CHICAGO: From the south of Jordan comes the desperate tale, “Bread and Tea: The Story of a Man from Karak,” by award-winning novelist Ahmad Tarawneh. The novel begins with two middle-aged grave-robbers, Abu Ahmad and Abu Khalil. Their lives have taken a turn for the worse after serving in the Jordanian forces in their youth and then being abandoned by them in their later years. Left to dig for and steal artifacts to provide for their families, their poverty pushes them to the brink, where money takes precedence over familial bonds.
Their fates are tied to their children, who eventually grow up and grow apart as one
becomes a member of the Jordanian security forces and the other a member of a militant Islamic group.
In the introduction by the translator and series editor of the Arabic Literature and Language series, Nasreen Akhtarkhavari, she says that the novel, which was originally published in 2016 in Arabic, is a study of the “social, political, and historical realities of not only Jordan but the Arab region,” according to the author. Tarawneh, writes Akhtarkhavari, hails from the south of Jordan and chose the setting purposefully, as he did the characters — who are inspired by real-life events mixed with his own mythological and gothic elements. The story has a complex plot with many character offshoots but at its heart is a story of desperation, revenge and consequence.
Tarawneh’s imagery is haunting and resolute. When readers meet Abu Ahmad and Abu Khalil, they are scavenging from the Romans at Al-Nakhl site. They consistently justify their thievery by saying the relics from the past belong to them as much as they do to the nation, both left behind. Their Nabatean ancestors knew they would be starving, according to the brothers, and therefore they are only taking what is due to them, as “the people in these graves are more merciful to you and me than the living.”
Surrounded by a band of characters from Karak, including an antiquities dealer, history teacher, their wives and children, Tarawneh’s characters are distinct in their imperfection. He creates an atmosphere of distrust with hints of love and loyalty. And as his characters climb in and out of graves, he seamlessly moves from the living to the dead, the circumstances of each attached to one another through history.
Weaving a story with elements of light and dark, shadow and flesh, life above and below ground, Tarawneh’s novel settles into revenge that leads its characters onto paths even they cannot foresee. When attempting to escape a repeating of history, the future is only a journey into the inevitable.
DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai is set to host a fashion show on Feb. 16 to celebrate the Kingdom’s designers.
The event, which is a collaboration with the Saudi Fashion Commission, will present works from homegrown labels Arwa Al-Banawi, Tima Abid and Abadia.
Each brand will showcase 10 pieces from their most recent collections.
Over the past few years Al-Banawi has made a name for herself as one of her generation’s most creative designers. She blends traditional tailoring with contemporary perspectives, working out of her design studios in Jeddah and Dubai to bring together eastern and western influences.
Abid founded her eponymous womenswear label 18-years-ago. The Jeddah-born couturiere presented her first-ever collection in 2020 during Paris Haute Couture Week. Since then, she has dressed some of the region’s top celebrities, including Assala Nasri and Balqees Fathi.
Meanwhile, the Dubai-based Saudi label Abadia refers to itself as “ethical luxury.” The family-owned brand, co-founded by Shahd Al-Shehail and her aunt, Naeema Al-Shehail, aims to empower and support Saudi women artisans by integrating traditional crafts such as sadu (a weaving technique) and naqda (a technique of pulling thin metallic threads through cloth) in their designs.
DUBAI: Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, and Maluma star in the upcoming movie “Marry Me,” a romantic comedy about the unlikely marriage between a math teacher and a pop superstar. Over the past few months, the trailer and press release images have shown Lopez wearing a gorgeous Zuhair Murad wedding dress for the onscreen wedding.
The Ras Baalbek-born couturier and the singer-turned-actress have a long-standing relationship, with Lopez wearing the designer’s creations to countless events and award ceremonies, so when it came to choosing a wedding dress for a pivotal movie moment, it’s not surprising that Murad topped the list.
The off-white strapless creation boasts a full skirt and is embellished with glittering pink and gold beading. It is accompanied by an extravagant, shimmering veil to create a full princess bridal look.
Murad isn’t the only Lebanese designer to appear on the screen in recent years. In the original CW series “Gossip Girl,” both characters of Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf wore Arab designers for their on-screen nuptials.
Woodsen, played by Blake Lively, wore a metallic gold strapless tulle couture gown by Lebanese designer Georges Chakra, ditching the traditional white bridal look. Meanwhile, her best friend, Waldorf, portrayed by Leighton Meester, wore a light blue lace and embellished Elie Saab couture dress.
