US actress Adrienne Warren stuns in Zuhair Murad design – Arab News
DUBAI: US actress, singer and dancer Adrienne Warren is the latest star to step out in a gown by Lebanese fashion label Zuhair Murad.
The Tony award-winning actress stunned at the premiere of ABC’s “Women of the Movement” this week in Los Angeles wearing a black-and-white print off-shoulder dress.
The high-low bubble skirt gown was from the designer’s ready-to-wear pre-fall 2021 collection.
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Set to premiere on ABC on Jan. 6, the six-episode historical drama is based on the true story of US educator and activist Mamie Till-Mobley, played by Warren. Till-Mobley devoted her life to seeking justice for her murdered son Emmett, played by Cedric Joe.
The series, created and written by Marissa Jo Cerar and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, also stars Tonya Pinkins as Emmett’s grandmother and Ray Fisher as Till-Mobley’s second husband.
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“Women of the Movement” is executive produced by Oscar-nominated actor Will Smith and 23-time Grammy-winning rapper Jay-Z through their production companies Overbrook and Roc Nation.
After the premiere, Warren took to Instagram to pay tribute to Cerar.
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“Marissa Jo Cerar … not only gave us the gift of this show, she gave me the gift of creating one of the most incredible work experiences of my career thus far,” she wrote, captioning a series of images from the premiere.
“MJ is a force … not just because of her brilliance. She is a force because of her heart. The care and love she puts into her work is inspirational,” she added. “Thank you for trusting me. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for blessing me with the gift of sharing Mamie’s story.”
In a previous post on Instagram, Warren said that getting to know Till-Mobley had changed her forever.
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Murad recently dressed models at Saudi Arabia’s inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival.
US-Brazilian model Alessandra Ambrosio’s all-white look featured a peek-a-boo cut-out at the waist and hip-high slit, along with gem-encrusted details on the torso and shoulder.
Portuguese model Sara Sampaio opted for a dramatic black gown, with silver embellishments along the length of the garment.
JEDDAH: Beekeeping as a hobby or business is not for the faint-hearted, as a mother-of-six from Hail in northern Saudi Arabia is proving in what has traditionally been a male-dominated industry.
Since launching her beekeeping career four years ago, 38-year-old Norah Shawi Al-Shimmari has found sweet success and been dubbed the “Beekeeper of the North.”
As the only female beekeeper in the Hail region, she is winning praise from fellow beekeepers and visitors, and has been honored by Abdul Rahman Al-Fadhli, minister of environment, water and agriculture.
Al-Shimmari, who describes herself as a hard-working self-learner, said: “I disagree with those who say that beekeeping is a man’s profession. A strong female can accomplish anything and can excel at any career.”
Al-Shimmari told Arab News that she decided to educate herself about the secrets of the beekeeping business, so bought a beehive and “began exploring the kingdom of bees from A to Z.”
She enjoys being “fully immersed in nature, dealing with bees, plants and fresh honey.”
I disagree with those who say that beekeeping is a man’s profession. A strong female can accomplish anything and can excel at any career.
Norah Shawi Al-Shimmari
Al-Shimmari said that she learnt by observing. “How can one queen lead thousands of workers in a bee colony? I started to explore more and learnt from my colleagues, professional beekeepers who have been in the business for years.”
She said: “Gaining skill and excelling in beekeeping is far from easy. It requires on-site experience, and you need to have a good source that will answer all your questions. I received support from all the beekeepers I sought out. They were keen to teach me from scratch, and explained how to overcome obstacles and solve problems step by step.”
• As the only female beekeeper in the Hail region, 38-year-old Norah Shawi Al-Shimmari is winning praise from fellow beekeepers and visitors, and has been honored by Abdul Rahman Al-Fadhli, minister of environment, water and agriculture.
