DUBAI: When “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” hit theaters in December 2016, no one could have foreseen how a story about relative unknowns fighting the system would shake up a franchise that was struggling to find its voice in many ways.
The film, a prequel to George Lucas’ original Star Wars movies, told the heart-wrenching story of a rebellion that directly lit the spark for the Skywalker saga.
At the center of that story were characters Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), two unlikely heroes forced to carry on a big job.
Six years on, and time has been dialed further back to tell Andor’s original story with the new Disney+ show, “Andor,” premiering in the Middle East on Sept. 21.
In a virtual press conference ahead of the opening, Mexican actor Luna said: “This is a show about real people. It’s very dark times in the galaxy and there are no Jedis around. The people have to articulate a reaction to oppression and it’s the most grounded kind of Star Wars you’ll get.
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“It is a show about these people finding the strength to come up with a reaction, to change and bring change to their reality. It’s very inspiring.”
“Andor” takes place five years before the events of “Rogue One” and charts how Andor went from loner trying to survive to a major player in the Rebellion cause.
“‘Rogue One’ is a film about an event, you know? You don’t get to know those characters. And for me, it’s quite relevant today to tell the story of what needs to happen for a revolutionary to emerge. What gives meaning in the life of someone to be willing to sacrifice everything for a cause.
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“That journey matters to me. The character says stuff in ‘Rogue One’ that still haunts me, that he started to fight when he was six years old. What does that mean, exactly? Why would a six-year-old miss his childhood and fight?
“He talks about a dark past. He talks about doing terrible stuff for the Rebellion. What is he referring to? I think that story matters,” Luna added.
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He noted that when audiences meet Andor in the series, they will see him as a far cry from his character in “Rogue One.”
Luna said: “You see the guy in the first episode, and you don’t see any possibility of him being the man from the movie. That gives me hope, you know, in the world we live in. If that’s possible, anyone can do something. We can all find what we are capable of.”
DUBAI: Three months after calling it quits, Lebanese Colombian singer Shakira this week opened up about her break up with Spanish soccer player Gerard Piqué.
“I’ve remained quiet and just tried to process it all,” the part-Arab superstar said in an interview with Elle Magazine. “It’s hard to talk about it, especially because I’m still going through it, and because I’m in the public eye and because our separation is not like a regular separation. And so it’s been tough not only for me, but also for my kids. Incredibly difficult.”
The singer said she has paparazzi camping in front of her house.
“There’s not a place where I can hide from them with my kids, except for my own house,” she said. “We can’t take a walk in the park like a regular family or go have an ice cream or do any activity without paparazzi following us. So it’s hard.”
Shakira said that she has been trying to protect her two boys, Milan, 9, and Sasha, 7, but they still come across stories online or hear news from their friends at school that “affects them.”
“Sometimes I just feel like this is all a bad dream and that I’m going to wake up at some point,” she added. “But no, it’s real. And what’s also real is the disappointment to see something as sacred and as special as I thought was the relationship I had with my kids’ father and see that turned into something vulgarized and cheapened by the media.”
“And all of this while my dad has been in the ICU and I’ve been fighting on different fronts,” she said. “Like I said, this is probably the darkest hour of my life.”
Shakira and Piqué announced their split in June, amid a legal battle in Spain that saw the singer accused of tax fraud.
Spanish prosecutors accused her of defrauding the Spanish tax office out of $15.5 million on income earned between 2012 and 2014.
Her defense lawyers said she moved to Spain full time only in 2015 and insist that her “conduct on tax matters has always been impeccable in all the countries she had to pay taxes.”
“It’s clear they wanted to go after that money no matter what,” she said in the interview.
DUBAI: One hundred Saudi fashion designers will show off their latest collections at an international wholesale exhibition during Milan Fashion Week from Sept. 22-25
The Saudi Fashion Commission collaborated with WHITE Milano, which stages the ExpoWhite exhibition, to organize the showcase.
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The Saudi 100 Brands exhibition features 80 female designers from the Kingdom.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a rich culture shaped by the diversity of its people, traditions and heritage. Through Saudi 100 Brands we will honour artisan tradition, embrace technology, nurture creativity, and inspire the next generation of Saudi designers to share their talents with the world. We would like to express our gratitude to WHITE for creating ExpoWhite, a unique program that builds a bridge between fashion creatives and the international fashion community,” said Burak Cakmak, Chief Executive Officer of the Saudi Fashion Commission, in a released statement.
