LuLu festival celebrates British culture

SOURCE: Arab News

Time: April 21, 2018

LuLu Hypermarket is celebrating the British culture in Saudi Arabia with the “Beautiful Britain 2018” promotion across all its branches in the Kingdom.
The event will be inaugurated by British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Simon Collis, on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Khurais Road hypermarket in Riyadh.
The promotion, which aims to mark the deeper ties between the two countries, runs until April 28.
The festival will promote the best of British brands among the local and expatriate communities here.
“Through this event, our goal is to showcase the very best of what Britain has to offer. ‘Beautiful Britain 2018’ will be a time of celebration and a great opportunity for the British community and those promoting British products to come together and enjoy the products,” a press release said.
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Arab Fashion Week: Day four roundup

SOURCE: Arab News

April 14, 2018

RIYADH: Arab News takes an exclusive look at the catwalk action from the fourth day of Arab Fashion Week. What stands out is ready couture from designers who are aware of where fashion trends are heading and have a deep understanding of Saudi female consumers.
. SWAF from Saudi Arabia: Alia Al-Sawwaf’s “The Royal” collection is a tribute to the luxury and extravagance of Riyadh. “The collection is inspired by the dazzling city of Riyadh and its fashion-forward trends,” she says. Majestic whites, golds, and blues, luxurious organza and chiffon, and ruffled textures are used to create garments that cater to Saudi preferences but also have an international appeal. Ruffles and ruched fabrics feature heavily — running down the backs or sides of red- or yellow-colored evening gowns — reminiscent of Belle from the Disney classic, “Beauty and the Beast.” The romantic pieces catch our attention: dovetailed dresses, ranging from a color palette of tiffany blues to beiges, are finished off with a dusting of glitter.

Beatrice Schoenbrunn, a spectator, said she “greatly enjoyed the SWAF collection as there is a range of colors and designs, from feminine and delicate pieces to the more dramatic ones with long, beautiful tails.” Pleased to have watched a show by a home-grown label, Schoenbrunn said, “It goes to show that Saudi designers now have opportunities to showcase their talents in their home country.”

Mashael Alrajhi from Saudi Arabia: Mashael Alrajhi’s flair for combining couturewith sportswear appeals to the style sensibilities of many young Arab women, perhaps making it the most anticipated show of the evening. Mashael Alrajhi was launched in 2013 as a contemporary luxury brand and has gone on to become synonymous with experimental street style. In 2016, Alrajhi was selected as the first Saudi designer to represent the Kingdom at the International Fashion Showcase during London Fashion Week and was also the first Saudi nominated for the 2016-2017 Woolmark Prize. More recently, her collaboration with the Nike Pro hijab
(debuted at Fashion Forward Dubai) made regional headlines. Taking center stage atthis evening’s collection is the pop of color — bright red buttons down the sides of pinstriped trousers, or blue ruched trimmings at the back. Androgynous silhouettes, feminine pleats, crystal ruching, quilted fabric, stark stars and crescents, and customized Nikes made for some powerful statements.
. Basil Soda from Lebanon: Established in 2000, Basil Soda fashion house is a prominent player in the Middle Eastern and international fashion industry, known for intricate detailing, perfect cuts, and fit. It’s no secret that architecture is a constant source of inspiration for the atelier. “Hopelessly romantic, yet mysteriously dark,” says his website. Having dressed the likes of Katy Perry, Emily Blunt, and Marion Cotillard, Basil Soda now brings his European aesthetic to Saudi Arabia in his “Return to the Runway.” The collection featured luxurious evening dresses, peplum dresses, and pant suits beautified with intricate sequins, thread, gold, and crystal
beading. Cinched at the waist with detailed belts, long peplum tails over straight-fit patterned dresses, beaded pant suits, sheer cape sleeves, and billowing silk and chiffon ensembles are sure to make any woman feel like a red-carpet celebrity.
. Yulia Yanina from Russia: Established in 1993, Yulia Yanina is inspired by a line of Russian poetry — “All moves by love’s glow” — and is known for its luxurious evening and wedding dresses. Yanina Couture displayed the haute couture, spring-summer 2018 collection as a guest of honor at AFW. The stunning collection featured cocktail dresses, evening dresses, and jumpsuits. Nude net and tulle fabrics served as a canvas for dramatic black applique work, complete with elaborate black beading and feathers. Velvet jumpsuits with beaded capes casually thrown over the shoulder, sashaying shoulder fringes, and headpieces made of black feather and velvet were reminiscent of “The Great Gatsby.” Other motifs featured heavily in her designs include daffodils, grape vines, and palm trees.

