For the finale of season 19 of “The Voice,” coach and pop singer Kelly Clarkson selected a multi-colored floor-length gown with plunging neckline from Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad. The designer is a hit with US singers — Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez have also worn his dresses in the past.
Like several of her peers, Egyptian actress Asmaa Galal championed a regional designer on the red carpet for the closing ceremony of the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF). Galal selected this backless sparkling gown from Egyptian fashion house Shahira Lasheen, accessorized with jewelry from Damas.
The Egyptian actress and former model walked the carpet at CIFF’s closing ceremony in this metallic backless sequined dress detailed with black velvet ruffles, created by Lebanese designer Antoine Kareh’s eponymous label.
Lebanese actress Cynthia Khalifa had a busy time at CIFF. “Lovely festival! I had a great week, although I was parallely overwhelmed with overnight shoots,” the 28-year-old wrote on Instagram. For the closing ceremony, Khalifa wore an eye-catching shimmering metallic suit from Cairo’s own Alia El-Esseily’s Fall/Winter 20/21 collection.
The 36-year-old pop superstar hit the stage at the recent UNICEF Changemaker event in a vivid pink taffeta dress from Bahraini designer Monsoori’s Spring 2021 collection. The voluminous tiered skirt and bow-embellished shoulders made a statement as loud as Perry’s performance of her latest single, “Only Love.”
‘Scales’ was picked up by Saudi distributor Cinewaves Films. Supplied
DUBAI: Cinemas are slowly starting to reopen across the Middle East and there are a slew of new releases to look forward to. In particular, “Sayidat Al-Bahr,” or “Scales” in English, Saudi filmmaker Shahad Ameen’s black-and-white dystopian fantasy.
The film, which was created by Image Nation Abu Dhabi, was recently picked up by Saudi distributor Cinewaves Films, and is set to make its debut theatrical release in cinemas across Riyadh, Jeddah, Tabuk, Jizan and the Eastern Province on Nov. 12.
The fantasy film, made in the UAE, tells the story of Hayat, a young girl living in a village with a tradition of sacrificing female children to mysterious sea-dwelling creatures in the. When her time comes, she decides to break with tradition and forge her own path.
It premiered in 2019 at the Venice International Film Festival Critics’ Week, where it won the prestigious Verona Film Club award and has been shown at a number of international film festivals including in London, Los Angeles, Carthage, Cairo and Singapore where it was awarded Best Picture.
Ameen — known for her short film “Eye & Mermaid,” which premiered at the Dubai Film Festival in 2013 — said that the film is an artistic comment on patriarchal societies.
“‘Scales’ tells a visceral story about growing up as a woman in a patriarchal society, offering an allegorical take on a universal theme that will resonate with audiences around the world, Ameen said in a released statement at the time the film debuted.
Ameen attended the film’s socially-distanced premiere this week at AMC cinema in Riyadh, alongside the film’s stars Yagoub Al-Farhan and Basima Hajjar.
The private screening was followed by a live Q&A session between the cast of the film and a variety of well-established filmmakers, critics, media and cinema enthusiasts.
DUBAI: Born in Riyadh, Tamtam has gained a following for her socially conscious music that explores the challenges she faces as an unapologetic Arab woman. In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the LA-based musician opens up about her latest single titled “Heartsick” in collaboration with Saudi music producer Saud and her hopes for the music industry post-pandemic.
Many analysts expect that most countries, including Saudi Arabia, will reopen their skies during this quarter. However it is widely anticipated that traveling for tourism, hospitality and entertainment will not be as it was before the COVID-19 pandemic, as precautionary measures and restrictions remain in place in various destinations.
With that in mind, local tourism and entertainment will be an obvious destination for millions of nationals and residents these days and probably until the end of the year. Obviously, until giga and other projects are fully developed and completed, as most of us are in the country this summer celebrating the Eid Al-Adha break and with such hot weather too, there are a limited number of places we can escape to such as the beaches on the Red Sea or Arabian Gulf, and the breathtaking mountainous landscape of Asir.
In addition to the new entertainment centers announced by the Public Investment Fund including Qiddiya Entertainment City, the Red Sea Project, Amaala, AlUla, King Salman Park, Diriyah Gate Development and Riyadh Sport Boulevard, the Saudi Entertainment Ventures Company (SEVEN) was created.
SEVEN, which is headed by Bill Ernest, has a mandate to develop theme parks and entertainment centers around the country. Plans include 20 entertainment destinations, 50 cinemas and two large theme parks in prime locations across the Kingdom.
Each complex will feature entertainment and leisure choices including waterparks, cinemas, play areas, rides, other attractions and more. The complexes will position the Kingdom in the post COVID-19 era as an entertainment, culture and tourism hub for the region.
