DUBAI: US Palestinian Dutch supermodel Bella Hadid on Wednesday dropped her first non-fungible tokens, from her line called CY-B3LLA, giving her fans a chance to own a three-dimension version of the catwalk star.
Hadid, in collaboration with social meta verse site reBASE, is selling 11,111 unique artworks of herself allowing NFT collectors to own digital assets of the model with a certificate of authenticity.
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An NFT is a digital asset that represents real-world objects like art, music and more. They are bought and sold online, usually with cryptocurrency.
The certificate of authenticity, with a serial number, proves that the owner is the only one to have this specific asset.
CY-B3LLA features 10 collections per city, with the first being Japan.
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The runway star on Wednesday shared a short clip on Instagram revealing the news with her 53 million followers. “With my utmost respect, our first CY-B3LLA has been revealed. One of my favorite destinations, people, food, and cultures in the world … JAPAN. I can’t wait to be back,” she wrote before asking fans if she should do her first meet up in Tokyo.
“It would be an honor for me,” she said.
The model previously said that the project will allow collectors to go to real locations and events around the world, where they can meet her.
DUBAI: Limited-edition Adidas shoes produced in collaboration with the UAE’s popular Pakistani eatery Ravi are being resold online for up to $12,000.
On Thursday, shoppers in the UAE queued at The Dubai Mall store to purchase the new sneakers that are part of a series of shoes celebrating iconic restaurants in 11 cities worldwide.
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Purchasers, who waited in line for hours before the shop opened its doors at 10 a.m., quickly posted their $150 sneakers online to resell them on retail apps and websites such as Dubizzle and Facebook Marketplace.
While some were on offer for between $250 and $1,090, one seller was trading the limited-edition sneakers for $12,000 on Facebook Marketplace. In a post, the seller said: “New. Legendary. 44 years = AED44,000. Fight me if you want, but you can’t fight math,” referring to the Ravi restaurant being in business for 44 years.
The eatery is one of the emirate’s most nostalgic joints which has long served as a popular dining spot for both expat and Emirati foodies alike since it opened its doors in 1978.
The no-frills outlet has also dished up Pakistani fare for a celebrity diner or two, including US rapper Snoop Dogg and pop band One Republic.
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In a twist on the Adidas Original Superstar, the special edition Superstar Ravi colorway references the Pakistani heritage of the owners and features a custom sock liner with a hand-drawn map design signifying the meaning of the name Ravi, which is a river in northeastern Pakistan.
The heel tab branding includes the year Ravi opened alongside the name in English and Arabic on either shoe. The restaurant’s owners hand-selected six dishes which have been added to the tongue of the sneakers with English on one side and Arabic on the other — the restaurant’s famous chicken biriyani and karak chai made the cut.
LONDON: Beirut has long been recognized as the Middle East’s capital of art and culture. But Lebanon’s financial crisis and political instability, and the devastating explosion at Beirut Port in August 2020, have caused the destruction of much of the city and made life increasingly difficult for its creative community.
While rebuilding continues in the much-loved Lebanese capital, architects and designers persevere to champion and commemorate the richness of its architectural heritage — modern buildings alongside Ottoman edifices; Roman and Byzantine structures in addition to stylistic nods to the Phoenicians, Umayyads, Crusaders, Mamluks, and French.
French-Lebanese architect Annabel Karim Kassar, a London Design Medal winner, has a new installation at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. “The Lebanese House: Saving a Home, Saving a City” runs until August 21.
The Beirut Port blast severely damaged hundreds of heritage buildings predominantly located in the historic downtown neighborhoods of Mar Mikhaël and Gemmayzeh, many of which were already in a state of disrepair. The Lebanese government has shown little interest in restoring them.
“Just because the situation in Lebanon is a mess doesn’t mean that we have to stop talking about culture, heritage and preservation,” Kasser told Arab News. “Part of my duty and mission as an architect now is to discuss what happened to the buildings of Beirut after the explosion and raise awareness (of the need) for their preservation.”
