Russell Peters leaves Saudi crowd in tears of laughter

Canadian comedian Russell Peters visited the Al-Jadidah Arts District of AlUla Old Town to explore its galleries and sculpture installations. (Supplied)
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Updated 19 February 2022
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Russell Peters leaves Saudi crowd in tears of laughter

  • Canadian comic star expressed his excitement about being back in Kingdom, even if it was just before his wedding on the other side of the world
  • Even three days before my wedding, I still came to Saudi Arabia. I really missed Saudi, I had such a good time when I came before

RIYADH: Canadian comedian Russell Peters performed at AlUla’s Maraya Theater on Friday, days before his wedding in Los Angeles.

“I am just happy to be back, I’m literally very happy to be back. Here’s how you know I am happy to be back: I’m getting married on Sunday and I’m going to be here on Friday,” he told Arab News.

The comedian expressed his excitement about being back in the Kingdom, even if it was just before his wedding on the other side of the world.

“Even three days before my wedding, I still came to Saudi Arabia. I really missed Saudi, I had such a good time when I came before.”

He left Friday’s crowd in tears of laughter during his show from the “Act Your Age” world tour. The show is about getting older and the experiences with the new world and new generations.

“I will be 52 this year, so to call myself middle aged would mean that I am living to 104, and I definitely don’t want to live to 104. It’s about me being closer to dementia than to anything else and dealing with the new world that we are living in.”

He talked about his previous performance in the Kingdom, which was six years ago in Riyadh.

HIGHLIGHT

Russell Peters, who was recently named as one of Rolling Stone’s top 50 best comedians, explained what his mental preparation was before each show to connect with the crowd. He said he was keen to come back to the region, especially the Kingdom, because of his large fan base. He has also performed in the UAE, Egypt, and Jordan.

“I came here in January of 2016, and we did a show in the middle of the desert near Riyadh. It was pretty amazing. And, at that time, women were not allowed to drive, and I came back six years later, and bam, you’re driving. I was sad to not have been here in so long, so when they asked me if I wanted to come back, I immediately said yes.”


He said he was keen to come back to the region, especially the Kingdom, because of his large fan base. He has also performed in the UAE, Egypt, and Jordan.
“Some of my strongest supporters come from the Middle East; they are always there for me, so I will always be there for them.”
He explained that on this trip he would not, unfortunately, have the chance to visit the capital to see the changes that had taken place in the city as his performance was in AlUla.
“I haven’t gone to Riyadh on this trip, but the cool part is I am getting to see parts of the country that I never knew existed. This is a pretty incredible place to be in right now. We are staying in this beautiful resort and we are surrounded by these amazing mountains and rock structures.”
Maraya is covered with 9,740-mirrored panels that reflect AlUla’s historical and natural landscapes.
“I can literally sit there and just stare at it because it’s like staring into the past,” he remarked.
He said he liked to make his shows personal and individual to the country he was traveling to so that his set did not feel like a by-rote comedy video that people were watching online.
“You want it to feel special as a comic who has been doing it for 33 years. It’s just what I do, I like to add a few local references here and there.”
Peters, who was recently named as one of Rolling Stone’s top 50 best comedians, explained what his mental preparation was before each show to connect with the crowd.
“When I leave America, I have to wrap my head around the fact that I have to look at the rest of the world with the same eyes as the people I am performing in front of. I realized I made that mistake a few months ago when I first went back to the region.”
And his references and personal anecdotes cannot be the same for each country. “I was doing the act wrong,” he added. “When I have jokes about (DNA genetic testing firm) 23andMe and Ancestry.com those make a lot of sense in America. Over here, everyone knows what they are.”
He said that if he were to ask the audience if they had ever used Ancestry.com they would ask why as their family had never left the country and had no reason to use the website.
The comedian said he wanted to connect with the audience and create personal connections so that people could enjoy the show even more.
He had time to visit the Al-Jadidah Arts District of AlUla Old Town to explore its galleries and sculpture installations.

When asked if Saudi Arabia could expect future appearances from him, he gave a positively enthusiastic response.

“I definitely want to go back to Riyadh, and I have never been to Jeddah, so I would like to go there as well. I am lucky enough to be performing in AlUla now, so we will knock that out of the park and then come back and dip into Riyadh and Jeddah.”

His performance was part of AlUla’s Art Festival, which began on Feb. 13 and runs until March 31.