“We are excited to launch ExpoWhite and profile a new generation of designers and brands from diverse backgrounds on the global fashion stage. Saudi 100 brands will celebrate Saudi’s local fashion talents and showcase the Kingdom’s growing fashion industry to a new audience,” commented Brenda Bellei, Chief Executive Officer of WHITE.
Brands on show include Adelfes, Almuhaisen Jewellery, Atelier Hekayat, Bovenue – By Sadeem, Charmaleena, Dazluq, Dollybrand, Eman Joharjy, Kaf By Kaf, Khawla Al-Aiban, Lillian Ismail, Loomer Jewellery and Lurline.
The news comes after the Saudi 100 Brands initiative staged a show in New York this summer.
The designers were chosen from a pool of 1,500 and finalized into the top 100 based on their pieces.
DUBAI: Even 22 years on from her untimely passing, few stars in the history of Arab cinema captivate the cultural imagination quite like Soad Hosny. The singer and actress known as “The Cinderella of Egyptian cinema” was a key part of the rise of her country’s movie culture, starring in a number of the most popular Arab films of the Sixties and Seventies, working with greats including Omar Sharif and director Youssef Chahine.
But Hosny’s enduring popularity is due to something more than just her talent. As brilliant as she was an artist, it was her bewitching personality — both familiar and always out of reach — that even those who knew her are still attempting to figure out to this day.
“It was like she was split into two different personalities, and you could always see both on her face” famed Egyptian designer Karim Mekhtigian — who knew Hosny from his early childhood, being the nephew of her close friend and frequent collaborator, producer Takfour Antonian — tells Arab News.
“Either in life or in film, Soad’s face could convey opposing feelings simultaneously. It was genuinely remarkable. One eye (could be) full of sadness, the other radiating happiness. She was never one thing. That’s part of what made her talent so remarkable,” he continues.
For Hosny herself, the fact that she took such varying roles over the decades in which she dominated Egyptian cinema while also topping its music charts was simply because she could not force herself to stay in any one mode for too long, growing restless if she felt stagnant creatively.
“By nature, I am bored,” Hosny said in an Egyptian television interview in 1984. “I do not wish to repeat the same thing. I can make political films; I can make entertaining films. Every film will present something new. I can play the naughty girl or the innocent wife. I am always looking to play different personalities. Each character I play has an atmosphere I can present. I want to play women in all their many facets.”
Like many of her contemporaries, part of what made Hosny so suited to the career she chose was the fact that she grew up in an intensely artistic household, led by her father, the famed Islamic calligrapher Mohammad Hosny — a Kurdish artist who had settled in Egypt at the age of 19.
Young Soad, the daughter of her father’s second wife, grew up among 16 siblings and half-siblings, with numerous luminaries of the Arab world’s artistic community shuffling in and out of their home. Each of the children were affected by those interactions in different ways. Her sister Nagat, for example, also became an actress and singer, while her half-brother Ezz composed music for decades. Others played instruments or pursued fine arts, but none reached the heights of their sister Soad.
While that environment was far from a formal means of preparation for a life in the arts, it was, ultimately, all that Hosny needed.
“I came into film unadulterated,” she said in an interview with Qatar TV in 1972, shortly after her career defining hit “Watch Out for ZouZou,” Hassan El-Imam’s classic film about a student who falls in love with her professor. “I did not enter an institute, or anything like that. I never took a lesson.”
Hosny entered the film world early. Her debut, “Hassan and Nayima” (1959) began shooting when she was just 15. Throughout the Sixties, Hosny starred in hit after hit opposite top stars Omar Sharif, Salah Zulfikar and Rushdy Abaza, among others, finally collaborating with Egypt’s top director Youssef Chahine in 1970 with “The Choice,” by which time she had developed from a key collaborator with the film world’s biggest stars to the main draw in her own right.
“Every film I have worked on gave me more education; every experience has taught me lessons. ‘ZouZou,’ for example, was a huge success and people loved it, and if I am to continue on from that success, I don’t need to take lessons in schools to do that,” Hosny told Qatar TV in that same interview.
