Mo Salah calls and thanks young sculptor of widely ridiculed statue

Abdullah faced widespread criticism for creating a bronze statue of the Liverpool striker that bore a poor resemblance to him. (Facebook)
Updated 08 November 2018

Mo Salah calls and thanks young sculptor of widely ridiculed statue

  • The Egyptian sculptor behind Mohamed Salah’s widely ridiculed statue said the player had phoned her to thank her

CAIRO: Mai Abdullah, the Egyptian sculptor behind Mohamed Salah’s widely ridiculed statue, has revealed that the Egyptian footballer called her from England to thank her for her effort.

Earlier this week, Abdullah faced widespread criticism for creating a bronze statue of the Liverpool striker that bore a poor resemblance to him.

Abdullah said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that Salah had phoned her to thank her, and had praised several of her artworks that appear on her social media account.

The player also told her not to pay attention to negative comments, and offered her encouragement by saying that she “will become a great artist one day.”

Abdullah said that Salah has asked her to “take her time and create a new sculpture of himself, one that he can keep at home.”

The statue, intended to pay homage to the Egyptian hero, depicted Salah with a disproportionately large head and small arms, triggering a wave of negative comments among the player’s fans.

Abdullah, 24, had responded earlier to the criticism via her Facebook page and said the statue was not meant to be unveiled at the World Youth Forum in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Adding that she did not have the time to finish it the way she had wanted to.


Saudi FM invites Filipino minister to AlUla after Bocelli concert piques interest

Updated 09 April 2021

Saudi FM invites Filipino minister to AlUla after Bocelli concert piques interest

  • Prince Faisal bin Farhan explained that the concert was held in AlUla and invited the minister to visit the city
  • Bocelli serenaded a limited number of concert-goers at the heritage site due to social distancing measures on Thursday

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has invited a Filipino minister to AlUla after the lawmaker tweeted asking how to access Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli’s recent performance in the historic city.
Prince Faisal bin Farhan explained that the concert was held in AlUla and said “It would be a pleasure to host your Excellency there during your next visit to Saudi.”
Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. serves as the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and is a former journalist.

Bocelli enchanted his audience in AlUla on Thursday in what is believed to be the first-ever performance within the walls of the ancient desert city.
It was the tenor’s third performance in the Kingdom, and Bocelli serenaded a limited number of concert-goers at the heritage site due to social distancing measures.


Mrs. World gives up crown after onstage melee in Sri Lanka

Updated 09 April 2021

Mrs. World gives up crown after onstage melee in Sri Lanka

  • Reigning Mrs. World took crown away from Sri Lanka pageant winner
  • Mrs. World 2020 Caroline Jurie now facing criminal charges

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: The reigning Mrs. World on Friday relinquished her title while defending her decision to pull the crown off the head of the winner of this year’s Mrs. Sri Lanka, whom she falsely claimed to be a divorcee and unqualified to take part in the contest.
Caroline Jurie, the winner of Mrs. World 2020, has been accused of hurting Pushpika De Silva, who on Sunday was crowned Mrs. Sri Lanka at a televised pageant in Colombo. Jurie was arrested on Thursday and later released on bail.
In a statement Friday, Jurie said she stood against “injustice” and called the judging of the pageant “tainted.”
“My only intention was to stand up for the injustice caused to the competitors throughout this competition which was tainted with heavy politicization.”
Jurie said she wanted to ensure that every contestant had an equal opportunity, because she had seen “from the beginning” that the contest was corrupted. She stressed that she did not favor anyone.
“I am now ready to hand over the crown,” she said at at the end of the video, before removing the crown from her head.
Jurie, who is also Sri Lankan, faces allegations that she injured De Silva during Sunday’s on-stage melee.

