‘Music connects us all’ says SOUNDSTORM DJ

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Festival-goers from around the world have flocked to the desert for MDLBEAST’s SANDSTORM in Ban Ban to express their passion for music. (AN photo by Saleh AlGhannam)
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Festival-goers from around the world have flocked to the desert for MDLBEAST’s SANDSTORM in Ban Ban to express their passion for music. (AN photo by Saleh AlGhannam)
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Festival-goers from around the world have flocked to the desert for MDLBEAST’s SANDSTORM in Ban Ban to express their passion for music. (AN photo by Saleh AlGhannam)
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Updated 19 December 2021
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‘Music connects us all’ says SOUNDSTORM DJ

  • DJ and producer Kayan tells Arab News about the opportunities for local Saudi female artists at the festival
  • Swedish DJ Alesso to shutdown the event at the BIG BEAST stage on Sunday night 

RIYADH: Thousands of festival-goers from around the world have flocked to the desert for MDLBEAST’s SANDSTORM in Ban Ban to express their passion for music. 

DJ and producer Kayan, who performed during the four-day festival, shared with Arab News her insight into the connectivity and power that music holds.

“There’s so much magic to music, to sound and connectivity, and how music can really help us feel certain things and inspire us and help us overcome certain emotions,” she said. 

Regardless of your age and favorite genre, there is something for every festivalgoer to enjoy at Ban Ban. 




Festival-goers from around the world have flocked to the desert for MDLBEAST’s SANDSTORM in Ban Ban to express their passion for music. (AN photo by Saleh AlGhannam)

“I was always deeply connected to music, music always created a soundtrack to my life and creating stories and moments together through music is something that I definitely love and enjoy doing,” the DJ explained. 

Kayan specialises in electronic music with her DJing and production, blending Eastern and Western sounds to create her distinctive style.

Her passion for music started when she learned to play the violin, and through her work in radio Kayan started producing her own sound, which led her to perform in front of thousands. 

“There is always this one type of music that really resonates with everyone. For me it was always electronic music as that is what I have always loved,” she told Arab News. 

Kayan first collaborated with MDLBEAST during the Noor Riyadh Festival in 2021. 

“We created something beautiful and magical together for the Noor Riyadh Festival. It was such an honor to work with such a professional team of artists,” she said. 

“This is my second experience working with MDLBEAST. It’s pretty massive and it is a dream come true. I am so honored to work with a professional team of both national and international artists. I feel very lucky, happy and honored to be a part of his festival,” she said. 

SANDSTORM boasted eight different stages, including BIG BEAST, DANCE BEAST, DWN BEAST and four UNDERGROUND stages. It also offered one private stage, with each section playing different genres for all festival-goers to enjoy.

Kayan performed on Saturday on the UNDERGROUND 1 stage and described her sound as heavy baselines incorporating many synthesisers that blend into a rhythmic melody, “it’s strong, powerful but always has a melodic blend.”

Kayan explained that her violin performances are improvised during the show, feeding off of the emotions in the crowd. 

“When I play violin, I don’t have a piece that I just memorize and come and play. I improvise what I feel in the moment and how the energy of the crowd is. I study it and connect with it and it inspires my sound,” she said. 

The DJ added that sound has the power to link emotions through sound waves. It is not just consecutive beats, it is a form of communication and linking of minds. 

“Music affects the human mind like the brain, the brain frequencies, the heart rate, everything synchronises with the speed of music, that encourages the heart and brain to behave in a certain way, which results in different emotions,” she said. 

“In an event or a festival where you have five people listening to one speed of music — like the fast-beat music that people enjoy here — imagine that they’re all connected to one wave and one frequency in that particular moment.”

Kayan also shared with Arab News the many artists she is looking forward to seeing perform, including many local female artists. 

“The artists I’m most excited to see are the local ones, we have so much talent and this platform is the way for them to express themselves musically, we have so many brilliant female DJs and local artists,” she said.