As part of its strategic business development activities to support key government initiatives and plans to boost economic drivers such as SEVEN and the $20 billion Tourism Development Fund headed by Qusai Al-Fakhri, BMG Financial Group is undertaking a comprehensive study for the capital structure to create world-class water parks in key cities across the country. The plan is to create water parks which meet the social demands of different family members. The branded product could be franchised by different public or private entities.
Furthermore, this initiative will be structured as a public-private partnership vehicle in association with local contractors and international operators coupled with an exit strategy via public listing. In my opinion, even though COVID-19 has had an unprecedented negative impact on many sectors, including hospitality and entertainment, over the next few years these sectors are expected to regain their market share and will benefit from local demand as well as an international one. I still believe that Saudi Arabia remains one of the game changers in the entertainment and tourism sectors.
Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini is the chairman and CEO of BMG Financial Group.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view
The cast and makers of Shams AlMa’arif during premiere night on Saturday in Riyadh. (AN Photo/Bashir Saleh)
Shams Alma’arif (The Book of Sun) is a must-see coming-of-age story that the Saudi youth can relate to
It was originally slated to premiere at the now-labeled “Label Edition” Red Sea Film Festival
RIYADH: Filmmaking duo “The Godus Brothers” raised the curtain on their latest, most ambitious project to date with their first full-length feature film, Shams Alma’arif (The Book of Sun) premiered on Thursday night in Jeddah, and Riyadh on Saturday night.
The film, directed by Faris Godus and produced by Sohayb Godus, who also stars in the film, was shot in Saudi Arabia.
Originally slated to premiere at the now-labeled “Label Edition” Red Sea Film Festival, the film is a must-see coming-of-age story that the Saudi youth can relate to.
The film stars Baraa Alem as Husam, a high school senior with a passion for filmmaking. He and his best friend Maan, played by Ismail Alhasan, are struggling to maintain popularity with their comedic YouTube channel. When caught filming on school property, they find an unlikely ally in their physics teacher Orabi, played by Sohayb Godus, who insists on joining them when he finds out that they are planning to make a movie of their own.
Sohayb told Arab News about the excitement of making their first feature film, and how he felt like their past experiences as content creators had affected them.
Sohayb Godus. (AN Photo/Thamer Alfuraiji)
“Faris and I are so excited, because this has been our dream since childhood. Creating content on digital platforms made us realize that we could achieve the dream of making a feature film. We realized it was doable and I think this applies to all content creators in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
“(In Saudi Arabia) we have a rich soil to build content on and so many stories to tell. I do believe that nowadays the support coming from our country is just awesome. People have so many chances to create films now,” he added.
Faris, who also wrote the script, said that he hoped viewers would enjoy the personal nature of the story.
“This is a story that is very close to our hearts. It’s very personal to everyone who worked on it, because it’s based in large part on our own story. I hope that everyone who sees it will realize the importance of supporting the arts,” he said.
Faris Godus. (AN Photo/Thamer Alfuraiji)
Speaking to Arab News, Alem told of his experience of playing the main character, and how he felt bringing the story to life on screen.
“Faris wrote an incredibly personal story, in more ways than one. You can imagine the character of Husam as an amalgamation of both of us, in a way. Reliving ten years’ worth of past experience, my passion for cinema and filmmaking, and the mischief we used to get up to in school, was an incredibly personal experience,” he said.
He hopes that viewers would leave the film feeling like they can relate to the characters, or that they could consider the characters in the film their friends.
“It’s basically a character film. The story is great, but you can’t help but fall in love with these characters first,” he said.
Baraa Alem. (AN Photo/Thamer Alfuraiji)
Though the “movie-within-a-movie” premise is hardly a new one, the film offers a refreshing twist on an old trope. The film is a glorious, nostalgic romp through Jeddah in 2010, during the golden age of the Saudi YouTube movement. Peppered with references to Saudi pop culture and offering an interesting take on the history of Saudi cinema and television.
The film also features moments that are poignant, emotionally taxing, and familiar to any Saudis who dreamt of working in the creative industry ten years ago. It also highlights the often-vicious comments that are the bread-and-butter of Saudi YouTubers, in one of the film’s most emotional sequences.
The laughs are almost non-stop, even interspersed with surprising moments of tenderness and wisdom. The film perfectly encapsulates the complex feelings of an entire generation of Saudi youth, who struggled before the current era to imagine a future when creative professions could ever be taken seriously.
Shams AlMa’arif showcases the trials and tribulations of becoming a filmmaker in Saudi Arabia in an age where actors and directors needed to be creative in order to see their visions achieved, battling a lack of resources, support from society, and access to locations for filming.
