holiest site. (AN photo)

“I think it’s something that is unconsciously done by an artist in their practices,” he said. “You know, sometimes I didn’t pay full attention but after I did my artwork, I noticed. I noticed these kind of things. But maybe spirituality has this feeling.

“So, I come from a religious background and this has, maybe, shaped a lot of my understanding. It’s given me a lot of imagination. You know, religion is part of this big imagination.”

Long exposure creates a hurricane effect at the height of Hajj. (AN photo)

For Mater, 1938 might have been the most important year in the Kingdom’s history. Oil was struck on March 3 that year at the Dammam No. 7 well, and the liquid gold that began to flow would soon begin to finance the Kingdom’s transformation.

Again juxtaposing old and new, traditional and modern, in “Lightning Land” (2017) the artist captures a stunning shot of lightning arcing toward the ground, with a disused Bedouin tent in the foreground and oil machinery in the background.

Mater’s ‘Lightning Land’ highlights the tensions between old and new in Saudi Arabia. (AN photo)

“Evolution of Man” (1979) is Mater’s most morbid work. A horizontal collage begins with a front-on X-ray shot of a man holding a gun to his own head. The next shots morph as a square shape begins to form. The final image is a gas pump, with the nozzle resembling the gun featured in the first image.

The former physician’s prognosis of the Kingdom’s arts scene takes a more positive path, however. Mater believes that cooperation between the public and private sectors is the key to further unleashing Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning cultural industries.

A “big, big awakening of art and culture” is taking place in the Kingdom, he said. Mater himself is part of this public-private synthesis, and one of five leading artists commissioned by Wadi AlFann (Valley of the Arts) in AlUla to produce a large-scale installation in the desert sands.

The result is Ashab Al-Lal, a mighty but unintrusive oculus that will harness light refraction, in a homage to the scientists of the Islamic golden age. Wadi AlFann is set to open in 2025.

A model of Mater’s Ashab Al-Lal installation was unveiled at Christie's. (AN photo) 

“I think now it’s a very optimistic generation; there is a lot of movement,” Mater said.

“So, it’s from both the private body and the public body, together shaping a new future. That’s what I’ve noticed today.”

Egyptian rapper Marwan Pablo on being a Diesel brand ambassador

Egyptian rapper Marwan Pablo on being a Diesel brand ambassador
Updated 17 July 2024

Egyptian rapper Marwan Pablo on being a Diesel brand ambassador

Egyptian rapper Marwan Pablo on being a Diesel brand ambassador

CAIRO: Egyptian rap artist Marwan Pablo was recently named a regional brand ambassador for Italian fashion label Diesel — and the up-and-coming star spoke to Arab News about his relationship with the luxury brand.

"My connection with Diesel goes way back, long before I became an ambassador and one of its faces globally," the Alexandria-born rapper, whose real name is Marwan Matawa, said.

Known for his streetwear style, Pablo is not one to shy away from patterns and color — and that keen fashion sense was sparked by a gift from his father.

"My clothing and accessories now reflect my growing relationship with this luxury brand, which started back in 2007 or 2008 when I was in school and my father bought me a pair of Diesel jeans,” he explained. “That gift changed how I viewed and wore clothes for life. Those pieces remained with me for a long time … I feel a sense of daring and ambition with Diesel, something that I've busily incorporated into the brand's unique identity, which I find distinct from other youth-oriented brands."


A post shared by MARWAN PABLO (@marwanpablo_)

Born in 1995, the “Lelly Yah” hitmaker briefly quit music in 2020 citing personal reasons. He returned to the spotlight in 2021, however, with the hit track "Ghaba" that gained more than four million views on YouTube within the first 24 hours. His latest offering, "Al Mabda,” was released in 2024 and condemns the global silence over the attacks carried out by Israeli forces on the people of Gaza.

When asked about his future plans, the artist stressed the need to remain flexible, saying: "I always want to stay flexible and integrated, whether it's with my new music or my fashion style."

Meanwhile, Diesel took to social media to praise its new ambassador, saying: “Pablo's music serves as a raw and introspective canvas, drawing inspiration from his life experiences, thoughts, emotions, and the world around him.”


Dubai Fashion Week announces preliminary schedule for spring/summer 2025

Dubai Fashion Week announces preliminary schedule for spring/summer 2025
Updated 17 July 2024

Dubai Fashion Week announces preliminary schedule for spring/summer 2025

Dubai Fashion Week announces preliminary schedule for spring/summer 2025

DUBAI: The global and regional fashion labels expected to set the upcoming spring/summer 2025 season’s biggest trends at Dubai Fashion Week have been announced.

Scheduled ahead of New York Fashion Week, DFW will be held from Sept. 1-7 this year at Dubai Design District (d3).

Co-founded by d3 and the Arab Fashion Council, DFW will feature more than 30 brands from France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Palestine, Russia, the UAE and the UK, showing streetwear and haute couture collections alongside internationally acclaimed guest designers.

The event’s footprint extends citywide, with 40 invitation-only presentations, private dinners and collection launches hosted by global brands and industry stakeholders.

The first three days of DFW will focus on haute couture collections.

