Bonjour Saudi presents fresh travel and culture experiences for tourists

Bonjour Saudi presents fresh travel and culture experiences for tourists
French co-founder Cecilia Pueyo pictured at the Bonjour Saudi headquarters in Diriyah’s Samhan district. (AN Photo/ Abdulrhman Bin Shalhuob)
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Updated 11 July 2024
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Bonjour Saudi presents fresh travel and culture experiences for tourists

Bonjour Saudi presents fresh travel and culture experiences for tourists

RIYADH: In the heart of Diriyah’s Samhan district is an old Najdi-style house that’s been given a new lease of life as Bonjour Saudi — a ‘travel and experience design house’ and a local offshoot of UAE-based Bonjour Middle East.

“At Bonjour Saudi we focus on being a bridge between foreigners, expats, tourists and Saudi culture by creating experiences that showcase different parts of that culture — like cuisine, art, and tradition,” French co-founder Cecilia Pueyo told Arab News. “It’s very important for me to work routinely with Saudis to make this happen.




Whether guests are signing up for a multi-day journey around historical sites or for a two-hour cooking or art workshop, though, the aim is the same: to leave them with a better understanding of Saudi culture and history. (AN Photo/ Abdulrhman Bin Shalhuob)

Pueyo is a crafting enthusiast herself, and noticed a gap in the market when she visited the Kingdom and found it hard to access workshops on traditional Saudi crafts such as Sadu weaving, palm weaving, or Kabsa cooking. So, she wanted to create a space for such workshops. It also includes House of Artisans — a store showcasing local handicrafts like candles, abayas, handbags, jewelry, and more, giving guests an opportunity to take a piece of Saudi home with them. 

And Bonjour Saudi also provides guided tours across the country to popular spots including Jeddah, Abha, and AlUla.

Whether guests are signing up for a multi-day journey around historical sites or for a two-hour cooking or art workshop, though, the aim is the same: to leave them with a better understanding of Saudi culture and history. 




In the heart of Diriyah’s Samhan district is an old Najdi-style house that’s been given a new lease of life as Bonjour Saudi. (AN Photo/ Abdulrhman Bin Shalhuob)

“Even though it’s relatively new for the Kingdom to welcome foreigners and expats, (it’s clear that) people want to showcase their culture and share it with you, as well as their hospitality and generosity,” Pueyo said.

“Now, we are in a very important moment and shift in Saudi,” she continued. “This is what I think Bonjour Saudi is about; how we want to make an impact on people. Even if they only have one hour, we can connect them with the right person to deliver a message about the country, about the culture — about their passion — and I hope the guests will understand his or her vision of the Kingdom.”


Review: Nicolas Cage-starring horror-mystery ‘Longlegs’ falls flat

Review: Nicolas Cage-starring horror-mystery ‘Longlegs’ falls flat
Updated 45 min 31 sec ago
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Review: Nicolas Cage-starring horror-mystery ‘Longlegs’ falls flat

Review: Nicolas Cage-starring horror-mystery ‘Longlegs’ falls flat

CHENNAI: If one were to walk into a theater to watch “Longlegs” in the hopes of finding something even remotely novel or different from the dozens of horror films that have played in cinemas over the years, disappointment awaits.

Set to be released in Saudi cinemas on July 18, the film is set in 1990s Oregon where mist and fog creep across a deserted, snow-covered landscape. Despite the sometimes eerie set, the movie does not manage to create a sense of sheer terror. Writer-director Osgood Perkins’ work appears clumsy, relying mostly on mood and atmosphere rather than on a substantial core as it follows FBI agent Lee Harker (Maika Monroe) on the trail of a notorious serial killer, played by Nicolas Cage.

Cage is completely hidden under a heavy disguise, with his expressions impossible to fathom, which is a pity because love him or hate him, he is an emotive performer.

Leaving behind coded notes signed as Longlegs — notes that Harker manages to crack as she tries to capture him — the devil on the prowl convinces fathers to murder their wives and children and then commit suicide. Dozens of families are wiped out, but the case itself is a mystery with details that do not add up to a believable whole.

Perkins has a penchant for style over substance — it’s a calling card that has marked his career, beginning with his 2015 debut “The Blackcoat's Daughter.” The director seems to lose his grip over the narrative and lets it sink into nonsensical oblivion. The dialogue is clumsy and the plot is peppered with plot holes.

If there is one plus point in the entire 101 minutes it is Monroe, who rises above a shoddily written part to convince audiences that she can offer a semblance of excellence in a story that seems to go nowhere.

 


Rita Ora paints the town red in Elie Saab look at Disney premiere

Rita Ora paints the town red in Elie Saab look at Disney premiere
Updated 14 July 2024
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Rita Ora paints the town red in Elie Saab look at Disney premiere

Rita Ora paints the town red in Elie Saab look at Disney premiere

DUBAI: British singer and actress Rita Ora attended the premiere of Disney’s “Descendants: The Rise Of Red” in California wearing an on theme scarlet gown by Lebanese couturier Elie Saab.