Shams AlMa’arif is now available to watch in MUVI cinemas across Saudi Arabia and will be available in all cinemas by July 31st.
Woody, Buzz and most of the rest of Andy’s ex-toys take a road trip. (Supplied)
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Tony Hale
Where: OSN Movies, April 27, 11:40 (Saudi time)
Woody, Buzz and most of the rest of Andy’s ex-toys (who are now Bonnie’s toys) take a road trip, along with a new addition to Bonnie’s toybox, Forky. Woody meets an old friend on the way, who makes him reassess his sense of duty — to himself and others.
“Tigertail” is on Netflix. (Supplied)
Starring: Lee Hong-chi, Tzi Ma, Christine Ko
The story of Pin-Jui, a Taiwanese factory worker who decides to leave his homeland — and the woman he loves — to seek a better life in America. Years later, after a miserable arranged marriage and a hard and unsatisfying career, he struggles to connect with his past and his daughter.
Love, Wedding, Repeat
The film stars Sam Clafin, Olivia Munn and Joel Fry. (Supplied)
Starring: Sam Clafin, Olivia Munn, Joel Fry
Ever wished for a remake of the time-loop comedy “Groundhog Day” but set around a wedding instead? No? Well, someone did. So now we’ve got this film, in which Jack tries to ensure his little sister has the perfect wedding day, and gets multiple goes at it.
The Innocence Files
This docuseries covers eight cases of wrongful conviction uncovered by non- profit organization The Innocence Project. (Supplied)
Creators: Liz Garbus, Alex Gibney, Roger Ross Williams
This docuseries covers eight cases of wrongful conviction uncovered by non- profit organization The Innocence Project. Netflix says the show “exposes difficult truths about the state of America’s deeply flawed criminal justice system.”
The Main Event
Leo discovers a wrestling mask that magically grants him superhuman strength. (Supplied)
Starring: Seth Carr, Tichina Arnold, Adam Pally, The Miz
In yet another WWE spin-off, 11-year-old Leo discovers a wrestling mask that magically grants him superhuman strength. With the support of his feisty grandma, Leo sets about becoming a pro wrestler.
Influencers may play a significant role in helping to combat the spread of the virus. (File/Getty)
DUBAI: As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to afflict thousands worldwide, influencers have been forced to rethink their perfectly curated aesthetics. Gone are the brightly filtered snaps of avocado toast and ‘Outfit-of-the-day’ posts. Instead, quick workout videos and makeup-free selfies are flooding our social media feeds as people practice social distancing in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
For the latest updates, follow us on Instagram @arabnews.lifestyle
“It’s time for us to utilize our platforms to voice concerns, spread awareness, share lighthearted humor, engage with our viewers and create content to lift people’s spirits,” Dubai-based Zeynab El-Helw, known as “Fashion Pirate” to her 1 million Instagram followers, told Arab News.
UAE-based fashion influencer Ola Farahat, who boasts 1.2 million followers on Instagram, agrees. “I think there is something empowering about sharing positivity, especially because the world is so saturated with depressing news at the moment,” she noted.
According to Dr. Stephanie Alice Baker, lecturer in sociology at City, University of London, influencers may also play a significant role in helping to combat the spread of the virus by using their platforms to enforce the worldwide stay-at-home mandates.
Indeed, a big part of the fight against COVID-19 is getting information regarding government guidelines and regulations out to the public as quickly and efficiently as possible — and encouraging audiences to adhere to them. Just last month, a fitness influencer was detained by Dubai police for mocking the UAE’s stay-at-home rules on Instagram.
“Influencers play a particularly important role in encouraging the younger demographic to comply with lockdown rules and social distancing measures,” Baker said.
“Given that younger generations appear to have a relatively low risk of mortality from the virus, social media personalities are instrumental in using their influence to communicate the importance of such rules and measures,” she explains.
Social distancing rules mean that people are required to spend large amounts of time at home physically isolated from others, so those with a large social media following can also provide some much-needed entertainment while encouraging their followers to comply with the rules.
On the whole, social media consumption is soaring as more and more people around the world go under lockdown.
“We are seeing a move towards posts that portray how influencers are coping during the lockdown, which can be both informative and a source of entertainment,” explains Baker.
“Influencers have been able to turn these restrictions into opportunities to market products related to the domestic sphere including home workouts, DIY beauty, and cooking and cleaning items. The influencers who have stood out during the pandemic are those who use their brand to provide strategies for their followers to cope during the enforced lockdown.”