• Al-Shimmari was the only woman among 33 beekeepers who took part in the 2021 Hail Honey Festival in early November. The festival helps apiarists market their products and increase investment opportunities, and also delivers a substantial financial return for local beekeepers and producers.
Advice from online platforms also helped Al-Shimmari to improve her beekeeping skills, with demonstrations on how to provide the best environment for bees.
Starting out with one beehive as a hobby, she gradually increased to 50 beehives, and began providing her family and relatives with honey from her farm.
“Once the production started to rise, my family encouraged me to transform my hobby into a business. They saw the array of honey types I produced and how hard-working I am. So I created my honey brand named after my late father Shawi.”
Al-Shimmari produces 11 honey products and pollen, with eight types of honey from different flowers.
A female beekeeper in Saudi Arabia is a rarity, one of the factors that helped Al-Shimmari find business success in the area where she lives on the outskirts of the city of Hail. Her village of Al-Khita is known for its fertile farmland, but beekeepers in general are scarce.
Al-Shimmari moves her beehives around different locations so bees have access to athel, sidr and talh flowers, known for their attractive color and plentiful nectar.
“Beehives are heavy, and it needs two people, but I manage to relocate them during different seasons to collect nectar from special plants and flowers. That means I can get a variety of honey types,” she said.
Her working day starts at dawn when bees begin leaving their hive and searching for nectar.
“I also have my farm, where I keep all my hives and where many types of flowers are planted for bees to get nectar, including citrus trees, clover, roses, climbing plants and grape vines. Bees also get nectar from neighbors’ fruit trees.”
Meanwhile, the “Beekeeper of the North” dreams of expanding her business with hundreds of hives, and adds that she still draws inspiration from the Kingdom’s first female apiarist, Hanaa Al-Alamai, from Rijal Alma in the southern Asir region.
Al-Shimmari was the only woman among 33 beekeepers who took part in the 2021 Hail Honey Festival in early November. The festival helps apiarists market their products and increase investment opportunities, and also delivers a substantial financial return for local beekeepers and producers.
“I am so happy because of all the support that I have received during the festival from my fellow beekeepers, visitors and officials. My talent can be seen and recognized by everyone, so I hope to meet their expectations and more,” she said.
ALULA: Winter at Tantora commenced on Wednesday, with the sundial the festival named after marked the change of the season and the start of the planting season in AlUla, known as Al-Marba’aniya.
AlUla’s most-prominent landmark, the “Tantora” sundial is found in the old town. The winter festival is named after the sundial because of the essential role it played in the lives of the city’s people.
This culturally significant festive season has always been filled with celebrations. The community has always been proud of their time-old traditions, and they continue to revive it every year.
“We’re extremely happy that our culture and traditions are being showcased in this beautiful manner to the rest of the world,” said Abdulmalek Ahmad Nseef, 20, from AlUla. “Our city has really been thriving ever since we opened our doors to visitors from all over the world.”
Winter at Tantora features other experiences such as visiting Hegra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, Sadu Escape, Elephant Rock, a safari excursion showcasing panoramic views of AlUla’s beautiful natural skyline of mountainous rock, the Maraya platform, which has become host to the world’s greatest artist and talents, as well as pop-up restaurants and food trucks.
Winter at Tantora is a six-week festival that is part of the two-month AlUla Moments, similar to Riyadh Season, which is back for its third edition. Visitors to the festivities will be able to experience a range of activities and engage in cultural exploration over the six weeks.
The Tantora Celebration that started on Dec. 22 lasts for five days, focusing on sharing the traditions and culture of the AlUla Oasis.
“It’s been a very warm welcome for us, and we’re really happy to be here,” said Michael Halimi, who visited the Kingdom with his family from France.
“I think we’ve met some of the kindest and most honest people here,” Halimi’s daughter Sarah told Arab News. “It’s the curiosity of the unknown that brought us here, and we’re really glad we came.”
Different areas have been set up in AlUla’s Old Town to showcase the local heritage and aspects of daily social life.