Arab Fashion Week in Riyadh: Saudi debut for UAE’s Aiisha Ramadan

SOURCE: Arab News

April 14, 2018

DUBAI: Aiisha Ramadan is having a chaotic week. The UAE-based Lebanese designer – considered one of the region’s most prominent names in fashion – only had her visa come through at the beginning of the week ahead of her trip to Saudi Arabia. Ahead of her runway show at the Kingdom’s first Arab Fashion Week on Thursday night, she was busy prepping for what was set to become one of her biggest public appearances.
Ramadan was one of the regional designers to be showcased alongside international names such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Roberto Cavalli at Riyadh’s Arab Fashion Week, which runs until Saturday. Since it is organized by the Arab Fashion Council – which, according to organizers is the largest fashion authority representing the 22 Arab countries – it is now recognized as one of the world’s five most important fashion weeks, alongside New York, London, Milan and Paris.
“This is my first show ever in Saudi Arabia,” Ramadan said on the phone as we caught her rushing around Dubai to finalize some details of her collection before catching her flight. “It’s going to be exciting to put the faces to the names of so many people who have supported me. Saudi Arabian women are [some of the most] beautiful women in the world. They’re fashion-savvy, so it’s exciting to now get an insight into this beautiful, mysterious market.”
“I’ll be showcasing a collection, which I’m calling the Golden Age of Aiisha; it comprises the best of Aiisha Ramadan from the past year,” she said, adding that she won’t be showing her brand new collection until next month.
“Most of my clients are from Saudi Arabia and therefore this show is going to be a tribute to them.”
Ramadan – who has been dressing Saudi customers since 2009 – has been a couturier since 2007, working from the UAE, which has been her base for more than 30 years. In 2013, she changed direction by reviving the art of couture in a contemporary manner, creating two collections per year for all of her lines, including ready-to-wear, couture and bridal.
For her show, Ramadan showcased ready couture – she takes pride in her cuts, embroidery and technique – with her stating that each piece “has a story behind them in the embroidery.”
She continued: “For this show I have picked pieces that are timeless.”
Ramadan believes that an event such as Arab Fashion Week is much more than just a series of runway shows, however, presenting an opportunity to support local and regional designers.
“I’d like to see more identity in the region, along with finding production solutions for regional designers,” she says. “We do not produce large quantities, and therefore the right support is required. We need buyers to become [more generous] with their budgets toward Arab designers.
“Designers coming from abroad almost always get paid, whereas Arab designers get left on consignment. It’s important to support local talent. In fact, out of all of the individuals I have dressed, all the [non-Arab] celebrities have liked my pieces so much that they have offered to buy them, and the same applies to Arab celebs.”
In the past, Ramadan hasn’t focused on regional celebrity clientele, instead working with stars from the West, including dressing Jennifer Lopez, Ariana Grande and Christina Aguilera. But she was ecstatic to dress Yemeni singer Balqees Fathi this past year.
“A major highlight for me this past year was dressing Balqees. I’d love to dress Cate Blanchett; she’s beautiful.”
One more thing Ramadan would like to see change is the concept of blagging by many social media influencers. The designer believes it impacts brands and business.
“They usually want to wear something no one has worn before, yet they won’t pay for it. I don’t see how a dress costing between 8,000 dirhams ($2,178) to 15,000 dirhams ($4,084) worn by an influencer will help my brand,” she states. “I have no problem dressing my friends – because they are my friends and I love them.”
Looking ahead, Ramadan is “opening our first ever outlet” this October, although she declined to disclose the location.
“It’s going to be a very big surprise,” she said.
In the meantime, she’s focusing on her time at Arab Fashion Week.
“This is a wonderful step for the GCC in terms of fashion… it’s a way of moving us forward to become a leader and establishing identity. I am very exciting about what’s to come.”