 


Christie’s to hold ‘Art of Islamic and Indian Worlds’ auction in London

Updated 21 April 2024
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Christie’s to hold ‘Art of Islamic and Indian Worlds’ auction in London

LONDON: Christie’s has announced a spring sale of “Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds including Rugs and Carpets,” which will be presented during a live auction at the British auction house’s London headquarters on April 25.

“This season the sale offers a curated selection of 261 lots including four unique collections,” Christie’s said in a statement. “Illustrating the breadth of craftsmanship across 10 centuries, works date from the 10th century to the 20th century and cover a diversity of artistic traditions.”

The works include paintings, ceramics, metal work, works on paper, arms, textiles and rugs and carpets from across the Islamic world, spanning the Silk Route linking China to the West.

A number of private collections will be auctioned, including early Iranian ceramics from a private American collection, as well as Persian and Indian paintings from the collection of art specialists Charles and Regina Slatkin that features a rare work by the Bukhara artist Mahmud Muzahhib.

The carpet section of the auction “is led by Sultans of Silk: The George Farrow Collection, which is a comprehensive study of the very best of silk rug weaving of the late 19th and early 20th centuries gathered over forty years by the late George Farrow,” Christie’s said in its statement. The collection will offer more than 40 finely woven silk carpets.

According to Christie’s, Farrow was a British collector of silk rugs and his “expansive collection” comprises a variety of silk weavings from different origins.

Sara Plumbly, head of Islamic and Indian art at Christie’s, said: “We are delighted to offer a wide variety of works of art from across the Islamic and Indian worlds this season (and) we are particularly excited about three private collections, all with long provenance, that highlight the breadth and diversity of the artistic traditions of Iran — from Safavid textiles and painting to medieval pottery.”

Louise Broadhurst, international head of rugs and carpets at Christie’s, said the auction house “is honored to offer the collection of George Farrow, whose passion for antique silk rugs is reflected in the illuminating breadth of examples gathered over four decades, which include highlights rarely seen on today’s market.”

The “Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds including Rugs and Carpets” is open to the public ahead of the live auction from April 21-24 at Christie’s in London.


Merwas — Riyadh’s beating heart of creativity

Updated 20 April 2024
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Merwas — Riyadh’s beating heart of creativity

  • World’s largest music production studio is nurturing Saudi talent, streamlining local industry

RIYADH: Riyadh’s Merwas, considered the biggest art and entertainment factory globally, is proving to be one of Saudi Arabia’s greatest music industry assets.

Nada Al-Tuwaijri, co-founder and CEO of Merwas, told Arab News that the facility, which holds the Guinness World Record for the largest music production studio, “is home to all artists.”

She added: “The methodology behind it is to create solutions through the subsidiaries, and invest in both talent and infrastructure.

“Alongside it being a one-stop shop for all content creators, we strive to take our local talents from local to global and create a unique stamp in the industry.”

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, Merwas fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, along with hosting workshops, networking sessions, and community events. (AN photos by Abdulrhman Bin Shalhoub/Supplied)

The entertainment zone and audiovisual production studio, located in Boulevard Riyadh City, houses 22 main studios alongside its academy.

Some of the top musicians in the world have visited Merwas since it opened in 2022. These include DJ Khaled, the acclaimed Saudi singer Rabeh Saqer, and the Emirati singer Ahlam. Afrojack, a world-renowned Dutch DJ and producer, also led an electronic music boot camp to nurture local talent and inspire a new generation of Saudi artists.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Merwas, located in Boulevard Riyadh City, houses 22 main studios alongside its academy.

• The academy’s classes offer local creatives and artists direct access to seasoned expertise.

• The Earth Sound Studio, or ESS, named after the late Saudi composer Talal Maddah.

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, the culture factory fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, while providing artists with access to top-tier services, facilities and industry expertise.

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, Merwas fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, along with hosting workshops, networking sessions, and community events. (AN photos by Abdulrhman Bin Shalhoub/Supplied)

The Earth Sound Studio, or ESS, named after the late Saudi composer Talal Maddah, features state-of-the-art technology, such as the SSL console, which is used to create depth on music tracks and ensures the true soul of the artist’s voice is protected.

This live recording space is booked almost every day by various artists, and has been used by some of the Arab region’s biggest stars.

