From Cairo to Capri: Egyptian architect Tarek Shamma’s journey to preserve his heritage 

Egyptian architect and designer Tarek Shamma is one of three designers selected as part of Gucci’s Artists in Flux exhibition in Capri. (Courtesy of Giagkos Papadopoulos)
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Updated 25 July 2023
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From Cairo to Capri: Egyptian architect Tarek Shamma’s journey to preserve his heritage 

  • Handmade ‘MinaMina’ tables honor family roots 
  • Desire to ‘focus on traditions, culture and history’ 

CAPRI: Inside the grandiose Renaissance walls of the 14th century monastery of Certosa di San Giacomo, the works of Egyptian architect and designer Tarek Shamma has been given new life and meaning. 

One of three designers selected as part of Gucci’s Artists in Flux exhibition in Capri, Shamma — whose work includes designs for luxury boats, boutiques for Christian Louboutin and residential structures — presented his MinaMina tables. Unique objects entirely handmade by Shamma in Cairo have a particular tactile quality that resonates from their mix of materials, including faience-glazed ceramic majolica, alabaster, rattan, and travertine stone pillars. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Shamma, who resides between Cairo and London and who has worked alongside architects Zaha Hadid and David Chipperfield, emphasizes his desire to create objects that “focus on local Egyptian traditions, culture and history — as (a) way to preserve and keep alive their memory and craftsmanship.” 

The tables derive their inspiration from the culture and rich symbolism of ancient Egypt, particularly referencing King Menes, the legendary Egyptian monarch credited with uniting the upper and lower parts of the country into one kingdom. The stools are at once bold and gracious and exude the beauty of materials found and still used in Shamma’s homeland. 

They go even further in their sentimental references, to serve also as a dedication to Shamma’s family from which the name of the stools is derived: Mina, his grandfather from Minya, Egypt, for his ancestral protective energy, and to his sister Yasmin, for her strength, grace and femininity. Yasmin’s nickname is Mina Mina. 

“I am proud of my Egyptian heritage — it’s varied and vast and so rich and through my work I want to keep its memory and tradition alive,” Shamma told Arab News recently. One way this is done is by supporting Egyptian craftsmen which he does through his work and his emphasis on the use of natural, local materials. 

Elsewhere at Nomad Capri, Venice-based gallery, Lo Studio Everything I Want — founded this May by Nadja Romain — displayed Shamma’s “Capriccio Egiziano,” featuring a hand-painted artwork recounting a fictional tale deriving its inspiration from the African nation’s history, by Egyptian writer Yasmin Rashidi.  

Rendered with expressive abstract and figurative portrayals, the work features eyes created in the likeness of renditions of Cleopatra’s eyes by artist Lola Montes Schnabel, the daughter of Julian Schnabel. 

Shamma’s work is mystical and otherworldly, stemming from a desire to requite the past with the present — always in tribute to the ancient historical figures whose imprint can still be found in today’s world. 


Liverpool Arab Arts Festival’s return showcases entertaining agenda

Updated 1 min 3 sec ago
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Liverpool Arab Arts Festival’s return showcases entertaining agenda

  • Vibrant mix of art, theater, music, literature, workshops

LONDON: The Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, the UK’s longest-running festival celebrating Arab arts and culture, runs until July 21 and showcases a vibrant mix of art, theater, music, literature, and workshops.

Founded in 1998, the festival has become a cornerstone of Liverpool’s cultural calendar.

This year’s program features a diverse lineup of artists from Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Tunisia, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia, offering a dynamic interplay between traditional and contemporary Arab art forms.

Laura Brown, creative producer of the festival, told Arab News: “Artists are dealing with contemporary ideas and art forms, but often the conversations and themes they are tapping into are something Arab communities have been talking about for generations, like migration, identity and conflict.”

One of the highlights will be the festival’s tribute to Palestine. A special screening of “At Home in Gaza and London” will be held on Monday, with ticket proceeds benefiting collaborators in Gaza.

“Oranges and Stones,” a wordless play told through physical action and music, on Thursday will depict 75 years of occupation and settlement in Palestine. Marina Barham, general director of Al-Harah Theater in Bethlehem, will also speak about the therapeutic role of theater in addressing community trauma.

Port city Liverpool has fostered diverse and multicultural communities, with Arabic reportedly being the city’s second most-spoken language.