Baker went on to provide examples of public figures who have adapted their social media strategies during the pandemic, such as fitness guru Joe Wicks who is using his platform to provide free at-home workouts to children amid school closures.
“Fitness and wellness influencers have used their fame to promote health and diet advice on how to improve the immune system, for example, and avoid being more susceptible to the virus. There have even been instances of beauty bloggers and fashion influencers providing health advice.”
Korean beauty blogger Carey gave his followers practical COVID-19-related tips, including which disinfectant to use to kill the virus and how to choose a face mask.
Hady Hajjar, co-founder of the Dubai and Beirut-based Humanagment, coined the term “edutainment” — a portmanteau of the words education and entertainment — to describe how influencers can provide valuable information to their followers in an entertaining, lighthearted way.
“If you only take the entertainment route, you will potentially garner negative feedback,” Hajjar said. “On the other hand, your followers might get bored if your feed is solely dedicated to educating them on the pandemic. You have to balance it out.”
Hajjar believes that it is those who are able to generate creative content amid such uncertain times that will remain relevant after the pandemic.
Meanwhile, as the virus rages on, anxiety is rendering people increasingly susceptible to misinformation, with a flurry of conspiracy theories gaining traction in recent weeks. In particular, a conspiracy theory linking 5G wireless technology to COVID-19 has been spread by celebrities, including singer Kerry Hilson, as well as other known influencers.
Zaineb Al-Hassan, co-founder of Dubai-based PR agency Pop Communications, believes that those with large followings must use their voice to tackle misinformation and prevent the spread of baseless and often dangerous theories to a wider audience.
“Influencers can also be helpful in advocating for campaigns against fake news, especially if the majority of their audience does not consume news through traditional mediums,” Al-Hassan said.
“Ultimately, influencers need to work together to initiate supportive campaigns to share useful and correct information as much as we can. It’s our responsibility to our community, to ourselves, our families and our global network,” El-Helw said.
“We can use our platforms to share information from WHO and other trusted organizations for kids following us,” Farahat added.
One thing is for certain: Whether you love them or hate them, with the ability to communicate instantly with millions of people worldwide using a single hashtag, the role of an influencer is more important now than ever.
JEDDAH: Ever since streaming services became available in the Middle East, leading online sites have been dictating people’s tastes and preferences, their mass media effect influencing Saudi Arabia as it does the rest of the world.
Sara Al-Rifai, an English instructor in Jeddah, believes that streaming services are gaining influence in mainstream culture simply because younger people are unwilling to watch cable TV and sit through ads, or wait a week or more for new content.
“Competition on quality and cost is another factor in favor of streaming services. Neflix’s monthly subscription is affordable. The quality of its shows is rapidly improving, and many of its films and series have won prestigious awards such as the Oscars,” she told Arab News.
Renad Flimban, 26, from Jeddah, said that movies and TV shows have the ability to set mainstream culture in areas ranging from food to fashion and even hairstyles long before streaming became available.
“New streaming services have just made it easier to consume the media and the culture behind it,” she said.
The popular HBO series “Game of Thrones” is perhaps the best example of pop culture “spread,” with local fans joining a global audience in their love for the show. Many viewers in the Arab world watched the series on OSN, while it was also available on HBO.
New streaming services have just made it easier to consume the media and the culture behind it.
“I think it blew up here even though it was on HBO, which isn’t that popular here, because people seemed to really like/dislike the characters and the writing. They had extremely strong feelings on both ends of the spectrum,” Flimban said.
Popular shows in the 1990s and early 2000s have been reinvigorated after streaming services acquired the rights to reshow them for viewers. Many popular shows that used to air on MBC2 and Saudi TV, such as “Friends,” “Full House” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” have won new fans following recent exposure.
“Most of these shows’ themes — friendships, families and relationships — are still relevant today, and having easy access to these shows on current media platforms certainly helped to introduce them to a new audience and reconnect with an established audience,” Flimban said.
Al-Rifai agrees, saying these shows have become more popular among a younger generation due to their availability and a desire to understand the hype surrounding them.
“‘Friends’ is still the most-watched show on Netflix, yet it has been criticized for tolerating sexism and body shaming,” she said. “The generation gap and viewers’ beliefs affect the way they perceive a show, no matter how popular it was in the past.”
• Fans of popular shows and films in Saudi Arabia behave just as worldwide fans do.
• Young Saudis collect merchandise and organize character-themed parties.
For Razan Sijeeni, a Jeddah university graphic design instructor, the pinnacle of pop culture in the Kingdom would be “Tash Ma Tash,” which aired every Ramadan for 18 years, often tackling conservatism and racism, among other controversial social issues.
