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Meet the Lebanese stylist serving up looks at Expo 2020 Dubai – Arab News

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DUBAI: Roula Kehdi, a longtime fashion consultant and star of her own show with MTV Lebanon called “Fashionista,” has been selected to style the anchors and hosts for three television shows on Dubai TV, Abu Dhabi TV and Emarat TV that are dedicated to covering Expo 2020 Dubai. Though she has other collaborations under her belt, this is the “biggest challenge,” said the Lebanese stylist to Arab News.
“I’m proud of each job I’ve taken, but I think Expo 2020 is the biggest challenge and I think I’m going to be very proud of it,” she said.
 
 
Her involvement with the six-month-long world exhibition began when she was approached by UAE-based production company Studiovision Dubai.
“When Studiovision approached me, I was scared because it’s a very challenging project,” she explained. “I’m happy I took the risk. It’s challenging because I have three shows — one morning show and two evening shows — and 15 anchors to style on a daily basis. It’s not easy at all, but I’m happy I’m here,” she added.
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In addition to her fruitful television career, Kehdi also spearheads her own leather accessories brand, Roula Kehdi Creations, which focuses on wallets, handbags and laptop cases handmade in Lebanon.
Describing own aesthetic as “funky” and “out-of-the-box,” she reveals that the looks typically seen on her clients are influenced by a range of factors that include their personal styles and mood. Additionally, the fashion consultant has to adhere to the styling requirements of the particular television show she is working on. “You have to adapt,” she explained.
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While the Lebanon native doesn’t limit herself when it comes to the designers she works with, she does make it a point to highlight and uplift Arab talent. “I’m happy that Lebanese and Arab designers are now everywhere. They went international and we’re so proud of them,” she said.
Kehdi, who began her television career 12 years ago, launched her own television show “Fashionista” in 2015, which she credits for bringing her many opportunities. “I cover everything to do with fashion. It’s my passion,” she said. “My show opened many doors for me, one of which is Expo 2020.”
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DUBAI: In honor of the UAE’s 50th National Day on Dec. 2, 400 artists from more than 170 countries will come together for an event titled Dubai Art Expo to showcase their work in the UAE city.
The free three-day event will start on Thursday, with a grand opening held at the Meydan Hotel.
The festivities will include an art exhibition, talks, workshops and a series of performances from five continents. The performances will feature dancers, choirs, instrumental musicians and singers from Brazil, Ukraine and elsewhere.
For the second day, the program will be held in Al-Fahidi Historical Neighborhood in collaboration with the Italian non-profit association Colours of Peace that promotes children’s art internationally to reduce cultural, social and economic distances between rich and poor countries.
The foundation will also host a workshop for children to create their own drawings and messages.
The event’s Art Talks programme will take place on Saturday in the same neighborhood, with guest speakers including Platon Alexiou, a professor at the college of architecture, art and design at Ajman University and Emirati photographer Jassim Al-Awadhi.
The event is held under the patronage of the Minister of Tolerance and Co-existence, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak. It is organized by Artissima Art Agency and is curated by its founder, Aurela Cuku.
TALKING HORSES


Carlo Guarmani’s “El Kamsa” from 1866, the double-volume “Breeding of Pure Bred Arab Horses” and a “History of The Royal Agricultural Society’s Stud of Authentic Arabian Horses” — both produced by The Royal Agricutural Society of Egypt in the 1930s and 1940s — all offer fascinating insights into the history of the pure-bred Arabian horse. The RASE’s books chronicle the society’s efforts to halt the extinction of this cultural icon — efforts supported extensively by Saudi Arabia.
Guarmani’s book, meanwhile, is considered one of the finest early Western works on the the subject of Arabian horses, not least because it includes translation’s of “three key Arabic works, most importantly that of one Ahmed, described by Guarmani as ‘the main hippologies of the century,’ director of the stables under Abdullah Pasha ibn Ali, Ottoman governor of the Eyalet of Sidon from 1820-32,” according to Peter Harrington’s catalogue.
Guarmani was an Italian horse expert and dealer who travelled to the region in 1850, spending 16 years in Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and the Arabian desert and becoming fluent in Arabic. He was tasked with finding pure-bred Arab stallions to buy for the French and Italian military. “Several months later, and after several risky adventures, Guarmani ‘successfully purchased three prime stallions for the exorbitant price of 100 camels.’ This second edition adds his narrative of this journey,” the catalogue states. “The title, ‘El Kamsa,’ refers to the five great families of the Arab horse.”
LANGUAGE LESSONS