“This is very empowering and inspiring. I think music goes beyond gender, beyond any limitation, including beyond language barriers for us as Saudi female artists to finally have a proper professional platform to express our art and music. This is something I am very happy to see,” she added. 

MDLBEAST’s SANDSTORM festival will come to a close on Sunday, Dec. 19 with Swedish DJ Alesso shutting down the BIG BEAST stage.


Arab designers take over Screen Actors Guild Awards red carpet

Updated 57 min 42 sec ago
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Arab designers take over Screen Actors Guild Awards red carpet

DUBAI: Arab designers Saiid Kobeisy, Waad Aloqaili, Tony Ward, Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad had their moment at the 2024 Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall on Saturday in Los Angeles.

First up, Keltie Knight was all here for bows and their big comeback. The Canadian TV personality wore a stunning strapless gown from Lebanese designer Saiid Kobeisy featuring a gigantic black bow on the bodice as well as tiny tulle beaded bows across the entire piece.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by KELTIE (@keltie)

US actress and singer Sheryl Lee Ralph put Saudi fashion in the spotlight, donning a strapless, black gown from couture label Waad Aloqaili. Founded in 2019 by sisters Waad and Ahlam Aloqaili, Waad Aloqaili Couture, the eponymous label produces bi-annual collections inspired by “personal experience and the collective female journey,” as seen on their brand website.

Meanwhile, Hollywood star Reese Witherspoon opted for a fiery red look, wearing a bright gown from Lebanese couturier Elie Saab’s spring 2024 haute couture collection.

Witherspoon walked the red carpet in a strapless floor-length dress featuring a high slit and scooped neckline. The gown, crafted with a pleated bodice and gathered wrap skirt, was styled with a pair of Gianvito Rossi heeled sandals.

English actress Hannah Waddingham, known for her roles in “Game of Thrones” and “Ted Lasso,” channelled her best Marilyn Monroe, in a glimmering ruby couture gown from Lebanese label Tony Ward. Her deep red off-the-shoulder gown featured a thigh-high slit and long train.

English actress Hannah Waddingham, known for her roles in “Game of Thrones” and “Ted Lasso,” channelled her best Marilyn Monroe, in a glimmering ruby couture gown from Lebanese label Tony Ward. (AFP)

US actress and comedian Abby Elliott, of “Bear” fame, was elegance personified as she opted for a sleek black gown from Lebanese label Zuhair Murad’s Spring-Summer 2024 ready-to-wear collection.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by SAG Awards® (@sagawards)

Cast members from FX’s “The Bear,” available to stream on Disney+ in the Middle East, won in three categories at Screen Actors Guild Awards, including Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, Ayo Edebiri for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series and Jeremy Allen White for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series.

Christopher Nolan’s hit biopic “Oppenheimer” dominated this year’s Screen Actors Guild awards.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by SAG Awards® (@sagawards)

The cast of the biographical epic won for best ensemble, ahead of “Barbie” and “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Cillian Murphy picked up male actor in a leading role, while Robert Downey Jr won for male actor in a supporting role for playing Lewis Strauss in the film.

Lily Gladstone took home female actor in a leading role for “Killers of the Flower Moon,” beating Emma Stone and Margot Robbie.


Saleh Saadi explores Palestine through the eyes of tourists in upcoming series

Updated 25 February 2024
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Saleh Saadi explores Palestine through the eyes of tourists in upcoming series

DUBAI: Through an open-call competition, Palestinian director Saleh Saadi was selected by MENA-based broadcasting network OSN to film his upcoming six-episode series, “Dyouf” (meaning “guests” in Arabic). 

Saadi submitted his project in response to OSN’s Writer’s Room mentorship program, which was also organized by The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, that aims to support aspiring filmmakers and writers from the region. 

Originally from the bedouin village of Basmat Tab’un, Saadi has previously created two social-themed short films that dealt with his native Palestine: “Borekas” (2020) and “A’lam” (2022).