The facility, which holds the Guinness World Record for the largest music production studio, is home to all artists according to co-founder Nada Al-Tuwaijri. (Supplied)

One of the only five Neve consoles in the world can be found in the Neve Studio. The panel is known for its high-quality sound and warmth, and is ideal for music recording, vocal tracking, and mixing for exceptional audio quality.

Its live studio can accommodate over 120 orchestra members and their instruments to provide a unique recording experience.

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, Merwas fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, along with hosting workshops, networking sessions, and community events. (AN photos by Abdulrhman Bin Shalhoub/Supplied)

Specifically designed for electronic music production, the EMP Suite is a DJ’s dream, with cutting edge synthesizers and digital audio workstations ensuring an artist leaves the room with a fully produced track.

Merwas is also home to three production suites, designed for content creators who require a comfortable and professional environment for music production, editing, and mixing. Each suite is equipped with industry-standard gear, software, and acoustics to support a wide range of projects.

Nada Al-Tuwaijri, Merwas cofounder and CEO

The studio also provides private rehearsal spaces to ensure Saudi talents are nourished to their full potential. The versatile space is designed for musicians, performers, and other artists to rehearse and refine their craft within a comfortable environment with access to instruments and equipment.

Part of the charm of recording studios is the live jam sessions that have given birth to some of the most iconic records to date. Merwas’ Band Live/Control Room also captures the spontaneity of live performance within its soundproof walls.

Alongside (Merwas) being a one-stop shop for all content creators, we strive to take our local talents from local to global and create a unique stamp in the industry.

Nada Al-Tuwaijri, Merwas cofounder and CEO

Championing audiovisual pursuits, the studio has made space for high-quality podcasts and videos to come to life.

The podcast suite and FM radio recording spaces are tailored to immerse listeners with unbeatable audio clarity, while the 25-meter-long Green Screen room helps ideas come to life, whether commercial, film, or music video.

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, Merwas fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, along with hosting workshops, networking sessions, and community events. (AN photos by Abdulrhman Bin Shalhoub/Supplied)

Material can then be edited at the color-grading suite, which is essentially a small theater with 4K projector. Producers, directors, writers, and engineers gather here to put the final visual touches on video projects through its DaVinci color grading software and hardware.

Academy Classes offers local creatives and artists direct access to seasoned expertise. These feature advanced stations for sound production, engineering, and technical programs, with everything necessary for a basic understanding and training of music production.

The studio hosts workshops, networking sessions, and community events in an effort to flourish the music industry locally while making it a magnet for international talent. Anyone can be a part of this community by booking a suite or signing up for a workshop on their website merwas.sa.

Merwas has positioned itself at the the forefront of the entertainment industry being the first of its kind in the MENA region. In less than a year since its launch, it has already became a hotspot for musicians across the globe to visit and utilize its services, from rising talents to international A-listers.

Founded by Al-Tuwaijri and Chief Content Officer Rumian Al-Rumayyan in partnership with Sela, Merwas treasures Saudi creativity and is a vital part of building an ecosystem and community for local artists.

Their partnership with the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property has set a new focus on preserving the rights of local creatives, pillared by the aim to enrich the culture of the Kingdom while empowering its citizens and their creativity in an environment of abundant knowledge, education in culture, art, entertainment and music.

 


Hollywood Arab Film Festival: Showcasing Arab cinema in Los Angeles

Updated 20 April 2024
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Hollywood Arab Film Festival: Showcasing Arab cinema in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES: The third annual Hollywood Arab Film Festival began this week, bringing the best of 2024’s Arab cinema to Los Angeles and giving fans a chance to see the films in theaters as well as introducing a new audience to the Arab world’s top talent.

The event, which runs until April 21, was attended by a number of celebrity guests including Egyptian producer and screenwriter Mohamed Hefzy, Tunisian actor Dhaffer L’Abidine, renowned Egyptian star Elham Shahin and Egyptian producer Tarek El-Ganainy.

 

 

At the event, Hefty said: “Arab cinema really needs a platform to tell our stories and to show who we are, our identity, our hopes and dreams, our pains, and all the different social topics that are tackled in some of the films that are being presented are maybe more relevant today than ever. So I think it’s a great opportunity to have this dialogue.”

Hefzy’s film “Hajjan” was showing at the event. It is a Saudi Arabia-based film directed by Egyptian filmmaker Abu Bakr Shawky.

