Saudi opera singer Sawsan Albahiti on performing in AlUla with Andrea Bocelli

Andrea Bocelli (R), Sawsan Albahiti and Serena Gamberoni (L) on stage in AlUla on Jan. 26. (Supplied)
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Updated 28 January 2024
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Saudi opera singer Sawsan Albahiti on performing in AlUla with Andrea Bocelli

DUBAI: Some dreams really do come true. When Saudi opera singer Sawsan Albahiti was still a university student in the UAE, she had a very particular dream about performing with the artist who inspired her the most — Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.

“I don’t know why, but he was always wearing a blue suit and I was wearing black,” she tells Arab News.

On Jan. 26, Albahiti — dressed in black — sang Bocelli’s signature song “Time To Say Goodbye” (“Con te partiro” in Italian) with Bocelli (who wore a blue tuxedo) and Italian soprano Serena Gamberoni as the closing number of his concert at AlUla’s Maraya Theater. 




Sawsan Albahiti and Andrea Bocelli backstage at the Maraya Theater on Jan. 26. (Supplied)

“To perform with the person that inspired you to do what you always dreamed of doing is, of course, the biggest deal ever,” Albahiti says. “I remember when I was studying in the UAE, whenever I went to Dubai Mall I’d go to the dancing fountains, and they would play his song with Sarah Brightman, ‘Time To Say Goodbye.’ I’d always get goosebumps and tear up. I was always so fascinated by the beauty and the magic in his voice. He made me love this whole art. I always dreamed of performing this song with him.”

Albahiti also gave a pre-show and a solo performance at the special concert, which was organized by the Royal Commission For AlUla.

Albahiti says it was typical of Bocelli to invite a local artist up on stage to perform with him, and highlights his generosity as a performer.

“Between his singing parts, he turned to me and said in Italian, ‘Prego,’ meaning ‘You are welcome here,’” she says. “There was a massive roar and a standing ovation when we finished the song.” 

This wasn’t the first time that Albahiti has met Bocelli. Their first encounter took place in 2021, and it was an emotional one.

“He was so humble and kind,” she recalls. “I told him, ‘You are the reason why I went into opera. You inspired me.’ And he teared up. His story is a very inspiring one, full of challenges. On top of the physical disability of blindness, he also faced difficulty at the start of his career getting the recognition he deserved from producers and record labels. But he kept on going. He pursued his dream.”


Dua Lipa denounces ‘Israeli genocide,’ calls for Gaza ceasefire

Updated 29 May 2024
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Dua Lipa denounces ‘Israeli genocide,’ calls for Gaza ceasefire

DUBAI: British singer Dua Lipa has taken to social media to denounce Israel’s military operations in Gaza as an “Israeli genocide” in an Instagram Story post shared with her 88 million followers.

The Grammy-winning artist, who has Kosovo Albanian heritage, also used the trending hashtag #AllEyesOnRafah that is being used online following Israel’s bombing of the Palestinian city.

“Burning children alive can never be justified. The whole world is mobilising to stop the Israeli genocide. Please show your solidarity with Gaza,” the singer wrote.

The singer shared a post on an Instagram Stories. (Instagram)

It is the strongest condemnation Lipa has made so far in Israel’s eight month bombing campaign that followed an Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.

In December, she wrote: “With each passing day, my heart aches for the people of Israel and Palestine. Grief for the lives lost in the horrifying attacks in Israel. Grief as I witness the unprecedented suffering in Gaza, where 2.2m souls, half of them children, endure unimaginable hardships. For now, I desperately hope for a ceasefire in Gaza and urge governments to halt the unfolding crisis. Our hope lies in finding the empathy to recognise this dire humanitarian situation. Sending love to Palestinian and Jewish communities worldwide, who bear this burden more heavily than most.”

Meanwhile, English singer-songwriter  Paul Weller, who performed in front of a Palestinian flag on his recent tour, spoke against Israel in an interview with British newspaper the Observer in May, saying: “Am I against genocides and ethnic cleansing? Yes, I am, funnily enough. I can’t understand why more people aren’t up in arms about what’s going on. We should be ashamed of ourselves, I think. One minute you’re supplying bullets and bombs and guns, and then you’re sending over food. How does that work?”


Elisabeth Moss turns British spy in action thriller ‘The Veil,’ alongside Lebanese-Palestinian Yumna Marwan

Updated 29 May 2024
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Elisabeth Moss turns British spy in action thriller ‘The Veil,’ alongside Lebanese-Palestinian Yumna Marwan

  • Lebanese-Palestinian actress Yumna Marwan plays suspected terrorist
  • Show explores the fraught, surprising relationship between the 2 women

DUBAI: US actress Elisabeth Moss — who made her name through prestige shows including “Mad Men” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” — is returning to television as a British MI6 agent in FX’s “The Veil,” available to stream in the Middle East on Disney Plus.

“I love the spy genre. I love all the spy franchises, but I don’t know if we’ve seen this kind of story on television before. At least, not in a while. For that reason, I am excited for people to get hooked by how fun, entertaining and global this story is,” said Moss in a recent interview with Arab News.