As the years went on, Hosny pushed for roles that would help define not only who Egyptian women were, but who they could be — pushing boundaries with overtly political films as well as biting satire that deliberately gave voice to the voiceless in Egyptian society, a move that made her a thought leader as well as a beloved cultural figure.
“I love playing the modern girl of Egypt, and expressing her problems, the environment in which she lives, and her psyche. I want to play her hopes, her ambitions, her ideas, and dreams. I want to explore what it means for us to love Egypt, and express all that that means,” she said in 1972.
Hosny was a symbol of Egyptian femininity for many, something that current Egyptian superstar Mona Zaki said she initially struggled to embody when playing her in the 2006 TV series about Hosny’s life, “Cinderella,” co-starring acclaimed Egyptian screenwriter Tamer Habib.
“Soad Hosny was so feminine both in appearance and substance, while I’m a tomboy. I could play Hosny’s character only after much searching. I built a new relationship with my femininity after this series,” Zaki told Vogue in 2021.
“For the Egyptian people, she was like a princess in a fairytale. That is why they dubbed her Cinderella,” Habib tells Arab News. “For two years, we used to talk about everything on the phone for hours. She felt how much I loved her, so she opened her heart to me. I was so lucky — she was truly one of a kind.”
Hosny’s peak lasted for more than two decades. But by the late Eighties she was struggling with illness, ultimately retiring from acting in 1991 at just 48.
Though she stepped away from the screen, Hosny never left the public eye. When she died in June 2001, tragically falling from the balcony of her friend Nadia Yousri’s apartment in London, England, it confounded and saddened all of Egypt, with her funeral attracting 10,000 mourners. Theories as to the exact circumstances of her death still circulate today.
Despite the enduring love Hosny has inspired over the 63 years since she first debuted on the screen, those closest to her still feel that she is misunderstood and underappreciated.
“Soad was incredibly talented. She had the ability to perfectly play any role whether it is comedic or tragic. She had charisma and charm. Yet, she was unappreciated and died alone,” actor and friend Hassan Youssef told Egypt Today in 2018.
While the mere fact that interest has never faded from her life or work seems to disprove his blanket statement that Hosny was unappreciated, there is perhaps a kernel of truth in his words. After all, is it even possible to fully appreciate the nuances and variety of a life and career such as Soad Hosny’s?
DUBAI: Highlights from several upcoming sales at Christie’s London — predominantly the Middle East Sale taking place from 15-19 October — reveal a diverse range of art not limited to the Middle Eastern region.
From an intricately painted 2016 diptych (“The Interpreter”) by US-based Iraqi artist Hayv Kahraman to Palestinian artist Hazem Harb’s satirical “Hollyland,” which layers acrylic lettering in the style of Hollywood’s famous sign over an archival photograph of Jerusalem, through the late Iranian artist Monir Farmanfarmaian’s mirrored disco ball sculpture from the 1970s, and even British painter L.S. Lowry’s iconic 1953 work “Going to the Match,” displayed in honor of the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar, highlights displayed in an exhibition at Christie’s showroom in Dubai until September 24 include masterpieces of modern Arab and Iranian art, as well as works by eminent artists form the African continent including El Anatsui and the emotive paintings of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye — underlining growing regional interest in art from Africa.
The exhibition is the first curated by Christie’s new management in the region.
“Creating and expanding a global platform for the appreciation and sale of artworks from the Middle East has been a key objective for Christie’s since 2005, and we are bringing some stellar sale highlights to the region,” said the new deputy chairman of Christie’s Middle East, Dr. Ridha Moumni, in a statement.
“We have clients that purchase so differently that creating a Middle Eastern art sale is challenging; we don’t want to be replicating works from before and want to provide an offering that shows what clients want to purchase now,” Meagan Kelly Horsman, the new regional managing director, told Arab News.
A case in point would be Saudi artist Ahmed Mater’s famous “Evolution of Man” (2010), which examines the Kingdom’s rapid growth since the discovery of oil in 1938. It is expected to sell for between $28-35,000.