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Saleh Saadi (@_salehsaadi)

The filmmaker says that he did not grow up in an environment that had a film institute, let alone an overall industry, but that didn’t stop his creativity, which began at home with simple means. 

“My family doesn’t have an artistic background. Their focus was to give us a good life, but they used to take pictures of us with a small camera,” Saadi told Arab News. “My siblings would film with a video camera and make little plays. . . I don’t know why it stuck with me.”

From a young age, he taught to edit and filmed sketches with his family members, who acted in his creations. “To them it was good fun, but I took it seriously,” he recalls. Saadi grew up “glued to the television set,” watching sitcoms. He also admires the work of notable Palestinian director Elia Suleiman, whose films have been shown at the Cannes Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival.

Saadi’s winning submission “Dyouf,” a dramedy which is in the process of development, centers around the protagonist Shadi, who returns to his homeland after living abroad and feels lonely. His mother has set up a guesthouse that is being frequented by tourists. 

Each episode, delving into the themes of relationships and identities, will focus on one tourist. “Through these guests, we understand the country more. One of the main characters is the country,” Saadi explains. “It shows a certain reality, the day-to-day life and little moments of the day. I think different people will be able to relate to the show in different ways.”

Saadi adds that shooting in Palestine comes with its own set of tricky challenges, from funding to on-site disturbances. “Things are more and more difficult. I don’t want to be cheesy, but it’s also become more and more important. There are difficulties from start to finish, where anything can happen.”

Despite the ongoing bombardment of Gaza, Saadi is heartened by how Palestinian cinema is slowly on the rise in the region and abroad, through film festivals and cultural events. “I am very happy because I feel like there are more films on Palestine. They tell our stories,” he said

“We have so much love for our people, our family and our land. All kinds of art have an important role to play. Through art, we are showing that, despite all difficulties, the love is still there.”  


Gigi Hadid, Arab models walk Versace runway

Updated 24 February 2024
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Gigi Hadid, Arab models walk Versace runway

DUBAI: US-Dutch-Palestinian model Gigi Hadid, a staple on Versace runways, made a remarkable return to the Italian brand’s catwalk this week during Milan Fashion Week.

The supermodel stunned the runway in a black sheer, collared dress featuring intricate button-down detailing and a daring thigh-high slit. Complementing her ensemble, she sported black latex gloves and accentuated her look with sharp eye makeup.

Hadid was joined by other part-Arab models, including Imaan Hammam, who is Moroccan, Egyptian and Dutch, and Loli Bahia, who is French Algerian.

Hammam donned a printed blazer layered over a brown top. (Getty Images)

Hammam donned a printed blazer layered over a brown top, completing her ensemble with black tights and thigh-high leather boots. Just like Hadid, she accessorized with latex gloves and striking eye makeup.

Bahia wore a black mini-dress. (Getty Images)

Bahia opened the runway show in a black mini-dress, complementing her ensemble with a bold pop of color courtesy of a fiery red purse.


From finance to fame: Yasmine Al-Bustami discusses her journey to Hollywood stardom

Updated 24 February 2024
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From finance to fame: Yasmine Al-Bustami discusses her journey to Hollywood stardom

LOS ANGELES: From working in finance to gracing the stage and screen, Yasmine Al-Bustami has emerged as a dynamic talent on the rise.

Known for her roles in “The Originals,” “NCIS: Hawai’i” and “The Chosen,” the actress was born in Abu Dhabi to a Palestinian-Jordanian father and a Filipino mother.

Al-Bustami grew up in Texas and began work in the world of finance, but soon found that she was not fulfilled and began to dig for something more exciting.

“I had never taken acting classes or anything, but I knew to get auditions you needed an agent,” she said. “So I just emailed all the Dallas agents and one of them was so sweet, emailed me back … I was sending in my business resume, too, I didn’t even have an acting resume. I was like, ‘this is where I went to university. I have a finance degree.’ None of that. They don’t care.