Elisabeth Moss is MI6 genius Imogen Salter. (Supplied)

The show explores the surprising and fraught relationship between two women who play a deadly game of truth and lies on the road from Istanbul to Paris and London. Moss is MI6 genius Imogen Salter, while Lebanese-Palestinian actress Yumna Marwan plays Adilah El-Idrissi, a suspected commander of a terrorist organization.

Imogen finds Adilah in Turkiye and convinces her to flee with her. During their journey, Adilah and Imogen bond in unexpected ways, while the rest of the world’s spy network hunt them down.

“‘The Veil’ is an action-packed and international drama. I think that’s the hook. And then, of course, there are these two characters at the center of it all. Imogen and Adilah are the emotional truth and the emotional heart of the story. I think we’ve achieved a great balance between the character drama and the complexity of that, as well as a lot of fun,” added Moss.

For Moss, all of 1.6 meters in height, playing an action hero did not come naturally. “I’ve done a fair amount of fight scenes before, but it’s usually on the defensive. Usually, I play a character who isn’t trained to fight.

“What was really fun and different about this was she’s a trained fighter, so she would have learned how to do the things she does and be quite good at them. That was really cool for me,” said Moss.

The actress took quite a few hits in the process, too.

“When there’s a huge, massive leap and fall, obviously I physically don’t know how to do that, so my stunt double would do that for me — but I certainly got pushed really hard.

“I actually fractured my back when we shot on the rooftop scene (in episode one), so we had to go back six weeks later and shoot that again. What you see in the show is actually our second attempt. We got really good at it by then,” she said.


Supermodel Bella Hadid celebrates Palestinian symbols, designers on social media

Updated 29 May 2024
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Supermodel Bella Hadid celebrates Palestinian symbols, designers on social media

DUBAI: US Dutch Palestinian supermodel Bella Hadid on Wednesday took to Instagram to explain the symbolism behind the keffiyeh print and spotlight designers who have “highlighted the Palestinian cause over the years.”

The catwalk star, daughter of real estate mogul Mohamed Hadid and US Dutch model Yolanda Hadid, made a powerful fashion statement on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival on May 23 by wearing a red-and-white dress inspired by the keffiyeh. The dress was designed by US designers Michael Sears and Hushi Mortezaie in 2001.

This week, the model shared pictures of the dress with her 61.1 million followers on Instagram, describing the ensemble as “a beautiful way to represent the history, labor of love, resilience, and most importantly the art of historic Palestinian embroidery.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid)

 

She then explained the meanings behind the patterns of the Palestinian keffiyeh, noting that they symbolize various themes.

The olive leaves represent “strength, resilience and perseverance,” she wrote. 

“The larger part of the of the keffiyeh is the fishnet pattern which resembles the relationship between the Palestinian fisherman and the sea. It symbolizes abundance and grace,” she explained. “To many of us, the sea also means freedom, especially to Palestinians living in the West Bank (who) have no access to the sea due to restricted movement.”

Hadid added that the sea waves resemble the “strength and resilience” of those who “persevered after 73 years under military occupation and oppression.”

Some commenters have claimed that the sea waves actually represent olive leaves, which Hadid considers an “important symbol.” However, after speaking with Judeh Hirbawi, the founder of the Hirbawi Factory fabric manufacturer in Hebron, she says she learned that the pattern indeed represents sea waves.

The bold lines “represent the trade routes going through Palestine, which played a vital role in carving the history and rich and diverse culture of our communities,” the supermodel added. 

Her post also included a heartfelt message about her heritage.

“Palestine on my mind, in my blood and on my heart (sic),” she said. "Always… while I still have to go to work, even through this horror, to wear our culture makes me a proud Palestinian and I want the world to continue to see Palestine, wherever we go.”


Adele wears Elie Saab gown at Las Vegas concert

Updated 28 May 2024
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Adele wears Elie Saab gown at Las Vegas concert

DUBAI: British singer Adele showed off a gown by Lebanese designer Elie Saab during her Las Vegas residency over the weekend.  

The Grammy-winning singer performed her 42nd “Weekends with Adele” concert in a sleek black, off-shoulder gown with a deep V-neck.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ELIE SAAB (@eliesaabworld)

 

“Captivating elegance, @adele graces the stage in Vegas in (a) … custom made Haute Couture gown,” read a post on the official Instagram page of Elie Saab.

Adele has previously chosen other designers from the region to wear during her residency, including Zuhair Murad and Georges Hobeika.

The residency is set to conclude in November this year.


Georgina Rodriguez collaborates with Faces Middle East beauty store

Updated 28 May 2024
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Georgina Rodriguez collaborates with Faces Middle East beauty store

DUBAI: Argentine model Georgina Rodriguez took to social media to share images from her recent visit to beauty store Faces in Riyadh Park Mall.

The social media sensation – partner to football legend Cristiano Ronaldo – posted a reel on Instagram featuring moments from her trip to the store, captioning the post, “Beauty time with @facesmiddleeast,” along with a pink heart emoji.

 

 

Rodriguez can be seen getting an analysis with Faces’ skincare diagnosis machine and trying on several of the store’s products.

Rodriguez also took a moment to congratulate Ronaldo on Instagram Stories as the Portuguese footballer – who plays for Saudi football club Al-Nassr – set a new record for goals scored in a Saudi Pro League season.

The 39-year-old took his tally of goals scored to 35 after he netted two goals against Al-Ittihad on Monday night.