“Hajjan is a film about a young boy who got a very special connection to his camel, who has a brother who was a camel jockey and races,” Hefzy said. “And, one day when something really unexpected happens to his brother, and shatters his world, it forces him to step into his brother’s shoes and become a camel jockey, and so starts racing himself.”

The movie is a co-production between the Kingdom’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, or Ithra, and Hefzy’s Film Clinic.

“It was a film made in Saudi Arabia with Saudi talents and actors with an Egyptian director, but with the Saudi co-writer and Saudi actors and shot mostly in Saudi Arabia,” Hefzy said. “So I think it’s, it was a great experience, and learned a lot about Saudi Arabia, learned a lot about the culture.”

The festival featured cinema from various Arab countries, presenting films from 16 different nations. Marlin Soliman, strategic planning director of HAFF, highlighted the inclusion of six feature films, ten short films and six student films.

Spanning five days, HAFF offered its audience a vibrant experience, including a red-carpet affair, panel discussions on filmmaking and diversity in Hollywood, and, of course, screenings of high-profile films.

The festival also saw several filmmakers singing the praises of Saudi Arabia’s expanding film industry.

L’Abidine, the writer and director of “To My Son,” said: “I’m thrilled to be back again with my second feature film ‘To My Son,’ a Saudi film… I think there is a great evolution of Saudi cinema that’s been happening in the last few years.”


Art Jameel announces open call for Hayy Jameel Facade Commission

Updated 19 April 2024
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Art Jameel announces open call for Hayy Jameel Facade Commission

  • Antonia Carver, director of Art Jameel, said: “At Art Jameel, we are committed to fostering the role of the arts in public life

JEDDAH: The Hayy Jameel Facade Commission is inviting new and established artists in Saudi Arabia to reimagine the facade of the Hayy Jameel art building in Jeddah.

In its fourth year and third open call process, the commission will select a winning artwork that serves as conversation starter between the complex, the community it serves and the broader public.

Antonia Carver, director of Art Jameel, said: “At Art Jameel, we are committed to fostering the role of the arts in public life.

“Through this annual commission which positions the facade as the first point of contact with the Hayy Jameel community, we are providing a platform that propels mid-career artists forward and challenges them to produce a large-scale, highly imaginative work that remains in-situ, front and center in Jeddah, for around 10 months.”

The commission encourages artists to consider the site-specific nature of the project and the technical requirements of a public work.

Sustainability considerations are also appreciated in managing the carbon footprint of the artwork and its installation.

Eligibility is open to all Saudi and Saudi-based artists and collectives, with at least one member required to be a Saudi citizen or resident if applying as a collective.

The commissioned artists will receive a work fee and a production budget managed by Art Jameel.

The jury, consisting of local and international art professionals, curators, artists and museum directors, will select a single work for production.

Applicants are required to submit a concept statement (200-500 words), up to four sketches and diagrams, and an estimated production schedule through the application portal.

The deadline for the facade submission has been extended to May 1, with the launch scheduled for October. Following the unveiling, there will be a public viewing period from October 2024 to September 2025.

Previous works displayed on the building have showcased the talent of artists such as Nasser Al-Mulhim, Tamara Kalo, Mohammad Al-Faraj and Dr. Zahrah Al-Ghamdi.

 


Dave Chappelle to perform at Abu Dhabi Comedy Week

Updated 19 April 2024
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Dave Chappelle to perform at Abu Dhabi Comedy Week

DUBAI: US award-winning comedian Dave Chappelle is set to perform in the UAE at the Abu Dhabi Comedy Week on May 23, organizers announced on Friday.

The capital city’s first-ever comedy festival will run from May 18-26 at Yas Island’s Etihad Arena.

Chappelle will join a long list of comedians performing at the event, including Chris Tucker, Aziz Ansari, Tom Segura, Jo Koy, Tommy Tiernan, Kevin Bridges, Andrew Santino, Bobby Lee, Andrew Schulz, Bassem Youssef and Maz Jobrani.

With numerous accolades and awards to his name, including multiple Grammy Awards and Emmy Awards, Chappelle is renowned for his wit and fearless commentary on contemporary issues.

While May 23 will mark Chappelle’s inaugural performance in Abu Dhabi, he has previously captivated audiences with two sold-out shows in Dubai.