“And (the agent) goes, ‘well, clearly, you have no idea what you’re doing. Go to class. And here are some acting class recommendations.’ Then from that, I just kept taking classes in Dallas, then moved to Los Angeles,” she said.

Al-Bustami began with a brief appearance in a health-related commercial before making her television debut in “The Originals,” appearing in the recurring role of Monique Deveraux, a villain in the first season.

The actress was born in Abu Dhabi to a Palestinian-Jordanian father and a Filipino mother. (Getty Images)

Today, she has a role in hit spinoff “NCIS: Hawai’i” and the historical drama “The Chosen,” which recently moved to the theater.

“On ‘The Chosen,’ I play Ramah,” she said. “And when you meet her, it’s in season one. I’m in one of the episodes, episode five, and I basically work with Thomas the Disciple, and we have a little bit of romance there. We are very flirtatious with each other, and then you start to see that develop from seasons two to now, the season that is out right now is season four.”

Part of the challenge Al-Bustami faced was gaining the approval of her parents and finding roles true to her ethnicity.

On the latter note, she has scored a role representing women of color in the dark comedy show “Immigrants.”

“We just finished the pilot and that is by my friend Mustafa Knight, and it’s basically how we have described it is like ‘Friends,’ but with color,” she said.

“I’ve never been more proud to be an immigrant because now I also have an outlet to express that to people through storytelling,” the actress added. “It’s a different kind of gratefulness whenever you get the opportunity to play something that you are actually.”

The show is described as a dark comedy series following the “misadventures of six unlikely friends through their trials and tribulations on what it really means to be American in America.”


Saudi Cup kicks off in Riyadh with a showcase of traditional fashion

Updated 24 February 2024
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Saudi Cup kicks off in Riyadh with a showcase of traditional fashion

  • From bespoke creations designed exclusively by and for style icons to bold original outfits, guests were dressed in striking attire for the event
  • The Saudi Cup carries a prize fund of $35.4 million, with the $20 million Saudi Cup race itself maintaining its position as the most valuable race in the world

RIYADH: The Saudi Cup, the Kingdom’s annual international horse race, returned this weekend in Riyadh for its fifth edition with a head-turning display of fashion.

From bespoke creations designed exclusively by and for style icons to bold original outfits, guests were dressed in striking attire for the event that takes place Feb. 23 and 24.

Princess Nourah Al-Faisal, special adviser to the chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, spoke to Arab News about fashion at the event — and the vision of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the event. 

Princess Nourah Al-Faisal wore an intricately embroidered tulle covering over a robe with embroidered detailing on the cuffs. (Photo by Huda Bashatah)

He “really had a vision, and not just for fashion, but he had this idea that he wanted the event to represent our culture and our heritage in every way possible,” she said.

“I have to say I am delighted and super excited by it and especially this reintroduction of our heritage to the younger generation … (and) seeing what this younger generation is doing with that, you know the experimentation,” she added.

Princess Nourah donned an intricately embroidered tulle covering over a robe with embroidered detailing on the cuffs from Art of Heritage.

Influencer and model Rakan Alhamdan also showed off attire inspired by his country.

“Today, I’m wearing Siraj Sanad — he’s a Saudi (designer) in Jeddah. As you can see, it is heritage-style clothing with three embroidered triangles which Najd is known for,” he said, referring to the Saudi region of Najd which is famous for its triangles visible in architecture and embroidery.

Influencer and model Rakan Alhamdan. (Photo by Huda Bashatah)

Other guests showed off a rainbow of colors at the fashion-forward event, with modern takes on Saudi attire spotted across the venue — from gemstone-covered burqas to elegant kaftans complete with heavy embroidery.

The Saudi Cup carries a prize fund of $35.4 million, with the $20 million Saudi Cup race itself maintaining its position as the most valuable race in the world.

- Additional reporting by Hams Saleh