Kassar’s installation reflects her ongoing mission to restore Bayt K, one of the few remaining classic Ottoman-Venetian homes left in the historic quarters of Gemmayzeh in Old Beirut, and one that she had been working on for several years prior to the blast. In 2017, Kasser unveiled Handle with Care, a project focusing on the conservation of Bayt K, for Beirut Design Week. The project was a public intervention emphasizing the importance of conserving and restoring the port city’s historic Ottoman-Venetian buildings, particularly in the aftermath of the Lebanese Civil War and Beirut’s commercial building boom around 2014. (According to CNN, real estate purchases totaled $8.7 billion in 2014 alone and roughly 400 building projects are currently underway in the Lebanese capital.)
That boom has vanished now amid Lebanon’s political and economic crises. But Kassar’s mission to preserve Bayt K has taken on new life abroad with her V&A installation— a to-scale reconstruction of the façade of the building created by Beiruti craftsmen who came to London from Beirut. The installation was constructed by hand on site at the museum. “Tiles, marble, and other pieces from the original home are all being used in the installation in London,” she said.
The centerpiece of the installation is a triple arcade, exemplifying a trademark of traditional Lebanese architecture that dates back to the 19th century. Kassar has also reinterpreted the traditional liwan — a small salon located in the entrance hall of a typical Lebanese residence — and recreated a typical reception area, replete with long, colorful cushions, inviting the museum’s visitors to pause and contemplate the installation and its significance.
Bayt K’s reconstruction at the V&A is being used as a catalyst to further inspire the restoration and rebuilding of Beirut. The installation includes three accompanying documentary films, commissioned by Kassar, by directors Wissam Charaf and Florence Strauss that explore the emotional impact of the explosion through interviews with people from Beirut.
Since the V&A’s opening in the mid-19th century, the museum has demonstrated an interest in architectural conservation around the world. Through its Culture in Crisis program, it acts as a resource and center for the protection of the world’s cultural heritage. For example, the V&A’s editorial project, “Beirut Mapped,” explores the impact of the blast and its economic and political consequences from the perspective of the artists and writers who live there.
“Saving a Home, Saving a City,” as Kasser stresses, uses the vehicle of the Lebanese home — its preservation, its heritage and its beauty — to remind viewers of Lebanon’s rich past. A home is a place of memories, a structure where families often live for generations, and a place that becomes a crucial component of human and cultural identity.
As Kasser states: “This exhibition is not just about our homes, but about the memories of people and continuity — that is something that is missing a lot in Beirut now.
“I want people to remember their city and its history through these houses,” she continues. “This is not just about architecture; it is about memories that are transported across generations.”
PARIS: Chef Alan Geaam has two flags sewn onto the collar of his white coat: The Lebanese — representing his country of origin, where his love of cooking began — and the French, symbolizing the fact that Paris has been his adopted home for the past two decades, the city where his dreams came true.
Geaam is a native of the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, where he grew up during Lebanon’s disastrous Civil War. His mother’s cooking provided some respite from the horrors.
“Despite the war, my mother was always cooking over a pot, adding spices, and the smell of the food would emerge,” Geaam tells Arab News. “Everything that we lost in the war was compensated with my mother’s cooking.”
From a young age, Geaam had high ambitions. “French food is internationally famous. I would see it in magazines and on the television, and I said to myself that someday I would go to Paris and learn,” he said. “Some children want to go to the moon or be Superman. I wanted to learn about cooking in Paris.”
Within his family, some members of which were engineers or doctors, there was skepticism about Geaam’s career choice.
“I told my mother that I wanted to become a chef,” he says. “(I explained that) in France, a chef is very respected, like a lawyer or a doctor.”
Geaam finally made his life-changing move to the French capital in 1999, when he was in his twenties. It was anything but easy. He traveled by himself, he didn’t speak French, he didn’t know anyone, and his visa was valid for just seven days.
“I had 200 Francs — that’s 30 Euros — in my pocket,” Geaam recalls.
He landed his first day job cleaning out workshops, in which he also slept. At night, he worked in a Lebanese snack bar, helping out and learning from the chef, until one day things took a turn.
“The chef didn’t come to work and I said, ‘This is my opportunity.’ I jumped right into cooking and did the service,” said Geaam.
