European languages event in Riyadh is talk of town

Visitors pick out the flags of the languages they speak and the languages they wish to learn and practice. (AN Photo)
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Updated 02 June 2023

European languages event in Riyadh is talk of town

  • The second edition of the European Night of Languages was recently held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Riyadh
  • Among the participants testing out language skills were envoys, members of diplomatic community and teachers

RIYADH: An evening’s celebration of languages was the talk of the town at an event hosted by the EU delegation to Saudi Arabia.

The second edition of the European Night of Languages was held recently at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Riyadh in recognition of Europe’s linguistic and cultural heritage.

The event was organized in partnership with the Riyadh language exchange, a Saudi non-profit group, the Alliance Francaise, Goethe Institute, Education First, SEK International School, and the embassies of the EU member states in the Kingdom.

Among the participants testing out their language skills were ambassadors, members of the diplomatic community, and professional language teachers.

Patrick Simonnet, the EU envoy to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Oman, said: “Languages are the most important thing when you want to reach other cultures, and showing interest in other languages is what the event is about.

“The event is not so much about learning other languages because learning another language in one evening is impossible, but it is more about interacting with cultures of different European countries. So, it is really about the exchange of cultures and bridging the gaps between our respective cultures.”

Visitors attending the event were invited to select the national flags of their spoken languages and those they wished to learn before mixing with other attendees.

Among the languages being spoken were French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Danish, Greek, Romanian, Finnish, and Dutch. Games and quizzes, an oud recital, a performance by Portuguese band Almanata, and a European culinary experience followed the event.

Mohammed Matham, co-founder of the Riyadh language exchange group, said: “We are excited to contribute to strengthening people-to-people relationships between Saudi Arabia and the European Union through the power of language learning.”

Marguerite Bickel, director general of the Alliance Francaise, said: “My goal in teaching French here is to promote the French language to support Vision 2030, especially in tourism, as there are a lot of French tourists that are very eager to discover Saudi Arabia.”

Jason Caranicas, deputy head of mission and head of the consular section at the Greek Embassy, said: “There is certainly an increase in the number of Saudis applying for a Greek visa now, and this year for the first time, there are so many direct flights from the Kingdom to several major cities in Greece, including Mykonos and Athens.”

The event was staged as part of European Diversity Month to promote the importance of languages as a bridge-builder between cultures.

Picasso masterpiece begins pre-auction tour in Dubai

Updated 25 September 2023

Picasso masterpiece begins pre-auction tour in Dubai

  • The 1932 portrait of Marie-Therese Walter, Picasso’s mistress and “golden muse,” is being exhibited for two days before heading to Hong Kong and London

Dubai: A Pablo Picasso masterpiece expected to fetch at least $120 million at auction went on show Monday in Dubai, kicking off a set of rare viewings outside the United States.
The 1932 portrait of Marie-Therese Walter, Picasso’s mistress and “golden muse,” is being exhibited for two days before heading to Hong Kong and London, a boon for the United Arab Emirates’ bid to establish itself as a cultural powerhouse.
The viewing “marks the first time a painting of this calibre by the world-renowned artist has ever been exhibited in the UAE,” Sotheby’s Dubai said in a statement, noting it is the first time the portrait had been shown outside the US in half a century.
“Over the years the UAE has earned the status of being a global art destination, which receives a further boost as this rare Picasso is unveiled here,” said UAE Culture Minister Sheikh Salem bin Khalid Al-Qassimi.
The painting titled “Femme a la montre” will be sold in November as part of a two-day auction of late New Yorker Emily Fisher Landau’s prestigious collection.
Walter met Picasso in Paris in 1927, when the Spaniard was still married to Russian-Ukrainian ballet dancer Olga Khokhlova, and while Walter was 17.
Walter, whose daughter with Picasso passed away last year, was also featured in “Femme assize pres d’une fenetre (Marie-Therese),” which sold in 2021 for $103.4 million by Christie’s auction house.
Fifty years after his death in 1973 at age 91, Picasso remains one of the most influential artists of the modern world, often hailed as a dynamic and creative genius.
But in the wake of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault, the reputation of this workaholic with a vast output of paintings, sketches and sculpture has been tarnished by accusations he exerted a violent hold over the women who shared his life and inspired his art.

Princess Rajwa attends congress meetings with Jordan’s Crown Prince

Updated 24 September 2023

Princess Rajwa attends congress meetings with Jordan’s Crown Prince

DUBAI: Princess Rajwa Al-Hussein this week accompanied her husband, Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah II, on his trip to the US for his meeting with Congress members at Capitol Hill.

Fans had their eyes on Rajwa’s style and quickly took to Instagram to share her outfit details.



The Jordanian royal was dressed in a white funnel-neck pedernal blouse by Canadian British designer Edeline Lee and a black midi-skirt by Dior. She added a pop of color to her look by wearing hot-pink slingback Fendi heels and a matching Baguette phone pouch in patent leather.