The final three days will spotlight ready-to-wear collections by acclaimed designers such as Alia Bastamam, April & Alex, Benang Jarum, BLSSD, Dima Ayad, Born in Exile, Buttonscarves, Choice, Heaven Lights, Riva, Self Made, Viva Vox and Weinsanto, presented and supported by the Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, the governing body behind Paris Fashion Week.

The last day of the calendar will focus on private appointments and a buyers’ market.

Launching for the first time is the International Buyers Programme, enabling retailers worldwide to enrol in DFW’s tier benefits. The programme expands buyers’ reach and talent discovery through DFW and within Dubai’s vibrant fashion ecosystem, reinforcing the city as the region’s de facto fashion capital.

“Dubai is the pulsating heart of fashion in the region, and Dubai Fashion Week is disseminating its rhythm globally,” said Khadija Al-Bastaki, senior vice president of d3 – part of TECOM Group. “The collections and designers displayed on our runway inject diversity into the global fashion dialogue and demonstrate the powerful talent emerging within our region.

“DFW has unveiled incredible opportunities, partnerships and global networks to participating designers and buyers, and we look forward to pushing the envelope further with this latest edition that includes a new buyer’s platform, an expanded venue, more events and an extended schedule of designers.

“Dubai Fashion Week will once more raise the bar for fashion excellence and cement Dubai among the global fashion capitals,” Al-Bastaki said. 

Elyanna expands her world tour from North America to Europe

Elyanna expands her world tour from North America to Europe
Updated 17 July 2024

Elyanna expands her world tour from North America to Europe

Elyanna expands her world tour from North America to Europe
  • Tour from Oct. 5 to Dec. 16 features 30 stops
  • Fans also want ‘Woledto’ concerts in Mideast

DUBAI: Chilean-Palestinian music sensation Elyanna is reportedly expanding her world tour “Woledto,” with new dates and locations in Europe.

The tour, from Oct. 5 to Dec. 16, will have 30 stops.

The 22-year-old artist announced on Instagram this week that presales will start on July 17, with general sales from July 19.

“THE WOLEDTO TOUR from North America to Europe! See you soon,” she wrote to her 1.5 million followers on Instagram.

Her fans quickly took to the comments section, requesting gigs in Lebanon, Dubai, Los Angeles, Australia, Barcelona, Lisbon, Milan and more.

Elyanna, who was the first artist to perform a full set in Arabic at California’s Coachella music festival in 2023, has been normalizing Arabic lyrics in the Western world.

She has been inspired by artists including Lana Del Ray and Beyonce, as well as Middle East legend Fayrouz.

The Los Angeles-based singer’s music is a mix of Arabic and Western beats, which she attributes to her multicultural upbringing. She is known for her songs “Ghareed Alay,” “Ala Bali,” “Ana Lahale,” “Mama Eh,” among others.

Elyanna dropped her debut album in April featuring nine songs: “Woledto,” “Ganeni,” “Calling U,” “Al Sham,” “Mama Eh,” “Kon Nafsak,” “Lel Ya Lel,” “Yabn El Eh” and “Sad in Pali.”

Before releasing the album, she wrote to her Instagram followers: “This album is the embodiment of pride to be an Arab woman, to be from Nazareth, to be from the Middle East.”

“This is the closest I’ve been to where I come from,” she added. “The only feature on my album is my grandfather.”

In May this year, she made her television debut on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

The music sensation delivered a medley of hits from her debut album including “Callin’ U (Tamally Maak)” and “Mama Eh,” the first song performed entirely in Arabic on the show.

Bella Hadid heads to New York for Adidas campaign launch

Bella Hadid heads to New York for Adidas campaign launch
Updated 16 July 2024

Bella Hadid heads to New York for Adidas campaign launch

Bella Hadid heads to New York for Adidas campaign launch

DUBAI: US Palestinian Dutch supermodel Bella Hadid is the face of Adidas Originals’ new campaign for its SL “Super Light” 72 sneaker.

The brand is reintroducing the running shoe, which launched in the summer of 1972, in five colorways. Hadid took part in the launch campaign, which sees the model star in a digital and billboard campaign for the brand — with her image taking over a largescale billboard in New York this week.


A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid)

“Lucky to still be able to have these (kinds) of pinch me moments,” Hadid posted on Instagram alongside a carousel of photos of the billboard.

The photographs for the campaign were shot in Paris and see Hadid posing in the shoes while wearing an Adidas top-and-shorts set with the brand’s identifiable three stripes. She holds a bouquet of red-hued flowers in the photos.

Hadid is celebrating more than just her latest campaign — this spring, the model launched her own brand Orebella. The inaugural products were three perfumes.


A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid)

In July, the beauty entrepreneur announced that a percentage of the proceeds from her brand are being donated to the Orebella Alchemy Foundation, a charitable initiative aimed at creating positive change across various communities.

The Orebella Alchemy Foundation partners with organizations that are “deeply personal” to Hadid, such as Girls Club New York, which empowers young women and “youth of color,” and the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.), which aims to change lives by providing equine-assisted services to people with disabilities.

“We will be donating a minimum financial donation of 1 percent of all Orebella net sales to charity, as well as delivering service hours, community outreach and social promotion,” Hadid wrote on social media. “I can’t wait to keep growing and including even more amazing organizations. I have so many different organizations that are important to me and we will continue to roll them out.”