Visitors engaged in four experiences as part of the five-day celebration, including a 45-minute theatrical performance of the iconic Arab explorer Ibn Battuta, followed by a shorter performance teaching people about the significance of Tantora’s architecture.
Visitors can then check out the farmer’s market and purchase local goods sourced from the oasis farms, and then finally end the evening by planting crops in the AlUla soil, fully immersing them in the spirit of the Tantora celebration.
The experience starts at 6 p.m. and at 8:30 p.m. and lasts for around one-and-a-half hours. Tickets can be booked via the official website
Winter at Tantora features other experiences such as visiting Hegra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, Sadu Escape, Elephant Rock, a safari excursion showcasing panoramic views of AlUla’s beautiful natural skyline of mountainous rock, the Maraya platform, which has become host to the world’s greatest artist and talents, as well as pop-up restaurants and food trucks.
JEDDAH: When the Kuwait-born Jordanian filmmaker Darin Sallam was a child, she was told the story of Radieh, a young Palestinian girl who watched from a locked cellar as catastrophe consumed her village. Hidden by her father, Radieh would bear witness to the violent displacement of her people before making her way to Syria, where she passed on her story to another young girl. That girl would grow up, marry, and share the same story with her own daughter.
“And that daughter is me,” says Sallam with a smile. “The story travelled over the years to reach me. It stayed with me. When I was a child, I had this fear of closed, dark places and I kept thinking of this girl and what happened to her. So, when I grew up and became a filmmaker, I decided that this would be my debut feature.”
That debut is “Farha,” which had its regional premiere at the Red Sea International Film Festival this month and was awarded a special mention at the festival’s Yusr Awards. Inspired by the story that Sallam was told as a child (although Radieh has become Farha — played by newcomer Karam Taher), it addresses the horror of the Nakba (the violent removal of Palestinians from their homeland), which is harrowingly depicted from the unique perspective of a young girl trapped inside a single room.
To shoot this pivotal moment in Palestinian history from such a limited perspective was a bold directorial decision. Predominately set inside one room (the camera never leaves that room), the film gives its protagonist just two restricted views of the world outside — a slit in the cellar door and a small hole in one of the walls. As a result, Sallam relied heavily on both her cinematographer Rachel Aoun, who would act as Farha’s eyes, and her sound designer Rana Eid, who would be her ears. For Aoun and Sallam, the primary challenge was to avoid repeating certain shots and angles, while Eid was handed the responsibility of recreating the sound of the Nakba.
“I talked to Rana when the script was still on paper,” says Sallam, whose previous film was the award-winning short “The Parrot.” “She read the script, we discussed it, and she was attracted to the fact that sound was written and very important in this film. I was, like, ‘Rana, most of the time sound is more important than the camerawork and the picture.’ I wanted the audience to feel and hear what Farha hears and that would only be possible if the sound was perfect.”
Interestingly, Sallam didn’t tell her actors where the camera was, especially when shooting the movie’s central, traumatic sequence, which Farha is forced to endure in hiding. That scene took four days to shoot, and involved 10 actors (some trained, some not) and a huge amount of planning and choreography.
“We had four days and every day we had to pick up emotionally from where we left off the day before, so I was worried about them,” says Sallam. “It was already draining and tiring and every day we had to make sure we were in the same place, that we got into the mood of the scene, and remembered everything together.”
It was tough, not just because of the physical demands being placed upon the actors, but because of the psychological weight of what was being portrayed. After the film’s initial screening in Jeddah, the actress Sameera Asir (Um Mohammad) said that shooting such painful scenes had affected her deeply on an emotional level. She was not alone. “Some of the crew members were crying behind the monitor while shooting, remembering their families and their stories, and the stories they heard from their grandparents,” says Sallam.
Although a witness and not an active participant, Farha is the film’s focal point throughout. The camera spends more than 50 minutes inside the cellar with her, which is why Sallam knew the performance of Taher would make or break the film.