The bookseller describes this collection of seven Khaleeji Arabic handbooks as “a highly unusual gathering of these extremely scarce language guides.” They were written in the 1940s to 1960s for employees of the various foreign oil companies expanding their operations in the region after the Second World War — particularly Aramco in Saudi Arabia, the Bahrain Petroleum Company, and the Kuwait Oil Company.
Aramco’s “Arabic Work Vocabulary for Americans in Saudi Arabia” is, the catalogue says, “the first to cover the Qatifi dialect, usages in Hofuf, Bahrain and Jubail, with some accommodation to the Bedu as well.” It also includes some cultural tips, including: “The Westerner’s tendency to dispense with formalities can often be unintentionally offensive.” Only six copies of this edition are recorded in libraries around the world.
The Kuwait Oil Company’s effort covers similar ground, with tips on how to converse in “the bazaar, the harbor, stores, the refinery etc.” and exercises on local geography and climate, pearl diving, fishing and boat building, while Bapco’s “Colloquial Arabic” text book for employees is “grouped into eight lessons themed around working with local staff in Bahrain: in the workplace, greetings and small talk, an interview, construction, transportation, in the shop, troubles.”
A SPY’S ACCOUNT

Max Oppenheim journeyed from Cairo through northern Mesopotamia at the beginning of the 20th century. Officially, he was on an expedition to establish the route of the Baghdad Railway. In reality, he was a spy for Kaiser Wilhelm II, the German emperor. Oppenheim is described as “one of the most colorful figures of Middle Eastern politics and archaeology … an orientalist and ardent believer in his country’s destiny in the East. He travelled extensively through Mesopotamia and Syria, then Ottoman territories, mapping and taking meticulous notes on everything, from the lie of the land to the number of tents and houses owned by every tribe and village.” His journey took him through Beirut, Damascus, Palmyra, Mosul, Baghdad, Muscat, Adan, Zanzibar and more.
A SECRET SOCIETY’S ENCYCLOPEDIA

Hailed as “one of the most complete medieval encyclopedias of science,” this is a translation of a collection that was “composed sometime between the 10th and 11th centuries by an enigmatic and remarkable group of anonymous authors based in Basra known collectively as Ikhwān al-Safā’ or Brethren of Purity.” A British historian has said they “ransacked every faith, every philosophy; ‘no science and no method is to be despised,’ they said; no part of knowledge, no attempt to reach truth, was common or unclean to them … Its value lies in its completeness, in its systematizing of the results of Arabian study.” The 52 “treatises” cover maths, theology, psychology, the natural sciences and more.
A VITAL GUIDE TO FARMING

Author Ibn Al-‘Awwam was “an Arab agriculturist who flourished at Seville in southern Spain in the later 12th century.” This guidebook is described as “the most comprehensive treatment of (agriculture) in medieval Arabic, and one of the most important medieval works on the subject in any language.” It was “for a long time the only source of reference on medieval Andalusi agronomy.” Al-‘Awwam breaks his topic down in great detail, covering crops and livestock. “The book describes the cultivation of 585 different plants, and gives cures for diseases of trees and vines, as well as diseases and injuries to horses and cattle.”
A RARE MAP OF THE REGION