Pushpika De Silva poses for photographs with her Mrs Sri Lanka crown after it was forcibly removed by the reigning Mrs World, Caroline Jurie at the Mrs Sri Lanka contest, in Colombo on April 6, 2021. (REUTERS)

Moments after De Silva won the title, Jurie came on stage and snatched the crown from her, claiming she is divorced and ineligible to participate in the contest. Jurie then handed the crown to the first-runner up, declaring that woman the winner.
De Silva denied being divorced.
“Being apart is one. Divorce is something else. I’m still an un divorced woman,” she said on Facebook.
But on Friday, Jurie said: “How I is see it, the purpose of Mrs. World is to celebrate all women who are married and still strive to conquer their dreams, despite the commitment and responsibilities a married woman strives to fulfill.”
She added that the pageant “was certainly not created to discriminate divorced women but to celebrate the dreams of the married woman.”
Sri Lankan police said they received a complaint from De Silva that she suffered injuries when her crown was removed. Police arrested Jurie and a model, Chula Padmendram, on Thursday on charges of “simple hurt and criminal force. The two women were later released on bail and have been ordered to appear in court on April 19.
The incident at Sunday’s pageant, which was attended by the prime minister’s wife, created a huge uproar in the Indian Ocean island nation. Organizers of the pageant on Monday said they would return the crown to De Silva.
Sri Lanka will be hosting the final Mrs. World contest this year.
Meanwhile, Jurie said she will stand for what she believes is right. “I stand for values, even if it means I have to stand alone,” she said.


Norway PM fined for violating coronavirus restrictions

Updated 09 April 2021

Norway PM fined for violating coronavirus restrictions

  • The head of government was fined 20,000 Norwegian kroner, or about $2,300

OSLO: Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg received a hefty fine on Friday for breaking the country’s virus curbs by organizing a family birthday dinner that she ended up not attending, police said.
Police concluded that the dinner organized in part by Solberg had exceeded the number of guests allowed at private functions.
For the infraction, the head of government was fined 20,000 Norwegian kroner (about $2,300).
“Even if the law is equal for everyone, everyone is not equal,” Commissioner Ole Saeverud told a press conference.
“Solberg is the country’s foremost elected official and has, on a number of occasions, been the leading figure in the government’s decisions on measures to counter the pandemics,” Saeverud added.
“It is therefore considered justified to give a sanction to maintain public confidence in the health rules,” he argued.
Public broadcaster NRK revealed in mid-March that Solberg celebrated her 60th birthday with her family at a ski resort under conditions that seemed to violate health guidelines.
On 25 February, 13 members of her family had dined at a restaurant in the town of Geilo, although rules limited the number of participants in a private event in a public space to 10.
Solberg herself had not attended the dinner as she needed to go to the hospital to deal with eye issues, but police still held her responsible for organizing the event.
After the event came to light, Solberg made a public apology and said she was prepared to pay potential fines.
On Friday, the prime minister reiterated her apology and said she wouldn’t appeal the decision.
“We should not have broken the rules and I want to apologize again,” she told broadcaster TV2.
The affair, which has made the rounds on social networks, has tarnished the image of the leader – who has generally been praised for the government’s handling of the health crisis – ahead of the parliamentary elections on 13 September.
Commenting for news website ABC Nyheter, journalist David Stenerud called it “a good day for Norwegian rule of law.”
“It’s remarkable that our own Prime Minister was investigated for breaking the rules she imposed on us. And even more incredible that she is now convicted,” Astrid Meland, editorial writer for newspaper Verdens Gang, wrote.


Doctors in Turkey urge coronavirus lockdown during Ramadan

Updated 09 April 2021

Doctors in Turkey urge coronavirus lockdown during Ramadan

  • Turkish medical groups say the reopening in March was premature and that the new measures won’t go far enough to curb the surge