Saudi Arabia’s Qassim’s classic car festival wows visitors

SOURCE: Arab News

April 14, 2018

JEDDAH: The second edition of the Qassim’s Heritage and Classic Cars festival kicked off on Friday at Al-Nakhla Center in Saudi Arabia’s Buraidah.
The festival, organized by the Qassim Tourism Development Board, attracted a large turnout of classic and collection car enthusiasts from the Kingdom and Gulf countries on its first day.
The collection of 400 classic cars owned by Saudis and Gulf nationals transported visitors to a bygone era.
Ibrahim Al-Misheqeh, the director of the General Authority for Tourism and National Heritage and secretary of the Tourism Development Council in Qassim, said a productive families market and food truck corner were provided in addition to the rare car auction and the old car parts and accessories market.
“The council also organized a competition for the car owners, along with a myriad of activities targeting the youth,” he said.
Participants hailed the organization of the festival and the various facilities and services offered.

Cinema chains, amusement park operators queue up to enter Saudi Arabia market

SOURCE: Arab News

Time: March 22, 2018

LONDON: So far, it has been all about meeting Donald Trump and other political bigwigs. But there is much more on the agenda for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in his first official visit to the US.
In his seven-city tour of America, the prince is also meeting corporate CEOs with a view to striking deals with companies dealing in renewable energy, high tech, sport, tourism and, perhaps most importantly, entertainment.
When it comes to the entertainment industry, Saudi Arabia is virtually a blank page. There are no cinemas or concert halls or amusement parks — yet. The message from the crown prince is that Saudi Arabia is not only open for business, it is open for fun too, with a large young generation — his generation — crying out for entertainment on their own doorstep, that does not entail a drive or flight to neighboring Bahrain or the United Arab Emirates.
Six Flags, the world’s largest amusement park company, with 20 sites in the US, Canada and Mexico, is to build its first property outside the American continent in Saudi Arabia. The company announced last June that it had begun talks with the Saudi government and it was subsequently reported that the first of three initial amusement parks was set to open in 2020, with Riyadh the most likely location.
That turned out to be overstating the situation but the project is certainly not dead.
Sandra Daniels, vice president of corporate communications at Six Flags head office in Grand Prarie, Texas, told Arab News, “We do not have a formal agreement to build a park in Saudi Arabia yet; however, Six Flags is excited to be in discussions to do so and to be part of an important cultural movement, along with other western brands, in support of the Vision 2030 commitment to bring world-class entertainment experiences to Saudi Arabian families.”
Executive chairman Jim Reid-Anderson said the parks were likely — but not guaranteed — to be owned by the Saudi government, adding that there was “great support” for the project.
Saudi audiences will not have to wait that long for the Greatest Royal Rumble wrestling extravaganza, which WWE is staging on April 27 at the 70,000-capacity King Abdullah stadium in Jeddah. The entertainment conglomerate, which is based in Stamford, Connecticut, is shipping out 50 of its WWE “Superstars” and promising “a spectacle of historic proportions.”
WWE prefers a six-month lead-in time period but the agreement to stage this event was signed only at the beginning of March, leaving only six weeks of promotion time. Nonetheless, confidence is still high that tickets will sell out after they go on sale on March 31.
Saudi Arabia and its sports-mad young audiences clearly offer an unprecedented opportunity for WWE to build a new fanbase almost from scratch. WWE has already made one foray into the country, testing the waters with an event 18 months ago in Riyadh, earning a “great reaction.”
Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon said the forthcoming April event is part of a 10-year partnership with the Saudi General Sports Authority supporting Vision 2030, a clear indication that WWE sees Saudi Arabia as a long-term prospect.
According to Britain’s The Sun newspaper, there were comments on Twitter about WWE because the line-up for the Jeddah show does not include any female fighters.
WWE stresses that while its shows are “inclusive and progressive” they always “respect local values and customs.”
Cinema chains and leisure conglomerates are falling over themselves to gain a foothold in a market that is not only almost completely new but also affluent.
Saudis currently spend $22 billion a year on entertainment and tourism outside the country. The government wants at least 25 percent of that sum to be spent at home.
AMC Entertainment, based in Leawood, Kansas, have announced an agreement with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia to “explore opportunities” within the Kingdom and IPic Entertainment of Boca Raton, Florida have struck a partnership with the BAS Global Investments Company, a Saudi company, to develop cinemas and restaurants throughout the country, with the aim of opening in 30 locations within a decade.