“People need to love her and feel with her and have compassion towards her. She needs to be stubborn and naughty and, in many ways, I was very specific about what I wanted. I was looking for this raw material — a girl who had never acted but was willing to commit. I was looking for the right girl and I knew I would see it in her eyes. Those shiny and passionate eyes. And when I met Karam it wasn’t actually the audition that made me want to invest in her more. She was very shy. She was 14 at the time (15 when shooting began), but I gave her some homework about the Nakba and she sent me a message soon after saying, ‘This is the homework you asked me to do.’ And I said, ‘OK, she’s interested.’”
The second time Sallam met Taher she was more comfortable and ready to learn, so they embarked on a series of one-on-one acting workshops together. “One of the things that I love is working with actors — and non-actors specifically — so I worked with Karam for a few months and she was committed,” says Sallam. “And I was testing that. Is she coming on time? Is she cancelling other stuff with her friends? That was a good sign. Her commitment and passion and dedication were there.”
For Taher, who had attended the audition almost on a whim, it was a tough few months of steep learning. “After I auditioned I went back and I told my mum, ‘No, that’s not going to happen. I don’t think they liked my audition or my acting,’” she says. “I was so nervous and shy at the beginning and it was a long trip to be honest. It was Darin who was with me the whole time, getting me into the character, helping me to reach this point where I was comfortable. I feel like I had to open up to Darin, and I did. I trusted her so much. I opened up to her more than I did to anyone else, which helped me to get all of my anger, all of my feelings and emotions out so I was able to finish a scene perfectly the way she wanted it to be.”
Her toughest scenes were two separations, says Taher. The first, from her father (Ashraf Barhom), the second, from her best friend Farida (Tala Gammoh). However, the film also includes scenes that are rarely tackled in regional cinema, including urination and Farha’s first period.
“I wanted to show these things because it’s natural and it’s what would happen to you or me if we were in her shoes,” explains Sallam. “I wasn’t afraid to do it, I was worried that Karam wouldn’t feel comfortable, so I had to work with her and I made sure she was comfortable with the crew and no one was in the room but me and the camera.”
Many people didn’t want “Farha” to be made, Sallam says. The reasons why will become immediately obvious to anyone who watches it. Although the events of 1948 are covered in countless books, poems, articles, and documentaries, the Nakba is rarely shown in fictionalized cinematic form.
“I’m not afraid to tell the truth. We need to do this because films live and we die,” says Sallam. “This is why I decided to make this film. Not because I’m political, but because I’m loyal to the story that I heard.”
LONDON: Moroccan artist Nabil El-Makhloufi has a particular talent for conveying mixed emotions in his work. Take his images of crowd scenes, which can seem both harmonious and dissonant. It’s not quite clear what is happening, nor whether it is good, bad, or somewhere in between.
This sense of ambivalence is deliberate, El-Makhloufi admits, but not contrived.
“I’m facing the same puzzle as the viewer,” he says. “Enigmatic or threatening situations that attract curiosity and ominous feelings are an important part of my work.”
Perhaps this ability to stand apart and observe the dynamics and non-verbal interactions of groups is more acute in El-Makhloufi because he has lived much of his life as an outsider in his adopted homeland of Germany. This experience, he said, has given him the opportunity to contemplate and contrast his ‘Arabness’ with German culture.
“I like the openness of the way people think in Germany. You can speak directly and talk about everything,” he tells Arab News. “That’s a big difference compared to Arab culture, which has lots of taboos. I have an unconditional love for Morocco, but Germany has opened my eyes.
“The good thing about living here is that it gives me a distance to reflect on all these questions about my Arab identity,” he continues. “So, for me, to a certain extent, it’s important not to be integrated or else that feeling is lost.” He smiles, suggesting he is joking.