This 1935 work is the final edition of Frederick Fraser Hunter’s “landmark Map of Arabia.” Hunter produced it as an accompaniment to J.G. Lorimer’s acclaimed “Gazetteer of the Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia,” written in the early 20th century, which remains “an important tool for researchers.” Hunter based his work on oil company and geologists’ surveys, travelers’ accounts, existing maps, and “local native information.” The result was “a milestone in the map-making of the Arabian peninsula,” an “extremely scarce and meticulous” work of which just four of this version are listed on library catalog WorldCat.
DUBAI: Quite how Larry David — or, at least, the fictionalized version he portrays in the sitcom “Curb Your Enthusiasm” — has become so universally popular is still a mystery, 21 years on from the pilot episode. He’s petty, mean-spirited, unable to accept blame, hypocritical, and exasperating. He’s unreasonably wealthy and does little-to-no work. He’s also one of the funniest characters on TV.
Season 11 is — judging by the first two episodes — sticking pretty, pretty faithfully to the formula. Convoluted — though believable in context — plot twists force Larry into situations where he’s forced to choose between what’s ethical and self-preservation/self-interest. He chooses the latter.
This series jumps straight into its multi-episode dilemma: A dead body found in Larry’s pool turns out to be a burglar who tripped and hit his head fleeing Larry’s house. That pool, according to local regulations, should have had a fence around it, and when the late burglar’s brother finds that out, he blackmails Larry into casting his teenage daughter in “Young Larry” — a show Larry is pitching to Netflix based on his own adolescence and young adulthood.
The daughter is a shockingly bad actress, but Larry insists to his casting team that she’s perfect for the part, much to their confusion, since she is almost the exact physical opposite of the character she’s supposed to be playing.
Then there are the minor stories, focused on the hilarious minutiae of the lives of Larry and his friends: Larry is outraged when someone sits on a sofa too hard, causing Larry to spill his wine and ruin the sofa. Larry is outraged when he’s accused of insensitivity for reminding someone with dementia that they owe him money. Larry is outraged when his girlfriend no longer finds him attractive after he walks into a glass door. Larry is outraged. And that’s good news for the rest of us.
The supporting cast are as delightfully flawed and outrageous as usual, and there’s the always-fun sideshow of guest stars such as Lucy Liu, Albert Brooks and Jon Hamm playing fictionalized versions of themselves. But the heart of the show is the man apparently without a heart, Larry David. Long may he continue to upset everyone.
DUBAI: An Egyptian woman with short brown curly hair sits cross-legged on the floor dressed in a nude bodysuit — clothing often worn by women in Egypt. In her lap, also in a nude bodysuit, is her daughter, upside-down with her feet extended towards her mother’s face. The woman stares out proudly while she holds a blue-and-white striped hula hoop around them both.
This startling and powerful work is a self-portrait called “Single Mother.” It is the work of Egyptian photojournalist Heba Khalifa and was most recently displayed by Cairo-based gallery Tintera at Photo London 2021 — the first time the artist’s work has been shown in the UK. Many of Khalifa’s works, including this one, focus heavily on the landscape of her body and the bodies of her subjects.
“I am a single mother,” Khalifa writes in her artist’s statement for the work. “My daughter and I are one. She is always with me … My life is overloaded. I work six days a week and am all over the place doing acrobatics to be able to provide a shelter to my daughter.”
Khalifa, born in Cairo in 1977, is a multimedia artist, photojournalist and painter. Her own divorce has led to her to document and represent women and gender issues through her art. “It was so difficult; I was so depressed,” she tells Arab News of the experience. “My child was only two at the time. I was told I couldn’t go back to live with my family, and I had to take responsibility for my life.” Khalifa had to start from scratch on her own.
She uses her work to explore her personal life. “When I became a woman (society pushed) me all the time to marry, to have children, to be pretty, to smile in this way, to act in this way,” she says. “I felt I was always a failure. I saw my body as the enemy — as a burden for me. I fought with my body.” Khalifa started a Facebook group with friends and friends of friends — all women to discuss “What it means to be a woman.” They shared many stories of hardships, hopes, dreams, disappointments and struggles and this inspired her to focus her work on women and the issues they face in Egyptian society.
One of her series, “From the Inside,” tackles “the constraints of motherhood,” while her 2016 series “Homemade” (of which “Single Mother” is a part), tells the personal stories of women from the Facebook group she had created. In it, Khalifa allows her (anonymous) subjects to act out their hopes, dreams, fears, and struggles using props, paint, and collage. The resulting photographs offer poignant portrayals addressing subjects that are rarely publicly discussed in the Arab world — childrearing, abortion, body-image issues, abuse, and gender inequality. All the women in “Homemade” wear full bodysuits, often with their faces entirely covered.
“The bodysuits are symbolic,” Khalifa says. “They serve as a metaphor for the feeling and idea of being trapped and imprisoned by one’s body and one’s circumstances as a woman.
“From a young age we are told how to act, how to sit, what to say and then told that, when we become women, we need to have children and get married by a certain age,” she continues. “When we go outside, we are told to be careful of how people look at us. There’s always this fight between how you look and how the ‘ideal woman’ looks. I have a fight in my mind about these things.”
Khalifa’s work is cathartic not only for the women she portrays, but for herself. “I want to give a voice to myself, finally. And to others,” she says.
Her photographs are at once vulnerable and brave acts of expression. The intimate side of herself Khalfia shows, as well as those of her anonymous sitters, reveals pain, trauma, and disappointment, but with grace and courage. Khalifa’s art gives women a safe platform where they are, however briefly, free to be themselves.
“If you dig deep enough inside yourself to express what is there,” she says, “you also express (the feelings and thoughts) of other people.”
A century ago, it was a given that a woman with a college degree had to choose between having a career and a family. Today, there are more female college graduates than ever before, and more women want to have a career and family, yet challenges persist at work and at home. This book traces how generations of women have responded to the problem of balancing career and family as the 20th century experienced a sea change in gender equality, revealing why true equity for dual career couples remains frustratingly out of reach.
Drawing on decades of her own groundbreaking research, Claudia Goldin provides a fresh, in-depth look at the diverse experiences of college-educated women from the 1900s to today, examining the aspirations they formed—and the barriers they faced—in terms of career, job, marriage, and children.

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