Young student’s motorbike commute aims to encourage mobility for Peshawar women

Special Young student’s motorbike commute aims to encourage mobility for Peshawar women
Huma Hashmat, 20, Pakistani student rides motorbike during an interview with Arab News in Peshawar on July 5, 2024. (AN Photo)
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Updated 10 July 2024
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Young student’s motorbike commute aims to encourage mobility for Peshawar women

Young student’s motorbike commute aims to encourage mobility for Peshawar women
  • Huma Hashmat has been riding a motorcycle since 2020, aims to improve women’s mobility in the conservative region
  • Social norms, safety concerns limit women’s mobility across Pakistan but things worse in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

PESHAWAR: Huma Hashmat fixed her dupatta and kick-started the Honda Deluxe motorbike early one morning this month and then sped off through the bustling streets of Peshawar, a conservative city in northwestern Pakistan where women’s mobility is considerably restricted.
While it’s common to see women catching public transportation or riding in private vehicles with their families, a woman driving a motorbike is a rare sight in Peshawar. In fact, Hashmat, 20, is the only woman biker in the city, riding daily since 2020 from her house in Academy Town to the University of Peshawar where she is pursuing a degree in art and design.
In a city where a woman’s bicycle rally was canceled in 2019 due to threats from religious forces, Hashmat has a quest: to inspire other women and show them that greater mobility can foster autonomy.
Social norms and safety concerns limit women’s mobility across Pakistan, where general commuting and travel activity is estimated to be 80 percent dominated by men, according to a 2016 London School of Economics study on gender inequality in transportation. Things are even worse in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, along the Afghan border, inhabited by deeply conservative, ethnic Pashtuns.
“I want to tell the girls that they can do nothing while sitting at home, until they begin to take a stand for themselves,” Hashmat told Arab News in an interview earlier this month. “The way I take care of all my chores independently, I want them to see me and get motivated, not necessarily by riding motorbikes, but they should learn this from me to do things on their own.”




Huma Hashmat, 20, Pakistani student speaks during an interview with Arab News in Peshawar on July 5, 2024. (AN Photo)

Hashmat has three brothers and her father owns a small business and supported her decision to study arts instead of pushing her toward traditional fields like education or medicine which are deemed more suitable for women.
“My father allowed me [to ride the bike],” she said. “He supports me, just as my brothers who say, ‘If Baba says nothing, you are allowed from our side too’.”
To motivate other girls, Hashmat uploads her videos on TikTok.
“I have heard from a lot of women that Peshawar is a city where they cannot roam around freely ... I upload the videos to show them that I go to every corner of Peshawar on my bike, and nothing has happened to me, nor has anyone said anything to me,” Hashmat said. “This means that Peshawar city is safe in this regard.”
Speaking to Arab News, her father, Hashmat Ali, said he had wanted to raise his daughter like his sons.
“I have permitted her to do whatever she wants,” he said. “The only thing I stress upon is for her to cover herself since it is a society where women have to do it.”
Noor Muhammad, a senior official at Peshawar’s Social Welfare Department, said Hashmat was a role model for others.




Huma Hashmat, 20, Pakistani student rides motorbike during an interview with Arab News in Peshawar on July 5, 2024. (AN Photo)

“Everyone is free, whether a man or a woman, to be on the road,” he said. “In fact, we empower and encourage women to travel on the road safely.”
However, he stressed the importance of all drivers following rules and regulations and obtaining a license before venturing out.
Hashmat’s friends also described her as “courageous,” and one classmate, Muskan Gul, said she was one of a kind.
“Many people in our society do not accept [such things] ... Huma’s decision to ride a bike is indeed an act of bravery.”


Azimuth music festival returning to AlUla

Azimuth music festival returning to AlUla
Updated 23 July 2024
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Azimuth music festival returning to AlUla

Azimuth music festival returning to AlUla
  • Popular musical extravaganza will return for its fourth edition from Sept. 19-21 ahead of Saudi National Day on Sept. 23
  • Features a diverse lineup of local, regional and international artists, set against AlUla’s stunning landscapes, blending music, art and culture

JEDDAH: The Azimuth music festival is returning to AlUla as the city’s Moments calendar goes into full swing.

The popular musical extravaganza will return for its fourth edition from Sept. 19-21 ahead of Saudi National Day on Sept. 23. The 2024 theme is “Until the Sun Comes Up.”

Azimuth has become a key event in the regional music scene, attracting loyal fans.

It features a diverse lineup of local, regional and international artists, set against AlUla’s stunning landscapes, blending music, art and culture.

This year’s performances will take place under the grand Qa’a Al-Haj.

Renowned artists like Ben Bohmer, James Blake, The Blaze, Cosmicat and Ghostly Kisses have been announced, with more to come. Past headliners include Jason Derulo, The Chainsmokers, Tinie Tempah, The Kooks, Jorja Smith, Peggy Gou and Thievery Corporation.