El-Makhloufi moved to Leipzig after visiting the former East German city during a trip to Europe in his early twenties. He was immediately attracted to the city’s rich cultural scene. When he visited its School of Visual Arts he loved the buzz of the place and “the way it smelled of paint.” It was here he would continue his artistic education, building on the degree he earned at the Art School of Rabat.
His decision to study in Leipzig was also based on a desire to forge his own path. The close ties between Morocco and France meant many Moroccan artists had headed to Paris to study. Germany, El-Makhloufi felt, would offer a new challenge — including learning a new language — and add another dimension to his development as an artist.
As a child growing up in Fez, he had displayed an early talent for drawing, but art was not taught in his primary school, so there was no formal structure to his early artistic learning. His main inspiration was an uncle who “drew everything around him.”
When he moved on to high school, art was part of the curriculum, and that gave him some solid technical training. From there, it was a natural progression to study art in Rabat, which had a far more vibrant cultural scene than his relatively conservative hometown.
Those formative years in Morocco remain a major influence on El-Makhloufi’s work today. “All my pictures always have a direct reference to Arab culture,” he says.
Naturally, though, his life as an outsider also plays a significant part in his art. Migration is an issue that he has thought about deeply — not just the recent, widely reported struggles of refugees, but older patterns going back generations. However, even though some of his paintings seem to make this connection obvious — such as “The Consideration,” in which a man gazes intently at a model of a wooden boat — his work is always open to many interpretations, the artist insists.
“In this picture I try to express being alone with a decision — not necessarily to do with boats and migration, but an existential decision that you could have to take at any time,” he explains.
Similarly, while “Passage” shows people packed into boats, immediately bringing to mind stories of refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea or the English Channel on overcrowded vessels, El-Makhloufi says he sees a wider universal story of the human longing for self-realization.
“This boat with refugees that I have painted is like a process that every human being goes through,” he explains. “There is always a transition from one situation to another situation. There is always a development in your own personality. It’s a universal human situation. I’m trying to express the fragility of this transition.”
Like ambivalence, fragility is something he is adept at capturing in his work. Particularly in “The Leap,” his image of a young man in mid-air — perhaps executing a dive into water, but perhaps not. His destination is unclear.
“That’s a celebration of youth. This picture is about Arab youth, but it also has a tragic side,” El-Makhloufi says. “Young people want to fly, but, at the same time, their circumstances are very uncertain.”
Rasha Nahas

The acclaimed Berlin-based Palestinian singer-songwriter released her first Arabic-language single last month. It’s a sweet tale of chance meetings, and Nahas’ musicianship —stripped-back and less theatrical than much of her English-language output — instils it with a moving sense of melancholy, which is complimented by simplicity of the black-and-white video.
Usfuur & Lutum

‘Contemporary Keepsakes’
UAE-based Syrian designer Yara Tlass — founder of jewelry brand Usfuur — has collaborated with Dubai-based ceramic practice Lutum on a collection of “bespoke lifestyle objects.” “With a shared understanding of craftsmanship, Usfuur and Lutum are inspired together by earth elements, notions of movement, and visual poetry,” a press release explains. The handmade collection consists of “contemporary heirlooms” that “act as both sculptures and functional objects.”

This is the lead single from the Lebanese singer’s latest album “The Freedom to Be,” which was released early this month. Frida describes the album as “both an ode to love and an invitation to embody freedom, to dance to the music of the spheres and to sing our joy of being, fully here in this now.” The haunting “Dawararan” is a good introduction to the record’s blend of classical Arab and Western soul influences.
Neelima Azad

‘Inhale Peace, Exhale Happiness’
The self-taught Indian photographer was one of the winners of the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Awards’ November Instagram competition “All Things Expo” with this beautifully composed shot of a yoga practitioner at the site of Expo 2020 Dubai. It’s the latest in a number of prizes for Dubai-based Azad, who also won an Emerging Talent award from World Art Dubai last year.


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