There’s also “Angelus II-1” a poignant abstract work from 2017, consisting of a series of colorful crisscrossing lines by the late Palestinian painter and art historian Kamal Boullata, estimated at $28-40,000, as well as a rare piece by Iraqi painter Dia Azzawi — 1970’s “Colored Letters” — estimated at $34-45,000.
One of the most expensive works on show is “Broken Land” (2015) by New York-based Iranian painter Ali Banisadr. Constructed in his signature rhythmic, abstract style, an intense sense of motion — and emotion — is immediately conveyed by his sea of figures and objects in scenes hardly recognizable to the viewer.
Among the African works on display is Ibrahim El-Salahi’s “The Tree” (2003) — an abstract geometric composition that is part of a series referencing the Haraz tree native to his homeland of Sudan. Born in Sudan in 1930, El-Salahi is one of the most important living African artists and a central figure in the development of African Modernism. His work is currently being shown in the main exhibition of “The Milk of Dreams” at the 59th Venice Biennale.
There’s also a 1997 image by Nigerian photographer Samuel Fosso called “The Chief: The One Who Sold Africa To The Colonists,” estimated at $17-23,000, and from Robert Devereux’s Sina Jina Collection there’s El Anatsui’s 2002 acrylic on carved woodwork “Drying Line” (estimated at £68-91,000) and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s “Magic” (2007), a series of three oil paintings going for $171-228,000.
“Devereux is known as an early supporter of African art and his collection showcases a broad offering of art from the continent,” Isabel Miller, a specialist in post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s London, told Arab News.
Devereux’s collection, which is the largest single owner collection of African contemporary art to come to the market, will be sold in a single-owner sale on Oct 13 in London.
“Collecting tastes in the region are more international now than regional,” said Suzy Sikorski, a specialist at Christie’s Middle East. “Even collectors that originally started collecting from this region are now branching out into African and international art.”
DOHA: Qatar Museums will collaborate with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in a partnership involving the exchange of exhibitions, programs and scholarly cooperation, Qatar News Agency reported on Wednesday.
Qatar Museums has made a donation to the prestigious New York museum to commemorate the reopening of Qatar’s reimagined Museum of Islamic Art and the 10th anniversary of the Met’s opening of renovated Islamic art department galleries.
In turn, the Met’s art collection from the Umayyad and Abbasid periods has been named the Qatar Gallery.
Under the Abbasid caliphate (750–1258), which succeeded the Umayyads (661–750), the focal point of Islamic political and cultural life shifted eastward from Syria to Iraq.
As part of the collaboration, Qatar Museums has loaned works from its collections to the Met for exhibitions such as “Jerusalem in the Middle Ages” (2016), “Sultans of Deccan India, 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy” (2015), “The Great Age of the Seljuks” (2016), and “Monumental Journey: Girault de Prangey’s Daguerreotypes” (2016).
Works from the Met’s collection will be on display in Doha from Oct. 26 in a special exhibition at the newly renovated Museum of Islamic Art. The exhibition, “Baghdad: Eyes Delight,” focuses on the art of the Abbasid period, one of two classical eras featured in the Met’s Qatar Gallery.
“The establishment of the Qatar Gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art highlights the collegiality between our institutions and our desire to advance a crucial goal we hold in common, to heighten appreciation everywhere for the art of the Islamic world,” Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Qatar Museums’ chairperson, said.
“We are proud to come together with the Met to honor the beauty, depth and variety of a global tradition that spans 14 centuries,” Al-Thani added.
Max Hollein, director of the Met, said: “This gift is the latest instance of the longstanding relationship between our institutions, and marks the start of a broad partnership encompassing the exchange of exhibitions, programs and scholarly cooperation.
“This critical support is especially meaningful as we mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Met’s renovated Islamic art department galleries, which continue to be a source of great interest and inspiration for our millions of yearly visitors.”
The collaboration between the cultural institutions contributes to Qatar Museum’s mission of sharing art and culture from Qatar and the region with the rest of the world.
It is also a legacy project of Qatar Museums’ 2021 Year of Culture program, which celebrated the strong ties between Qatar and the US through a year-long cultural exchange.
Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani attended the launch ceremony held at the Met to celebrate the partnership with Qatar Museums.
He toured the museum, including the Qatar Gallery with its Islamic manuscripts and artwork.