ANKARA: Turkey has posted record daily numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases for the past 10 days, including 55,941 new infections reported late Thursday.
Keen to minimize the pandemic’s repercussions for Turkey’s ailing economy, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan eased infection-control measures in early March. The recent spike forced him to announce renewed restrictions, such as weekend lockdowns and the closure of cafes and restaurants during Ramadan, starting on April 13.
Turkish medical groups say the reopening in March was premature and that the new measures won’t go far enough to curb the surge. They have called for a full lockdown during the holy Muslim month.
“Every single day the number of cases is increasing. Every single day the number of deaths is increasing. The alarm bells are ringing for the intensive care units,” Ismail Cinel, head of the Turkish Intensive Care Association, said.
The Health Ministry has said that around 75 percent of the recent infections in Turkey involve the more contagious variant first identified in Britain.
“We have unfortunately loosened the measures and were not able to accelerate vaccinations,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca was quoted as saying in an interview with Hurriyet newspaper published Friday.
Of the hospital situation, Koca said: “There is no problem for now. But if this continues for three or four weeks, it will be a problem.”
Turkish opposition parties are blaming the spike on a series of mass political rallies by Erdogan’s ruling party. The party rejects the accusations.


Egyptologists uncover ‘lost golden city’ buried under the sands

Updated 09 April 2021

Egyptologists uncover ‘lost golden city’ buried under the sands

  • Site was uncovered near Luxor, home of the legendary Valley of the Kings
  • Find was the ‘second most important archaeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamun’ nearly a century ago

CAIRO: Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of an ancient city in the desert outside Luxor that they say is the “largest” ever found in Egypt and dates back to a golden age of the pharaohs 3,000 years ago.
Famed Egyptologist Zahi Hawass announced the discovery of the “lost golden city,” saying the site was uncovered near Luxor, home of the legendary Valley of the Kings.
“The Egyptian mission under Dr. Zahi Hawass found the city that was lost under the sands,” the excavation team said in a statement Thursday.
“The city is 3,000 years old, dates to the reign of Amenhotep III, and continued to be used by Tutankhamun and Ay.”
The team called the find “the largest” ancient city ever uncovered in Egypt.
Betsy Bryan, professor of Egyptian art and archaeology at Johns Hopkins University, said the find was the “second most important archaeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamun” nearly a century ago, according to the team’s statement.
Items of jewelry have been unearthed, along with colored pottery vessels, scarab beetle amulets and mud bricks bearing seals of Amenhotep III.
“Many foreign missions searched for this city and never found it,” said Hawass, a former antiquities minister.
The team began excavations in September 2020, between the temples of Ramses III and Amenhotep III near Luxor, some 500 kilometers (300 miles) south of Cairo.
“Within weeks, to the team’s great surprise, formations of mud bricks began to appear in all directions,” the statement said.
“What they unearthed was the site of a large city in a good condition of preservation, with almost complete walls, and with rooms filled with tools of daily life.”
After seven months of excavations, several neighborhoods have been uncovered, including a bakery complete with ovens and storage pottery, as well as administrative and residential districts.
Amenhotep III inherited an empire that stretched from the Euphrates River in modern Iraq and Syria to Sudan and died around 1354 BC, ancient historians say.
He ruled for nearly four decades, a reign known for its opulence and the grandeur of its monuments, including the Colossi of Memnon — two massive stone statues near Luxor that represent him and his wife.
“The archaeological layers have laid untouched for thousands of years, left by the ancient residents as if it were yesterday,” the team’s statement said.
Bryan said the city “will give us a rare glimpse into the life of the ancient Egyptians at the time where the empire was at his wealthiest.”
The team said they were optimistic that further important finds would be revealed, noting they had discovered groups of tombs reached through “stairs carved into the rock,” a similar construction to those found in the Valley of the Kings.
“The mission expects to uncover untouched tombs filled with treasures,” the statement added.
After years of political instability following the Arab Spring uprising of 2011, which dealt a severe blow to Egypt’s tourism industry, the country is seeking to bring back visitors, in particular by promoting its ancient heritage.
Last week, Egypt transported the mummified remains of 18 ancient kings and four queens across Cairo from the iconic Egyptian Museum to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in a procession dubbed the “Pharaohs’ Golden Parade.”
Among the 22 bodies were those of Amenhotep III and his wife Queen Tiye.

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