Azimuth launched in 2020, followed by editions in 2022 and 2023.

The AlUla Moments calendar also features five festivals covering art, culture, music, nature, wellness, equestrianism, dining and astronomy.

Early Bird tickets are available until Aug. 14, starting from SR760 ($202). For details and purchases, visit experiencealula.com.


Movies backed by Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Foundation to feature at Venice Film Festival

Movies backed by Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Foundation to feature at Venice Film Festival
Updated 23 July 2024
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Movies backed by Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Foundation to feature at Venice Film Festival

Movies backed by Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Foundation to feature at Venice Film Festival
  • International jury led by acclaimed French actor Isabelle Huppert

DUBAI: Two films backed by Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Foundation are to be screened at the upcoming 81st edition of the Venice Film Festival.

Tunisian director Mehdi M. Barsaoui’s “Aicha,” which was supported by the Red Sea Fund and the Red Sea Souk, will feature in the competitive Orizzonti section, which highlights international films that represent the latest aesthetic and expressive trends.

“Aicha” is Barsaoui’s second feature following his award-winning drama “A Son.” The film’s plot revolves around a young woman living in a backwater in southern Tunisia who attempts to build a new life in Tunis after she is reported as having died in a tragic bus crash.

Egyptian filmmaker Khaled Mansour’s “Seeking Haven For Mr. Rambo,” which was part of the Red Sea Lodge development program in 2021 and supported by the Red Sea Fund, will have its world premiere in the Orizzonti Extra section of the festival, which highlights young talent in international cinema.

The film follows a young man as he confronts the fears of his past and embarks on a journey to save his dog and best friend from an unknown fate.

Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice Beetlejuice” — starring Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Justin Theroux, Monica Bellucci, Jenna Ortega, and Willem Dafoe — is the out-of-competition opener at the event.

This year’s international jury will be led by acclaimed French actor Isabelle Huppert, and includes James Gray (“Ad Astra”), Andrew Haigh (“All of Us Strangers”), Agnieszka Holland (“Green Border”), Kleber Mendonca Filho (“Bacurau”), Abderrahmane Sissako (“Bamako”), Giuseppe Tornatore (“Cinema Paradiso”), Julia von Heinz (“Treasure”), and Zhang Ziyi (“Memoirs of a Geisha”).
 


Gigi Hadid stuns at ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ NYC premiere

Gigi Hadid stuns at ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ NYC premiere
Updated 23 July 2024
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Gigi Hadid stuns at ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ NYC premiere

Gigi Hadid stuns at ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ NYC premiere
  • Ensemble from Miu Miu’s Spring/Summer 2024 collection
  • Hadid posed on the red carpet alongside friend Blake Lively

DUBAI: US-Dutch-Palestinian model Gigi Hadid turned heads at the “Deadpool & Wolverine” premiere in New York City this week wearing an ensemble from Miu Miu’s Spring/Summer 2024 Ready-to-Wear collection.

The outfit featured a yellow bandeau top that was paired with a matching mustard yellow skirt in a knee-length cut and flowing silhouette. Hadid’s look was accessorized with a brown belt, black strappy heels and a yellow handbag.

Her jewelry included large gold hoop earrings and a statement gold chain necklace. She wore several chunky bangles in brown and gold, and a glitzy diamond anklet on her left ankle.

Hadid posed on the red carpet alongside her friend Blake Lively. (AFP)

Her blonde bob was styled sleek and smooth, with her bangs shaped into a bouncy, old Hollywood-inspired swoop.

Hadid posed on the red carpet alongside her friend Blake Lively, who was there to support her husband, Ryan Reynolds, who stars as Deadpool in the film.

Lively donned a striking off-the-shoulder jumpsuit from Atelier Versace. The outfit was crafted from a deep red, satin-like material and featured intricate black lace detailing throughout.

Lively accessorized the look with statement earrings and several rings. Her hair was styled in a sleek high ponytail, completing the ensemble.

Both Hadid and Lively continued their fashionable night with new outfits for the film’s after-party.

Both Hadid and Lively continued their fashionable night with new outfits for the film’s after-party. (Getty Images)

Hadid opted for a vibrant yellow trench coat made from a glossy, vinyl-like material from LaQuan Smith. The coat featured a classic trench silhouette with a wide lapel, belted waist and flared hem that fell just below the knees.

Meanwhile, Lively wore a head-turning Balmain minidress with a red and blue color scheme. The off-the-shoulder ensemble was adorned with large, three-dimensional red roses along the neckline and hemline.

The upcoming superhero film “Deadpool & Wolverine” is based on Marvel Comics characters. In addition to Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, the film features Hugh Jackman reprising his role as Wolverine.