The couple then flew back to Jordan.



The prince shared a picture of him, his wife and his younger brother Prince Hashem and wrote on Instagram: “Checking in on Hashem this morning.”

In the picture, Rajwa wore an off-white set, which she paired with a white undershirt. Her blazer was a Jacquemus’s “Le Papier” square jacket.

She topped off the look with a white Gucci GG Marmont leather bag.

Jorja Smith performs at Azimuth festival in AlUla

Updated 23 September 2023

Jorja Smith performs at Azimuth festival in AlUla

ALULA: A stellar lineup of stars performed on the second day of Saudi Arabia’s Azimuth festival in AlUla, including British singer and songwriter, Jorja Smith. 

Smith performed some of her hits, including “Be Honest” and “Go Go Go.” 

The music sensation was joined by stars form around the world who performed on the second and last night of the festival, which forms part of Saudi Arabia’s 93rd National Day celebrations.

The lineup included performances by Dope Lemon, Chet Faker, Saint Levant, Shkoon Live, Ame & Dixon, Tinariwen, Vinyl Mode, Dish Dash, Zone+, Kayan, Baloo, and more.

On Thursday, The Kooks, Thievery Corporation, Peggy Gou, Nooriyah, RY X and Cairokee performed for fans.

AlUla Moments’ collaboration with Spotify allowed fans to check out the lineup on the Azimuth AlUla Official Playlist.

The festival vibes were enhanced with Azilook stations for makeup, hair, nails and henna tattoos. There was also an opportunity to shop for attire from Creative Collection, accessories from Qurmoz and perfumes from SURGE.

In addition, several food vendors were available, including Gun Bun, SALT, Out of Line, Just Chill, Creamery, Baroque and Maui.

Review: ‘Wrestlers’ deserves to be Netflix’s latest breakout hit

Updated 23 September 2023

Review: ‘Wrestlers’ deserves to be Netflix’s latest breakout hit

  • Documentary on the Ohio wrestling scene is bursting with heart

LONDON: The mark of a great documentary is when audiences feel like they’ve learned something — when a hitherto unexplored world is examined and explained in a way that makes sense or interrogated and investigated in order to shed new light on things previously unseen. A truly phenomenal documentary, however, not only does all of the above, but it makes viewers actually care about the world they’re exploring.

Netflix’s “Wrestlers” is a remarkable piece of filmmaking. Director Greg Whiteley (“Last Chance U,” “Cheer”) and his team have created an emotional, intimate look inside the world of the Ohio Valley Wrestling league. Once the pathway to the big time (with alumni that include Brock Lesnar, The Miz, John Cena, Dave Bautista, Randy Orton and others), OVW is struggling to make ends meet. New investors Matt Jones and Craig Greenberg have rescued the franchise, for now, but find themselves in conflict with owner (and legendary wrestler) Al Snow, as their desire to increase revenue and marketability comes up against Snow’s uncompromising commitment to crafting storylines and matches of the utmost quality.

“Wrestlers” is directed by Greg Whiteley. (YouTube)

Whiteley takes us deep into the lives of Snow, the new owners, and the wrestlers — standouts include Cash Flo, Shera and Haley J, but there are so many fascinating characters at the heart of OVW that seven episodes don’t feel even close to enough. By showing us their lives, and just how much wrestling means to them, the day-to-day grind of keeping the league afloat feels uncompromisingly real. It’s genuinely heartbreaking to see the efforts of Snow and his roster of wrestlers draw in just a few extra attendees, and it’s jaw-droppingly uncomfortable to get a firsthand glimpse of the stresses Jones and Snow are under as they reach the culmination of OVW’s summer tour.

To reveal anything more would undermine the gravitas of the season finale, which deserves to be seen far and wide. “Wrestlers” is a remarkable show. Whether or not you care about wrestling at the start, you’ll care about the people behind OVW by the time the curtain drops on season one. Here’s hoping there’s more in store.

Georgina Rodriguez wears green abaya for Saudi National Day

Updated 22 September 2023

Georgina Rodriguez wears green abaya for Saudi National Day

DUBAI: Georgina Rodriguez, the Argentine model and long-term partner of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, was spotted this week shopping at the Saudi fragrance brand Laverne in Riyadh wearing a green abaya just in time for Saudi National Day.

The “I am Georgina” star also held the Kingdom’s flag in honor of the country’s 93rd national day.

Georgina Rodriguez was spotted shopping at Laverne. (Twitter)

Rodriguez has previously collaborated with the Saudi perfume label on a campaign in March that promoted the scent, Blue Laverne. In the clip, she answered candid questions about her time in the Kingdom.

Riyadh-based Rodriguez said: “I feel very safe in this country and really appreciate its family values.

“I felt very happy to be able to connect with this heaven on Earth. The power and magic that is in the Saudi desert is incredible,” she said when asked her thoughts on visiting the country’s desert region earlier this year.