DUBAI: Since making her professional modeling debut aged 17, Palestinian-Dutch model Gigi Hadid has several times graced the pages of renowned publications, such as Vogue, but it seems that the 26-year-old is taking a step back. In a recent interview with Hola magazine, Hadid revealed that she was no longer interested in posing for magazine covers.
The California-bred catwalk star confessed that she wants to give the chance to new models who are trying to enter the competitive fashion industry as it can really change the course of their careers.
Speaking to the publication, Hadid stated: “There are magazines I say no to because I’d rather give another girl an opportunity to get that cover. I don’t need to do the same cover again if someone else’s career could skyrocket because of it.”
Hadid has been modeling nearly her whole life, appearing in adverts for Guess Kids when she was a toddler.
The profession runs in the family. Her mother, Dutch reality television star Yolanda Hadid, was a former top model, and her younger sister Bella is one of the most in-demand models in the industry today.
Hadid praises her mother for giving her one piece of advice that she lives by: “There’s always going to be people in the industry who are younger, prettier, up and coming. You have to be kinder and more hard-working.”
The part-Palestinian model is one of the most sought-after fashion stars and was crowned International Model of the Year in 2016. She has closed and opened runways for renowned fashion houses, fronted high-profile advertising campaigns from Prada to Chanel, landed covers of prestigious publications all over the world, and has helped design collections with the likes of Tommy Hilfiger and Vogue Eyewear.
In the past few years, Hadid has also added a few other things onto her resume, such as becoming the new co-host for the second season of Netflix’s “Next in Fashion,” serving as a guest judge on Bravo’s “Project Runaway” and narrating an episode of Netflix series “Never Have I Ever.”
DUBAI: British company The World’s 50 Best Restaurants unveiled this week its Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2022, and five Saudi eateries have secured a spot on the list.
The list features restaurants from 11 countries in the region including Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon, the UAE, Kuwait, Tunisia and Egypt. It celebrates gastronomy, culture and cutting-edge culinary techniques from different countries.
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Ranked 15 on the list is Riyadh’s Japanese restaurant Myazu. It has contemporary dishes offering smoky, sweet, spicy and vibrant flavors.
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Marble, in Riyadh, is the 30th best restaurant in the Middle East, according to the website, with dishes ranging from seasoned smoky burgers to juicy rib platters.
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Riyadh’s Porterhouse, ranked 37, is a Saudi brand that launched in 2016. It is famous for its wagyu steaks and seafood plates.
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Next is LPM in Riyadh. Ranked 42, the restaurant opened its doors in 2021. It is a French restaurant influenced by Mediterranean cuisine.
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The last restaurant on the list is Tokyo, located in the heart of Riyadh. The Japanese spot offers sushi, sashimi, maki, soups, noodles, rice bowls and much more.
Click here for the full list.
DUBAI: Grammy-award winning band Coldplay are set to perform at Expo 2020 Dubai on Feb. 15.
The band’s free-to-attend show will support Expo’s Programme for People and Planet and is in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The British group prides itself on its commitment and responsibility to the environment.
“As a band, we always try to put togetherness and sustainability at the heart of everything we do,” the band said in a released statement. “It’s an honor to be invited to perform at Expo 2020 Dubai Infinite Nights for a special celebration of these two themes.”
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Coldplay will perform at Al Wasl Plaza at 9:00 p.m. Visitors will need to purchase free tickets online for the event.
The concert will be live-streamed globally on Expo 2020’s website and across its social media platforms.
In March 2022, the four-piece band – comprising vocalist and pianist Chris Martin, guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion – will embark on its Music of the Spheres World Tour.
The tour has taken two years of planning, with Coldplay working with a range of environmental experts to incorporate initiatives that aim to lower carbon emissions by as much as 50 per cent compared to the band’s previous tours.
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“We would love to return to the UAE as part of our Music of the Spheres world tour. Our dream would be to partner with the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment to power our entire show with local renewable energy sources, and to develop other meaningful sustainability initiatives around the concert,” the band added.
Coldplay are the latest in a long-line of renowned artists to hit the stage as part of the “Infinite Night” series, which saw performances by global and Arab superstars, including Black Eyed Peas, Alicia Keys, Nancy Ajram and Ragheb Alama among others.