Brown said: “What’s really important to us is that we work with the community to ensure everyone feels represented. We talk to the community about artists they like and who they want to see, to bring them over. It was a conversation with members of the Somali community that introduced us to Aar Maanta.”

As an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organization, the festival is part of the 2023-26 investment program.

Brown added: “Being an NPO is something the whole team is incredibly proud of and it is something we take very seriously.

“The arts landscape is very challenging and the ability to be able to know your festival is secured for several years in advance allows you to build relationships with venues and creatives to develop programs and projects further.”
 


Review: Nicolas Cage-starring horror-mystery ‘Longlegs’ falls flat

Updated 14 July 2024
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Review: Nicolas Cage-starring horror-mystery ‘Longlegs’ falls flat

CHENNAI: If one were to walk into a theater to watch “Longlegs” in the hopes of finding something even remotely novel or different from the dozens of horror films that have played in cinemas over the years, disappointment awaits.

Set to be released in Saudi cinemas on July 18, the film is set in 1990s Oregon where mist and fog creep across a deserted, snow-covered landscape. Despite the sometimes eerie set, the movie does not manage to create a sense of sheer terror. Writer-director Osgood Perkins’ work appears clumsy, relying mostly on mood and atmosphere rather than on a substantial core as it follows FBI agent Lee Harker (Maika Monroe) on the trail of a notorious serial killer, played by Nicolas Cage.

Cage is completely hidden under a heavy disguise, with his expressions impossible to fathom, which is a pity because love him or hate him, he is an emotive performer.

Leaving behind coded notes signed as Longlegs — notes that Harker manages to crack as she tries to capture him — the devil on the prowl convinces fathers to murder their wives and children and then commit suicide. Dozens of families are wiped out, but the case itself is a mystery with details that do not add up to a believable whole.

Perkins has a penchant for style over substance — it’s a calling card that has marked his career, beginning with his 2015 debut “The Blackcoat's Daughter.” The director seems to lose his grip over the narrative and lets it sink into nonsensical oblivion. The dialogue is clumsy and the plot is peppered with plot holes.

If there is one plus point in the entire 101 minutes it is Monroe, who rises above a shoddily written part to convince audiences that she can offer a semblance of excellence in a story that seems to go nowhere.

 


Rita Ora paints the town red in Elie Saab look at Disney premiere

Updated 14 July 2024
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Rita Ora paints the town red in Elie Saab look at Disney premiere

DUBAI: British singer and actress Rita Ora attended the premiere of Disney’s “Descendants: The Rise Of Red” in California wearing an on theme scarlet gown by Lebanese couturier Elie Saab.

Featuring draped material on the bodice and a thigh-high slit, the look hailed from Saab’s Autumn/Winter 2010 Haute Couture collection.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The musical fantasy film follows Red, daughter of the Queen of Hearts, and Chloe, daughter of Cinderella, as they team up to save their home by traveling back in time to stop an event that would cause grave consequences.

Directed by Jennifer Phang, the cast includes Brandy, Rita Ora, Kylie Cantrall, Malia Baker, China Anne McClain, Jeremy Swift, Dara Reneé, Ruby Rose Turner, Morgan Dudley, Paolo Montalban, Melanie Paxson and Leonardo Nam.

Ora and Brandy, both pop singers, star together in the fourth installment of the “Descendants” movie franchise about the children of iconic Disney characters. They both play the mothers to the two main characters.

 “I Will Never Let You Down” hitmaker Ora plays the role of the Queen of Hearts and Brandy reprises her role from 1997’s “Cinderella” to play Cinderella.

“Oh my gosh, it's crazy — I did a movie with Brandy!” Ora told Entertainment Tonight ahead of the release of the film.

“I mean, I love her so much. I loved her music growing up. She was one of the vocalists that I would try and imitate every day in my bedroom. And watching her ‘Cinderella’ with Whitney Houston was so iconic for so many reasons. It made me believe in myself — like, 'Oh my goodness, I can do this too,’” Ora added, referring to superstar Whitney Houston who played Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother in the 1997 film.

Meanwhile, Elie Saab has been in the spotlight this weekend, with British actress Daisy Ridley showing off an understated look by the designer while presenting at the 2024 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles on Thursday.

The ESPY Awards, the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly, is an event honoring the top athletes and sport performances of the year.