The plot centers on Deadpool teaming up with a recovering Wolverine to face a common enemy. The film delves into the dynamic between the two characters, exploring their regrets and quarreling relationship.

The film is directed by Shawn Levy and is set to release in Saudi Arabia on July 25.


REVIEW: Book censor falls victim to the malady of imagination in Kuwaiti novel

REVIEW: Book censor falls victim to the malady of imagination in Kuwaiti novel
Updated 23 July 2024
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REVIEW: Book censor falls victim to the malady of imagination in Kuwaiti novel

REVIEW: Book censor falls victim to the malady of imagination in Kuwaiti novel

NEW DELHI: Getting lost in a good story is an occupational hazard and a crime in “The Book Censor’s Library,” a dystopian political satire with elements of magic realism. The story follows an unnamed narrator whose life unravels after he reluctantly begins working for an all-powerful government.

With a spellbinding and smooth translation from Arabic by Ranya Abdelrahman and Sawad Hussain, Kuwaiti literary icon Bouthayna Al-Essa’s novel warns against the loss of originality and personal freedoms in its depiction of the transformation of a man into a reader and his inevitable fall down the rabbit hole of books and imagination.

Set in the near future “in a place that would be pointless to name, since it resembles every other place,” the novel follows the book censor in the New World as he combs through manuscripts, looking for any offending word or idea that would render a book unfit to publish.He is a “guardian of surfaces,” and his task is to ensure that books that carry depth and ideas should be identified and removed from the shelves because “one curious person who picked up a volume and read a few lines could poison the entire society.”

In a swift turn of events, the protagonist himself is swept away by classics like “Zorba the Greek,” “Alice in Wonderland,” and “1984,” his dreams and waking hours engulfed in the siren song of good storytelling.

As the world around him slowly regains color, he falls into the throes of an existential crisis, torn between doing his duty as a simple cog in the machine and the secret society of “Cancers” attempting to restore books to their former glory and preserve the collective memory of humanity.

Drawing from the power of timeless stories, El-Essa’s Orwellian tale delves into the terrifying heart of darkness to remind us that “cancer cells are the only ones that thrive in a dying body.”


‘Those About to Die’ stars talk new swords-and-sandals series set in Ancient Rome

‘Those About to Die’ stars talk new swords-and-sandals series set in Ancient Rome
Updated 22 July 2024
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‘Those About to Die’ stars talk new swords-and-sandals series set in Ancient Rome

‘Those About to Die’ stars talk new swords-and-sandals series set in Ancient Rome

DUBAI: British-Yemeni actor Moe Hashim (“Ted Lasso”) and Iceland’s Johannes Haukur Johannesson (“Succession”) spoke to Arab News recently about playing gladiator frenemies in new swords-and-sandal series “Those About to Die,” streaming in the Middle East on Starzplay.

The action-packed series set in Rome in 79 A.D., stars the legendary Anthony Hopkins as Emperor Vespasian, the founder of the Flavian dynasty, and is inspired by Daniel Mannix’s classic non-fiction book of the same name.

Johannes Haukur Johannesson and Moe Hashim star in ‘Those About to Die.’ (Courtesy of Starzplay)

Hashim, known for his minor role as footballer Moe Bumbercatch in hit Apple TV + series “Ted Lasso,” plays Kwame, a lion tracker, who has been taken to train as a gladiator and now faces an existence that means fighting for his life every day.

When asked what drew him to the series, Hashim said: “For me, (it was) Kwame where he was from and what he represents. And I was very excited because I was like: ‘This is a character that is not really spoken about or has been documented too much in the Roman Empire.’

“And when I did the research on North Africans and the influence they had in the Roman Empire, I was like: ‘Oh, I definitely want to be part of this for sure.’”

Johannesson, in turn, plays an imposing Norse gladiator who befriends Kwame in arena training. His main draw to the show was the grittiness of daily gladiator life. “I thought it was really beautiful to see how the gladiators, who were essentially prisoners made to fight till their death, fought for their lives daily, the way they found humanity and friendship, I thought that was really, really beautiful. That really stood out to me,” said Johannesson.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The show also marks the television directorial debut of blockbuster director Roland Emmerich (“Moonfall”, “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Independence Day”).

Said Johannesson: “Roland is a whirlwind to work with. He sweeps you along. He’s very intense, which is enjoyable. You sort of step on set and you just jump on the Roland Emmerich train. It’s an express train.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Added Hashim: “It was also fun getting to know him on a personal level. We practically did a tour of every restaurant in Rome, we had all types of pasta and, you know, during those dinners, you kind of get to see who Roland really is.

“A man at that point of his career still making time to listen to my stupid questions about ‘Independence Day’ and him being so happy to tell me about all the stories and willing to answer my questions.”