“Unfortunately, there is very little authentic representation of our culture in our own media nowadays, and whatever there is, even when it’s well executed, it is being Westernized and viewed through a Western gaze,” she said.
However, Sijeeni has Netflix to thank for her favorite series, “Star Trek,” which she discovered on the streaming site.
“It was fascinating to me, watching the visuals of an explosion or space in the 1960s, and how the series progressed and improved considerably as the years went by,” she said.
Sijeeni said that online streaming also offers people from around the world an introduction to different cultures, languages and beliefs at the press of a button.
“I’ve seen a Saudi influencer meet the cast of “Money Heist,” and people were reacting to it — it’s like they know these people and it isn’t just a show.”
She said that in an age where the internet has a growing place in people’s lives, even individuals who don’t watch shows such as “Game of Thrones” and “Friends” still know who the characters are, and go as far as creating memes to help cope with the coronavirus crisis, for example.
Fans of popular shows and films in Saudi Arabia behave just as worldwide fans do, collecting merchandise, holding character-themed parties and recreating recipes from fictional universes.
Flimban’s favorite show since 2010 has been “Gilmore Girls,” and she admits to owning a few show-inspired items and attending a “marvelous” Gatsby-themed party.
Sijeeni had not been as lucky with her “Star Trek” obsession, however, and said that she was envious of fan events she saw happening worldwide. “My favorite mug was given to me by a friend,” she recalled. “It has the main ‘Star Trek’ six and they transport as you fill the mug with boiling water.”
Now she is on the hunt for a “Star Trek” pilot jacket. We recommend Etsy artists for fan-replicated items.
In part four of the popular Spanish crime drama, the gang is in chaos. (Supplied)
It starrs Andy Samberg, Terry Crews and Andre Braugher. (Supplied)
Where: OSN Comedy
Catch up with the seventh season of this popular Emmy-winning cop comedy on OSN. NYPD detective Jake Peralta continues to demonstrate his crime solving chops and wind up his colleagues with his childish humor.
Coffee & Kareem
It starrs Ed Helms, Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Little Gardenhigh. (Supplied)
Helms plays police officer James Coffee in this action-comedy. Coffee is happy in his new relationship with Vanessa, but her son — Kareem — isn’t impressed. He tries to break them up by hiring thugs to take Coffee out. The plan goes badly wrong.
It starrs Ursula Corbero, Itziar Ituno, Alvaro Morte and Paco Tous. (Supplied)
In part four of the popular Spanish crime drama, the gang is in chaos. The Professor believes Lisbon to be dead (the gang use the names of cities instead of their real names). Meanwhile, Rio and Tokyo have blown up a tank and Nairobi is in serious trouble.
It starrs Nicola Byer, Jacques Torres and some terrible bakers. (Supplied)
In an amusing twist on reality-TV baking shows, ‘Nailed It!’ invites
some shockingly bad home bakers to try and recreate edible masterpieces in front of the camera — competing for $10,000. The results are some of the ugliest food you’re ever going to see.
Sunderland Till I Die
The second series of this compelling docuseries delving behind the scenes at Sunderland football club in the north of England. Can a new owner save the club?
In a recent interview with British Vogue, the singer and beauty mogul told the magazine about her fresh perspective on life. “Since I turned 32, I’m realizing life is really short,” she stated. “You don’t have a lot of time to tolerate sh*t, you know? You put so much on your plate. When you’re overwhelmed, you need to start cutting things out. And I’m overwhelmed too much. What’s happening now is that I’m going back to black and white. My grey area is shutting down.”
In the piece, journalist Afua Hirsch confirmed the break-up, writing “her long-term relationship with the Saudi billionaire businessman Hassan Jameel (conducted largely away from the media’s obsessive gaze) recently ended.”
According to US media reports, Rihanna and her Saudi beau reportedly went their separate ways in January, after nearly three years of dating.
Rihanna gave no indication of an upcoming break up in a 2019 conversation with “Ocean’s 8” co-star Sarah Paulson for Interview Magazine. Paulson grilled the Fenty owner about her personal life, at one point asking her who she was dating, which she answered: “Google it.”
Paulson then asked her if she was in love, and she said “Of course I am.”
During the interview with British Vogue, Hirsch asked the singer about the possibility of having children, to which the multi-Grammy Award winner revealed she wanted “three or four” children — with or without a man in her life.
“I feel like society makes me want to feel like, ‘Oh, you got it wrong…’ They diminish you as a mother if there’s not a dad in your kids’ lives,” she explained. “But the only thing that matters is happiness, that’s the only healthy relationship between a parent and a child.”
The singer added, “That’s the only thing that can raise a child truly, is love.”
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