Ridley wore a sleeveless cobalt-blue gown from Lebanese designer Elie Saab. The actress had her hair pulled back into a tight bun as she accessorized the look with blue gem earrings. She completed the ensemble with black heels.


‘This has been a journey for me,’ Kevin Costner says of passion project

Updated 13 July 2024
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‘This has been a journey for me,’ Kevin Costner says of passion project

LOS ANGELES: Oscar-winner Kevin Costner brought his passion project "Horizon: An American Saga" to the big screen this summer. A labor of love since 1988, Costner wrote, produced, financed, starred in, and directed the film.

His dedication paid off at the Cannes Film Festival, where it received an 11-minute standing ovation. Despite a lukewarm international box office take, the second part of the saga is on the horizon and will be released at an unspecified date.

“This has been a journey for me and for the people to stand and clap and not stop. And I basically shut out the noise for a while and walked my life backwards and thought about my journey professionally and the journey for ‘Horizon.’ And I was just really grateful at the end of the day that I stayed true to it,” Costner said of the lengthy standing ovation at Cannes.

Costner tells a Western story and focuses on the experiences of Indigenous Americans during colonization. The film meticulously explores a 12-year span during which white settlers encroached upon indigenous lands. With a diverse cast, the narrative offers a rich tapestry of perspectives on exploring new frontiers.

“We're just playing dress ups and telling a story version. But, you know, the frontier was actually founded on people taking wagon trains across through these uncharted territory. So you really get a bit of empathy towards what actually happened,” actor Sam Worthington said.

"Horizon: An American Saga" takes its time to set the tone for an engaging journey into a pivotal era of American history, told with passion and precision. Despite its three-hour runtime and slow pace, British actress Sienna Miller says she enjoyed the process. 

“I realized there were a lot of characters and there were long scenes and people had long monologues. But I like that,” Miller said.

“It was a massive, epic ... sized film to be doing. It’s like hundreds of actors and cattle everywhere, and we're in the elements. But then as an actor, he just slides into the scene. He's got this deep relaxation about the way that he works,” actress Abbey Lee said, with co-star Isabelle Fuhrman adding: “He knows this story backwards and forwards. I mean, it's been long enough for him to finally be on set doing this.”


Daisy Ridley takes a chic turn in Elie Saab

Updated 13 July 2024
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Daisy Ridley takes a chic turn in Elie Saab

DUBAI: British actress Daisy Ridley stunned in an elegant Elie Saab look while presenting at the 2024 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles on Thursday.

The ESPY Awards, the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly, is an event honoring the top athletes and sport performances of the year.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Daisy Ridley (@daisyridley)

The 32-year-old “Star Wars” actress skipped the red carpet at the ceremony, held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

She did take the stage, though, to present an award with Buffalo Bills player, Damar Hamlin, during the telecast.

Ridley wore a sleeveless cobalt-blue gown from Lebanese designer Elie Saab. The actress had her hair pulled back into a tight bun as she accessorized the look with blue gem earrings. She completed the ensemble with black heels.

In an interview with Reuters last month, Ridley talked about reprising her role as Jedi hero, Rey, and said that it feels “exciting and nerve-racking” as she returns to the “Star Wars” franchise for a new film.

Walt Disney Co, which purchased Star Wars producer Lucasfilm in 2012 and released three movies starring Ridley from 2015 to 2019 as well as a different TV series, announced new plans for the franchise last year.

“I’m very excited, it feels like a new adventure,” Ridley told Reuters at the London premiere of another Disney film, “Young Woman and the Sea.”

“It’s a world that I’m familiar with, I’m coming back to, but also it feels like a new start. So, it feels exciting and nerve-racking and I’m excited.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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In “Young Woman and the Sea” Ridley plays American swimmer Gertrude Trudy Ederle, an Olympic gold medalist who became the first woman to swim the English Channel.

In 1926, Ederle set off from northern France for the southern English coast, making the crossing in 14 hours, 31 minutes, and beating the men’s world record by one hour and 59 minutes.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Despite a huge celebratory parade in New York on her return, Ederle’s name and accomplishments are not as well known to the public as those of other sports figures. Ederle died in 2003.

“Playing someone who is determined and resilient ... who has a real joy for what they’re doing, is wonderful,” Ridley said, adding that she had undergone a “pretty gruelling” swimming training schedule for the role.