Over time, Geaam’s situation slowly improved. Aside from his professional growth, he received a residency permit and started teaching himself French by reading books. He also changed his name — from Azzam to Alan. “It was easier for people to pronounce,” he says. “Honestly, I didn’t have confidence in my story. I didn’t learn at school and I was ashamed of that. Eighteen years later, I broke that barrier and I’m proud of my story.” He adds that he hopes others will find inspiration in that story.
“I was a young Lebanese man with no money and no education,” he says. “I started from zero — even below zero. All of us can reach our goals, but we need to wake up in the morning, work hard, and not give up.”
In 2017, Geaam opened Restaurant Alan Geaam, a fine-dining concept that presents Lebanese cuisine in a sophisticated French style. The following year, something of a miracle happened. “I got a phone call at 6:30 and they told me, ‘Welcome to the Michelin family. You got a star this year,’” he said.
In the country that has the most Michelin-starred restaurants, Geaam claims he is the first Lebanese chef to have his restaurant attain the most-coveted honor in the gastronomic world. The French press has taken note too; Geaam has received mentions in Le Figaro and Libération.
“It’s a dream to open a restaurant, but what’s even nicer is when you open a restaurant that gets a Michelin star,” he says. “It’s proof that your food is delicious and you’re clever.”
Geaam has also set up a number of casual eateries in the city’s third arrondisement — Qasti Bistro, Qasti Shawarma and Grill, and Saj, la Galette Libanaise — as well as a small food store, Le Doukane, providing products imported from Lebanon, combining to create what Geaam calls “a Lebanese neighborhood.”
With its authentic Levantine flavors and generous hospitality, Qasti Bistro has proven very popular and is often packed with customers munching on warm shawarmas, falafel sandwiches, or hummus.The wavy blue patterns of its interior are reminiscent of the Mediterranean waters off Lebanon.
Geaam clearly likes to keep busy. Aside from his Parisian enterprises, he recently launched a new branch of Qasti in the coastal town of Marseille. With an autobiography/recipe book in the making as well, it seems Geaam’s story is only just beginning.
DUBAI: Netflix’s new sci-fi thriller is based on a short story by award-winning author George Saunders that was published in The New Yorker — normally a guarantee of literary quality. It’s odd, then, that the film is stocked with uninspiring dialogue and a narrative that seems light on substance.
Perhaps the key is that the original material was a short story. By stretching it into a feature film, the screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (the pair responsible for the “Deadpool” movies) have failed to provide sufficient quality material to cover the extra yardage.
The “Deadpool” link is telling. Reese and Wernick attempt to slip a similar knowing humor into “Spiderhead.” It doesn’t work nearly as well with Chris Hemsworth in the lead instead of Ryan Reynolds.
Hemsworth plays the genius rogue scientist and megalomaniac Steve Abnesti, who has set up the titular state-of-the-art island penitentiary. It’s his vision of a new kind of prison system, one in which the inmates can roam around without supervision and have their own comfortable rooms. In return, they have agreed to be the subjects of Abnesti’s drug tests — drugs which alter their emotions and perceptions, including the ‘love drug’ N-40, “Laffodil,” which makes everything seem funny, and the sinister “Darkenfloxx,” which induces pain — both physical and mental.
Hemsworth’s charisma is undeniable, but he’s out of his depth here, acting-wise, failing to convince when asked to display the full gamut of emotions supposedly induced by his inventions.
Miles Teller and Jurnee Smollett, as inmates Jeff and Lizzy respectively, fare much better, giving the movie an emotional heart that it doesn’t really deserve and doing far more with the by-the-numbers script than can reasonably be expected. They make “Spiderhead” mostly watchable through their convincing portrayals of two damaged people trying to find some light in the darkness of their guilt.
Director Joseph Kosinski does a mixed job. He manages to pace things well — balancing dialogue-heavy ‘science’ scenes and bursts of violent action with panache — but seems unsure exactly what he’s trying to deliver. The film’s light touches (the pink titles; the upbeat pop music; Hemsworth’s jaunty dancing) jar uncomfortably with its darker themes (the dehumanization of criminals; the ethics of altering people’s minds), and the result is unsettling. But not in an interesting way — just in a ‘Have I just wasted 107 minutes of my life?’ way.