Featuring draped material on the bodice and a thigh-high slit, the look hailed from Saab’s Autumn/Winter 2010 Haute Couture collection.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ELIE SAAB (@eliesaabworld)

The musical fantasy film follows Red, daughter of the Queen of Hearts, and Chloe, daughter of Cinderella, as they team up to save their home by traveling back in time to stop an event that would cause grave consequences.

Directed by Jennifer Phang, the cast includes Brandy, Rita Ora, Kylie Cantrall, Malia Baker, China Anne McClain, Jeremy Swift, Dara Reneé, Ruby Rose Turner, Morgan Dudley, Paolo Montalban, Melanie Paxson and Leonardo Nam.

Ora and Brandy, both pop singers, star together in the fourth installment of the “Descendants” movie franchise about the children of iconic Disney characters. They both play the mothers to the two main characters.

 “I Will Never Let You Down” hitmaker Ora plays the role of the Queen of Hearts and Brandy reprises her role from 1997’s “Cinderella” to play Cinderella.

“Oh my gosh, it's crazy — I did a movie with Brandy!” Ora told Entertainment Tonight ahead of the release of the film.

“I mean, I love her so much. I loved her music growing up. She was one of the vocalists that I would try and imitate every day in my bedroom. And watching her ‘Cinderella’ with Whitney Houston was so iconic for so many reasons. It made me believe in myself — like, 'Oh my goodness, I can do this too,’” Ora added, referring to superstar Whitney Houston who played Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother in the 1997 film.

Meanwhile, Elie Saab has been in the spotlight this weekend, with British actress Daisy Ridley showing off an understated look by the designer while presenting at the 2024 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles on Thursday.

The ESPY Awards, the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly, is an event honoring the top athletes and sport performances of the year.

Ridley wore a sleeveless cobalt-blue gown from Lebanese designer Elie Saab. The actress had her hair pulled back into a tight bun as she accessorized the look with blue gem earrings. She completed the ensemble with black heels.


‘This has been a journey for me,’ Kevin Costner says of passion project

‘This has been a journey for me,’ Kevin Costner says of passion project
Updated 13 July 2024
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‘This has been a journey for me,’ Kevin Costner says of passion project

‘This has been a journey for me,’ Kevin Costner says of passion project

LOS ANGELES: Oscar-winner Kevin Costner brought his passion project "Horizon: An American Saga" to the big screen this summer. A labor of love since 1988, Costner wrote, produced, financed, starred in, and directed the film.

His dedication paid off at the Cannes Film Festival, where it received an 11-minute standing ovation. Despite a lukewarm international box office take, the second part of the saga is on the horizon and will be released at an unspecified date.

“This has been a journey for me and for the people to stand and clap and not stop. And I basically shut out the noise for a while and walked my life backwards and thought about my journey professionally and the journey for ‘Horizon.’ And I was just really grateful at the end of the day that I stayed true to it,” Costner said of the lengthy standing ovation at Cannes.

Costner tells a Western story and focuses on the experiences of Indigenous Americans during colonization. The film meticulously explores a 12-year span during which white settlers encroached upon indigenous lands. With a diverse cast, the narrative offers a rich tapestry of perspectives on exploring new frontiers.

“We're just playing dress ups and telling a story version. But, you know, the frontier was actually founded on people taking wagon trains across through these uncharted territory. So you really get a bit of empathy towards what actually happened,” actor Sam Worthington said.

"Horizon: An American Saga" takes its time to set the tone for an engaging journey into a pivotal era of American history, told with passion and precision. Despite its three-hour runtime and slow pace, British actress Sienna Miller says she enjoyed the process. 

“I realized there were a lot of characters and there were long scenes and people had long monologues. But I like that,” Miller said.

“It was a massive, epic ... sized film to be doing. It’s like hundreds of actors and cattle everywhere, and we're in the elements. But then as an actor, he just slides into the scene. He's got this deep relaxation about the way that he works,” actress Abbey Lee said, with co-star Isabelle Fuhrman adding: “He knows this story backwards and forwards. I mean, it's been long enough for him to finally be on set doing this.”


Daisy Ridley takes a chic turn in Elie Saab

Daisy Ridley takes a chic turn in Elie Saab
Updated 13 July 2024
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Daisy Ridley takes a chic turn in Elie Saab

Daisy Ridley takes a chic turn in Elie Saab

DUBAI: British actress Daisy Ridley stunned in an elegant Elie Saab look while presenting at the 2024 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles on Thursday.

The ESPY Awards, the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly, is an event honoring the top athletes and sport performances of the year.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Daisy Ridley (@daisyridley)

The 32-year-old “Star Wars” actress skipped the red carpet at the ceremony, held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

She did take the stage, though, to present an award with Buffalo Bills player, Damar Hamlin, during the telecast.

Ridley wore a sleeveless cobalt-blue gown from Lebanese designer Elie Saab. The actress had her hair pulled back into a tight bun as she accessorized the look with blue gem earrings. She completed the ensemble with black heels.