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Saudi Film Council launched to support cultural talent

SOURCE: Arab News

Time: March 21, 2018

RIYADH: The Saudi Film Council was launched on Tuesday to help develop the Kingdom’s cultural sector.
The launch by the General Culture Authority is the latest effort to establish and support new sectors that enhance society’s vitality and the economy’s diversity and prosperity, under the umbrella of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
The authority’s executive chairman, Ahmed bin Fahd Al-Mazeed, said the authority is determined to support cultural talents and the cultural diversity in the Kingdom.
He added the council aims to develop a vital sector and a thriving environment for the films and content industry in the Kingdom through strategic and sustainable development mechanisms.
This can be achieved by resorting to the sector’s main axes: Development and complete care of talents programs; supportive and flexible legislative and executive frameworks; advanced infrastructure and technology for artistic production; availability of financing solutions and options; in addition to the cultural sector’s development initiatives all over the Kingdom.

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Breathtaking contemporary dance show enchants Saudis in Jeddah

SOURCE: Arab News

Time: March 19, 2018

JEDDAH: In line with the artistic awakening that Saudi Arabia is experiencing, the Italian business group IBG put on a breathtaking dance show which enchanted an audience on Sunday night.
“Omnia Vincit Amor” (in English, love conquers all) is a contemporary ballet by Keyhole Dance Project, a contemporary dance company from Padova, Italy, which took place at the Italian Cultural Center.
Staged in collaboration with the Cultural Center and the patronage of the Italian Consulate, “Omnia Vincit Amor” tells a story about love and includes a lot of classical references and passionate emotions.
Before the show Elizabitta Martini, Consul General of Italy in Jeddah, said: “Entertainment is the new industry in Saudi Arabia and it is where more Italian events can contribute. We are glad the IBG is promoting such an event to strengthen Saudi-Italian ties.”
The show combined the strong but controlled legwork of ballet with a modern style that emphasizes the torso. Unpredictable changes in rhythm, speed, and direction were often used as well.
Jumana Rajab, a VIP relationship executive in the audience, told Arab News: “I’m glad we’ve started to introduce this concept of fun and dance, and I can’t wait to see more similar events as it is a chance to tell people that art has great meaning.”
Noha Yousif, who works in PR and was also in the audience, told Arab News: “I am so happy to have such a show in Jeddah as when I was younger I used to dance ballet. It is an iconic moment for me to witness this art and this change coming to Saudi Arabia.”
Keyhole Dance Project was founded in 2015 by Matteo Zamperin after a journey in the Middle East. They performed earlier this month at the Italian embassy in Riyadh.
Different types of choreography were used in different pieces throughout the show, such as Stones choreography, which was created in Budapest for the Hungarian National Ballet dancers, and Gestalt choreography, which comes from a school of thought that suggests that we perceive objects as part of a greater whole and as elements of more complex systems.
Sponsors of the event were the Italian Consulate in Jeddah, Sharbatly Fruit, Unifood, End Consumer, Assila Hotel, Silver Spoon and KH Morgan. Media Sponsors were Destination Jeddah, Arab News, Alam Arrajol and Design Magazine.

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Streets come to life in Saudi Arabia’s first graffiti project

March 01, 2018

ALKHOBAR: A historic neighborhood has turned its aging streets and houses into a living art exhibition with the help of graffiti artists from around Saudi Arabia.
The “Alfan Sharqy” (“Art is Eastern”) exhibit in Bayoonya opened on Monday and is believed to be the first street graffiti project in the Kingdom.
Saudi artist Madawi Albaz, founder of the Dawi gallery, organized the exhibition under the sponsorship of Princess Abeer bint Faisal Al-Saud.
Albaz said she “had a dream of spreading beautiful art around the Kingdom, starting with Alkhobar, and thank God the dream has come true.”
More than 20 Saudi graffiti artists worked for 10 days to complete the project, painting six houses and transforming an entire neighborhood on Alkhobar’s southern side.
Albaz said: “I wanted to give Saudi artists the opportunity to show their talents, and decorate the neglected houses. This is a different experience, with a big challenge that included a large population and old streets.
“The initiative goes hand in hand with Vision 2030, offering talented youth the chance to spread art and beauty.”
Planning for the project took six months, she said. The exhibition was approved by the Alkhobar municipality.
The exhibition had been welcomed by neighborhood residents. “People are coming from everywhere to see it. Everyone is happy,” she said. “There is a lot of excitement, and other neighborhoods have expressed interest in similar projects.
“This is just the start,” Albaz said. “We plan to go to different cities and neighborhoods with new visions and big ambitions.”

This article was first published in the Arab News

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