This could have been an intriguingly dark movie. Instead, it’s another dystopian sci-fi film that’s not nearly as clever as it thinks it is.
RIYADH: Filmmaker Marios Piperides made his way for the first time from his home country of Cyprus to the Kingdom to screen “Smuggling Hendricks” to Saudi audiences in Riyadh on June 16.
The screening was part of the inaugural one-week European Film Festival, which hosted a series of 14 European films at The Esplanades’ VOX Cinema.
“Smuggling Hendricks” is based on a true story that revolves around a struggling musician, Yiannis, who plans to move away. His plans are disrupted by his dog, Jimi, crossing the border that separates the southern Greek from the Turkish north. Since the exchange of animals between the countries is prohibited, Yiannis enlists the help of a Turkish settler to retrieve his dog. The film consists of strong political and legal commentary of the issue in Cyprus, packaged in a feel-good arthouse comedy.
The filmmaker hopes to create a political discourse, share the story based on his own experience and get people to discuss “the nature of borders,” he told Arab News. “We build our own borders and keep people away, and we create this fear for the unknown.”
His film journey began 20 years ago when he came back to Cyprus after completing his studies in the US. This exchange opportunity allowed him to gain knowledge from the American film industry and contribute to the film scene back home.
This demonstration of cultural exchange parallels the initiative of the EuroFest in Riyadh, which aims to expose the Saudi people to international efforts, prompt introductions to Saudi filmmakers, and create a space for discussion.
Since the film market is competitive, the filmmaker hones in on the importance of giving an audience a reason to pursue a niche film as opposed to bigger, more accessible productions.
“I think it’s (about trying) to find a way to tell something locally, but with international appeal. If you can do that, and you can share a local story that will appeal to somebody from Cyprus or somebody from France, that’s the bet that you have to try and win . . . You have to find your own voice,” Piperides said.
As the independent film scene in Europe is struggling, and funding is becoming harder to acquire, it is a marvel that the Saudi film industry is on the rise, the filmmaker said. While there were only 14 movie theaters on the island, Saudi is currently home to more than 50 sites.
“Coming from a small country, it’s very important to have this opportunity to exchange and understand each other’s culture through cinema,” Piperides said.
“The good thing here is that you have a big market that we don’t have in Cyprus. You have a growing market that starves for film. The whole thing is new. In Europe now, their attendance is going down,” he said during a talk as part of the side events calendar of the festival, moderated by TV and radio personality Muhammad Bajnaid.
For the filmmaker, cinemas create a space for people to share their experiences, views and opinions and open up the floor for discussion about specific issues. “The cinema in Cyprus, during the 50s, or till the 80s — it was huge. There were a lot of cinemas. In a small village with two to 3,000 people, there were six cinemas. And now there is only one art house cinema, and it’s struggling,” Piperides said.
“It’s important to see if they can do a parallel program,” he said.
While this is the first European Film Festival in Riyadh, a way to improve this is to bring arthouse and independent films to the capital and neighboring cities and towns.
“It’s important also to have smaller art house theaters. To show more, not only European, more arthouse films, not only blockbusters, American, Bollywood, or Egyptian. I believe there is an audience (for that).”
Arthouse films are renowned for dealing with complex issues that cater to a niche genre as opposed to a mass audience, making them less popular with global markets. “Distributors are not bringing (European art films) because there’s no way to get their money back. Through festivals, you can see good films that otherwise you wouldn’t have the opportunity to,” he said.
The film first premiered in 2018 and has been screened in multiple regions across the globe. “It’s still nice to see that it’s still fresh, still interesting. It’s still current because nothing changed, basically — the political situation in Cyprus. And it deals with borders also which is still (an issue).”
In a way, the film documents the evolution of not just the director’s skills, but also the industry itself. Piperides highlights the crucial role of reflecting on past works and continuously criticizing. “I see mistakes that I did or more directing-wise, the technique, the script, things that could have been better . . . At the time, this is what I knew. You learn and you try to do better things. Being critical about yourself and your work is important.”