In an interview with Reuters last month, Ridley talked about reprising her role as Jedi hero, Rey, and said that it feels “exciting and nerve-racking” as she returns to the “Star Wars” franchise for a new film.

Walt Disney Co, which purchased Star Wars producer Lucasfilm in 2012 and released three movies starring Ridley from 2015 to 2019 as well as a different TV series, announced new plans for the franchise last year.

“I’m very excited, it feels like a new adventure,” Ridley told Reuters at the London premiere of another Disney film, “Young Woman and the Sea.”

“It’s a world that I’m familiar with, I’m coming back to, but also it feels like a new start. So, it feels exciting and nerve-racking and I’m excited.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Daisy Ridley (@daisyridley)

In “Young Woman and the Sea” Ridley plays American swimmer Gertrude Trudy Ederle, an Olympic gold medalist who became the first woman to swim the English Channel.

In 1926, Ederle set off from northern France for the southern English coast, making the crossing in 14 hours, 31 minutes, and beating the men’s world record by one hour and 59 minutes.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Daisy Ridley (@daisyridley)

Despite a huge celebratory parade in New York on her return, Ederle’s name and accomplishments are not as well known to the public as those of other sports figures. Ederle died in 2003.

“Playing someone who is determined and resilient ... who has a real joy for what they’re doing, is wonderful,” Ridley said, adding that she had undergone a “pretty gruelling” swimming training schedule for the role.


Saudi star Fahad Albutairi on his new family comedy film

Saudi star Fahad Albutairi on his new family comedy film
Updated 12 July 2024
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Saudi star Fahad Albutairi on his new family comedy film

Saudi star Fahad Albutairi on his new family comedy film
  • Albutairi plays workaholic dad in Maitha Alawadi’s Saudi-Emirati film ‘Al Eid Eiden’

DUBAI: Saudi actor, writer and comedian Fahad Albutairi cites two main reasons for taking on the role of beleaguered workaholic dad Rashid in the new family comedy movie “Al Eid Eiden,” which follows a young Saudi-Emirati couple and their three unruly children on vacation at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island.

“What attracted me to the character initially was the fact that Rashid was a father. And I became a father myself recently,” the 39-year-old tells Arab News. “Also, it’s not very common to see millennials being portrayed as parents in productions in the region, and specifically in the GCC.”

Albutairi ’s second reason involved the film’s all-Emirati female crew, including award-winning director Maitha Alawadi, producer Rawia Abdullah and screenwriter Sara Al-Sayegh.

“Sara has been a colleague and a friend for quite some time now. But this was her screenwriting debut. And, for me, I was really curious about the script,” he says. “The fact that it wasn't slapstick in any way, or a little too on the nose when it came to the comedy… It was very much situational. And the premise just got me hooked.

“I also met online with the director Maitha Alawadi and saw that she was a very collaborative person,” he continues. “So that got me really excited about the film.”

Fahad Albutairi and Meera Al-Midfa star as a married couple with three children in ‘Al Eid Eiden.’ (Supplied)

Emirati actress Meera Al-Midfa, making her feature-length debut, plays Rashid’s wife, while Abdulmajeed Fahad, Layal Fahad, and Abdulmohsen Al-Harbi feature as their energetic children: mischievous Ali, headstrong Mariam, and shy Mohammed.

“I immediately picked up on Meera’s tininess,” says Albutairi, laughing. “So that helped with a lot of the physical comedy in the film. I had never seen her in anything before, so then I looked up her short film ‘Monster,’ which she was wonderful in, but that was a drama. Working on comedy scenes is a two-way street; it’s a collaborative effort. If the other person doesn't have good comedic timing, it can ruin (a) funny moment. That was never the case with Meera. She really came into her own when it came to the comedy. I think she’s one of the funniest characters in the film.”

At the heart of the story, Albutairi says, lies “the struggle of parents who are trying to excel professionally as well as have a pretty stable family life. It's a very delicate balance between the two. And in the case of Rashid, I think he's swayed one way more than the other. And the film explores how he turns it around.”

Albutairi — who rose to fame in the early 2010s with his YouTube sketch show “La Yekthar” and, in 2016, was reportedly the first Saudi stand-up to perform at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood — is delighted to be appearing in a movie representing local culture, humor, and family life. It’s something he believes we need more of in the Saudi entertainment scene.

“We have one of the biggest box offices in the region, if not the biggest,” he says. “And it’s happened over a short period of time since we opened cinemas in Saudi (in 2018). With that comes a huge hunger for content and for more representative films that people can watch and relate to a little more — especially if they're made by Saudi filmmakers.

“I'd like to see more family films like this one. But we also need a diversity of genres. There’s definitely a need for more action stuff, more sci-fi stuff. And I'd love to see that happen very soon,” Albutairi continues. “We’re still testing the waters and seeing what the audience's tastes are. As a content creator and filmmaker myself, I’d like to know more about the audience's thoughts through their reactions and appetite for different productions.”