Alef Magazine Summer Issue 2008
The Middle East's premiere indigenous lifestyle, fashion and culture magazine.
Alef magazine Summer! Salaam brazil Designers of mideastern descent milton Hatoum: immigrant odyssey iSlamic garden Style Blooming for 1,000+ years carloS ghoSn Summer Style A firm hand on the wheel Indispensable items Real women, extraordinary clothes Sana’a The soul of Yemen SUmmER 2008 ISSUE 7 UK UAE KW USA AUS JOR FR LEB BAH IT KSA 4.50 GBP 30 AED 3 KD 10.99 US 11.95 AS 6.500 JD 12.95 Euro 17.000 LBP 3.250 BD 9.95 Euro 35 SR INTRODUCING THE OYSTER PERPETUAL DATEJUST ROYAL BLACK. AS SHOWN ON THE WRIST OF M I S S U N I V E R S E 2 0 0 7. I N 1 8 C T W H I T E G O L D W I T H D I A M O N D - A D O R N E D D I A L , S T I N G R A Y L E A T H E R A N D R U B B E R S T R A P S E T W I T H D I A M O N D S . B E Z E L S E T W I T H B L A C K S A P P H I R E B A G U E T TE S. naturally stunning. Dubai: 04 351 18 04 / 04 323 53 22 - Abu Dhabi: 02 681 74 77 - Kuwait: 247 61 45 - jeddah: 02 661 19 20 - www.dior.com contents Alef magazine 80 fIlM 68 arcHItecture 22 25 26 166 168 Editor’s letter Alanoud: whither the women? Deena: looking back at spring Shopping directory Object of desire: the WallyIsland standards dIsPatcHes a rounduP of tHe MIddle east’s style, retaIl and fasHIon news Culture capital for a fortnight Galliano comes to town Beirut‘s TV bunker Abu Dhabi‘s island escape Qasimi: elegance above all Brazil‘s Middle East style connection 28 30 32 34 36 38 souk 84 ProfIle gHosn 42 Summer accessories framed by Andy Barter Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 11 contents contrIBut0rs christina Lamb is an award-winning foreign correspondent who has covered wars from Iraq to the Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest battlefield. She has interviewed military dictators such as Augusto Pinochet and heroes such as nelson Mandela, and last year narrowly escaped with her life as a passenger aboard Benazir Bhutto’s bus in Karachi when it was bombed. Author of numerous books, her most recent is Small Wars Permitting: Dispatches from Foreign Lands, part memoir and part collection of her reportage. Currently a foreign affairs correspondent for The Sunday Times, she lives in London with her husband and young son. see page 158 120 Mode 3 Beauty 54 60 61 Makeup in the nude Clean cosmetics Good-for-you cosmetics 138 Syria’s premier gallery 140 Golden rules 144 Yamou’s ethereal work 150 Old Sana’a 158 Dubai: the terminal less travelled 160 Floral haven in Provence 161 Singapore summer 162 That Kitous touch art culture 64 68 74 76 78 80 82 arcHItecture . desIgn . MedIa . MusIc . fIlM . Books Rise of the Islamic garden Preserving Palestine All that brass: Karen Chekerdjian Blogging in the Middle East Mamma Miah!; inside Indiephone An Israeli atones; Iranian mystic Summer and Fall page-turners travel reka Nyari always wanted to be a painter but discovered in art school that her true passion lay in photography. These days she shoots editorials, fashion campaigns, CD covers and art in new York City. She recently shot advertising campaigns for Kiki de Montparnasse and RSRV, and has worked on editorials for such magazines as Karma, Papierdoll and Overspray. see page 96 food & drInk classIcs ProfIles 84 88 92 93 Carlos Ghosn has drive The indomitable Khadija al-Salami A day in the life of Feras alMoubayed Lamia Ziade‘s favourite things 164 Aleppine appetites; Lebanese hospitality renata Semba is a London-based fashion industry veteran with over two decades of experience working as a makeup artist on photo shoots all over the world. She has worked on such famous faces as Tony Blair, nadja Auermann and Yoko Ono. She has studied nutrition, anatomy, physiology, makeup and design, and is also the author of Dot Dot Dot Manual for Models. see page 54 96 Babes in clubland 108 Gorgeous, stylish and ‘real’ 120 ‘It’ clothes for ‘It’ events fasHIon 126 What Gulbenkian left the world 132 Milton Hatoum on the secret of Brazil‘s success socIety rePortage cover PHOTOGRAPHED BY: ROBERTO LIGRESTI STYLED BY DAVID WIDjAjA @ InTRO ARTISTS HAIR: GIGI GOMMERS @ FORD ARTISTS MAKEuP: nISA FOR nARS MODEL: YORDAnOS TESHAGER @ ELITE FASHIOn ASSISTAnCE: MELInDIA STAnFORD Aruna Sultan graduated from Delhi university with a degree in philosophy and moved to Kuwait in 1977 upon marrying Kuwaiti architect Ghazi Sultan, with whom she has three boys. Today she owns and operates two floral boutiques (Desert Blooms), maintains a nursery of exotic plants and works as a landscape designer on projects ranging from residential homes to large commercial properties. She is currently conducting research for her first book on garden design in the Middle East. see page 64 14 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Alef magazine Editorial Director PAUL DE ZWART email@example.com Executive Editor OLIVIA SNAIJE firstname.lastname@example.org Art Director HERBERT WINKLER Contributing Fashion Editor NIKI BRODIE email@example.com Arts Editor ANA FINEL HONIGMAN firstname.lastname@example.org Beauty Editor RENATA SEMBA email@example.com Contributing Editors DEENA ALJUHANI (Riyadh) · ALANOUD AL SHAREKH (Kuwait, London) CAROLE CORM (Beirut, Damascus) · TAHIR SULTAN (Kuwait) Copy Editor MITCHELL ALBERT Editorial & Fashion Assistant MARIAM EL SAYED firstname.lastname@example.org Contributing Photographers Andy Barter · Nadia Benchallal · Penny Cottee · Khaled al-Hammadi Ben Kaufmann · Roberto Ligresti · Scott MacMillan · Reka Nyari · Muir Vidler Illustrators Farah Behbehani · Simon Dovar · Christey Johansson · Alice Stevenson Contributors John Andrews · Rhian Atkin · Yvonne Courtney · Ros Davidson Kristen Ess · Lara Farrar · Milton Hatoum · Christina Lamb Scott MacMillan · Zain Masud · Yasmine Mohseni · Sameer Reddy Aruna Sultan Special thanks to Malu Halasa · Vanessa Levy · Elaine Waldron Publishing and Advertising Publisher PAUL DE ZWART email@example.com Middle East Sales & Marketing Director SARA AL HAJI (Kuwait, Dubai) firstname.lastname@example.org, +965 449 0311 Advertising Offices Italy: CESANAMEDIA Sales Manager: Sergio Cariati · Sales Executive: Antonio Dangelo (email@example.com, +39 02 844 0441) Germany & Switzerland: WOLFRAM WERBUNG Peter Wolfram (firstname.lastname@example.org, + 49 89 9392 6711) Public Relations RICKY LEE email@example.com, Telephone + 00 1 917 438 7015 The Alef Caps font was designed on commission by Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFares (the Khatt Foundation) and Pascal Zoghbi Printers: Emirates Printing Press For editorial and subscription contact information please visit www.alefmag.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Editorial Office: Alef Magazine, Milk Studios, 34 Southern Row, London W10 5AN (Tel & Fax: +44 20 8962 2006). Kuwait Office: Alef Magazine, Arraya Centre, 29th Floor, Sharq, Kuwait City, Tel +965 4490311, Fax +965 2997804. Distributors worldwide: COMAG (Elliott Spaulding +44 1895 433 600, email@example.com). Distributors ME: Levant (Tiffany Balmain, +33 1 53 70 10 90, firstname.lastname@example.org) Alef is published four times a year by Modern Middle East Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without permission from the publisher. The views expressed in Alef Magazine are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by the magazine or its staff. Alef welcomes new contributors but assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material. ISSN # 1991-4601. PLEASE RECYCLE THIS MAGAZINE AFTER YOU HAVE ENJOYED IT 18 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 dear reader, By the time you read this latest issue of Alef the temperature will have soared across the region, and many of you will indeed be reading this summer issue in the cooler climates of London or Paris. This traditional exodus has witnessed a marked change over the last decade, however, as the region’s retail infrastructure and leisure destinations grow each year – keeping more residents at home and attracting a steady flow of tourists throughout all seasons. The downside of this is that Dubai’s traffic is now bad year round. May marked the sixtieth anniversary of the creation of Israel, what is known to Palestinians as al-Nakba, ‘the Catastrophe’. As this failed US administration is finally about to take its leave, we live in hope that the next one may renew efforts and help engineer a fair and lasting settlement. Nearby, Lebanon’s nineteen-month phase of turmoil and violence has seemingly come to an end after an eleventh-hour Qataribrokered deal between the warring government parties, though the resolution of one crisis was soon replaced by another as Israel threatened unilateral action against Iran over its nuclear enrichment programme. The latest Iranian suggestion that it would block the Strait of Hormuz as a retaliatory strategy will do nothing for soaring oil prices, which are seeing oil-producing nations’ GDPs expand to unprecedented levels. How to spend this money wisely and maintain security remains the region’s biggest challenge. We tackle somewhat less weighty matters at Alef, yet the Middle Eastern world of culture and style that we uniquely cover in this publication is of vital importance to the region’s future; witness the great efforts to create new academies and universities across the region as well as knowledge cities and museum complexes, as well as the growth of art fairs and government-sponsored fashion shows (though just before we went to press something went wrong with the Abu Dhabi Fashion Shows and the Italian Camera Nazionale della Moda). After the art-themed spring issue we have returned to a classic format, imbued with a slight South American flavour. In Brazil, which accounts for nearly 48 percent of South America’s land mass and 51 percent of the continent’s population, 5 percent of its 186 million inhabitants – an estimated 9 million people – can claim roots in the Middle East. Brazil has more citizens of Syrian descent than Damascus, and more inhabitants of Lebanese origin than all of Lebanon. But it would be wrong to overemphasise links to old Arab roots, as there is an almost seamless level of integration and assimilation; thanks to President Lula’s policies, however, these ties have in recent years led to a great increase in trade between Brazil and the Middle East. Sameer Reddy, Alef’s former Editor-in-Chief, writes on the Lebanese-Brazilian fashion world; our Profiles section features a rare interview with Carlos Ghosn, the Brazilian-Lebanese CEO of Renault and Nissan; and celebrated Brazilian writer Milton Hatoum (also of Lebanese origin) makes a special contribution with this issue’s Reportage piece. Elsewhere, we bring you a fabulous roundup of summer must-haves; intelligent beauty coverage; a culture section full with architecture, design media, music and film news and reviews; an intimate conversation with filmmaker Khadija alSalami, the Yemeni embassy’s press and cultural attaché in Paris; and thirty pages of fashion, including a delightful series of portraits of street-cast Arab Londoners. Finally, we learn of the worthy endeavours of the Gulbenkian Foundation in our Society pages; bring you insightful arts coverage; visit Sana’a; and give you a glimpse into the strange workings of Dubai Airport’s Terminal 2. We hope you enjoy this issue, and we wish you a wonderful summer. sincerely, paul de zwart publisher and editorial director 22 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Collection co-ordinated by Antonio Citterio. B&B Italia Store, The Mall of Emirates, Galleria second oor, Home Furnishing Court Dubai UAE, Tel. +971 04 3405797 To reach the dealer nearest to you, please contact B&B Italia: Tel. +39 031 795 213 email@example.com www.bebitalia.com Concept and Styling Collage Studio. Photo Fabrizio Bergamo. MOD. DG 6046 773/8G MOD. DG 6046 803/73 DOLCEGABBANA.IT Alanoud Al sharekh The ‘Monstrous’ Face of Female Ambition it struck me recently that there is one thread connecting women running for elected office the world over: there is something universally off-putting about a woman being so open about her quest for authority. It isn’t that long ago that any display of naked desire by a woman would constitute a serious threat to her life; but the ultimate desire, for power (and power legitimised by the masses, at that), is a far more dangerous beast altogether. The thorny subject of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination does come to mind here, but let us talk of other events. It seems odd that the leader of the Free World would choose to meet ten women of seemingly random career backgrounds to discuss ‘Democracy and Development in the Middle East’, but that is precisely what US President George W. Bush chose to do in Kuwait City on the second leg of his Middle East trip last January. The foreign-policy message behind this meeting of minds seemed clear: for the powers that be in the West, progress made on women’s issues – especially those concerning political rights and representation – is to be the final measure of democracy in this part of the world. notwithstanding the lack of cognitive recognition where any elected female figure of political authority in the Arab world is concerned, the women candidates themselves face an often debilitating contradiction: the headline-grabbing and spotlight-seeking that goes along with being a political figure rubs against the grain of the Arab/Muslim female ideal – chaste, silent, hidden, pure. Right off the bat, then, a female politician is an abhorrent thing, challenging the deeply ingrained institutions governing gender roles. Even in the enlightened US, the capable if charmless Hillary Clinton had a hard time convincing anyone of her femininity; yet one tiny hint of cleavage, and the Senate has a field day. A woman actively seeking power, even where merit is present, will have a hard time retaining both beauty and brains. So what are we to do with our over-educated and under-challenged sisters in the Middle East, if politics is met with both apathy and antipathy? There are only so many lifestyle boutiques and spas one culture can absorb. However, in the least likely and most staunchly conservative corners, the wind of change seems to be blowing. Saudi Arabia is scrambling with its 10/10 initiative, which aims to see the country ranked among the ten most competitive economies in the world by 2010. For that to happen, drastic measures need to be taken to secure female mobility and bring much greater numbers of women into the workforce outside the saturated fields of education and medicine. The rest of the Arab Middle East seems to agree on some measure of political engagement for the fairer sex, often dictated by the whims of an autocratic government or through appointed positions for high-profile women – what one feminist has delightfully referred to as ‘the feminisation of tyranny’. Even Iran, lumbering theocracy that it is, has for a long time allowed its women a degree of political participation (though they continue to have no say in their self-presentation). how do the French do it? Their female politicians retain a sense of style and flamboyant private lives while maintaining serious political dialogues with their counterparts in France and in other countries. Perhaps we could benefit from a crash course in presenting political ambitions in a female-friendly package, French-style; perhaps it will take the marketing skills of the people who sell water and perfume to make the notion of women in power a palatable thing._end illustration: alice stevenson Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 25 Deena Aljuhani Red Carpets Galore: Looking Back at Spring’s ‘Weeks’ springtime is showtime, and this year’s fashion shows were as frantic as ever. I kicked off the season in February with New York Fashion Week, which was predictably hectic. There were still plenty of bright colours around, but also a real nostalgia for fashion from the late 50s and 60s. The big influence seemed to be the award-winning TV series Mad Men, set during the New York advertising boom of the early 1960s, which was also a golden age for US design. I didn’t see anything I was absolutely crazy about, but I loved the Proenza Schouler collection, and the Rodarte designs (what those two sisters from Pasadena are doing is wonderful). One quirky detail is that both brands are called after the maiden names of the designers’ mothers. One of the funniest things was that I completely missed the Marc Jacobs show. Marc never starts his shows on time, but of course the one year I decided to pick up a friend en route, he started on the dot. Needless to say, the people that matter – the fashion establishment – were all on time. Someone must have warned them. I also ran smack into a very pregnant Jennifer Lopez on my way into the Marchesa show which, incidentally, was beautifully done this year. Instead of a traditional runway show, the event was a series of tableaux by live models at the Chelsea Art Museum; such a nice wink at the past. It reminded me of a scene from How to Marry a Millionaire. I still don’t know quite how I ended up at the P. Diddy show, given that I don’t buy menswear for DNA. But I’m glad I did; anyone who’s anyone was there, including Vogue’s Anna Wintour and Suzy Menkes from The International Herald Tribune. It was so bling, almost like a Saudi wedding. i discovered a fantastic new restaurant in the West Village called Bobo’s, which serves Mediterranean-style food, and got my hair done again by a hairdresser called Ashley Javier, who works from home. Admittedly, when I walked out of his apartment I thought my hair was a disaster, but then realised, no, this man is a genius. The following month I flew to Paris for another week of top fashion. For me, it was the young British designers such as Giles Deacon, Roksanda Ilincic and Marios Schwab who really stood out, and I ordered a lot of British pieces for DNA. Marios is such a sweet young man; he is so shy and discreet that when I was looking at his collection he actually left the room so that I could comment freely on the clothes. He reminded me of a very young Yves Saint-Laurent. In between New York and Paris I managed to squeeze in the Oscars. It’s a real ritual for me. In Riyadh, they’re on TV at around 4 am. I stay up and make popcorn, and everyone knows I won’t be at work the next day. Yet this year’s awards were a complete disaster, at least from a fashion perspective. Nobody looked chic except perhaps Marion Cottillard, who wore a JeanPaul Gauthier mermaid gown. It was such a shame. the oscars did give me an excuse to curl up with two very entertaining Oscar Week-themed books: Mary McNamara’s cheeky first novel Oscar Season and Celebutantes, by Amanda Goldberg and Ruthanna Khalighi Hopper (two Hollywood legends who give you an illuminating insider’s look at that world). Another great read is The Perfect Scent, by New York Times perfume critic Chandler Burr, a skilled, witty take on the perfume industry. That brings me to cosmetics and snake venom … DNA has acquired the exclusive rights to stock Found night and day creams containing real snake venom, the latest weapon against wrinkles. Another product we’re going to stock, and which I’m very excited about, is Mrs. Strong stationery. I’d like to launch a new service using the stationery to create bespoke wedding invitations and birth announcements. Finally, carrying on my tradition of using a different designer each season to create an abaya for DNA, this season I’ve commissioned London-based Bodyamr to come up with an exclusive design._end 26 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 illustration: alice stevenson Rivoli Group 800-RIVOLI www.rivoligroup.com dispatches mezze Morocco’s most cultured village Just as the sleepy Moroccan capital of Rabat tucks into bed, Asilah begins to party. This fishing village 43 km north of the capital on the Atlantic coast is the site of the internationally renowned Asilah Cultural Festival in August where, day and night, the public rubs shoulders with academics, economists, politicians, musicians, filmmakers, writers and painters in organised debates, conferences, screenings and concerts. The immensely popular festival has been taking place for almost thirty years, and has transformed the once-crumbling, forgotten port into a pretty, whitewashed village. During the festival Asilah’s population of 33,000 swells to 130,000. Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed Benaissa and artist Mohammed Melehi (director of Asilah’s cultural foundation) began the event as a plan to involve the local population in the renovation of the village and to improve its quality of life. In 1978, eleven Moroccan artists were invited to paint murals on the walls in the medina; this was the catalyst for Asilah’s rebirth and for the festival, which has grown in importance each year. The festival includes activities such as engraving workshops, mural painting, poetry readings and dance and music performances in addition to the conferences and lectures. The 2008 fest opens 4 August and runs until 19 August. www.c-assilah.com Sound checkpoint 01 Taking its name from an existing checkpoint separating Jerusalem from Bethlehem in the West Bank, this avant-garde, activist sonic project launched four years ago by sound-catcher SC Yosh (Palestine) and sound-cutter SC MoCha (Tunisia) is definitely going places. The five-member band creates sophisticated electronic music using site recordings from Palestine, electronic beats, FX and oriental tunes, and hopes to spread the word for peace, justice and human rights in the Middle East. Checkpoint 303 has opened for Massive Attack (most recently in Lyon in July); the group has since gone on to play in the US, Canada, Australia, a handful of European countries, Palestine and Carthage, Tunisia. www.checkpoint303.com The art of the deal Artists not only pull in big bank accounts these days, but banks collect big-name artists. Many international banks have winning collections showcasing some of the world’s most valuable works of contemporary art. Credit Suisse is entering the scene with ‘Art and Entrepreneurship’, an exhibition of nineteen artists from all over the globe who take making money as their subject. First presented at Art Dubai, the show tours New York City this summer, Berlin and Moscow in September, Geneva and Milan in October and London 02 01 03 28 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 video art from the Middle East and North Africa. The DVD Resistance[s] (II) features nine artists including Al Fadhil, Bouchra Khalili, Nesrine Khodr and Jalal Toufic. The alternately intimate, poetic or documentary works are In French, Arabic and English. The collection is an opportunity to view these works outside the gallery or film festival circuit. 05 Chelsea Textiles goes Ottoman 04 Interior designer Alidad has produced a collection of embroidered textiles, ‘Bosphorus’, for Chelsea Textiles, a London-based company specialising in recreating antique fabrics. Drawing on his extensive knowledge of sixteenth-century Persian tiles and Ottoman designs of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, Alidad has used Ottoman motifs (stylised tulip, saz leaf, carnation), simplifying the designs to make them more contemporary and placing them in wide, ornamented stripes that can be used for walling, upholstery or curtains. www.alidad.com Riyadh glitters 05 The non-branded jewellery market is changing. Venerable jewellers Van Cleef & Arpels have opened their first store in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with local partner Ali Bin Ali. The intimate boutique is designed to look like a flat, and offers a wide range of choice from high jewellery to bijoux. Centria Mall, Riyadh www.lowave.com in November. It will land on the block at London’s Philips de Pury auction house by December. Half the proceeds from sales will go to the artists; the other half will be donated to Room to Read, which builds educational facilities in developing countries. A museum for Gaza 02 Against all odds, Jawdat Khoudary was determined that Gaza get a museum. The institution he founded, al-Mathaf, just opened on a 4,500 m2 plot by the sea just northwest of Jabalia City. The privately funded museum houses artefacts dating from the early Bronze Age to the Ottoman Empire, including coins from the fifth century bc, pottery, bronzes and objects in ivory and alabaster. There will be a restaurant and conference centre onsite, as well as a garden. Khoudary’s underlying goal is to present a ‘normal’ face to the beleaguered residents of Gaza. Al-Rashid St, Jabalia City, Gaza Strip 04 Elegant eatery in Marrakech Cécile Marot, the French chef and co-owner along with Simo Ennouidrat of the new restaurant Mamatilee in the heart of Marrakech’s medina, wanted it to be ‘contemporary-Moroccan and very Zen’. The couple decorated Mamatilee in hues of lavender, taupe and black, with stylish metal seating. The music is jazzy and the cooking is inspired by the inventive Pourcel Brothers of France. It is said that Mamatilee means ‘the mother of my daughter’ in Berber, but the owners say they just liked the way it sounded. Mamatilee, Derb Laarsa 13, Riad Zitoun Jdid, Marrakech medina, Tel: +212 44 (0)24 38 1752 Irresistible[s] 03 Paris-based independent film label Lowave has released the second volume of its Resistance[s] collection of experimental film and Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 29 dispatches kuwait Go, go, Goji Online boutique GojiBoutique.com has launched in Kuwait with plans to expand into other Middle Eastern markets later this year. Goji has signed exclusivity agreements with several designers and production houses worldwide, and aims to feature up-and-coming avant-garde designers who offer quality designs with limited production lines. The site will provide fashion, shoes and accessories for women, and will be updated regularly to introduce new designers and collections. www.gojiboutique.com 01 02 GUST gets even smarter 01 Kuwait’s Gulf University for Science and Technology (GUST) recently inaugurated a new ‘smart’ campus in West Mishref, integrating modern architecture with the latest technology. Each seat in every classroom, laboratory and auditorium can be connected to the Internet as well as to power for running laptops. Wireless Internet environments are also provided throughout the buildings and external landscaped courtyards. When completed, the campus will host about 11,000 students. www.gust.edu.kw will be operated through franchise partners Beidoun Trading Company. www.montblanc.com Dress up with Galliano this fall 03 In September, creations by the man who perfected the bias cut and consistently turns out creative, elaborate and whimsical garments will finally be available in Kuwait. The masterminds behind Al-Ostoura will open the first Galliano store in Salmiya, in the Thuraya Complex. The first official collection on display will be the 1920s Kublai Khan/Orientalist-inspired collection, with plenty of beautiful, long flowing evening dresses, coats and tops in luscious rose, teal blues and burgundies. www.alostoura.com 02 lounge with diwan-like seating and an outdoor café with a seating capacity of 300. Culinary consultants from Umami were brought in to work on the tapas- and mezze-centred menu. Eat, drink & be stylish 02 The Kout Food Group (KFG) has gone all out with its new restaurant, Ayyame. Culture, design and fine dining are the pillars of this establishment, which serves modern Middle Eastern cuisine. KFG’s in-house designers brought on board London-based design supremo Rana Salam and architectural firm Brainstorm to create a contemporary Middle Eastern aesthetic. The restaurant comprises three zones: the main dining area, a shisha 30 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 The write stuff Tired of impersonal emails and telephone calls? Luxury stationery items are on the upswing, and Richemont’s German manufacturer Montblanc is riding the wave. The largest Montblanc boutique in the Middle East recently opened in Kuwait’s Avenues Mall Phase II. Besides its signature writing instruments and leather goods, Montblanc’s strategy for the region also lays greater emphasis on watches and jewellery. The boutique 03 dispatches LeBAnon · jordAn Put to the test Built like a bunker, with cobblestones encased in mesh wire, steel bars and bulletproof glass, Future TV’s twenty-four-hour news channel building on Hamra Street was nearly put to the test quickly. In May, Hizbullah threatened to bomb the building, and journalists were ordered to evacuate. Originally conceived by architect Ali Wazani as a ‘shop selling media’ – a reference to Hamra’s commercial character, the deisgn changed: Wazani’s clients had other concerns, foremost amongst them security, which led to the bunker concept. Wazani kept one of his original ideas: transparency. ‘We built an outside structure that shows strength,’ he says, ‘but the inside is all the opposite.’ Made of glass and colourful lights, the inside is completely soundproof. ‘People have told me they feel happy when they are inside, like in a nightclub,’ says Wazani, who argues that the building is a metaphor for Lebanese society: ‘From the outside it looks like a bunker, but from the inside, it’s a whole different story. prolific Palestinian-Jordanian artist Ahmad Nawash and master political cartoonist Naji al-Ali were held. Films included works by Jean-Luc Godard and Elia Suleiman, and featured Edward Said’s last interview. A beautifully illustrated book on Palestinian women artists was launched, and on the closing night the Palestine Youth Orchestra performed. www.daratalfunun.org Amman with a plan 03 After two years of work, the municipality of Amman has produced a visionary plan that will shape the city for the next twenty years. The nearly 400-page document was put together by international and local experts, and addresses most issues one might think of when planning the ideal city such as public transportation, land use and environmental concerns. Bearing Point, a global consulting firm, and the Canadian firm Planning Alliance developed the study, which won the World Leadership Award in 2007. www.ammancity.gov.jo Happy Birthday, Keyrouz Fashion designer Rabih Keyrouz celebrated his tenth anniversary with an open day at his Beirut atelier, then a July fashion show following Beirut’s Fashion Week. Keyrouz will also be the creative director of ELLE Oriental’s September issue. There is talk of him launching a prêt-à-porter line and showing his couture collection for the first time during Paris’s haute couture fashion week next winter. Moreover, a new workshop built by Bernard Khoury should be completed by 2010. Located behind the Electricité du Liban building next to Beirut’s port, it will be eco-friendly, housing the workshop at ground level and residential apartments on the top floors. 02 01 01 After two years of enforced silence, Lebanon’s popular music festivals – Beiteddine and Baalbeck – are back. In a joint effort between the two festivals, presided over by 32 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 02 In July, the Khalid Shoman Foundation at Darat al-Funun in Amman commemorated the Nakba with a series of exhibits, films and talks, readings and music. Retrospectives of work by the 03 ILLuSTRATION: SIMON DOvAR And the bands play on Nora Jumblatt (wife of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt) and Lebanese beauty icon May Arida, a one-night Mika concert was held 17 July in Beirut. The Baalbeck programme features such luminaries as soprano Hsmik Papian, Brazilian jazz artist Tania Maria and classical pianist Abdel Rahman El Bacha. Beiteddine managed to line up some big names in a surprisingly short period of time, including Gilberto Gil and Iraqi music star Kazem as-Saher. Meanwhile, the Byblos Festival – the only one to carry on last year – hosted rocker Patti Smith on 8 July and held an all-night ‘Nuit Blanche’ (‘White Night’) event on 12 July: French electro singer Sébastien Tellier and local bands such as Lumi ensured that the ancient city danced til dawn. www.beiteddine.org www.baalbeck.org.lb www.byblosfestival.org Sixty Years dispatches uae dubai & abu dhabi Chic Dubai 01 The Chic collection, which has already covered Hong Kong, Mexico and Morocco among others, has just added Dubai to its list. The softcover book features hotels, restaurants, spas, resorts and shops chosen for their chic appeal. At first glance it might resemble just another coffee table book with pretty photographs, but a closer look reveals informative and well-written texts along with gorgeous photographs. After an introduction to the region, Dubai Chic is divided up geographically beginning with downtown Dubai and ending with the desert and outskirts which includes the Hatta Fort Hotel, minutes away from the Omani border and the stunning Al Maha desert resort and spa. www.thechiccollection.com The story of O 02 Playing on the word eau for water in French, Mimi Shakhashir, Dania Attallah and Nadine Khoury’s O de Rose boutique opened a few months ago. Clients were greeted with rose-scented moist towels and a roseflavoured drink. The three cousins, hailing from London, New York and Beirut, came together in Dubai to open this neo-bohemian retail space in a villa that offers patchwork furniture, pop art and ethnic fashion seamlessly mixing East and West. Large-scale ottomans, crafts by artisans from Bali, Turkey and France and hand-stitched snakeskin belts for both men and women vie for attention in this warm boutique that is ‘the antidote to dull’. O de Rose, Al Wasl Road, Dubai +971 4 369 3575 Fantasy island Nurai is a natural island about twenty-five minutes by boat to Abu Dhabi’s city centre, and is morphing into an exclusive resort development with sixty suites, thirty-one beachfront estates and thirty-six water villas. The exceptional residential models were designed by New York-based architects Studio Dror. The island is the first project by Zaya, a newly formed real estate joint venture between Tasameem Real Estate and Assas, focusing on sustainable private development projects. www.nurai.ae Lacroix towers over Dubai Christian Lacroix has teamed up with property developer Abyaar to work on a residential Jumeirah-based tower. The building will incorporate a Lacroix-designed façade, an expansive lobby and luxury interiors. ‘We are working on something special that will tell a Middle Eastern story,’ says the designer. The interiors will be based on paradox: contemporary and baroque, blending East and West, old and new, inspired by history and folklore.’ www.abyaar.com 01 Art in the basement 03 A new gallery in Dubai’s Al Quoz district started off with a bang in June, highlighting the work of five Iranian artists previously unseen in 03 02 34 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Facing the future all around All it took was for Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to tell Italian architect and inventor David Fisher: ‘Don’t wait for the future, face the future.’ Fisher grabbed the ball and ran, and his dizzying eighty-floor Rotating Tower design will become reality in two years’ time as construction begins this month. Along with a similar building in Moscow, also by Fisher, the Rotating Tower will be the world’s first building to allow each floor to rotate independently using voice recognition technology. The view will change every one to three hours. There will be luxury apartments on the top ten floors, with a further thirty-five floors of apartments below; the lower floors will include a hotel and retail space. The tower will use photovoltaic cells and wind turbine technology to collect enough energy to power itself; it will also be entirely constructed from prefabricated parts assembled in Italy. www.dynamicarchitecture.net 06 04 Masdar HQ: building clean 04 The Chicago based ‘eco-firm’ Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture have won an international competition to design the Masdar headquarters in the emerging eco-city in Abu Dhabi. Masdar is to become the world’s first carbon neutral city, producing more energy than it uses. The HQ includes a variety of systems that will generate a surplus of energy, eliminate carbon emissions and reduce liquid and solid waste. It will also have one of the world’s largest building-integrated solar energy arrays. www.masdaruae.com 05 culture, sports, science, technology and travel, using in-house reporting and newswires. There are no plans yet for a print version. www.arabeastern.com Think Pink 06 Daniel Camara and Mitra Khoubrou, formerly of XVA Gallery, have set up Pink Tank, a Dubai-based boutique consultancy providing advisory services in research and culture. Camara and Khoubrou combine management experience at the World Economic Forum, Dubai Holding and XVA, and have produced the successful publications Arab Intelligence Report and Al Manakh. Pink Tank will focus on projects intricately linked to the development of the Gulf region as an enlightened cultural hub. www.pinktank.ae Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 35 04 the UAE. The gallery was established by a group of architects, art collectors and entrepreneurs. Baharak Raoufi, one of the founders, says one of its objectives is to show that the UAE can be one large, open ‘studio’ environment in which art can be found almost everywhere. Basement is currently showing the works of Iranian painter Hannibal Alkhas, who was responsible for establishing Iran’s first modern art gallery, Gilgamesh, in the early 1960s. www.basementdubai.com Arabeastern up and running 05 Under the initiative of the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders, a news portal providing information about Dubai and the rest of Middle East, called Arabeastern, officially launches in August. Already up and running, the ambitious site covers politics, business, dispatches fashion Skeletons in the closet 01 Ronald Abdala, the young British-Lebanese designer who worked for Rabih Keyrouz, has launched his first ready-to-wear collection, ‘X-Ray’. Taking inspiration from the human body, it aims to glamorise the skeleton and features everything from skirts and shirts to cocktail dresses, evening trousers and evening gowns, but also haute couture. Abdala offers his couture clients the option of modifying one of his designs to custom-fit their personal style, taste and colouring. www.ronaldabdala.com Achrafieh. Sarakbi obliged with a limited edition of gold and silver bracelets each designed to look like a leaf wrapping around the wrist. ‘For me, jewellery is a great way to work with new materials. It’s another experiment for my hands.’ www.selimmouzannar.com lated to read as English (‘FORGIVENESS’, ‘MERCY’, etc). With stockists in Saudi Arabia, London and Geneva, 1 Ummah is getting its message across. 1 Ummah was set up by founder and director Amr al-Sheikh with creative director Helal Aman. www.1ummah.co.uk 1 love 03 1 Ummah (‘one nation’) is a T-shirt company inspired by the concept of peace and unity. Its shirts feature simple phrases in the company’s own exclusive font, which uses Arabic letters manipu- Murad infinitum 04 Spanish retail giant Mango has reaffirmed its partnership with Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad for the third year in a row. Mango will stock Murad’s creations in its stores in 2009. Following his Impeccable good taste Qasimi’s debut autumn/ winter 2008 collection at London’s Fashion Week celebrated the timeless allure of unapologetic opulence. Former model, TV presenter and Michiko Koshino assistant Elliot J. Frieze and Emirates-born architect H. H. Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi met as students in London in 1998, and teamed up after returning to study fashion in 2006. Inspired by Louise Brooks, Joan Crawford and the Syrian-Egyptian singer Asmahan, Qasimi’s collection resounds with an aristocratic English elegance. The duo described their ambition to create ‘luxury without compromise’. The show’s notes inelegantly boasted a price of £10,000 for a vicuña/silk cashmere kimono, but it was an otherwise admirable lesson in priceless good taste. www.qasimi.com 02 03 01 Golden girl 02 Artist Ranya Sarakbi, who has also worked with Rabih Keyrouz, fell into jewellery design almost by chance. ‘Rabih asked me to design some jewellery pieces for his couture collection,’ she says. ‘It all started for fun, really.’ Sarakbi was called in once again, this time by Selim Mouzannar, one of Beirut’s leading jewellers and the co-owner of the Comme des Garçons Guerrilla Store in 04 spring/summer 2008 ‘Greek Goddess’ collection (layers of airy fabric with romantic drapery), the autumn/winter 2008/2009 collection is called ‘A Blast from the Past’. The 50s-inspired range accentuates femininity, fusing high-waist cuts and fine draping blended with modern leather straps. www.zuhairmurad.com www.mango.com 36 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 www.etro.com VILLA MODA - +965 482 7004 fashion dispatches the melting- pot catwalk Virtually all cultures are reflected in Brazil’s population, including those of the Middle East. The country’s dynamic fashion industry has also assimilated myriad influences. But, as Sameer Reddy discovers, the inhabitants of this vast land, and the designs they create, all have one thing in common: they are 100 percent, unmistakably Brazilian. to a cynic, the harmonious diversity embodied by the social ideal of the ‘melting pot’ seems perpetually elusive, if not downright delusional. Cynics probably haven’t been to Brazil recently. Chaotic, colourful and undeniably full of life, this super-sized, ultrasexy South American country, while not exactly a shining example of peace on Earth, is still one of the world’s most diverse, best-integrated societies, at least along ethnic lines. Different groups live side by side, from povertystricken shantytowns to ultra-sophisticated gated communities protected by armed guards. Problems stem from class inequality rather than from cultural differences. With a gene pool that represents Portuguese colonialists, African slaves and Italian, German and many other immigrants, Brazil also plays host to the largest population of Japanese people outside Japan, and is Fause Haten Fause Haten Forum 38 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 home to more Lebanese people than Lebanon itself. Unlike their counterparts in the United States, with its long list of hyphenates (Arab-American, IndianAmerican, etc), Brazilians of various ethnicities tend to see themselves first and foremost as Brazilians. André do Val, an editor at the Brazilian fashion and culture magazine key, says: ‘The mix of origins that forms what we are today is exactly how we feel – a messy compound of genetic and cultural information where you can’t find any trace of the seminal shape. I’m quite mixed myself: Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, English and African somewhere. How could it be more Brazilian? Identity, to us, is more [a question of ] how do you see yourself, and how you give it a personality, a soul.’ Though proud of their ancestry, Brazil’s immigrants and their descendents have assimilated almost entirely ‘I’m quite mixed myself: Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, English and African. How could it be more Brazilian?’ into their host society, letting go of their old national identities and embracing the new. They have brought many of their cultural traditions with them, however, and these tastes, sounds and textures further enrich Brazil’s vibrant multicultural tradition. brazilians of middle eastern descent are surprisingly large in number. Many, like the Lebanese who settled in São Paulo, have succeeded in infiltrat- ing some of the most highly refined industries in Brazil, from food to music to fashion. Regional culinary staples such as kibbeh, hummus, tabbouleh and halwa are everywhere. Chef Alex Atala, a former DJ of Palestinian descent, owns Brazil’s highest-rated restaurant, D.O.M. (ranked the world’s thirtyeighth best by Restaurant magazine in 2007). And the list of designers and entrepreneurs of Middle Eastern origin who have staked out their own major fashion brands is surprisingly large. Fause Haten, a major fashion designer, is one, and Alberto Hiar, owner of one of Brazil’s biggest brands, Cavalera, is another – both men have Lebanese heritage. Tufi Duek, the designer behind the Forum label, is of SyrianEgyptian heritage. Many Middle Easterners began working in Brazil as traders, and over the years they became increasingly involved with the textile and garment industries. Fause Haten Fause Haten Forum Fause Haten Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 39 fashion dispatches brazil’s fashion industry has evolved in the past five years into one of the world’s most closely watched. The eagerly anticipated biannual runway shows are known for bold, body-conscious looks and an all-star cast of supermodels. The country’s designers have developed a strong international appeal with retail accounts around the world, attracting some of the Middle East’s best-known boutiques such as Boutique 1. Sales to the region have skyrocketed, increasing the profile of the São Paulo-based Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, which helps to facilitate relationships between the Arab world and Brazil. Though many of the country’s design mavericks might be of Middle Eastern descent, their aesthetic identiRio de Janeiro Mara Mac Like some of the US’s most successful designers, Mara Mac has made a career out of catering for the contemporary woman with interesting but grounded taste. Like Donna Karan, she has embraced a semi-experimental aesthetic that combines comfort with a touch of fashion drama. Coven Elaborate knitwear, graphic patterns and body-conscious silhouettes come together in Coven’s energetic streetwear. The collection is geared towards a younger, fashion-forward customer, and comprises some of the most unique creations coming out of Brazil. Juliana Jabour This beautiful, young former native of Belo Horizonte is most famous for her chic, somewhat bourgeois jersey dresses and separates. Jabour’s customer base is built from the next generation of socialites and celebrities, who like to mix ladylike style with contemporary ease and comfort. Cantão This popular label appeals to a young customer with playful tastes but a limited bank account. Cheerful separates, bright colours and vivid patterns collide, often incorporating elements of South American chic – a recent Cantão collection involved fringed ponchos, Peruvian knits and military jackets. Fause Haten Fause Haten Fause Haten Fause Haten 40 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 ‘Brazilians of Middle Eastern descent have succeeded in infiltrating some of the most highly refined industries in the country, from food to music to fashion.’ Fause Haten ties are typically Brazilian. From brazenly sexy (Fause Haten) to fetchingly chic (Forum) to full-on streetwear (Cavalera), their brands embody the hallmarks of Brazilian design instead of any overtly Middle Eastern sartorial markers. A subtle influence, however, persists. ‘i love brazil, the colour of the sky here, the beaches … but I think everything mixes with your history,’ observes Haten. ‘There is something in my work that comes from my Arab heritage: my love of embroidering with stones, gold and colour.’ Though his silhouettes might be less modest than those typiSão Paulo Fause Haten cally seen in the Middle East, Haten says, proudly: ‘Every time someone from the Middle East sees my work, they respond.’ It makes sense that they would – most Brazilian designers approach fashion playfully and are unafraid to embrace vibrant colour and embellishment, striking a chord with Middle Eastern clients. Brazilians also have a strong handiwork heritage, and many designers incorporate traditional techniques into their contemporary collections. While the prevailing motifs might be different than in the Middle East, there remains in common an enthusiastic appreciation for intricate attention to detail. as brazil takes its place on the global stage as an emerging economic powerhouse, its fashion industry, a micromodel of the ‘melting pot’ ideal, is poised to grow exponentially, and offers a unique point of reference for style enthusiasts around the world bored of the old New York–Paris–Milan circuit. _end Haten’s high-octane brand of glamour is in the spirit of Italian designers such as Dolce & Gabbana and Roberto Cavalli. From sky-high stilettos to skintight silhouettes, he epitomises the va-va-voom, body-conscious attitude of Brazilian fashion. Cavalera Like Diesel, mass-market brand Cavalera has a distinct, fashion-forward aesthetic. Though its bread and butter consists of jeans and other sportswear staples, its off-the-runway pieces hold their own against higher-end labels. Alexandre Herchcovitch One of Brazil’s most successful designers, Herchcovitch has broken out onto international shores, showing his collection both in São Paulo and New York, with a signature boutique in Tokyo. The most avant-garde designer in Brazil, he combines sophisticated silhouettes and interesting cuts with streetwear motifs (one of his favourites is the skull and bones). Forum Tufi Duek designs this stylish collection, one of the country’s most successful. Influenced by Chanel, Yves St-Laurent and Lanvin, he distils the best elements of French chic into his long, lean evening silhouettes and expensive-looking accessories. Reinaldo Lourenço A fashion formalist, Lourenço uses cut and construction to create romantic collections that combine innovative technique and feminine detail. Fashion runs in his family – his wife, Gloria Coelho, is a successful designer, while his son Pedro is studying fashion design in Europe. Forum Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 41 SOUK PhotograPher: andy barter PhotograPher‘s assistant: Peter hart fashion editor: niki brodie fashion assistant: mariam el sayed 06 14 05 04 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 White gold and diamond ‘dantele’ watch by Van Cleef & Arpels Blue floral and crystal cork-heel sandal by Gina Lime green ‘flower power’ silk scarf by Hermès Orange enamel butterfly hairclip by Sonia Rykiel Green garnet necklace by Barbara Harris for Water Jewels Coral flower pin by Van Cleef & Arpels Light purple flower pin by Van Cleef & Arpels Turquoise ‘flower power’ silk scarf by Hermès Floral print cutout wooden wedge sandal by Le Silla Green garnet ring by Barbara Harris for Water Jewels Diamante butterfly hairclip by Sonia Rykiel White and yellow gold necklace with white and yellow diamonds by Graff White and yellow gold earrings with white and yellow diamonds by Graff Blue sapphire, yellow sapphire, green garnet and pink sapphire dragonfly pins by Van Cleef & Arpels 07 01 03 02 42 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Accessories to the fAct 12 13 11 Make your accessories the main event with jewellery, shoes, bags, scarves and other objects accented with notes of flowers, nautica, stars, the beach – all the better to prolong that end-of summer feeling. 08 10 09 Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 43 SOUK 08 09 01 02 07 03 06 04 05 44 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Cotton scarf by Hermès White gold and diamond watch with orange alligator strap by Frank Muller, at Marcus Ethnic multicoloured tassel and bell belt by Etro Yellow suede and gold metallic T-bar wedge sandal by Tod’s ‘Tohu Bohu’ bracelets by Hermès Blue leather pompom keyring by Hermès Brown and orange cube belt by Etro Orange leather pompom keyring by Hermès Cotton scarf by Hermès Pink leather pompom keyring by Hermès Banana and watermelon coin holders by Hermès Plissé bag by Christian Dior White sunglasses by Salvatore Ferragamo Brown leather-frame sunglasses by Bottega Veneta Blue leather wallet by Bulgari Lime green silk mule by Le Silla Blue lizard peep-toe shoe by Salvatore Ferragamo Blue wraparound bracelet by Bulgari 10 11 13 14 17 18 12 15 16 Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 45 ‘charles saatchi has an entrepreneurial approach to art which is a rather good fit with the Middle east.’ SOUK 15 04 01 09 02 13 06 07 46 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Superstar Carmaker to the World in a world hungry for contemporary art, saatchi online transcends geography and dealers to enable artists from anywhere to sell directly to collectors everywhere. already a huge success in its english 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Gold rope belt by Burberry Coin badge brooch by Chanel Silk yacht print scarf by Hermès Red patent belt by Chanel White fringed silk scarf by Burberry Gold Submariner 11 watch by Rolex Bracelet by Roger Vivier Bracelet by Roger Vivier Sunglasses by Chanel Multi-row chain necklace by Burberry Red and white striped bag by Vaza Red polka-dot sandal by Gina Gold peep-toe shoe by Gucci Ocean necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels Blue and white bag by Chanel Gold charm bracelet watch by Burberry 03 16 10 12 08 14 11 05 Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 47 ‘charles saatchi has an entrepreneurial approach to art which is a rather good fit with the Middle east.’ SOUK middle eaSt 01 05 04 03 06 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 Star bow headband by Johnny Loves Rosie Stars wrap sandals by Yves Saint-Laurent Gold box bag by Chanel Blue star brooch by Yves Saint-Laurent White gold and diamond starred necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels White gold and diamond starred earrings by Van Cleef & Arpels Diamante sandals by Le Silla Limited Edition Both sunglasses by Chanel 48 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 08 02 07 Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 49 ‘charles saatchi has an entrepreneurial approach to art which is a rather good fit with the Middle east.’ SOUK middle eaSt 04 SUperStar CarmaKer tO the WOrld in a world hungry for contemporary art, saatchi online transcends geography and dealers to enable artists froam anywhere to sell directly to collectors everywhere. already a huge success in its english and mandarin incarnations, it is now poised to add a middle east version. Charles saatchi discusses the possibilites w 03 11 08 13 06 10 09 Rana Salam The multitalented Rana Salam has created a colourful accessories collection for Dia Diwan, the fashion website she recently revamped. Included in the collection are bangles with Chiclet-box imprints and catchphrase cuffs such as alf mabrouk and mishmaoul. This issue features Salam’s bird brooch (01) and butterfly cuff (02). Large selection available at www.diadiwan.com Evra: The Art of Eve The Lebanese designer Tamara Zantout is behind Evra, a brand that explores the art of female seduction. Zantout, who has a background in architecture, works with precious gems and metals. Her inspiration is wide ranging, from nature to the work of Gustav Klimt. Shown: pink quartz stone choker with calligraphy (03) aatihum kama tamannouna li pendant and freshwater pearl wrap necklace (04). Large selection available at www.diadiwan.com Hassan Bounkit Since Hassan Bounkit created his own jewellery brand in 2006, after working for the Salvatore Ferragamo and Marella Ferrara fashion houses, his use of stones and materials such as vermeil (gold over silver) and gold over brass have attracted a clientele that includes Oprah Winfrey and supermodel Iman. Shown: bracelet of multi-strand freshwater pearls draped around teapot (05); double-hinged bracelet set with turquoise, peridot and citrine (06). www.bounkit.com Kaftan Buddha Kaftan Buddha’s glamorous creations are designed for the stylish, feminine and sophisticated woman to wear while lounging at home, over loose trousers during the day or for the evening. Shaded, beaded and hand embroidered, each piece is unique. Shown: orange and gold sequenced kaftan (07). Large selection available at www.diadiwan.com 50 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 01 07 05 12 02 Domakaya This London-based family business run by Karima Riachy and her two sisters is known for original, hand-knit shawls, scarves, hats and hand warmers. This season’s collection has pretty, hand-knit clutch bags and light cover-ups for breezy summer nights. For this issue we chose the Domakaya butterfly fan (08); don’t go on holiday without it! Large selection available at www.diadiwan.com and www.domakaya.com Sergei Grinko The Russian-born, London- and Dubai-based maverick Sergei Grinko designs bags and interiors, but also opulent yet delicate jewellery, using materials such as semiprecious stones, metals and exquisite fabrics to create intricate pieces. Each item is placed into a delicate dustbag and picture-frame box. In the plate are one of the designer’s necklaces (09) and a wide bracelet (10). www.sergeigrinko.com Jewels Accessories Sogol Zabihi moved from Oklahoma to Dubai when she was one year old. Now twenty-six, she set up her company Jewels Accessories in Dubai two years ago. Zabihi designs colourful pieces that adhere to the bling aesthetic. In this issue we feature her three-row bangle in hot pink (11), and multicoloured crystal earrings (12). www.jewelsaccessories.com Din-Z Rima and Dina Zahran grew up in Spain, and it has always been a dream of theirs to pursue careers in fashion. They design clothes and accessories, and their heritage is reflected in this koufia-print bracelet (13). The collection is available at Five Green in Dubai. www.din-z.com Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 51 KUWAIT CITY Burj Jassim - DUBAI Burjuman Centre - RIYADH Centria Mall - JEDDAH Teatro Mall Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 53 beauty NUDE, NOT NAKED every spring and summer, designers pepper the catwalks with ‘natural’ make-up looks, but this season there is a new twist on what we would normally call ‘nude’: call it glamour! Natural make-ups have gone from barely there to sheer without losing the wow factor. There are bronzers that remind us of the heady Tom Ford/Gucci days, caramel shimmers to take us into balmy evenings and fresh, sheer peach and pea greens, gently blending into creamy transparent foundations. Choosing makeup that also reflects a light, transparent feel will help your ‘look’ feel pulled together in a sophisti- Summer brings longer, warmer days and nights with more socialising and entertaining, so makeup needs can be truly stretched to the limit in terms of looking fresh. Nude makeup helps you beat the heat and come out looking fresh. cated way that has you looking your best. Flawless skin is absolutely essential, so use a lightly tinted moisturiser for this season’s nude looks. If you feel it doesn’t give you enough coverage, try tapping the makeup lightly to blend into the areas where you need slightly more. Heavier makeup will drift into expression lines in warmer weather faster than you can say ‘150 years old’ A highly pigmented concealer and a small brush can takecare of areas that need serious coverage, such as spots, dark circles or pigmentation marks. The dealbreaker is powder. Apply loose powder lightly with a large natural bristle brush. This allows the skin to ‘breathe’ beneath the makeup, keeping it fresher for longer. Patting the skin and reapplying the powder in the same way is all you need to keep your skin looking glowing all day or all night! On the catwalks, whether it is the bright floral prints and sculptural elements of Balenciaga, D&G ‘s boho chic, Burberry’s rock ‘n’ roll or the samurai twist of 6267, there is something there for everyone, and the makeup is just as flattering. Take yourself out of the shiny glow that was natural makeup, into the sophistication and pure glamour of the new nudes. _Renata Semba Model: Polly @ Models1 PhotograPher: Ben KaufMann @ s ManageMent assistants: anthony lycett and Martina langschartner hair & MaKeuP: renata seMBa www.Modeldotdotdot.coM PostProduction: www.darKrooMdigital.co.uK 54 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 The key to natural makeup is meticulously prepared skin. We prepared our models’ skin by thoroughly cleansing it with YSL Rinse Off Foaming Crème Radience Revealer. To bump up the radiance, apply Origins Organic Purifying Tonic, and already the skin will look more light-reflective and glowing. Create the perfect surface with SUQQU PreMakeup Emulsion before applying SKII Air Touch Foundation using its unique ionisation dispersion technology. SKII Air Touch Foundation, Studio Finish Concealer from Mac, MAC Select Sheer/Loose Powder, Laura Mercier Solid Gold eye colour pot using crème with powder shadow on top, Prescriptives False Eyelashes Plush Mascara in Plush Black,Bobbi Brown Creamy Lip Colour in Crystal Pink, Blushcreme in Fancy Ray from MAC, Hair groomed using Frédéric Fekkai Glossing Cream. Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 55 beauty Foundation, concealer and powder as on opening page, Laura Mercier Bronzed Gold Eye Colour Pot (crème only), Matte Eyeliner 02 from SUQQU, Prescriptives False Eyelash Mascara in Plush Black, Mineralize Skinfinish Natural Bronzer from MAC, MAC High Tea Lipstick. BRONZED 56 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Foundation, concealer and powder as on opening page, MAC shadow paint pot in Moss Scape, Prescriptives False Eyelashes Plush Mascara in Plush Black, Bobbi Brown Creamy Lip Colour in Bronzed Pink, Crème Colour Blush in Fabulush from MAC. FRESH FACE Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 57 beauty Foundation, concealer and powder as on opening page, Eyeshadow Calvin Klein Brown Velvet, Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Eyeliner in Hunter Ink, Prescriptives False Eyelashes Plush Mascara in Plush Black, MAC Eyebrow pencil in Spiked, Bobbi Brown Lip Colour in Putty. ANDROGEN 58 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Discover new horizons Explore 26 hotels in 15 countries across Europe, Africa and Middle East with our Taste of Westin packages. Visit westin.com/taste to book your summer escape. SM Opening in May 2008: The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina. Croatia France Germany Greece Ireland Italy Malta Netherlands Poland Portugal Saudi Arabia Scotland South Africa Spain ©2008 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Westin is the registered trademark of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., or its affiliates. beauty eSSay My CheMiCal-fRee RoManCe: nuRtuRing the natuRal with healthieR CoSMetiCS think it’s not easy being green? think again. a number of cosmetics ranges are now using ingredients that won’t introduce harmful substances into your system. Renata Semba finds high quality in high-mindedness, at last. if there is one thing we can all agree upon, it must surely be the beauty and perfection of nature: tropical sunsets, the warm caress of the evening air, the low, cool mists of a forest, the breathtaking sight of an unfolding flower. We all derive a calm sense of belonging when we take the time to immerse ourselves in the majesty of nature. But what of human nature? Our behaviour is driven in large part by the instinct to survive – but will these instincts help us in the face of such modern problems as the survival of the planet? How can we keep the balance in our everyday lives between what is desirable and what is correct? How much difference can we really make as individuals? What is the cost versus the benefit? If you find yourself asking why ‘luxury’ and ‘alternative’ seem to be at opposite ends of the style barometer, or why everything ‘green’ seems to smell of peat moss and look like it was delivered by a guy wearing socks, sandals and a greasy comb-over, you are not alone. When it comes to cosmetics, however, will we ever sacrifice looking young for going green? It seems so wrong to quote Justin Timberlake, but why can’t the Greenpeace Fairy ‘bring sexy back’? For years, parabens have been a cheap and indispensable means of inhibiting the growth of yeasts and bacteria in cosmetics; but now, with growing concern over their disruptive influence on endocrine function (which can affect virtually every system in the body), cosmetics companies are instead producing airtight packaging for their products to protect them from bacteria and oxidisation. Natural, chemical-free ingredients are also increasingly being favoured. Transdermal patches used to administer many medicines (as well as nicotine) have shown that that substances can be absorbed through the skin, the body’s largest organ, directly into the bloodstream – without being filtered or detoxified by the digestive tract and other organs, as happens to our food. (Drugs administered via transdermal patches are 95 percent more effective than oral medication.) pressures on the health and beauty industry to phase out the use of substances that are known carcinogens, mutagens or reproductive toxins are mounting, as our drinking water and fish become polluted with a cocktail of hormone-mimicking chemicals. Male fish have been found to be anomalously producing eggs; frogs and other amphibians low on the food chain have been found to have mutations of their sexual organs due to chemicals; even more telling, parabens turn up in breast tumours. We are changing our planet from the ground up, not just through greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In a study of brand-name lipsticks, 61 percent contained detectable levels of lead – which, when ingested, can become toxic. Lead builds up in the body, so lipstick applied several times a day, every day for years, can easily add up to significant exposure levels. When you consider that symptoms of lead poisoning include lack of concentration, changes in mood, irritability, memory loss, changes in sleeping patterns, stomachaches, cramping, constipation, diarrhoea, persistent fatigue and headaches, it sounds like the whole world must have it! early innovators of pure cosmetics such as Weleda and Jurlique already have a strong following due to their commitment to organic, biodynamic farming and their approach, bringing natural balance back to the skin using botanical herbs and flowers. Large cosmetics brand names are now phasing out all parabens and chemicals. Origins, from the Estée Lauder group, has expanded its Organic line, and Stella McCartney is ‘bringing sexy back’ alongside luxury with Care, a line of 100 percent organic cosmetics. If one way be better than another, that, you may be sure, is nature’s way. –Aristotle Stars of ‘natural’ include mineral makeup from Inika, available in a starter kit that includes a vegan application brush and a how-to DVD. If you prefer liquid foundations, nothing beats Nvey Organic Moisturising Foundation. Sukicolor offers Rich Pigment Mascara as well as interchangeable lip and cheek colour for those with small handbags. Then there are Zoya’s nail varnishes, with 240 colours, for those of us who never compromise on glamour. There are chemical-free products for every taste; just read the labels and remember that, in our shared humanity, we are all ‘watered with one water’. _end 60 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 beauty products clockwise from bottom left Stella McCartney Care Radience & Youth Elixir The first luxury skincare range with 100 percent organic active ingredients, this cool radiance-enhancing serum contains a complex of red, pink and green tea and stimulates, energises and protects against free radicals with polyphenols and vitamin C. www.stellamccartneycare.com Altearah Serum Body Essence A new therapeutic concept, Altearah is a bridge between aromatherapy and chromotherapy, which studies the impact of vibratory colour lightwaves on the organs. Using a range of pure, organic ingredients, with every aspect of development, production and packaging consciously supporting the environment, this product is innovating new standards of harmony and balance. www.holistic-me.com, www.sheenedayspa.com Caudalie Matte Finish Fluid Ideal for combination skin in need of antioxidant protection, Caudalie’s oil-free fluid helps moisturise, purify and refine skin texture. Stabilised grapeseed polyphenols and purifying organic sage water combine with oil-regulating iris and zinc to give skin a lasting, matte finish. No animal ingredients or artificial colourings are used, and the product is non-comedogenic. www.caudalie.com Zoya Nail Polish Zoya nail polishes (lacquers) are free of toxic toluene, formaldehyde and DBP, and are the longest-wearing natural nail polishes around. Made in the US and poured into fine Italian glass with Spanish brushes, they are available in over 240 colours with at least four new colour collections each year. Available at the Organic Pharmacy in the UK and Europe. www.zoyapolish.co.uk, www.organicpharmacy.com PhOTOgrAPhEr PENNy COTTEE @www.vUE-US.COM Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 61 Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 63 architecture 1 Paradise Found: islamic Garden desiGn The principles of garden design stem from ancient times, and were refined over centuries in Muslim lands, later becoming canonical for landscape designers the world over. In the first of a two-part series, Aruna Sultan takes us from the roots up through the history of this noble art. tracing the history of garden design in the Islamic world is a fascinating journey, extending back into Antiquity and steeped in legend. Great gardens are created in times of settlement, expressing of a ruler’s ability to govern; peace and prosperity are necessary for the flowering of grand ideas, cities and gardens. The Persians established their empire in the sixth century bc, later conquering Mesopotamia and becoming the dominant and wealthiest power in the region. Absorbing influences and ideas that reached them from the Silk Road, they developed a distinct ethos and way of life. Passionate lovers of plants and flowers, they built upon an existing tradition of pleasure gardens and left an indelible impression with their walled gardens – pairidaêza – which contributed to our knowledge of horticulture and arboriculture. The word ‘paradise’ is derived from this ancient Avestan word; the Greek historian Xenophon, in 401 bc, called the Persian gardens paradesoi or ‘pleasure gardens’. (Firdous in Arabic, in Latin the word became paradisus.) It was Xenophon’s descriptions of the gardens that influenced early garden design in ancient Greece and later Rome, where groves of trees were planted around temples in the Persian manner. These gardens were built in mostly dry and arid areas with very little rainfall; water sourcing was a major concern, as were strong winds and hot summer sun – these factors determined design. Water was made to channel from the source using the force of gravity. Underground qanats, or waterways, carried over long distances and were widely used for irrigation purposes as well. This method prevented the evaporation of water. the garden itself was rectangular, surrounded by a wall for both privacy and protection from wind and sand. The main feature of the garden was a central watercourse. Transverse channels crossed at right angles and created a char bagh – literally, ‘four gardens’. These quartered sections were sometimes subdivided in turn. The gardens were often terraced, and the watercourses had pools and fountains, the former to catch the sediment and keep the water flowing. Groves of trees were 64 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Opposite: The Patio de la Acequia in the gardens of the Generalife, the Alhambra, Granada, Spain. This page, top: Moorish-style fountain and garden near the Royal Palace, Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Bottom: The Torre de las Damas and the Jardines del Partal, the Alhambra, Granada, Spain. These still-functioning fourteenth-century gardens are excellent examples of the Islamic influence on landscape design that has persisted to the present day. ‘The words “paradise” and “firdous” are derived from the ancient persian word for gardens.’ planted in orderly rows. Shade trees, flowering trees and fruit trees of all kinds were underplanted with a variety of fragrant shrubs and flowers. The gardens were to be viewed or enjoyed from a pavilion, shaded from the strong sun. One could hear the sound of running water as it cooled the air fragrant with the perfume of a thousand flowers; the combined effect stirred the senses and lifted the soul. So successful was this design that its essential characteristics remained unchanged for thousands of years. Its influence was carried to Spain by the Arabs in the seventh century ad, and remains evident in the Moorish gardens of Sevilla, Córdoba and Granada as well as in North Africa. Much later, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the Muslim civilisations of Timur Leng in Central Asia and the Moghuls in India elevated the art of garden design based on the traditional idiom of the Persian garden, transmitted there pre-Islam by the Greeks. Renaissance Europe also provided fertile ground for new ideas. The influence of science and the arts there gave birth to a new style of gardening using characteristics common to Islamic gardens. Watercourses, fountains, rills and geometric planting patterns borrowed the notion of tight mathematical symmetry PHOTO: PAul AlMASy/CORBIS; GETTy IMAGES (2) and order from the East while remaining European in their sensibilities. Over centuries, as Islamic influence stretched from North Africa and Spain in the west to India in the east, the use of calligraphy became prominent on account of the Muslim prohibition against graven images. Over time it changed the rules of embellishment and adornment, adding new meaning to the decorative intricacy of the geometric patterns laid out in the gardens. the concept of paradise as a garden is mentioned both in the Bible and the Qur’an. The description of heaven in the Qur’an is of a garden where every human desire is fulfilled as the reward for a life of devotion and prayer. The terraced paradise has ascending levels, Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 65 architecture 1 ‘So successful was this design that it remained unchanged for thousands of years.’ the eighth and highest heaven being the closest to God and therefore the most verdant and beautiful. Many verses in the Qur’an are devoted to these gardens and their contents. The four holy rivers of water, milk, honey and wine correspond to the four waterways, their intersection symbolising the meeting of humankind with God. Eight thus became a revered number. The octagonal circle became part of the vocabulary of Islamic garden design, as in the pools and geometric patterns used in ornamentation. The use of symbol and metaphor was also reflected in the kinds of trees used. (Trees had taken on cosmological significance prior to Islam, ; the ‘tree of life’ was known to all cultures.) the factor that has influenced garden design most profoundly has been the availability of water. In the Middle East today, advanced technology and sophisticated methods of water purification present us with a plethora of choices. Vast tracts of arid land have been made fertile and arable, making possible the growing of fruits, flowers, vegetables and cash crops on a commercial scale. The world of garden design both public and private has gone through a sea change – almost literally – as purification plants draw water from the Gulf, an expensive but necessary option. Sophisticated irrigation systems use underground pipes to convey precise amounts of water through a drip method, conserving water and making it possible to plant arrangements in a variety of styles. Misting systems reduce high temperatures in summer, as well. Wealth, exposure and influence have meant a change in lifestyles, and lavish gardens are now developed for clients according to a variety of designs, often to suit the fashion of the day. _end of part i This page, top: Persian Garden, fifteenth-century miniature (watercolour on paper), from the collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. Bottom: A rendering of the ground-floor plan of the ‘paleobotanic building’ of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Gardens, due in 2010. 66 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 PHOTO: BRIdGEMAn ART lIBRARy; COuRTESy OF BARTOn WIllMORE architecture 2 riWaQ: MakiNg a PreSeNt of the PaSt iN PaLeStiNe Village by village, castle by castle, buried city by buried city, one vibrant organisation will not cease its ongoing, successful efforts to preserve the cultural heritage of Palestine. And it’s not only about what lies beneath – conservation is as much about sixty years ago as about the past thousand years. Kristen Ess reports. the zionist adage ‘a land without a people for a people without a land’ is being turned on its ear by the RIWAQ Centre for Cultural and Architectural Conservation, a nonprofit organisation whose efforts underscore the existence of Palestinian civilisation dating back millennia. A crucial aspect of Palestinian resistance, RIWAQ’s primary mission is to preserve ancient buildings, schools, homes and entire villages – the cultural heritage of Palestine, according to co-director Dr Nazmi al-Ju’beh. ‘We are interested in preserving the texture of a community in its full social context, not just the monuments,’ he adds. Owing in large part to the efforts of RIWAQ, thousands of buildings in Palestine have been preserved, thus continuing to ensure that this heritage is protected. ‘al-Nakba, The Palestinian Catastrophe in 1948, was not just a nakba for human beings, and not just an issue of refugees,’ al-Ju’beh says. ‘It was a massacre of the cultural heritage of Palestine. More than 400 Palestinian villages and towns were destroyed during the founding of the state of Israel.’ RIWAQ, founded in 1991, is housed in a restored three-story home described as ‘1940s bourgeois’ on the outskirts of Ramallah, in al-Bireh city. The group has multiple facets, including a Research and Publication unit that has produced dozens of publications on Palestinian architecture and a National Registry Unit that has compiled a Registry of Historic Buildings 52,000 strong and counting. According to Dr Suad Amiry, founder and co-director of RIWAQ (and author of the highly acclaimed Sharon and My Mother-in-Law, about the Israeli siege of Ramallah in April 2002), funding derives from myriad sources, including the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Ford Foundation and the European Union, among others. al-ju’beh says RIWAQ considers the revival of historic centres not only in terms of preservation, but also as development. In the southern West Bank’s Adh Dhahiriya, speaking of a large, restored house turned into a school for 400 girls alongside which poppies and roses bloom amidst the tall green grass, he says: ‘We want to make things that the community can use, and that everyone can be proud of.’ Furthermore, RIWAQ’s numerous projects aim to provide work for some of the 70 percent of Palestinians currently unemployed, through an initiative called the Job Creation through Conservation Project. Adh Dhahiriya itself ‘is one of the largest historic centres, but it is not a holy place. It’s not Bethlehem, it’s not Jerusalem, it’s not [nearby] Hebron, where the Ibrahimi Mosque dates to the early Muslim period, the Umayyad of the seventh and eighth centuries – but that does not lessen its importance.’ 68 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Photo: MiA GrondAhl / riWAQ Photo ArchiVe; idioMs FilM Clockwise from top: Jerusalem; Village of Beit Wazan (Nablus Governorate); Village of Burqa (Nablus Governorate); Village of Sanniriya (Qalqiliya Governorate) Underneath the town, awaiting restoration, is an entire old city that was once the fourteenth-century frontier to the Naqab Desert. ‘There are a series of underground and rock-cut passageways, caves there,’ al-Ju’beh says of the place. ‘You have a whole city under the current historic centre, and above are the remains of a Roman citadel. You have remains of Byzantine churches, and you have Mamluk buildings: thirteenth, fourteenth century. And of course, the Ottoman historic centre.’ The rooftops of the town are replete with the moss of centuries gone by. This is one of RIWAQ’s next major projects. ‘ More than 400 Palestinian villages and towns were destroyed during the founding of the state of Israel.’ recent successes include an attempt to prolong the life of one of the most important village castles of the Ottoman period, al-Suhweil in the village of Ibwein, through ‘preventive conservation’. This project, completed in 2006 with assistance from the German Federal Office, has helped to preserve the eighteenth-century castle’s gorgeous features, such as its carved stones and intricate windows. According to RIWAQ’s annual report for that year, the project also generated numerous jobs over its course as intended, totalling ‘1,407 direct and indirect work-man days’. ‘Palestine has a wealth of architectural heritage’, says Rana Hussein, RIWAQ’s administrative coordinator, pointing out that much of its richness has been visually preserved as scenes in frescoes from as far back as the first century ad. ‘Some amazing frescoes can be found in the Jacir Palace Inter- Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 69 architecture 2 continental Hotel in Bethlehem, and in the Austrian Guesthouse in the Old City of Jerusalem … Frescoes are evidence of Palestine’s rank within the Mediterranean environment, and of its openness to different cultures from all over the world since early ages.’ Al-Ju’beh readily agrees. ‘We are a mix,’ he says, and refers not only to the vibrantly coloured frescoes but also to other features found in Palestinian buildings, from simple floor tiles to ornate mosaics attesting to thousands of years of culture from ancient times through the Ottoman period and into the British Mandate. ‘[We are] an integration of so many styles.’ riwaq must often struggle to gain access to sites under Israeli control. Currently, for example, it seeks to restore the caravanserai in Khan Yunis, the southern Gaza town named after the fourteenth-century prince who founded the trading post there. The site requires much restoration. Al-Ju’beh says that for ten years RIWAQ has been trying to gain Israeli permission to work there. ‘Part of the caravanserai was also a mosque, of which the minaret remains,’ he says. ‘The façade of the building is huge, something like 50 m long, and contains all the decorative elements of the Mamluk style … several colours, white, red and black, with stalactites, very long inscriptions. It’s incredibly beautiful.’ Another unreachable area lies within the boundaries of the Tel Aviv municipality, which is destroying 500 historic Palestinian buildings and cemeteries in Jaffa. Al-Ju’beh says: ‘The Israelis did nothing to preserve [them], and are waiting for them to crumble and be replaced by high-rises.’ ‘We concentrate where no one else does as the only organisation working on a national level,” says Hussein. RIWAQ has worked extensively in the Old City of Jerusalem; now the Islamic 70 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Photo: MiA GrondAhl / riWAQ Photo ArchiVe; rulA hAlAWAni / riWAQ Photo ArchiVe Council has taken the reins there, concentrating on preserving the al-Aqsa Mosque and its environs. Similarly, in Nablus, the municipality has taken on the work of restoring that ancient town. Amiry says the loss of cultural property there is significant, ‘as part of the widespread damage caused by the Israeli army in its re-invasion of Palestinian towns that began in March 2002’. Israeli forces have destroyed much of the Old City. Al-Jubeh, choked up, says: ‘Israeli bulldozers are blind,’ he says. ‘They don’t see historic or cultural value. The damage done to the Roman city underneath is incalculable.’ Hussein says: ‘Our work really took off after the beginning of the second intifada.’ ‘We are a mix … We are an integration of so many styles.’ sami awad, executive Director of the Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem, echoes this sense of threatened heritage. (RIWAQ is not active in Bethlehem, as the city already has an energetic restoration effort underway.) ‘[The Israelis] are not only trying to steal our political rights, but our cultural heritage,’ he says. Bethlehem suffocates from the IsraelWest Bank barrier as well as the settlements and checkpoints that surround it. However, the doorways of its Old City are works of art, made up of metals, colour and wood from the immortal olive tree. Attempting to preserve their culture’s architectural legacy is a luxury that few Palestinians possess in terms of resources, be these time or finances. But none wish to see their built heritage erode. Thankfully, RIWAQ is on the job. _end Kristen ess is the pseudonym of the Palestine bureau chief of Flashpoints radio on the Pacifica network in the us; she is also the english director and cofounder of the Palestine news network, West Bank, occupied Palestine. Clockwise, from top left: Hebron; An-Nabi Salih shrine (Ramallah and al-Bireh Governorate); Nazareth: ceiling in private mansion; Safad, North Galilee; Jericho Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 71 Design news Bridging Cultures by Design Traditional Islamic arts are alive and well – in London, under the patronage of none other than HRH Charles, Prince of Wales. Ana Finel Honigman takes a look at a truly unique firm whose products and designs are the fruit of the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts – and are also inspired by a host of unexpected influences. A dish is an unexpected vehicle for communion between two contentious cultures and their diverse aesthetic traditions. But the postgraduate Prince’s School of Traditional Arts in London’s trendy Shoreditch district, founded in 2004 by Prince Charles, provides just such a cross-cultural exchange. The beautiful handcrafted housewares and other objects produced by the school are genuinely rare hybrid blossoms of European and Islamic decorative arts. The dignified porcelain and crystal storefront display of Traditional Arts Limited initially seems like a portal into an incongruously dainty world. But the luxurious, delicate objects are evidence of Prince Charles’s concern with establishing a creative dialogue with Islam by reviving and maintaining traditional Islamic design. As one of the few institutions in the West to provide courses in such disciplines as stained-glass window-making, gilding, lettering and Islamic calligraphy (to students from a range of ethnic backgrounds and ages), the school makes these endangered arts contemporary. The Prince of Wales’s relationship with the firm is admirably active. He has proven himself personally invested in the products he endorses, and even launched the Traditional Arts collection at Clarence House, his London home, with service on dishes designed by one of the school’s former students. A reincarnation of the Visual Islamic and Traditional Arts programme originally housed in the Royal College of Art, the School of Traditional Arts trains students in arabesque, mosaic, miniature Mughal painting, stone carving, woodwork, calligraphy, tile making and theory. But the most striking aspect of the curriculum might be its practical application through Traditional Arts Limited, the trading programme launched last year. Acting as a commercial platform for work emerging from the school, it teaches students to respond to clients’ wants. Primarily producing tableware, the trading company directs its revenues back into funding for the school itself, in what the directors hope will be a ‘virtuous cycle’. The works are commissioned and sold at high-end London department stores such as Thomas Bridging Cultures by Design Goode, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason. They are also made to order for clients in the Middle East. Although the school trains students in Islamic aesthetic traditions, the products sold through Traditional Arts Limited are cultural fusions. The mixture of cultures evident in Traditional Arts’ objects initially appears conservative. That is their fundamental allure. The English china, English and Italian sterling and silverware and crystal stemware from England and the Czech Republic all serve as bases for designs ranging in origin and inspiration from eleventh-century illuminated Islamic manuscripts to contemporary applications of Islamic principles. One of the most popular designs, adorning silver openwork candlesticks, crystal stemware and the rims of full table sets, is ‘Kirtim Flower’, a lotus-like pattern created by British then-MA student Samantha Buckley, based on illustrated botanical books nearly 1,000 years old. This autumn, Traditional Arts Limited will expand with cufflinks, neckties and traditional carpets, all decorated with the company’s signature patterns. The ties produced by the firm will join its housewares as representative of a harmony of cultures – at least in the area of elegant design. www.traditionalarts.co.uk Bridging Cultures by Design 72 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 01 Shisha reinterpreted 01 It was Lebanese furniture designer Nada Debs who claimed that while our lifestyles might have changed, we still want to relate to our Middle Eastern heritage. Sybille Tamer and Ziad Abillama of Atelier S/Z recently presented a new shisha pipe prototype at Milan’s Satellite Furniture and Design show that does just that. While the object is based on the staple Middle Eastern smoking pipe, its design couldn’t be more different. Built in various Plexiglas colors, the water compartments are divided into several boxes connected through metal rods, lending a labyrinthine and absolutely architectural aspect to the whole. www.ateliersz.com 03 Down to the letter 02 Arabesque is a new book that examines recent and innovative design from the Arab world and Iran. It includes graphic design, logos and illustrations by young designers and activists from Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Lebanon, complemented by selected projects by Western designers who are strongly influenced by Arab culture. Because of the importance of calligraphy in the Middle East, Arabesque focuses on typography. It presents a wide selection of modern Arabic fonts and typefaces, and shows how text can be used as illustration. The combination of modern design with the traditional, letter-based canon of Arabic forms is always striking, and shows how young designers from the region are inventing their own international style. Arabesque also includes a CD-ROM with the Arabicinspired Latin typeface created by Ben Wittner and Sascha Thoma. www.gestalten.com Cliché in Dubai 03 The new Dubai art zine Cliché promotes urban/ underground art culture in the Middle East. Vinay Kumar and Vivek Premachandran of Whitespace created the A1-sized publication as a showcase for two of the best artists chosen monthly from the local urban art scene. Last spring, the Traffic design gallery was transformed into a live version of the zine when limited-edition bespoke boxes containing back issues of Cliché were on exhibit. Cliché is non-commercial and available by subscription only. www.whitespace-designs.com Designers as products Three designers – Zaha Hadid, Jaime Hayon and Karim Rashid – have been transformed into figurines by artist Olivia Lee. A student at London’s Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, Singapore-born Lee has designed the limited-edition dolls as her graduating project. They are intended to ‘poke fun at the design cognescenti’. www.olivia-lee.com 02 Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 73 Design metal maestro Middle Eastern and utterly contemporary: Yvonne Courtney finds that for thoroughly modern designer Karen Chekerdjian, these two qualities function in perfect balance. tinned brass has been widely used in the Middle East for centuries – notably for dining accessories, on account of the material’s hygienic properties. At a time when indigenous skills are disappearing around the world, Beiruti designer Karen Chekerdjian chose to develop her ‘Brass Collection’ with traditional artisans in northern Lebanon. The sleek and sophisticated trays, bowls and platters are adorned with graphic patterns, successfully blending local craftsmanship with contemporary design. Chekerdjian’s geometric stainless-steel pieces offer dynamically modern forms that work equally well in traditional or contemporary settings. These have attracted interest from the galleries that now sell her work, including Beirut’s Orient 499, Houston’s Peel Gallery and Milan’s Spazio Rossana Orlandi. Top: ‘Gâteau’. Centre: Sous-plat. Bottom: Table. ‘At a time when indigenous skills are disappearing around the world, Chekerdjian chose to develop her “Brass Collection” with traditional artisans in northern Lebanon.’ The ‘Brass Collection’ was initially exhibited in New York during the major International Contemporary Furniture Fair in 2006 and sponsored by SlowLab, an organisation dedicated to cultivating slower rhythms to balance today’s hectic environments. The handcrafted objects provided stark contrast to the synthetic materials and industrial manufacturing techniques displayed elsewhere, and were reminders of the beauty and intrinsic value of old ways of making, adding character to an increasingly homogeneous marketplace. The designer’s approach reflects a growing trend by emerging talents in the Middle East to mix tradition and modernity, creating objects and interiors with international appeal and, essentially, a globalised ‘contemporary oriental’ aesthetic. Chekerdjian creates products and furniture ranges for restaurants and stores as well as major exhibitions in Paris, Milan, Cologne and New York. Her oversized brass trays can be seen at the Liza restaurant in Paris. Despite their scale and their being upside down, they are at once Middle Eastern yet confidently contemporary. Her designs can also be spotted in Dubai’s MOMO restaurant, commissioned by interior designer Annabel Kassar, and in that city’s O de Rose. Now based in Beirut, Chekerdjian studied industrial design and later established the design studio Mind the Gap. At the Domus Academy in Milan she studied and worked with Massimo Morozzi, which led to her first furniture designs being produced by Italian furniture manufacturer Edra. Like her fellow designers, Chekerdjian predominantly focuses on developing objects for the kitchen and dining areas of the house. These items also reflect important social and cultural traditions that have been passed down through generations and currently lie in the balance, torn between a regard for long-held customs and a desire to embrace the modern. Chekerdjian’s pieces provide stylish solutions for bridging the two._end 74 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 media toot-iN’ their blogs Blogging in the Middle East is still is its infancy, but on the upswing. Fast-growing, Amman-based Toot, the first Arab blog network, is leading the way with broad and diverse content plus new services. there has been much hype about the rise of blogs in the Arab world, but blogging, and reading blogs, remains the domain of an elite minority. Although the number of Arab Internet users is increasing rapidly, only a fraction of them read blogs, and user penetration is still below the world average of about 14 percent, according to a 2005 study by the Masdar group of Dubai. That said, blogging, or tadween, has been an invaluable tool for many to bypass social and political restrictions in the region – although in some cases a steep price has been paid for this form of free speech: bloggers in Egypt, Bahrain, Syria and Saudi Arabia, among other countries, have been imprisoned. ‘Toot has expanded to include Ikbis (“the YouTube of the Middle East”) and Watwet, a free Web and mobile social networking site.’ Nevertheless, lucky readers have a growing number of first-rate blogs to choose from. One of the best places to begin is Toot, the first Arab blog network, launched in Jordan in 2006. Attractive and well-designed, Toot posts 170 or so of what it deems the best Arab and Arab-related blogs in English and Arabic. Sample blogs include ‘GadgetsArabia’, which tracks the latest consumer technology; the political Palestinian ‘Sabbahblog’; Beirut artist and musician Mazen Kerbaj’s ‘Kerblog’; a blog by an Iraqi woman in Baghdad’s Green Zone, ‘Neurotic Iraqi Wife’; and California-based Moroccan writer Laila Lalami’s ‘Moorish Girl’. Founded by brothers Mazen and Karim Arafat, Ahmad Humeid (who also mans the blog 360 Degrees East), Andreas Pieper, Wael Attili and George Akra, the Toot team operates out of Amman with the exception of Mazen Arafat, who lives in London. Between them, the twentysomething entrepreneurs pooled their know-how in banking, law, web development, design and technology, and have expanded the company, creating two other separate products: Ikbis, the region’s first video and photo sharing service, (coined ‘the YouTube of the Arab world’ by Newsweek in 2007) and Watwet, a free Web and mobile social networking/miniblogging site. Ikbis has also formed a partnership with Nokia, allowing Nseries owners to share their photographs and videos on Ikbis instantaneously. Ikbis also recently launched an Internet comedy channel called Ground Zero. The TootCorp partners are currently in talks with several investors, and have a few more projects up their sleeves. Toot is most definitely a site to be bookmarked. _alex Zeytoun www.itoot.net www.ikbis.com www.watwet.com The following blogs are as different in form and content as the Internet is vast: www.atrissi.com/wordpress Beirut-born Tarek Atrissi is a designer based in The Netherlands. He began his blog as a professional and personal visual and design diary of his studio. Posts are about visual culture, design, typography and type design in the Arab world, as well as the studio’s current projects. www.mideastyouth.com ‘Mideast Youth’ is the brainchild of Esra’a Al Shafei, who describes herself as a student ‘from a kingdom the size of a bathtub in the Gulf: Bahrain’. She launched the blog in 2006 with the intention of creating ‘a fierce but respectful dialogue in the region amongst members of all sects, socio-economic backgrounds, and political and religious beliefs’. Al Shafei has succeeded in running her blog with fellow students who volunteer their services, and she now has Arabs, Iranians, Kurds and Israelis contributing from an impressive number of countries. ‘Mideast Youth’ recently won an award from Harvard Law School. www.mymarrakesh.com ‘My Marrakesh’ is a blog created by Maryam, an American interested in design and all manner of beautiful objects. The blog was launched to record the adventures of Maryam and her husband as they set up a guest house in Marrakech, but it took on a life of its own and has since won awards and led to a book contract. ‘My Marrakesh’ is for anyone who enjoys reading about design, lifestyle and Morocco, and the photos are lovely as well. 76 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 music 1 mElancholy miah Carole Corm meets a thoroughly modern chanteuse seducing listeners on two continents. the most parisian of Arab capitals is, no doubt, Beirut. So it comes as no surprise that among the Arabic pop singers, edgy electro DJs and punk rock bands there, one also finds a twenty-nine-year-old singer who gracefully delivers modern, melancholy French songs. Welcome to the world of Miah, a professional dancer turned singer whose looks are a mix of Botticelli painting and chic Left Bank student. Last spring she released her first album, catimini, which featured a limited number of songs but met with resounding success in Beirut. ‘En catimini’ is an expression meaning ‘in secret’ in French. ‘[It] is a word we don’t use much, but which I like,’ says Miah. The album began with a song for the singer’s fiancé. She showed the lyrics to Zeid Hamdan of the bands Soapkills and The New Government, a leader in Lebanon’s alternative music scene, and he came up with a melody. With her one song in hand, Miah visited a Lebanese friend in Paris who happened to work for Warner Music. ‘He encouraged me and asked me to come back with a few more songs,’ She recounts. Miah returned to Beirut, ready to work. Her project was thwarted though, when Hizbullah and Israel broke into full-scale war in the summer of 2006, and it looked like Miah’s musical adventure would stop there. Yet after the war, Hamdan pushed her to persevere and, most importantly, to find a creative director who could help her with a demo. Enter Ziad Saad, another musician. Together they crafted an album that some have compared to Carla Bruni’s work, albeit with a Lebanese touch. ‘Personally, I believe life to be grandiose, crazy, magical, but also a bit bitter. Is this linked to Lebanon? To our existential condition? Who cares?’ Miah’s lyrics are at times sad, at times funny. ‘The lyrics reflect the air I breathe. Is it a sign of the times? I’m not quite sure. Personally, I believe life to be grandiose, crazy, magical, but also a bit bitter. Is this linked to Lebanon? To our existential condition? Who cares? I try to express myself in the simplest of ways. In my view, poetry is in the simplest of things.’ Her themes are universal: love, waiting for a loved one, the sense of not belonging to a certain place … ‘catimini’, for instance, speaks of the painful waiting for what will probably never come back. ‘Déboussolé’, on the other hand, is not about love, but about taking a bit of craziness and making something out of it. ‘End of Story’, with lyrics by Saad, is about two people who think alike but can’t communicate except through music – which perhaps explains why Miah actually duets with Saad on this song. Miah’s most interesting feature is her voice. She seems to control it, not letting it go, as though she had never yelled in her life. It’s all kept within. ‘Yelling? There was actually a song with a lot of yelling, but it didn’t make it onto the album,’ she says. ‘Generally, I think I’m a rather calm person. I don’t like having to speak louder to be un- derstood. The aim of the album was not to be a vocal performance but rather to transmit a message, to express through music what words will never be able to say.’ As for the very French feel to the album, Miah attributes it to a complex relationship with Paris. ‘I studied French literature. I lived half of my life in Paris. When I’m in Beirut, I miss Paris. Sometimes, I watch French channels on television to feel that Paris is not so far away. Although today I’m not quite sure I would want to live there. But when I’m in Paris, it’s Beirut I miss. I think I share this feeling with a lot of other people in Lebanon.’ Her debut album, she admits, was produced in difficult conditions. ‘I sacrificed a lot to deliver this album,’ she says, adding that she was obliged to cut several songs. The warm welcome it received gave Miah a bit of faith, however, and she is already working on her second album: ‘I still have a lot of things to say.’ _end Photo: Joe Keserouani www.miah.fr 78 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 music 2 Left, from left: Indiephone is Hannah Evans (impact guitar), Rhodri Karim (bass, synth, vocals), Andy Lawrence (drums), Shanya Buultjens (rhythm guitar). inDiEphonE calling Andy Buchan discovers oddball pop-punk in the uae courtesy of abu Dhabi-based indiephone. he caught up with band members rhodri and hannah to learn about satanic promoters, not wanting to fit in and other facts of indiephone life. enter ‘indiephone’ into Google and you’ll be bombarded by occurrences of the same lucid, if somewhat smug, description of the group. ‘This isn’t just a band,’ reads the self-penned statement. ‘It’s a whole new genre. Melding the funktacularity of indie rock with an old-time good-time rock ‘n’ roll vibe, Indiephone are going to take the chart in your heart by storm.You can bet on it. Gee whiz.’ This free-thinking four-piece made up of British expats who have been in the UAE for most of their school lives has indie as its cornerstone and youthful verve to spare (its members are impossibly fresh-faced), Indiephone infuses its music with ambitious, genre-dodging attitude. Though it might rail against these metal-infused times, it is just as surely a product of it. ‘We pretty much hate everyone and the music they create, and a lot of the bands take themselves way too seriously, especially when you consider that you’re in the UAE,’ says Rhodri, the band’s bearded ringleader. Realising that such words might not be the best start to an interview, he cedes opening-statement responsibility: ‘I’ll let Hannah describe it, she’s less vitriolic.’ True enough, Hannah is the diplomatic yin to Rhodri’s angry yang. ‘We noticed that all these bands seemed to be making music to fit a certain genre, to become part of a scene,’ she says. ‘We didn’t want to be anything other than what we are. Indiephone is this bizarre mix of everything we can do. You don’t have to be a rock band, an emo band, a punk band – you can just be yourself.’ ‘The last gig we went to the organiser got done for having a Satanic presence at the gig … but it turned out it was just a death metal band there.’ Indiephone has recently created the rather marvellous but scattergun EP Did you mean idiophone, blessed with bizarre song titles like ‘Metrixxxx’, about the joys of the metric system and ‘Sexy Pepsi Bowling’, which is presumably about the pleasures of fizzy pop and tenpins. But while Indiephone has had success with its recorded music – an album is apparently in the offing, its sound engineer has worked with such luminaries as Springsteen, and, erm, Akon, and the head of Virgin in the region is keen to sign the band up – it has had some more interesting live shows in the emirate. ‘The last gig we went to,’ says Rhodri quickly in his semi-posh gentry voice, ‘the organiser got done for having a Satanic presence at the gig. He got nicked by the police, but it turned out it was just a death-metal band.’ Then there’s Indiephone’s now-infamous living-room show, which quickly did the Internet rounds. ‘Oh, you saw that,’ says Hannah, slightly aghast. ‘Our first-ever gig was in this living room; we didn’t know anyone there, and we turned up and everyone was singing the lyrics, which was amazing.’ Indiephone nearly played in front of 15,000 people in Dubai. ‘We played this event where the winner got to warm up for Santana, and we had this wall of tweenies in front of us screaming the words back,’ says Rhodri. ‘The executives on the beanbags looked quite disturbed in the background.’ You might imagine the same look on Carlos Santana’s face had the ragtag four-piece ended up winning the chance to do warm-up duty for him. Asked to describe the band, Hannah says, in a fit of mild giggles: ‘I suppose “experimental progressive”.’ ‘And put some “hard rock” in there,’ says Rhodri firmly. ‘“Experimental, hard ska, prog-electronic music.” It just rolls off the tongue.’ We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. _end For more information on indiephone, visit www.myspace.com/indiephone. Download the band’s music from www.7digital.com Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 79 Film 1 AnimAtiOnS OF mOrtAlity An Israeli filmmaker confronts his own – and his country’s – role in a notorious slaughter. Adla Massoud looks at how, and why. one night in September 1982, Lebanese Christian militiamen invaded the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in the heart of Beirut and massacred more than 3,000 Palestinians while Israeli soldiers surrounded the area. Waltz with Bashir’s director, Ari Folman, was one of those soldiers. His animated documentary tells the story of these soldiers and of their traumatic memories of the massacres, which triggered widespread international condemnation at the time. The film’s protagonist is Folman himself. ‘I went through a major psychological upheaval during the four years I worked on the film,’ the Haifa-born filmmaker has said. ‘I discovered a lot of heavy stuff regarding my past. Meanwhile, my wife and I brought three kids into this world. This [made me] wonder, maybe I am doing all this for my sons. When they grow up and watch the film, it might help them make the right decisions, not to take part in any war.’ in the film, Folman meets a friend who talks about his nightmare he experienced as a soldier in that first invasion of Lebanon; Folman then decides to deal with his own repressed memories, and to track down and interview fellow soldiers in order to reassemble his fragmented youth. (Seven of the nine interviewees were recorded for the film; for personal reasons, the other two preferred that their words be spoken by actors.) The stories tell of shooting and being shot at, of the contempt in which many of the soldiers held Palestinians and of the role they did or did not play in the events leading up to the massacres. More than just a device for the director to exorcise his own demons, the film also carries an unambiguous message about the horrors of war. ‘I’ve come to one conclusion: war is so useless that’s its unbelievable,’ Folman has avowed. ‘It’s nothing like you’ve seen in American movies. No glam, no glory. Just very young men film does explore to what extent Israeli authorities were complicit. ‘One thing for sure is that the Christian Phalangist militiamen were fully responsible for the massacre,’ Folman is quoted as saying. ‘Israeli soldiers had nothing to do with it. As for the Israeli government, only they know the extent of their responsibility.’ Why did he decide to tell the story of these atrocities using animation? ‘War is so surreal,’ Folman has said, ‘and memory is so tricky, that I thought I’d better go all along the memory journey with the help of very fine illustrators.’ Animation, he believes, will also help the film reach a wider and younger audience around the world. A still from Ari Folman’s haunting, and haunted, Waltz with Bashir. going nowhere, shooting at no one they know, getting shot by one no one they know, then going home and trying to forget. Sometimes they can. Most of the time they cannot. It’s the worst thing humans can do to each other.’ The highly personal tale, which took four years and $2 million to produce, ends with Folman realising that he was one of the many Israeli soldiers positioned around the camp who did nothing to stop the massacres. He lays the blame for the killings directly on Christian militia fighters, although the the film’s most damning moment reveals itself in the final fifty seconds when Folman ditches animation in favour of gruesome news footage showing the victims’ bodies piled up in courtyards and alleyways, wailing mourners wandering among the carnage. These images, when first shown, caused outrage and protests across the world – including in Israel. Folman has said he decided to use the footage in order to put the film into perspective; he didn’t want viewers thinking they had seen just a ‘cool animated movie’. _end 80 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Film 2 Kumiko Aso as Nabat in Abolfazl Jalili’s Hafez. mySticAl reAliSt Having released his twelfth feature, Hafez, the indefatigable Iranian filmmaker Abolfazl Jalili speaks with Jim Quilty about his relationship to God, religion, cinema and the Iranian authorities – and about a mysterious suitcase that might hold the key to his life’s work. abolfazl jalili is one of Iran’s more dogged filmmakers. Like his betterknown countrymen Abbas Kiarostami and Mohsen Makhmalbaf, he has been profoundly influenced by Italian neorealism. His latest feature, Hafez (2007), is a love story set in contemporary rural Iran. Shams al-Din Muhammad (Mehdi Moradi) graduates from a Sufi seminary and is awarded the title ‘Hafez’ (literally, ‘one who has memorised the Qur’an’), also the name of a famed fourteenth-century Persian poet and mystic. Shortly afterward, the local mufti (head jurist of Muslim law) commissions Hafez to teach the Qur’an to Nabat (Kumiko Aso), his half-Tibetan daughter. The invitation is surprising: the Sufi and scholarly branches of Islam (represented, respectively, by Hafez and the mufti) have been at odds for many years. Teacher and pupil conduct their classes in separate rooms, speaking to one another through a wall with an open window above them; but they still become attracted to one another. When Nabat begins asking questions about the Qur’an that Hafez feels best able to answer through poetry, the mufti upbraids him. When the mufti is informed that Hafez has caught a glimpse of his daughter during one of their lessons, he has Hafez whipped, stripped of his status and banished. He then marries Nabat to one of his own students, whose name also happens to be Shams al-Din Muhammad. Inconsolable, Nabat falls ill. In an effort to heal her, the mufti offers to forgive Hafez if he renounces Nabat’s memory. Hafez undertakes a ‘mirror vow’, a series of mystic trials. He must travel to seven different locations in search of virgin girls, offering to perform a service for each if they wash his mirror in return. after hafez sets off, his teachers in the seminary summon Nabat’s new husband and tell him that the mufti’s sentence is a perversion of the law. They order him to track down Hafez and stop him. As with Jalili’s earlier work, Hafez has a one-man-show quality. Jalili is credited as director, screenwriter, editor, composer, performer of its original music and coproducer, and seems to have done much of the camerawork himself. The film, though, departs from pure neorealism: the role of Hafez is the second feature film role for Moradi, and Aso is a prominent actress in Japan. Jalili’s latest film is not his first self-consciously poetic feature. In its cinematic language, imagery, plot and thematic concerns, however, Hafez implies a much deeper interest in mysticism than Jalili’s previous work – though the filmmaker avers that it is in line with its forebears. The plot, he says, symbolises his relationship with Iran’s religious elite, which refuses to grant him screening permission. ‘I’ve asked [the state authorities] many times why others [receive permission] but not me,’ says Jalili. ‘They never tell me. Perhaps it’s because I have thoughts about religion that are at odds with how the state views Islam.’ Is Hafez the product of an artist grown more religious over the years? Jalili says no. ‘Since my childhood, I’ve felt close to God. My mother had a big suitcase in her cupboard. When I was six years old, I used to climb into it and shut the lid. I could feel myself being elevated high into the air. I could see mountains and valleys. My parents wanted to know why I was climbing into the suitcase. I told them: “When I’m there, I see God.” They were afraid I was going mad. I asked my grandfather, an educated and religious man, what he thought would become of me. “You will be an artist,” he said.’ Jalili believes his earlier work represents a stage he had to pass through in order to address his real interests. ‘I always tell young filmmakers: “If you want to say something, you have to prove yourself first.” This is the best way to see my earlier work: a way of demonstrating who I am. My films vary depending on my state of mind at the time. ‘I’m still making films, but it’s not my ideal. In my whole life, I don’t think I’ve watched 100 films. I look for the feelings within me, but these can’t be expressed in film. When a mother misses her child, you can’t capture this feeling in an image.’_end Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 81 Books Israelis and Palestinians in love and war, the confessions of a Lebanese deviant, a reasoned plea for the one-state solution, the young and restless in Tehran, Syrian panties exposed and a peripatetic Arab girlhood: there’s no reason this autumn to break the reading momentum you may have garnered during summer. The End of Spring sahar khalifeh is one of today’s most important Palestinian novelists. Her latest book is a coming-of-age story set during the 2002 siege of Yasir Arafat’s Ramallah headquarters. Ahmad, an introverted adolescent whose hobby is taking photographs, falls in love with an Israeli girl, Mira, from a neighbouring settlement. The two meet in secret, striking up an awkward friendship. Then the post-Oslo situation in the West Bank degenerates. Khalifeh skilfully addresses the effects of oppression, war zone survival and the loss of innocence. Strong female characters, the backbone of Palestinian society, provide moral and physical sustenance; the men live a vicious cycle of unemployment and violence. Ahmad’s childhood ends abruptly during the Israeli incursion. He leaves school and works for the Red Cross, but mostly feels confused. He challenges a priest sent by his father; he visits a mosque and begins to read the Qur’an. Then it becomes clear that the Israeli Wall will run through his village. A chance encounter at a peace demonstration brings Ahmad and Mira together again; this powerful book closes against a backdrop of bulldozers and tragedy. The End of Spring by Sahar Khalifeh, translated by Paula Haydar Interlink Books www.interlinkbooks.com Yalo in this hypnotic tenth novel by Lebanese writer Elias Khoury, Daniel (aka ‘Yalo’) is interrogated in prison, accused of rape and robbery. Lebanon’s civil war is unveiled through his confessions, which he constantly rewrites, recalling new details each time about his past. A militiaman who escapes to Paris after stealing money from a barracks, Yalo ends up begging and is taken in by a wealthy Lebanese man who gives him a job as a watchman at his villa in Lebanon. He patrols the grounds, watching lovers in parked cars, robbing them and raping the women. He also falls in love with Shirin, who turns him in, claiming he has stalked and raped her. Truth and memory are blurred each time Yalo begins his confession. The reader is thrown into doubt: did Yalo rape Shirin? Can he be held responsible for his brutal behaviour? Yalo’s brutal treatment by his interrogators, juxtaposed with his unhappy life, make it possible for the reader to be both horrified by him but also to become empathetic. Yalo by Elias Khoury, translated by Peter Theroux Archipelago Books www.archipelagobooks.org Married to Another Man in 1897 theodor Herzl, founder of modern Zionism, sent two rabbis to Palestine to explore the possibility of a Jewish state there. ‘The bride is beautiful,’ they cabled back, ‘but she is married to another man’ – the Palestinian people. Academic, writer and physician Ghada Karmi confidently investigates Israel as a fledgling nation; Jewish identification with Israel; the West’s support of Israel; the damage wrought on Palestinians; and the failed peace processes, concluding that the only solution is a one-state, secular democracy. Karmi believes the two-state solution stands little chance of becoming reality. She quotes Sherlock Holmes: ‘Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.’ Karmi never allows herself sentimentality, writing eloquently and with implacable logic. She once said: ‘Look. [Zionism] was once a wild dream. [They] were talking about a Jewish state on someone else’s land. My idea seems less crazy.’ Married to Another Man by Ghada Karmi Pluto Press www.plutobooks.com 82 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Transit Tehran: Young Iran and Its Inspirations two thirds of Iran’s population is under thirty years old. The Islamic Revolution, meanwhile, is not yet thirty. This intelligently edited anthology of essays, short stories, photographs and illustrations explores youth culture in Iran’s megalopolis. There are many Tehrans. We are given martyrs-in-training, a beloved, charismatic imam with his followers, post-Revolutionary spatial politics, interviews with survivors of the Shah’s regime, a glimpse into the indignities of traffic court and much more. A group of female football fans struggles to gain admittance to all-male stadiums; we visit a school for women clerics; there are startling photos of female police cadets like chador-clad action heroines; and a gentle portrait of a transsexual truck driver. The city’s mean streets, rife with hard crime and drugs, are covered compassionately and unflinchingly in two essays. Contemporary artists like Nicky Nodjumi and Khosrow Hassanzadeh are showcased. Iranian hip hop, grim morality police, dreamy narrators groping for meaning: they’re all here. Too few in the West or East have enquired enough into what makes Iran, a vast and diverse country, tick. Tehran is a good place to start. This is the right book for the right times. Transit Tehran: Young Iran and Its Inspirations edited by Malu Halasa and Maziar Bahari Garnet Publishing www.garnetpublishing.co.uk The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie damascus is unquestionably the world capital of creatively sexy lingerie. Journalist Malu Halasa and designer Rana Salam have put together a visual and academic study of Syria’s over-the-top undergarments in a fascinating book. Wildly popular throughout the Middle East, the racy attire is manufactured by conservative Sunni families for an equally conservative clientele. Men, brides-to-be, mothers and mothers-in-law regularly troll the Souk al-Hamadiyeh considering lingerie in latex, leather and satin adorned with feathers, flashing lights, toys on springs or faux fur. Included are photographs by Gilbert Hage of Lebanon, who catalogues the extraordinary lingerie; Syrian photographer and artist Issa Touma; and Omar Al Moutem, the unofficial lingerie photographer for manufacturers. There is an interview with Syrian democracy advocate Ammar Abdulhamid, and comments from Syrian women on the issue of lingerie: ‘The shop owner was relaxed and smiling, and didn’t give the sense he was embarrassed that he was selling all this crazy stuff. He kept bringing out so many different styles. I felt I was in a candy or toy store.’ The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie edited by Malu Halasa and Rana Salam Chronicle Books www.chroniclebooks.com A Map of Home randa jarrar, like her main character Nidali, is of Arab and Greek heritage and grew up in Kuwait, Egypt and the US. Her partly autobiographical novel sparkles with humour and intelligence. Nidali tenderly describes her rollicking family life, recounted with both a wicked sense of humour and seriousness. Nidali’s parents are larger-than-life characters. (‘My parents are more of a trip than the fictional ones,’ Jarrar confided recently.) The novel opens with them arguing about Nidali’s name when she is born. ‘Baba was amusing himself while angering Mama to extremes, a skill he was beginning to master.’ Conflict, competition and wit become the underlying sentiments of the household – it’s an Arab version of Who’s Afraid of Virigina Woolf?, albeit a kinder one. The family moves to Kuwait, where Nidali attends an English school, dodges her parents’ fights and invents zaatar burgers. When Iraq invades, the family leaves for Egypt – a decision made when Nidali’s father discovers they have run out of zaatar. From Egypt they move to Texas, where Nidali comes of age, begins to see herself outside her parents’ all-encompassing scope and, in a final twist, finds herself come full circle. This brilliant book is not one to overlook. A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar Other Press www.otherpress.com Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 83 Profile 1 Superstar Carmaker to the World Multilingual, multicultural, multitalented and multilateral-minded, Carlos Ghosn has crossed a number of boundaries in his time. Now the pragmatist dubbed le cost-killer faces a number of challenges at the helm of both Renault and Nissan – including the prospect of zero-emission vehicles. John Andrews profiles a man who habitually defies conventional wisdom. 84 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 he french press once gave Carlos Ghosn an intimidating nickname (if rather flattering in corporate terms): le cost-killer. It made sense: appointed in 2000 as the boss of Japan’s Nissan automobile manufacturer, the Brazilian-born Ghosn quickly led the world’s most indebted car company into both credit and profit, while at the same time driving Renault to an ever greater share of markets in Europe and beyond. (He joined the French carmaker in 1996, and in 2005 became its president and chief executive. Renault first bought a 37 percent share of Nissan, and now holds a 44 percent stake.) There is no one quite like him in the automobile industry: the man who heads two of the sector’s biggest companies is its sole superstar. T That adaptability is, of course, a common, almost instinctive trait among Lebanese people, whose worldwide diaspora – in recent years boosted by political upheaval – boasts plenty of success stories. Think, for example, of the Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helú (arguably the world’s richest man), or of Jacques Nasser, the former chief executive of the Ford Motor Company (known as ‘Jack the Knife’ for his cost-cutting measures), or of Nassim Nicholas Taleb, financial derivatives trader-turned-author of The Black Swan, that ode to the power of unpredictability. Even so, it was a remarkable achievement for Ghosn – a gaijin newcomer without, at the time, a word of Japanese – to walk into Nissan and win over both the management and the workers. ghosn’s explanation is that he did not try to impose solutions, but to foster partnership. ‘When you’re a child, you want to be just like the others and hate to be the black sheep: not fully Brazilian in Brazil, not fully Lebanese in Lebanon, not fully French in France. But with time, I learned that if diversity is hard, less comfortable, it is also very enriching. You don’t learn much from people who are just like you, who have the same culture and background. You learn from people who are different … Every time you recognise differences and are able to learn from them, you score. It is true at the individual level as well as at the scale of a company. Within the Renault–Nissan alliance, for instance, at the beginning people only looked at what was wrong in what was different. But when you accept [the notion of ] learning from difference and look at strengths rather than weaknesses, it becomes very powerful.’ True enough. le cost-killer had to be tough: closing plants, laying off workers and hiring new designers to revive ‘If energy costs continue to rise and environmental pressure continues to intensify, we’ll need a real breakthrough: 100 percent fuel-free and zero-emission vehicles.’ He is also, fittingly, a global citizen in a global industry. Born in Brazil to Lebanese parents fifty-four years ago, he was brought up from the age of six in Beirut and later graduated in engineering from France’s elite École Polytechnique. He is, according to his passport, a French citizen, but Ghosn, fluent in five languages, is too much a ‘citizen of the world’ to be defined by any single government’s documentation. As he puts it: ‘I don’t have a dominant nationality or culture. I feel at home in different places around the world – in Rio and Beirut, where I grew up, in Paris, where I spent my youth. I’m also very familiar with Tokyo today.’ Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 85 Profile 1 ‘It was a remarkable achievement for Ghosn – a “gaijin” newcomer without a word of Japanese – to win over both nissan’s management and workers.’ the Nissan range; but he did so with enough dexterity that a community group in Japan, a famously insular nation, once even named him ‘Father of the Year’. What next for the workaholic superstar? The answer is probably more of the same. Ghosn says he likes to play bridge and spend time with his Lebanese wife and their four children but, looking at his globetrotting schedule, it is hard to see where he finds that time. Whereas some business leaders jump from one sector to another, Ghosn has always been in automobiles: before joining Renault he had spent almost two decades with Michelin, ending as the French tire company’s boss in North America. ‘I’m fascinated by the automotive industry,’ he says. ‘A car is the object of both reason and emotion. You choose a car according to certain standards having to go with quality and price, of course, but also according to its image, its design, the sensation it produces or the feeling of freedom it gives. Few products can arouse as much passion as the automobile. It is a love affair that goes beyond a simple means of transpor- F tation.’ Hence, no doubt, Renault’s avant-garde designs and its presence (so far not very successful) on the Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit. or all his passion, Ghosn is a pragmatist. Nissan and Renault face a difficult year in a weakening world economy, especially in the US. One challenge over the longer term will be to adapt to the evolving world market. Ghosn says the auto industry’s ‘centre of gravity is moving from mature markets (the US, Europe and Japan) to developing markets such as the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and the Middle East’. He adds: ‘China is already the second-largest market in the world with fifty vehicles per thousand, so we can expect it to be the biggest market soon. Who will dominate the industry in the long term? Nobody knows. What is sure is that every player will have to prove its place in the competition every day.’ 86 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 First page: Carlos Ghosn in his office. Opposite, left: Ghosn meets employees in South Korea; opposite, right: Ghosn with the Koleos car by Renault. This page, clockwise from left: Ghosn with Renault’s concept Laguna Coupe; Ghosn visits a factory in Brazil; Ghosn speaking at a conference in South Korea. Born to be different ‘When you’re a child, you want to be just like the others and hate to be the black sheep: not fully Brazilian in Brazil, not fully Lebanese in Lebanon, not fully French in France. But with time, I learned that if diversity is hard, less comfortable, it is also very enriching. You don’t learn much from people who are just like you.’ A Ghosn-piloted Renault–Nissan alliance will be a hard player in that competition, with its readiness to fight in every market. Ghosn notes that in the Middle East, for example, Nissan expects to double its volume sales to more than 400,000 by 2012, while Renault will build on its launch last year in Iran. ‘The customer orders far exceed what we are able to produce. When we launched Logan (Tondar in Iran), 85,000 orders were taken in just one month! This shows the magnitude of demand in Middle East markets when you provide appropriate products.’ B ut what is ‘appropriate’? More than many carmakers, Ghosn is aware that the greatest challenge facing the industry is environmental. Like other manufacturers, Renault and Nissan are developing cleaner and more fuelefficient systems, with smaller engines, clean diesel, hybrid engines and engines that can run on different fuels. ‘But if energy costs continue to rise and environmental pressure continues to intensify, what we’ll need is not only optimisa- tion but a real breakthrough: 100 percent fuel-free and zeroemission vehicles.’ Those are brave words, but Ghosn is putting the Renault–Nissan alliance’s money where his mouth is: by 2010 Nissan will be the first major carmaker to sell mass-market electric vehicles in Japan and the US. Moreover, Renault is teaming up with Project Better Place, a company founded by former software executive Shai Agassi to launch electric cars in Israel and Denmark in 2011. The cars will be marketed rather as cell phones are: they will be ‘given away’ if customers sign contracts for the electricity they use. All this underlines Ghosn’s openness to ideas. Couple that with his openness to different cultures, and perhaps his success as a manager was preordained. So could young hopefuls from Lebanon or elsewhere achieve similar heights? ‘I would tell them that they must aim high and not be afraid of stretching themselves,’ Ghosn says. ‘Seize the opportunities that life has in store for you. They are much more important than you can imagine.’ _end Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 87 Profile 2 Child bride, victim, outcast, television presenter, alumnus of US and French universities, documentary filmmaker, author, social critic, human rights advocate, cultural attaché: Khadija al-Salami’s CV reads like an epic novel – and she’s only in her early forties. Olivia Snaije meets a most remarkable woman. Yemen’s Guardian Angel 88 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Photo: Nadia BeNchallal M ost journalists based in Paris who cover the Middle East have, at some point, come across the gracious, lovely press and cultural attaché for the Yemeni embassy. Khadija al-Salami is tiny, with a mass of dark hair and an easy smile. Behind her soft-spoken manner is a deceptively strong woman who fought against all odds to get an education. She is also Yemen’s first woman documentary filmmaker, constantly working to bring attention to injustice in her country, especially that which affects women. Al-Salami was a small child during the civil war in Yemen in the 1960s. The war shaped her destiny in that her father, an army medic, returned home having lost his mind after witnessing atrocities on the battlefields. Her mother was granted a divorce, and al-Salami was sent to live with her grandmother in a humble neighbourhood in Sana’a. When she was eleven, her uncle married her to a Yemeni friend of his who lived in Damascus. As al-Salami writes in her 2004 autobiography, The Tears of Sheba, Yemeni women marry young – but eleven years old was most definitely on the younger side. Her mother and grandmother had no say in the matter: ‘I knew my grandmother loved me so much, but she was brought up to think women are made for marrying, and she didn’t know any better. Men should take care of women, she kept repeating.’ The understanding was that al-Salami’s husband would wait until she was fourteen to have sexual relations with her. Needless to say the agreement was not honoured, and he raped her. After weeks of resistance and a suicide attempt, al-Salami’s husband returned her to her mother in Sana’a; her uncle subsequently disowned her. With increasing tenacity, she went back to school and found a job with a local television station as a presenter for a children’s programme. She went on to learn English, and at age sixteen won a scholarship with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to go to university in the US. ‘At first when I arrived in the US, I was disappointed; I thought it would be like science fiction, that the street would move like a conveyor belt and take me where I wanted!’ alSalami says, laughing. ‘Compared to my friends in college, I had already had an adult life. But it’s [in the US] where I discovered my freedom, and myself. In Yemen everything was about shame, everything was haram. I started to express myself, and I’m grateful for that.’ ‘Eleven years old was most definitely on the younger side. After weeks of resistance and a suicide attempt, al-Salami’s husband returned her to her mother in Sana’a; her uncle subsequently disowned her.’ After completing a degree in communications, media and filmmaking, al-Salami returned to Yemen but didn’t stay long – she refused to take orders from her brother, who had since become the head of the family. She went to France to study at the Sorbonne and then returned to the US, once again funded by USAID, to study in Washington, DC. There, she met and married her husband, an American journalist. ‘When I left Yemen I really didn’t want to have anything to do with my country afterwards,’ she says in American-inflected English. ‘But then I realised, if everyone thinks like that then there’s no hope. I felt it was my duty to go back and fight for others.’ Al-Salami did in fact go back to Yemen, where she Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 89 Profile 2 began to shoot documentaries. In 1993 she was hired to work for the Yemeni government as press attaché in Paris. Most importantly, and encouraged by her husband, she also began a form of therapy: she wrote her autobiography. The Tears of Sheba covers a hefty chunk of Yemeni history, delving in depth into the country’s civil wars, the politicians al-Salami encountered during her career, Yemeni culture and the very personal details of her traumatic arranged marriage at eleven. ‘I didn’t [face] it at the time because I had put everything bad in the back of my mind. I was always optimistic, and my goal was how to get out and get an education. I had succeeded, and was feeling comfortable and happy in my life. Before I wrote the book everyone tried to invent stories about me. They said, “Oh, she came from a very intellectual family, and everything was easy for her.” So I thought maybe I could help girls who came from simple families.’ There is no sense of bitterness about al-Salami. When she speaks out against specific practices in Yemen it is clear that it is constructive criticism at work, out of love for her country. ‘I thought that through my story, the cultural and political aspects, maybe it would give people more insight into Yemen – with the positive and negative sides, of course … when [the book] was written, I felt so relieved; I hadn’t realised that these things had bothered me.’ The publication of The Tears of Sheba, first in English and then in French in 2006, created a stir within the Yemeni community, and a fatwa was even issued against her. Above: Amina in her cell, upon being informed by al-Salami of her impending release; below, Amina in a still from the documentary Amina, by al-Salami. M any appreciated the book very much. Others were ‘shocked that I talked about my personal affairs. They said, “Why did you call your early marriage a rape?” and I said, “Well, for me it was rape.” I didn’t want to get married, and I was a child. This was my experience; no one could take it away from me.’ She says the harshest criticism came from people who hadn’t read the book. Al-Salami had a revelation when she saw Israeli director Amos Gitai’s 1999 film Kadosh, about an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem. In it, there is an arranged marriage, and the wedding night is one of the most powerful rape scenes in modern cinema history. Of it, al-Salami comments: ‘When I was watching Kadosh, I was thinking about the extremists in my country. I was shocked to watch that film; I realised these traditions have nothing to do with religion – it’s culture.’ This reality was reinforced when al-Salami made a film about the Jewish community in Yemen, in which she showed how culture was more important to the group than religion. Yemeni Jews are the subjects of one of more than twenty of al-Salami’s documentaries; others cover issues such as democracy, archaeology and, as ever, women. Two recent documentaries that have been particularly successful and are often included in international film festivals are al-Salami’s 2005 award-winning A Stranger in Her own City, about Nejmia, a young girl from Sana’a who refuses to wear the veil, and Amina (2006), a portrait of a young girl married at eleven and accused of murdering her husband at fourteen. Al-Salami generally works on her own, often stumbling upon her subjects by coincidence. She met Nejmia walking around Sana’a and was struck by the thirteen-year-old girl’s charisma and intrepidity. Nejmia plays with boys in the street, rides a bicycle and a scooter and, in general, completely defies tradition. The boys curse and threaten her, but at the same time admire her spirit. ‘Yemeni Jews are the subjects of one of more than twenty of al-Salami’s documentaries; others cover issues such as democracy, archaeology and, as ever, women.’ ‘Nejmia had so much audacity,’ al-Salami recalls. ‘I did what I wanted, but I was very shy and didn’t talk like that. [But] she was born free, and I was like that. I didn’t accept that boys were superior to me. She reminded me of myself.’ Nejmia, too, wants to continue her studies, although her father repeatedly takes her out of school. Al-Salami visits her every time she returns to Yemen, and tries to ensure that she can go on with her education. ‘My problem is that I get attached to my subjects, and they become my family,’ she says. Al-Salami also befriended 90 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 ‘Al-Salami expects women to take an active role: “No one will give women their rights unless they ask for them.”’ Left and above: Nejmia, the young subject of al-Salami’s documentary A Stranger in Her Own City. Amina, the subject of the aforementioned eponymous documentary. A mother of three, Amina had been on death row for several years after being tried without legal representation and found guilty of the murder of her husband at age fourteen. (She had always maintained that she was innocent.) Her execution was scheduled for 2002, when she would be of legal age to hang under Yemeni law; it was then pushed to 2005 when she became pregnant after being raped by a prison guard. The fact that al-Salami was able to gain access to the women’s prison to interview and film Amina, along with other inmates, was a feat in itself. ‘Everyone said, “You’ll never get permission.” [But] I’m very determined, and I was lucky because the [then-] minister of interior [Rashad AlAlimi] is a very open man; he was interested in what I was doing, and let me do it.’ when al-salami entered the prison for the first time, she was pleasantly surprised by the environment: ‘I was in a cell in which fifty women were sentenced to death for killing their husbands. All these women had jewellery, clothes in all different colours, everything they needed. Even knives. They cook for themselves. It’s like their house, but they can’t get out.’ She adds, ruefully: ‘But there’s not that much difference between them and the women outside.’ Soon after the documentary was released, Amina was pardoned after spending ten years in in prison. The film also brought to the fore a persistent problem in Yemeni society, which recently figured in international headlines when an eightyear-old girl sought a divorce on her own and had it granted. According to a Sana’a University study, over half of women in Yemen who marry are younger than fifteen. The Yemeni parliament is reportedly working to raise the minimum age at which a woman can marry (currently fifteen), but there is no punishment for families whose daughters marry earlier. W hile al-salami focuses much of her work on the injustices women face in Yemen, she also expects women to take an active role. ‘If a woman wants to be free, then it’s up to her. Some women don’t like confrontation. No one will give women their rights unless they ask for them.’ The filmmaker is currently working on two new projects, one on revenge killings between tribes and another about corruption. It may seem incredible that she has retained her position with the government for so long, but in a sense she is like Nejmia and the boys in the street: Yemeni officials are alarmed and irritated by her audacity, yet charmed, and a little proud of her as well. What makes it all worth it for her is the fact that her immediate family has accepted her at last. ‘At first I was the bad example; now I’m the best example. My mother is totally proud.’_end Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 91 A DAY IN THE LIFE Syrian-born Feras al-Moubayed loves fashion and design as much as any other aspiring designer. Deaf from the age of two, he leads an incredibly active and stylish life: he has set up his own business as an image consultant, and is about to have his first public fashion show. Since obtaining his BA in fashion design twelve years ago, he has worked with such designers as Giorgio Armani and Donna Karan, and has consulted on a one-to-one basis for clients such as David Beckham, Robbie Williams and Pierce Brosnan. Al-Moubayed also dabbles in acting, and has built up a large female fan base on the BBC’s SWITCH programme for deaf viewers. He hopes to continue working in entertainment, time permitting. 8:00 am Get up, have a shower, then have a healthy breakfast along with my latte, so that I can feel high and mighty before I head to the gym for my workout. 11:00 I like to work on my own designs for men and women, I also do press releases for magazines/newspapers and radio, meet with my PR/ marketing people, network via websites, work on presentations for new customers and touch base with my agency for any work references. 2:00 pm I meet a reporter for Arab International Newspapers for a cup of coffee in Knightsbridge, to discuss my charity work for Syrian deaf children. Although I lip-read, I wear a hearing aid to support my speech. Then I head off to meet an important customer of mine at Hield in London, to advise and assist him in buying clothes for his business and upcoming family holiday. 4:00 I grab a quick bite at Yo! Sushi and then go to the open gallery where I teach twenty-five people from all over the country how to communicate with deaf people via British Sign Language; the money I raise goes to my charity for Syrian deaf children. Back to my house, I cook some dinner and catch up with my oldest friends. 7:00 Then I shower and get ready for a night out with friends and family. 9:00 Dressed like 007, I head off to meet friends at Zuma for a drink or two. 11:00 By now it is raining outside, and we are ready to move on to the London nightclub Crystal. I like the music in Crystal, and always have a laugh and relax there. I love to read the women’s lips … 3:00 am Home in a taxi and off to bed. Feras al-Moubayed 11:00 am 8:00 am 9:00 pm 11:00 pm 2:00 pm 4:00 pm 3:00 am 92 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 10 FAVOURITE THINGS no 4 no 1 no 2 no 8 no 3 no 5 LAMIA ZIADE no no 10 no 9 7 no 6 Paris-based Lebanese painter, designer and illustrator Lamia Ziade knows all about things. A self-confessed packrat, the objects she collects end up as part of her work. Here she shares some of her favourite things – and people. 1. ICE CREAM Salem ice cream is the best in Lebanon, and perhaps in the world. My favourite is rose-flavoured. It’s also shocking pink. 2. VEGETABLES The organic vegetables my sister Youmna grows in Lebanon are totally delicious, and very beautiful. Sometimes my son helps pick them and sell them at the Souk al-Tayeb on Saturday morning market in Beirut. 3. BRETON BOTANICAL The botanical gardens of Georges Delaselle, on the Île de Batz in Brittany: you could very well be in Mexico, in a forest in India or in the Andes. 4. ENTRANCES I like the main entrances of buildings, whether in Beirut, Casablanca or New York – particularly those from the 1930s and 1960s, which can be magnificent. This one is in Beirut. 5. MY DAUGHTER She is such a stylish girl! Even when she goes to the beach. 6. BEIRUT–JOUNIEH HIGHWAY I’m completely fascinated by the highway between Beirut and Jounieh in the north. The giant adverts, the neon lights of game rooms in Zouk, the Johnny Walker or Marlboro murals – all this debauchery is a delight! 7. VILLAGE FUSSBALL Playing fussball in the streets of Ehden, a mountain village in northern Lebanon: you can’t get farther away from the rue de Rivoli than that … 8. FOREIGN SUPERMARKETS Products from supermarkets in foreign countries are cheap, so exotic, so pop and infinitely better than local crafts and regional specialties. 9. A NEW YORK VIEW The view from my former atelier in Union Square in Manhattan made me feel lucky, every day, every minute. I had Broadway right in front of me, the Empire State building, the Met Life building, the reservoirs and the amazing sunbeams. 10. PIMIENTOS PADRONES I discovered these excellent mini-peppers fried with rock salt last summer in Majorca. They’re to die for. Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 93 Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 95 MODE 1 PhotograPher: reka nyari StyliSt: iShraq zraikat Make-uP: SParrow hair: gillian k. uSing buMble and buMble PhotograPher’S aSSiStantS: brett Mayfield and caSSidy duhon Make-uP aSSiStant: eileen feighny StyliSt’S aSSiStant: Michelle MurPhy ModelS: olga S./iMg, katarina/elite caSt: channing andreya, chriS SMith, ciara bankS, chriStiane aMoroSia, daShaun williaMS, Michaelangelo l‘acqua, Mitch luther, nikita kwong, PhiliPP louden, robert JohnSon, Sarah natochenny, williaM takahaShi SPecial thankS to kiSS & fly, a PreMier nyc club and lounge; See www.kiSSandflyclub.coM It ain’t easy capturing the spotlight in a New York City club – unless you’re like our party girls, who’ve got the colour, sass and cool allure, with neon-boho chic and flapper-esque nuances, that draw all eyes their way. New York has a famously fickle memory, but it won’t be forgetting these two anytime soon. 96 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 AFTER HOURS Katarina: Top by Miu Miu Brown skirt by Oscar de la Renta Leaf necklace by Khadda NY Ring by Dinosaur Designs Pink headscarf: vintage Olga: Dress by Oscar de la Renta Gold ball necklace by H&M Pink and purple beaded necklaces by Dinosaur Designs Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 97 MODE 1 98 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 opposite page Olga: Purple satin dress by Kai Kühne Orange and gold earrings and ring by Khadda NY Orange and red cuff, orange bracelet by Dinosaur Designs Gold cuff by H&M Shoes by Marni Katarina: Headscarf by Amirah Dubai Organza top by Miu Miu Grey sleeveless top and grey skirt by Kai Kühne Black cuff by Dinosaur Designs Silver cuff by H&M Ring: stylist’s own this page Olga: Vintage metal fringe dress by Kai Kühne Necklace and ring by Khadda NY Silver tights and black fishnets by H&M Katarina: Black shirt by Kai Kühne Black chiffon skirt by Yohji Yamamoto Black sequined trousers by Gemma Kahng Headscarf by Amirah ‘Larafara’ Necklace by Lara Abuzayyad Ring by Dinosaur Designs Shoes by Manolo Blahnik Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 99 MODE 1 this page Katarina: Cream leather jacket by Zara Vintage orange metal flower brooch Dress by Etro Vintage headscarf Olga: Dress and shoes by Catherine Malandrino Beaded necklaces and cuffs by Dinosaur Designs Gold and black clutch by Prada opposite page Olga: Green dress by Khadda NY Flower papier-mâché brooch: vintage ‘Larafara’ necklace by Lara Abuzayyad Beaded necklace worn on wrist and cuff by Dinosaur Designs Pink tights and green fishnets by H&M Shoes by Manolo Blahnik for Thakoon Katarina: Vintage floral dress with cape Vintage headscarf Orange shoes by Catherine Malandrino Green and pink cuffs by Dinosaur Designs Ring: stylist’s own 100 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 101 MODE 1 this page Olga: White shirt by Kai Kühne Plaid sequined skirt by Escada Couture Vintage Blue belt, gold cuffs and blue tights from H&M Green patent leather platforms by Marni Katarina: Plaid dress by Prada Headscarf: vintage Hat by Gemma Kahng Shoes by Prada opposite page Olga: Neon yellow dress by Kai Kühne Necklace and white bracelets by Marni Silver cuff by H&M Orange bracelets by Dinosaur Designs Silver tights by H&M Shoes by Catherine Malandrino Katarina: Silk cape by Miu Miu Floral dress: vintage Jersey belt worn as headscarf: vintage Turquoise earrings and ring by Khadda NY Turquoise cuff by Dinosaur Designs Pink tights by H&M Yellow and brown platforms by Marni 102 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 103 MODE 1 this page Katarina: Dress and tank top by Prada Black feather hat by Gemma Kahng Black cuff by Dinosaur Designs Gold cuffs by H&M Ring: sylist’s own opposite page Olga: Dress by Catherine Malandrino Bag by Zara Ring and necklace by Khadda NY 104 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 105 ‘Charles Saatchi has an entrepreneurial approach to art which is a rather good fit with the Middle East.’ MODE 1 Superstar Carmaker to the World In a world hungry for contemporary art, Saatchi Online transcends geography and dealers to enable artists froam anywhere to sell directly to collectors everywhere. Already a huge success in its English and Mandarin incarnations, it is now poised to add a Middle East version. Charles Saatchi discusses the possibilites with ana finel honigman. Katarina: Dress by Yohji Yamamoto Black tights and yellow fishnets by H&M Shoes by Prada Beaded necklaces and coloured bracelets by Dinosaur Designs Vintage belt by Hermès Cross-stitch shawl: stylist’s own Olga: Black dress by Gemma Kahng Pink cuff by Dinosaur Designs Gold cuff by H&M ‘Larafara’ necklace by Lara Abuzayyad Pink tights and black fishnets by H&M Shoes by Miu Miu 106 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Opposite: ‘Tarabish’, video installation, by Hilda Hiary. Above: ‘Templewall’ (left) and ‘Traces of Time’ (right), both tempera on transparent paper, by Eman Abdullah Mahmud. Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 107 Mode 2 Luxury is not just for bright lights and models, a fact we prove here as this season’s hottest designer clothes step off the catwalk and onto real Arab women! These women radiate confidence and ease, clad in sumptuous fabrics to stimulate the senses, flattering designs to suit every personality and shapes to keep right on trend. PhotograPhed by Muir Vidler @ MuirVidler.coM art direction & MakeuP by renata SeMba uSing bobbi brown Make-uP hair by dino Pereira @oneMakeuP.coM for hair aSSociateS uSing goldwell Styled by MariaM el Sayed @ alef Magazine 108 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 fatima Fatima wears a high-neckline white silk dress by Andrew GN and teams it with a silk scarf for a discreet, elegant look. Dress available at Harvey Nichols. ‘Projets Carrés’ silk scarf by Hermès. Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 109 Mode 2 leila Leila wears a distinctly feminine, flowing white silk dress by Stella McCartney for a softer, more ethereal look. Available at Matches. 110 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 feven Wearing a stylish grey silk and gauze ruche coat by Burberry, Feven exhibits an elegant yet relaxed style by wearing it as a dress. Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 111 Mode 2 diana Burberry’s magnificent gold regimental tape-embroidered fringed shift dress, worn by Diana, evokes all that is noble. 112 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 seycha Seycha wears white ruffled short-sleeve dress by Giambattista Valli with elegance, sweetness and youth. Available at Harvey Nichols. Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 113 Mode 2 maliheh Maliheh wears striped knit dress with an easy, modern edge, which Missoni does so well. Available at Matches. 114 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 nadine Nadine wears a white dress by Fendi with feminine sleeve details. Available at www.browns.com. Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 115 Mode 2 yasmin Yasmin wears an opulent purple silk dress with simple, pleated details by Stella McCartney. Available at Harvey Nichols. 116 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 jawa Jawa wears a textured suede fringed minidress by Roberto Cavalli, knit-tape detail cardigan by Pringle of Scotland and white agate, pearls, coral, silver and rose gold ring by Leila Kashanipour. This stylish look is edgy and full of contrasts. Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 117 Mode 2 mariam Mariam wears a sumptuous silk square-neck blouse and skirt by Bottega Veneta for a distinctly sensuous feel. Labrodite, topaz and tourmaline yellow gold-plated ring by Leila Kashanipour. 118 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 sabah Sabah wears a soft grey silk-beaded dress by Christian Dior for a luxurious, sophisticated and confident look. Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 119 MODE 3 PhotograPhed by: roberto Ligresti styLed by david Widjaja @ intro artists hair: gigi gommers @ Ford artists make uP: nisa For nars modeL: yordanos teshager @ eLite Fashion assistance: meLindia stanFord True sophistication is often said to appear ‘effortless’; inner beauty only enhances the effect. Wearing this season’s ‘It’ outfits, designed to add a graceful note to any grand event, completes it. 120 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Black beaded silk gown by Valentino Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 121 MODE 3 122 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 this page White tulle corseted dress by Dolce & Gabbana opposite page Tan silk satin gown with purple hydrangea print by Roberto Cavalli, antique brass tiara by Bottega Veneta Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 123 MODE 3 124 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 this page Zebra-print silk opera coat with foxfur collar and black beaded tassel silk gown by Christian Dior, vintage crystal earrings by Linda Derector and pearl necklace by H. Stern. opposite page Green cashmere knit top, maroon/ grey check print silk gazar flare trousers and shoes by Prada, wood bead necklace by Subversive Jewelry, pearl and gold necklace by Mikimoto, wood cuffs by Megumi and gold egg bag by Cesare Paciotti. Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 125 society A Family Affair: The Gulbenkian Legacy A canny, larger-than-life character, the Armenian businessman Calouste Gulbenkian bequeathed his considerable fortune to a wildly eclectic variety of causes. Today the foundation that bears his name is among the world’s most respected. John Andrews gives us a portrait of both the man and his establishment. T here are few names that spark the kind of recognition that transcends geography or language, regardless of the passing years – Kennedy, for example, or Rothschild, or Churchill, or the Aga Khan. Gulbenkian, the Armenian name that for decades filled the business pages and the gossip columns of the European and American press, is one of them. Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian, who died in 1955 at the age of eighty-six, was ‘Mr Five Percent’, thanks to the share he took of all the lucrative oil deals he orchestrated in the Middle East, especially in Iraq. His son, fun-loving Nubar, endeared himself to the British by converting for his private use a London taxicab, which, he apparently said, ‘turns on a sixpence, whatever that is’. The family history reads like a thriller, featuring multiple identities (passports from Iran, Turkey and Britain); residence in London, Paris and Lisbon; international diplomacy; and even – witness Nubar’s work for the British during World War II – espionage. In the elegant London office of the British branch of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Martin Essayan, Calouste’s forty-eight-year-old great-grandson, muses on the family history. ‘Calouste was a fascinating figure, and quite relevant to the present day because he was a global man in an age when that wasn’t common.’ And Nubar? ‘He was the black sheep, but still the apple of his father’s eye.’ Essayan, casually dressed in the relaxed style of the international elite (his education encompasses Eton and the Harvard Business School via an engineering degree from Cambridge), laughingly adds: ‘Calouste used to go into the nursery, sniff and say “What a marvellous smell. Nubar has farted.”’ The serious-minded Calouste was not the sort of man to overindulge anyone, apple of his eye or not. Father and son famously fell out, not least over Calouste’s refusal to reimburse Nubar for a $4.50 lunch of chicken in tarragon jelly, and Calouste left the bulk of his enormous fortune to estab- 126 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 127 society ‘Gulbenkian famously fell out with his firstborn over, not least, the father’s refusal to reimburse the son for a $4.50 lunch of chicken in tarragon jelly.’ lish, in Portugal (his home from 1942), the foundation that bears his name. (Nubar, however, managed to make plenty of money for himself from his own oil deals.) The Gulbenkian Foundation is today one of the world’s top twenty foundations (ranked by expenditure), and one of Europe’s top five. Yet its mission is hard to pin down. It acts as a major patron of the arts, but also of education and science; it maintains a Portuguese Cultural Centre in Paris; it runs a small museum – one of Europe’s best – in Lisbon; it runs a social welfare programme, mainly through small, precisely targeted grants, in Britain; it awards a £100,000 ($200,000) annual prize in Britain to a museum or gallery that has demonstrated a ‘track record of imagination, innova- I tion and excellence’; and it awards the annual Gulbenkian International Prize worth €100,000 ($150,000) for ‘an individual or institution whose thoughts or actions make a decisive contribution and have significant impact on understanding, defending or fostering the universal values of the human condition’. (Last year that prize went to Hand in Hand, a network of bilingual schools in Israel whose directors, teachers and pupils are a mix of both Israeli Jews and Arabs.) f that all seems rather random – what, after all, has a grant to a British charity for the homeless to do with the magnificent Rembrandts hanging in the Lisbon museum? – there is a simple explanation: the various 128 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Opening page: Calouste Gulbenkian at age twenty-four. This page and opposite: views of the Gulbenkian Foundation headquarters in Lisbon. Clockwise, from opposite top: the gardens, featuring a lake and the Modern Art Centre; the museum housing Gulbenkian’s famed art collection; the concert hall, which affords audience views onto the lake. activities reflect the eclecticism of Gulbenkian himself. Moreover, his pride in his origins (the family traces its roots back to the fourth-century ad princes of Rechduni in the area of Turkey’s Lake Van) also explains another of the foundation’s functions: to care for Armenian communities around the world. In an organisation that employs several hundred staff of various nationalities, that particular task has always been directed by an Armenian trustee: first, Kevork Essayan, Calouste’s son-in-law; then Roberto Gulbenkian, Calouste’s nephew; then Mikhael Essayan, Calouste’s grandson; and, from 2005, great-grandson Martin Essayan. The new trustee takes his role seriously. He may come across as quintessentially English, with impeccable manners and easy charm, but family tradition is overwhelmingly important: ‘I’m learning Armenian a day or two a week – and I’m not good at languages! But I can read it and write it.’ that is just as well. Intrinsic to the role is the preservation of the Armenian language in the diaspora – mainly the result of the 1915 massacres in Turkey – that has settled in the Middle East, Europe (especially in France, Greece and Italy) and the Americas. Only one third of the world’s Armenian population of around 9 million lives in the former Soviet republic of Armenia and the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Ironically, because of endemic corruption there, the foundation treats Armenia with some caution. Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 129 society Paintings from the Gulbenkian collection. This page, left: Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Island of Love; right: Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Portrait of Madame Claude Monet Opposite: Maurice-Quentin de la Tour, Portrait of Duval de L’Épinoy the foundation can be much more active elsewhere. One focus is Jerusalem, where Armenians – converts to Christianity in 301 – are among the custodians of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, whose restoration last century was hugely helped by Gulbenkian generosity. Another focus is the Surp Pirgiç Armenian Hospital in Istanbul, founded 176 years ago and open to all, not just Armenians. It now boasts its own museum, opened four years ago, but what interests Essayan is the way Surp Pirgiç operates as a community centre, with not just the hospital and its pharmacy but also a place for the disabled and even a graveyard. A third focus is Lebanon, home to around 140,000 Armenians (who have their own university, Haigazian, in Beirut). Essayan has yet to visit there, and admits that Lebanon – constantly subject to political turbulence – is ‘tough’. Portfolio investment provides the bulk of the foundation’s income, but oil (principally from Oman and Abu Dhabi but with prospects in Kazakhstan and Brazil) accounts for a third of its assets. Such is the legacy of ‘Mr Five Percent’, who accumulated his riches by becoming a ‘world citizen’. As his great-grandson puts it: ‘We’re becoming more and more international – it’s what the founder would have wanted.’_end A diverse array of generous grants The Gulbenkian Foundation provides for a Portuguese cultural centre in Paris; a small but greatly acclaimed musem in Lisbon; British social welfare programmes; an annual award for museum excellence in Britain; and the annual Gulbenkian International Prize for endeavours fostering ‘universal values’. 130 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 131 reportage Arabescos Brasileiros Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? As the Brazilian (but not ‘LebaneseBrazilian’) writer Milton Hatoum shows, these questions are never academic for immigrants, and in posing them whole destinies are shaped – for descendents, languages, cultures, countries. My father grew up listening to these fabulous stories, and decided to immigrate to Acre. He came with a cousin before World War II, and when they passed through Manaus he married my mother, the Amazonian daughter of Lebanese Christians. They met in the restaurant of the guesthouse owned by my maternal great-grandfather, Hana (João), whom I never knew. My mother used to say he was an excellent cook, a Pantagruelian gourmand who mixed Arab and Amazonian dishes and went from table to table trying the food to check the seasoning. (Like a good businessman, this must have been his way of captivating his clientele.) Hana/João was originally from Batroûn, Lebanon, and settled in Manaus at the beginning of the twentieth century. His daughter, my grandmother Emily, married a Muslim, and this union of different religions (less common in Lebanon) was repeated with my parents. As such, the Bible and the Qur’an were the holy books of my childhood home. It was like this for half a century; thank God and my parents, no religion was imposed on me. A t the beginning of the twentieth century, around the time of the ‘rubber boom’, my paternal grandfather Fadel travelled from Beirut to the state of Acre in the Western Amazon, where he worked as a pedlar between the cities of Rio Branco and Xapuri. He was one of the first Lebanese immigrants to the country from my family. Eight years later, he returned to Beirut with words and images from the Amazon, which he transmitted to his children and relatives. They say he told Rocambolesque stories of shipwrecks, duels, floods, epidemics, hunting in the forest and fishing in secluded lakes; they also say that, on his deathbed, surrounded by a gang of children and a small crowd of relatives, he muttered the names of innumerable fish and animals from the Amazon. One episode narrated by my grandfather and recounted by my father contains tragicomic elements: before disembarking in Porto Acre, Fadel was surprised by gunfire. He jumped ship and swam to the bank, where he crept off in the direction of the forest. As he crouched down, protected by the vegetation, someone gave him a Winchester rifle and screamed: ‘Long live the Acrean revolution!’ So he opened fire against the opposite side. Without knowing it, Fadel was taking part in the last battle against the Bolivians, who were soon defeated, losing considerable territory. (In 1904, that part of the Bolivian territory was incorporated definitively into the Brazilian Federation.) ‘If I had swum to the other bank,’ Fadel told my father, ‘I could have been killed or captured, and my Brazilian adventure would have finished right there.’ ‘someone gave him a rifle and screamed: “long live the acrean revolution!” so my great-grandfather opened fire.’ The founding members of my family settled in Manaus, but I have various relatives scattered about Brazil. The wandering life, living in many places and belonging to more than one country, is the lot of immigrants. The first Arabs came to Brazil around 1880, when the ‘Great Emigration’ – Mahjar – began, and evolved into the jáaliya (a community of immigrants who were already settled), from which more than 10 million Brazilians today are descended. The reasons for Arab (Lebanese and Syrian) immigra- 132 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Left: Milton Hatoum’s father (third from left in first photograph, fourth from left in second), along with his cousins, c. 1946 in Rio Branco, capital of the state of Acre. tion were varied. Christians (Roman Catholics, Oriental Catholics and Orthodox) fled the Ottoman Empire, but I believe the great majority emigrated in search of a better life. Few left their homes forever; few wanted to communicate in another language, knowing that their native tongue was restricted to a limited circle of relatives and friends in the community to which they belonged. In Latin America, Arab immigrants were (and still are) called ‘Turks’, because their passports were issued by the Ottoman Empire. I remember my grandmother, a practising Christian, saying to us: ‘Me, a Turk? But my family fled from the Turks …’ The older members of the family would tell stories of this escape, of long journeys and business activities along the rivers of the Amazon. Theirs were tales of adventure and risk, in which the desire to settle and prosper in the new country was almost imperative. long sentence is spoken in Arabic, followed by another in precarious Portuguese, shorter, hesitant, imprecise. Nevertheless, the great majority end up putting down roots in this other country, and their children no longer maintain strong links with the country of their parents. Immigration thus implies a partial loss of origins, and assimilation to the new cul- ‘my grandfather would ask: “why do you speak the language of the coloniser with our grandson?” She would reply: “d’accord, mon vieux.”’ ture. This is reminiscent of what Octavio Paz has said about the Latin American condition: we are and are not Europeans; we speak a European language with a basic difference – it is a transplanted language. Therefore, what are we? asks Paz. It is difficult to define what we are, but our works speak for us, even if it is a literature written in a transplanted tongue. Around 1994, when I was giving a talk in the US about my first novel, I saw a poster that referred to me as a ‘LebaneseBrazilian writer’. I told our interlocutor at the panel discussion: ‘That makes absolutely no sense in Brazil.’ ‘Why not?’ he asked. ‘Because,’ I replied, ‘we do not consider ourselves to be Afro-Brazilians, Italo-Brazilians or Japanese-Brazilians. We don’t make such distinctions, nor do we emphasise the origin or ethnicity of a social group in order to differentiate it.’ The dilution of origins is the basis for how Brazilian society is formed. Dilution means racial mixing, the assimilation of diverse cultures that are not ordered as a hierarchy, and that also means the rejection of a rigid and unchangeable identity. I attended the state schools of Manaus along with the children of native Amazonian Indians, blacks, Portuguese, M y father and my maternal grandparents spoke Arabic, but my mother, being Brazilian, never spoke a single word of her parents’ language. Because of this, Arabic was, for me, a type of melody with familiar sounds, but distant. After a while, it became a jumble of sounds evoked in memory when the older relatives were dying. French was easier to learn, not only because it is a less difficult language but also because my grandmother Emily spoke it instead of Arabic, having studied at a French lycée in Beirut. My grandfather would chastise her: ‘Why do you speak French with our grandson? It’s the language of the coloniser.’ She would reply, with a perfect but affected Arabic accent: ‘D’accord, mon vieux.’ This intersection of cultures and origins was crucial to my youth. In general, immigrants struggle to achieve a place in their chosen country. They work and save with the idea of returning, even if only temporarily, to their homeland. They live on the border between two languages, two cultures. A Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 133 reportage Left: Portrait of the artist – Milton Hatoum today. Spanish, Germans, Moroccan Jews and others who populated the region where I was born. In Brazil, this type of coexistence seems to have been the rule, not the exception. I don’t want to idealise or mystify miscegenation in Brazilian society. In fact, blacks and Indians remained on the social margins as well as millions of other Brazilians of various origins, and this indignity is part of our inheritance from our colonial past, and from the brutal inequality of the country’s long republican history. But it is worth emphasising the coexistence of different ethnicities and origins in Brazil, even at the risk of appearing utopian. In any case, diverse ancestry and racial mixing are not attributes exclusive to Brazil or Latin America, but also form part of the European past. In Don Quixote, one of the monumental works of Western literature, Miguel de Cervantes attributes the original story to a wise Arab historian, Cide Hamete Benengeli. In the novel there are innumerable references to authors from Classical Antiquity and the Renaissance, but Cervantes understood the importance of Arab and Jewish cultures in Andalucía, without which Spain would have been much poorer. In Brazil, such characters also appear in several novels by Jorge Amado, and particularly in the last book he published during his lifetime, a Descoberta da américa pelos turcos (The Discovery of america by the turks). Also in Brazilian literature, an extraordinary novella by Raduan Nassar, Lavoura arcaica (ancient plantation) or amrik by Ana Miranda, amongst so many other books, evoke the presence of Arab immigrants. Alberto Mussa published o enigma de Qaf (The riddle of Qaf), a novel with a historical perspective situated in the early epoch of Islam, which effortlessly weaves a Borgesian web of narrative. In contemporary Spain, some of Juan ‘It is worth emphasising the coexistence of different ethnicities and origins in Brazil, even at the risk of appearing utopian.’ W hen speaking of Arab immigration to Latin America we should remember the presence in Spanish and Portuguese of vocabulary and linguistic expressions of Arabic origin, dating from the Age of Discovery. Spanish and Portuguese chroniclers used this vocabulary, which was incorporated into the transplanted languages Octavio Paz talks about. In contemporary European and Latin American literature, there are various significant examples of this heritage, the work of the Colombian Luis Fayad being just one. It is also enough to remember Gabriel García Márquez’s novella Crónica de una muerte anunciada (Chronicle of a Death Foretold), and novels by the Colombian poet and writer Álvaro Mutis, in which various characters are the children of this immigration. Goytisolo’s prose evokes North African culture, and in the magnificent novel Larva y otras noches de Babel (Larva: Midsummer Night’s Babel), by the Galician Julián Rios, a whole chapter titled ‘Algaravias’ (‘Alhambresque’) is written with words of Arabic origin. Unfortunately, some ‘intellectuals’ prefer to construct lazy and unfounded theories about the ‘clash of civilisations’, about the ‘evil’ roots of Islamic or Asiatic societies and, more recently, about social and cultural dysfunction caused by Mexican and Hispanic immigrants to the white, puritan society of New England. This is a cynical assertion, if not to say racist, to come from someone who belongs to a country that, in its very essence, is formed by expatriates and immigrants. ‘Purity’ and ‘superiority’ are dangerous arguments in racist discourse; they are the ideological weapons of empires. As Edward Said pointed out in his essay ‘The Clash of Definitions’ (from the book reflections on exile): ‘So strong and insistent is [Samuel] Huntington’s notion that other civili- 134 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Photo: AdriAnA Vichi Left: Milton Hatoum’s grandparents Emily Hawatt, a Maronite from Batroûn, Lebanon, and Mamed Assi, a Muslim from Charabiye, Lebanon. Of their seven children, two became Catholic, two Muslim and three agnostic. Hatoum’s parents imposed no religion on their offspring: ‘I myself chose my religion: literature,’ says Hatoum. zations necessarily clash with the West, and so relentlessly aggressive and chauvinistic is his prescription for what the West must do to continue winning, that we are forced to conclude that he is really most interested in continuing and expanding the Cold War by means other than advancing ideas about the current world scene or trying to reconcile different cultures.’ oethe, the inventor of Weltliteratur (world literature), was also a reader of the Qur’an in his youth, and a reader of Arabic poetry as well as the poetry of the Persian Hafez, the same poet mentioned by the Brazilian poet Manuel Bandeira in gazal em louvor a Hafiz (ghazal in praise of Hafez). In his old age, Goethe was the poet of West-eastern Divan, the title of which inspired Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim’s orchestra of young Palestinian and Israeli musicians. The Brazilian poet and critic Haroldo de Campos, in an essay on Goethe, observed: ‘It is the East that started to emerge in [Goethe’s] West and which produces one of the highest moments in the whole of his fruitful poetic career.’ According to Karl Viëtor, Goethe was conscious of the profound analogies that existed between himself and Hafez. Thus the German poet, under the clothing of the East, speaks simultaneously as an Eastern and Western poet. In one sense, writers, poets and readers are immigrants of the imaginary, because they also feed on the foreign imMilton Hatoum Milton hatoum is the author of the novels Tale of a Certain Orient, The Brothers and Ashes of the Amazon (forthcoming in november from Bloomsbury, UK), all rewarded with the Jabuti Prize for best novel in Brazil and published in several countries. his last novel, Orphans of Eldorado, will be published in sixteen countries as part of the canongate Myth Series. he was Professor of Latin American Literature at the University of Amazonas and at the University of california (Berkeley), and a visiting writer at Yale, Stanford and Uc Berkeley; he lives in São Paulo. G agination, from foreign lands, of foreign dreams, and of foreign linguistic and cultural landscapes. Like the immigrant, we can choose a new cultural heritage without, in the meantime, removing ourselves from our origins, which are always plural and diffuse. ‘Do you know the country where the lemons flower?’ [‘Kennst du das Land, wo die Zitronen blühn?’], asks the lyrical ‘I’ of Goethe in the poem Mignon (1872). To conclude, I would like to evoke a fragment of a personal story. My first novel (tale of a Certain orient) was translated into various languages and published in seven countries. The French translation led to articles about the novel in the Lebanese press. Those newspapers crossed the ocean and arrived in the hands of my father, in Manaus, more than half a century after he left Lebanon for Brazil. One of the most moving memories I have of my father is of seeing him seated on the verandah of his house in Manaus, reading one of those articles published in the Lebanese newspaper an-Nahar. He invited the whole family to hear it, as though it were a solemn ceremony. It was the first time I saw him cry, without any ostentation: the silent tears of an inaudible pain. Seeing an elderly man who would one day be buried in a place far from his homeland, I thought of the pain of the immigrants, exiles and expatriates who returned with difficulty to their native lands to see relatives and friends again, or simply to contemplate the landscapes of their childhood, when all the others had already died. I thought that society, whichever it might be, owes something to these lost beings, men and women who, motivated by the will to live a less trying life, or by the insane desire to survive, or because they are tormented souls, choose another cultural homeland. Full of emotion, my father read the article in Arabic, his mother tongue, and translated it slowly into Portuguese, his adopted language. When he finished, he said: ‘It’s funny, I never thought I would return to Lebanon by means of a book written by my son.’ _end translated by rhian Atkin, University of Leeds Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 135 Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 137 art news Shadi Ghadirian at LACMA 01 The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has begun to collect contemporary art from the Middle East. So far, the nascent collection includes works by Syrian artist Ali Hassan and Ali Omar Ermes of Libya, but the celebrity of the group is undoubtedly Iranian photographer Shadi Ghadirian, whose ‘Qajar Series’ of photographs from 1998 were recently acquired by the museum. Two of the photos are currently on view, and the rest will go up in LACMA’s Islamic Art galleries in August. They will be taken down shortly after next Norouz (March 2009). LACMA is the first museum in the US to purchase the entire series, consisting of thirty-three photographs shot on 35 mm film and printed digitally. CLOCKWISE, FrOM TOP: ABdUL-KArIM MAjdAL AL-BEIK, Wall (2008), MIxEd MEdIA ON CANvAS; LOUAy KAyyALI, Then WhaT? (1965), OIL ON MASONITE; MOHANNAd OrABI, self-porTraiT (2008), MIxEd MEdIA ON CANvAS. Ayyam ascending Ayyam, Syria’s premier modern and contemporary gallery, opened its second space in Dubai’s Al Quoz district this May. Its inaugural show ‘Contemporary Syria’ runs until 30 September, and introduces a roster of artists establishing global hammer-price records at major auction houses and working within a broad spectrum of styles and media. Clients from the UAE have long been drawn to Khaled Samawi’s original Damascus space, seduced by Syria’s rich culture, past and present, which fuels a dynamic artistic milieu. Ayyam hopes to see Syrian art take off in Dubai and distinguish itself from the more general ‘Middle Eastern’ category, much as Iranian art has done. As a former investment banker, Samawi has unabashedly described his gallery as a ‘bank’ and is determined to see a harmonious marriage between business and art, not least the appreciation of the works he sells as sound assets. Set in 1,000 m2 with soaring ceilings, Ayyam’s sister gallery is as high and mighty as its ambition, and with movable walls and hidden rooms for special occasions, it promises a novel experience every time you visit. Zain masud www.ayyamgallery.com 01. SHAdI GHAdIrIAN’S sunglasses Ghadirian, who was inspired by Qajar photo albums of the nineteenth century, captures women in traditional Qajar dress and includes one modern object: a Pepsi can, a vacuum cleaner, a boom box, etc, a clever commentary on the modern versus the traditional and on the ambiguous place Iranian women occupy in this dichotomy. Her work has garnered praise and attention from collectors and critics alike. When LACMA’s curator of Islamic Art, Linda Komaroff, approached museum director Michael Govan about the series, Govan agreed that it was it was too important a group not to purchase. When Komaroff visited the British Museum’s 2006 exhibition ‘Word into Art’, she immediately recognised the potential of augmenting LACMA’s existing Islamic art collection with work with twentieth- and twenty-firstcentury Iranian and Arab artists. Finding the budget for this endeavour has not been easy, however. In the case of the Ghadirian photographs, Komaroff says: ‘When there’s something you really want, you find a way to get it. So I got funds from a bunch of different sources.’ Komaroff is currently the only prominent curator at a major Los Angeles cultural institution actively searching for ways to bring contemporary art of the Middle East to the city. Hopefully, Ghadirian’s photos will help generate new audiences – and group of donors – in Los Angeles and elsewhere. Yasmine mohseni www.lacma.org/islamic_art/ ian.htm 138 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Mitra Tabrizian: places and people 02 The photographs of Iranian-British photographer and film director Mitra Tabrizian are moments in themselves. Within them, time is made tangible. They are also infused with messages about corporatism, capitalism, migration and homeland. The substance of Tabrizian’s work is cinematic in form. Each snapshot conveys a sense of paused documentary or frozen feature film. The painstakingly constructed photographic tableaux tell stories in a series of stills or in a single frame – as, for example, does Tehran 2006, a featured work in ‘This Is That Place’, Tabrizian’s first major exhibition in the UK hosted by the Tate Britain in London through 10 August. The reconstructed panoramic photo centres on characters who play themselves: a taxi driver, a servant, a factory worker. All are struggling to survive in a modern, rundown, residential area on the outskirts of the Iranian capital. The piece took six days to shoot, and the models were placed in precise positions at an exact time of day to complete the surreal image. Other photos featured in the exhibit include deadly affair from Tabrizian’s 2005–6 ‘Border’ series, which captures, in rOHINI dEvASHEr, foliage (2004), SOLAr ETCHING ON PAPEr Green Cardamom ‘Drawn From Life: Drawing Process’ was Green Cardamom’s first exhibition in a triptych of shows that will span the coming year and scrutinise the drawing practice of over twenty contemporary artists. Green Cardamom is a non-profit international arts organisation that develops visual arts projects in collaboration with public museums and galleries. It also runs an exacting gallery programme, representing some of the most acclaimed and promising artists from South and Central Asia and the Middle East. ‘Drawn from Life’s’ first chapter ended 12 July, and marked a departure from traditionalist approaches to drawing as a medium. Adherence to paper and pen was abandoned in the unabashed exploration of line, whether the strand of an artist’s hair, solar printing, digital drawing, nostalgic notes struck by a series of matchboxes, South Asian miniaturist techniques or ‘installations in paper’. Rehana Mangi stitched her hair into paper and reworked the craft of embroidery, manipulating her line to elegant effect in minimalist monochromatic grids. Muhanned Cader’s Untitled, one of the most exciting works on display, unfolded out of its notebook like a Surrealist exquisite corpse. The closest piece in the exhibition to ‘proper’ drawing, executed in plain pencil, its visual vocabulary evolved from a series of collaged notebooks that well expressed its process: it was the dotted line of this highly memorable show. Zain masud www.greencardamom.net everyday settings, Iranian immigrants who have left their country in search of better lives. This particular photo shows Arash, a former soldier in the Shah’s army forced to leave Iran after the revolution and several attempts on his life. He now works as a mechanic, and is estranged from his wife and son. Only his cat has stuck by his side. ‘It is about never feeling at home,’ says rose Issa, the exhibition’s curator. ‘The notion of homeland is put into question, life on the border of things, being neither here nor there.’ This summer Tate Britain is also hosting ‘Nahnou – Together Now’, an exhibition formed from a two-year artistic exchange programme between the UK, Syria and jordan. running through 7 September, the show includes films featuring interviews with artists and curators from Syria and jordan and a photographic print made by lead British artist Faisal Abdu’Allah. ‘We hear about the politics of Middle Eastern countries and that wipes out other types of knowledge,’ says Felicity Allen, head of learning at Tate Britain. ‘I hope this exhibition will help people understand that there is modern art in these countries and that it has been going on a long time.’ lara farrar www.tate.org.uk 02. deadlY affair FrOM MITrA TABrIzIAN’S ‘BOrdErS’ SErIES Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 139 art 1 Good as Gold All that glitters is not gold – even when it is gold. As Ana Finel Honigman discovers, Middle Eastern artists use this precious metal to signify many things – and status is only a small part of the bigger picture. the gold standard in the Middle East is still gold. It is not displayed as an element in jewellery, minor accents and accessories as in the more muted and moderate Western aesthetic, but a defining feature of Middle Eastern fashion, décor and art. (The opulence of a stereotypical Middle Eastern wardrobe, and the statement it is intended to make, were summed up in Alanoud Al Sharekh’s ‘More Cash than Dash’ op-ed in this magazine’s debut issue, in which she wrote: ‘It’s not so much “dash” [as in being an individual, having a unique look] as “flash” [as in, if you can’t tell how much my outfit costs, then what is the point of me wearing it?].’) From an artist’s perspective, gold’s luxurious and seductive aspects are explored in Egyptian-born, New Yorkbased photographer Youssef Nabil’s hand-painted images of old film-star glamour. Nabil, who has shot Tracey Emin, Nan Goldin, David Lynch, Louise Bourgeois and Kate Moss, bathes his subjects in buttery gold light to register his work as a product of the region, where the sun’s golden rays and the people’s taste for gold define the look of its cultures. gold is not exclusive to the Middle East, but it is a trademark feature in the region. Even as it glitters throughout all levels of society everywhere in the world, often in an attempt to distract attention from the wearer’s true financial status, real precious gold and mere costume showpieces embody the same Right: Farhad Moshiri, Diamond Head (2007), oil, stones and gold leaf. 140 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 ©All rights rEsErvEd by thE Artist & thE third linE™ Left: Farhad Moshiri, Magic White Horse with Gold Saddle (2008), Oil and acrylic on canvas. distinctive allure. But though its surface might shine radiantly, gold’s symbolic meaning can be dulled or murky. Glinting brilliantly against desert settings and an array of Middle Eastern complexions, its lustre signals a range of meanings for artists to mine in creating art about, or marketed to, the region. ‘It’s the bling out here,’ says Dubai-based art critic Arsalan Mohammad. ‘It’s everything: the most immediate and recognised symbol of success. Many Arabs and Indians use it everywhere from furnishings to gold leaf on food. It’s all over the place at weddings, hardwired into the culture. It symbolises wealth, success, power and status. All that is gold.’ ‘gold’s lustre signals a range of meanings for artists to mine in creating art about, or marketed to, the region.’ in the west, gold’s shine is sometimes disparaged as an emblem of vulgarity, stylistic laziness or a boorish inability to gauge aesthetic nuance and complexity. ‘When they invited me to participate in Art Dubai, the organisers were particularly keen that I bring anything my artists have ever done in gold,’ says a prestigious Berlin-based art dealer who declined to participate in the fair. ‘I have artists who make work with gold, but I’m not bringing that work to the fair just because it is colour-coordinated for the collectors. I am not selling art that just goes with whatever someone has in their house … I will not be giving them decoration to go with their décor.’ That dealer rightly recognised that gold can be an easy sell to buyers for whom the material matters more than the substance of the work. But walking through Art Dubai, it seemed that most of the glittering art was using gold as a seductive device to lure onlookers towards some of the most cha- Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 141 art 1 At the first installment of Art Dubai, a solid gold knuckleduster designed by the London-based Pakistani artist Shezad Dawood was reportedly bought by a local sheikh from The Third Line Gallery for nearly $22,000. Encrusted with diamonds that spelled out ‘Nation of Islam’ in Arabic, the piece had all the irreverent, righteous allure usually associated with jewelled crucifixes and other opulent religious adornments in more flashy displays of faith. dawood sketched out the conceptual context for his use of gold as a conduit for cross-cultural references, explaining: ‘Gold becomes symbolic of both spiritual and material value in the region, but like with most of my work I try and map one region intuitively onto another. In the piece Nation of Islam, I felt there was an association between the transition of the politicised black [American] counterculture of the 60s and 70s into its more material equivalent that resonated with a similar shift in politics in the Middle East, a shift from a politics of association into a greater competitiveness. Which, in turn, finds its correspondence in an opportunist “othering” of Islam by the mainstream media in the West. And gold is going up along with oil …’ lenging, critical, witty and wily work on view. Because gold is such a blindingly brilliant symbol of Middle Eastern identity, part of the region’s aesthetic and possibly representative of the more avaricious aspects of its values, many artists were using gold ironically, to make hard and bright satirical statements about Middle Eastern style and manners. 142 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 ©All rights rEsErvEd by thE Artist & thE third linE™ ‘“love”, a canvas coated in swarovski crystals, sold at bonhams’s dubai auction for $1,048,000.’ foreign galleries brought an abundance of gold to Art Dubai. At Thailand’s Tonson Gallery, Chatchai Puipia’s gold leaf-covered pair of legs attracted widespread admiration. At Grosvenor Vadehra, a gallery with spaces in London and New Delhi, a gilded gold, fiberglass and polyester head by Ravinder Reddy shimmered next to a Vespa made of gold-plated MS metal disks by Valay Shende. Paris’s Galerie Kamel Mennour showed a $47,055 settee with gold fabric created by Shen Yuan, which sprouted long, magnificent plaits of blonde hair from its back. Above: Sarah Strang, Made in Dubai (2007), gold plate. Opposite, top: Shezad Dawood, Nation of Islam. Bottom: Youssef Nabil, Natacha with Eyes Closed [Cairo 2000] (2000), hand- painted silver gelatin print. a similarly bold multicultural connection was made by Farhad Moshiri with a work featuring Swarovski diamond-shaped crystals on canvas-onboard, one World/Yek donia, which sold for $601,000 at the first Christie’s Dubai auction, setting a world record for an Iranian artist. Twinkling gold clusters of coloured crystals in the shape of continents against a gray background represented ocean depths. The title, the colour scheme and its shine all proclaimed the work as a sparkler ignited to mark the start of a new era for Middle Eastern artists. Though Moshiri’s work is not typical of art in the region, and has more in common conceptually and aesthetically with international art luminaries such as Damien Hirst or Takashi Murakami, his glittering gold vision of globalism is definitely Middle Eastern in impact. Moshiri, who is also represented by The Third Line, has been using gold as a dominant motif throughout his work – he began by using a cake-icing dispenser to cover his canvases in lovely Farsi script, spelling out saccharine lyrics from sappy Iranian pop songs and painting witty, ironic images of weathered, cracked antique Persian ceramics. He showed an elaborate gold bed on which two solid gold boom-boxes reposed as part of his 2002 ‘Golden Love Super Deluxe’ series of gold-sprayed furniture and objects shown at the 2003 Sharjah Biennial. on 3 march 2008, Moshiri further solidified his standing as one of the region’s leading artists when love, a canvas coated in Swarovski crystals in which the word ‘love’ was spelled out in Arabic, sold at Bonhams’s first Dubai auction for $1,048,000, establishing him as the first artist from the Middle East to sell a work of art at auction for more than $1 million. In an April interview with Antonia Carver for The art Newspaper, Moshiri spoke about how his achievements have imbued his work with a liberal use of the colour that signifies success. ‘There’s always been an element in my work that’s self-ridiculing,’ he told Carver, acknowledging his ironic usage of opulent images associated with Middle Eastern glamour and prestige. ‘I play with the idea of marketing and commodification, and this feeds my practice. After all, the idea of making work that is about the packaging of art has been there since Pop art … I’m inspired by the mall, the bazaar, the decorative and ornamental, and wedding culture in Iran. I’m now finding new ways of using the embedded cynicism.’ Moshiri and many of his contemporaries, then, use gold both to heighten and subvert the region’s glitzy status symbols; but the priceless true value of their art shines through the flash of its golden surfaces._end Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 143 art 2 the Flowering oF abderrahim Yamou The Moroccan artist known for his earthworks-inspired abstracts overturns a lot of assumptions – about painting and sculpture, nature and artifice and that peculiar quality of ‘Moroccanness’. Ana Finel Honigman draws us a portrait of the artist as his own man. ‘the interesting thing about Yamou’s work is that most people who see it assume that he is Japanese,’ Bernard Chauchet explains over a shared lunch with the artist and his friend. The café, situated a few blocks from Chauchet’s ThirteenLangtonStreetGallery in London’s leafy, charming and residential Kensington and Chelsea borough, is a favourite of the gallerist for its ‘typically English’ menu, serving classic fry-ups with plenty of golden chips. The area’s quaint, crisp, orderly and old-fashioned British charm makes for a compelling contrast to our discussion of the ethnic and aesthetic origins of Abderrahim Yamou’s beautifully sensual and serene abstract floral and nature scenes. Chauchet elaborates on the cultural confusion Yamou’s work engenders. In his words: ‘The style of his paintings strike many people as very Zen-like. They are attracted to these qualities, and are often surprised to learn that he is Moroccan.’ The analogy to Zen might come easily for Western viewers drawn by the surface appeal of Yamou’s colourful and poetic canvases. But the lyrical grace and contagious calm of his recent paintings, like the spiritual tranquillity offered by Zen teachings, is the product of struggle, maturation and careful technical mastery. Yamou’s paintings might appear ethereal, but they are entirely rooted in earthly realities. born outside casablanca in 1959 to parents who were originally from the Moroccan Sahara, Yamou was the fourth of five children. During his childhood, he often accompanied his blind father to sell lottery tickets in the city. Because of the family’s poverty as well as his father’s affliction, his childhood home was bereft of decoration. The only image on the wall was a family photograph taken before Yamou’s birth. ‘I never thought about becoming a painter,’ he says. ‘The idea never crossed my mind. There were no artists or amateurs where I was raised. Yet I always wanted to draw. I believe that part of the reason I started to paint was to do [with the fact] that my father could not see.’ ‘THE ZEN-LIKE QUALITY OF YAMOU’S PAINTINGS LEADS MANY VIEWERS TO assume THE MOROCCAN ARTIST IS, IN FACT, JAPANESE.’ With no direct encouragement of his artistic ambitions, yet engaged in constant and active experimentation, Yamou travelled to France to study biology. He later abandoned that field for sociology, and decided to focus his thesis on contemporary Moroccan art. His artistic autodidacticism led him to seek inspiration in Paris’s museums, in the art magazines he found as a young man in Casablanca’s flea markets and in the natural world. Ironically, Yamou’s background in biology has informed the content, design and sensibility of his work more than traditional training might have done. Yamou’s work is also rooted in French Impressionism, and in the earthworks of California conceptualists such 144 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Clockwise from left: Votive (2003); Eve (2003); Horloge Biologique (1999). Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 145 art 2 as Allan Kaprow, who used rocks, orange peels and other material gathered from nature in performances that drew attention to basic natural processes. by the nineties, Yamou was mixing raw earth, sand and metal with glue and applying the paste to canvases. It hardened like cement, and the protrusions provided texture on which he could draw and affix pigment. Rust, scratches, scars and fissures marked the surface of his images. These works coincided with Yamou’s interest in Nkonde memorial sculptures from Congo. These tribal sculptures, which often incorporate nails and other rough metal features, fed the juxtaposition in his work between organic growth and decay. ‘Yamou says his most significant source of inspiration is the vegetal world.’ ThirteenLangtonStreetGallery’s website categorises this period in Yamou’s work as contrasting ‘growth and decay, photosynthesis and oxydation, life and death’. In the same text, Yamou identifies these works as ‘angry’. And in a 1991 artForum review of his solo show at Paris’s Galerie Régine Deschênes, critic Miriam Rosen confirms their emotional tone: ‘These are very silent paintings, silent in a way that has nothing to do with calm … As such, they don’t describe, they don’t narrate, they don’t orchestrate their earthy colors and textures; they just appear there before us, as markers of time and of a certain seething rage.’ Rosen went on to praise Yamou for the aggressive distinctiveness of his work, which succeeded in thrusting it into an arena beyond the quaint, conventional imagery that has generally represented Moroccan art within the international art scene. ‘For there is a 146 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 “look” to modern Moroccan art,’ Rosen wrote, ‘a look that has less to do with modernity than with Moroccanness. The repertoire of sun-drenched colors, organic shapes, repeated motifs (including calligraphy) that abound in the traditional arts.’ Yamou acknowledges that his own ethnic and cultural identity shapes his work, but says those aspects are less significant to him than the inspiration he derives from the vegetal world. in his paintings, the artist had used various natural materials such as sand and soil, but found that paint and canvas could only illustrate various aspects of nature. This realisation led him to his series of recent sculptures, which he crafts out of wood, metal nails and organic forms. The direct influence of the Nkonde is felt in these; to Western eyes, the female forms Yamou creates, covered in budding plants, evoke Gaia, the ancient Greek Earth goddess. Though the sculptures lack the voluptuous beauty of his paintings, they enable Yamou to demonstrate and not merely depict natural growth. ‘Through photosynthesis and growth, plants are in a constant state of transformation,’ Yamou explains. ‘This process represents life. But, even as the plants grow, the nails in the sculpture are oxidising and deteriorating. Just as water and light are indispensable to plants’ growth, so they are also the elements that cause metal’s deterioration. In this sense, the sculpture itself contains both life and death. And these two phenomena, juxtaposed in a single sculpture, allow for an exploration of this contrast.’ Just as his sculptures contain and embrace life and death, Yamou’s paintings offer moving, formally harmonious and often breathtaking visions of nature in its all its complex splendour: this artist is a man for all seasons._end Clockwise from opposite, left: Anatolie (2008); Hybrid (2006); Testament of the Tree (2008). Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 147 Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 149 travel 1 Opposite: Exterior, Dawood Hotel. This page: Interior, Dawood Hotel, Talha quarter, Sana’a. sana’a It’s not all about qat (though there’s a lot of it around). Yemen’s ancient capital fascinates the senses with ubiquitous delights such as frankincense, music and its own distinct style of architecture. Scott MacMillan hangs out with hip hop artists, civil servants and bestselling authors, and learns why some people consider this city indispensable. Photographs by Khaled al-Hammadi 150 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 151 travel 1 to dispense with the most obvious question first: Like two strong shots of espresso plus half a hash brownie. It’s a subtle effect that is difficult to pin down even after repeated use, but that’s the best this writer can offer for a concise description of the effect of qat, the Yemeni stimulant of choice. There’s far more to Yemen, of course, than the ubiquitous shrub Catha edulis. To start, Yemenis possess an age-old sense of style that puts their richer Gulf neighbours to shame. Yemeni culture, historically more settled than that of the nomadic Bedouin tribes that rule the rest of the Arabian Peninsula, has given rise to some of the most distinctive architecture in the Arab world, preserved nowhere better than in the ancient warrens of Sana’a, the capital. In terms of sartorial panache, this is one of the few places left where men still wear the traditional jambiya, or ceremonial dagger. Despite their poverty, Yemenis still retain the stately pride appropriate to this former Kingdom of Sheba, whence came, according to the Bible and the Qur’an, a beguiling queen who ruled her subjects from a ‘magnificent throne’ and lavished the mighty Solomon with unmatched gifts of spices, gold, precious stones and, apocryphal legend would have it, her love. ‘coming here without trying qat would be like holidaying in Saint-Émilion without tasting the wine.’ be that as it may, one would be hard-pressed to avoid qat in Yemen. The leaf, banned in most other countries, is chewed by a majority of Yemenis, and it gets blamed for many of the country’s ills – unfairly, in most cases. Contrary to popular belief, qat does not make its users stupefied or lazy. In fact, the thrill-seeking traveller looking for a mind-altering experience would do better picking cactus in the Mexican desert or hanging out under a street lamp in Brixton. Aggressive qat cultivation may well be leading Yemen to environmental disaster, as experts charge, but for better or worse, it is part of the fabric of daily life here. Business deals, the day’s gossip, marriage proposals – all are conducted during qat-chewing sessions. Such is the leaf ’s centrality to Yemeni culture that coming here without trying it would be a bit like holidaying in Saint-Émilion without tasting the wine or visiting Milan without once sipping a morning macchiato. With labyrinthine streets hemmed in by ancient tower houses, surprises seem to lurk around every curve and corner in Old Sana’a. One could wander for hours, rapt by an enchantment strangely reminiscent of the worn byways of VenThis page and opposite, clockwise from top left: View from the gate of the Dawood Hotel; jambiya (ceremonial dagger) seller; two views of traditional hat sellers and the buildings of Old Sana’a at Bab al-Yaman (the Old City gate). 152 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 153 travel 1 ice, Prague and the Old City of Damascus – this despite the threat that Islamist militants pose to Yemen’s tourism industry. In January, two Belgian tourists and their driver were killed in the eastern region of Hadramaut, and subsequent attacks on Western embassies and compounds have scared away foreigners without causing injury. Although trips beyond the Sana’a area require a police permit, the capital is safe enough to keep all but the most skittish (or unlucky) travellers comfortable. At the Dawood Hotel in the Talha quarter, the scent of native frankincense wafts through the hallways. The staff delivers the aromatic resin to the rooms daily, and in the evening, musicians serenade the courtyard café. Choices abound for accommodation in Old Sana’a, as hoteliers have converted a number of aged buildings into guesthouses where the ambience befits the Queen of Sheba if the luxury does not. For traditional Yemeni food, it is best to venture outside the city walls to the Al Shaibani restaurant, where you’re likely to haggle with the chef himself over the price of the fish. but it is behind the white-frosted gingerbread walls of the old city’s tower houses that one meets the real Sana’a. Friends gather, usually over qat, to trade stories and discuss matters trivial and profound, as shafts of coloured light stream through stained-glass qamariya windows, another signature of Yemeni architecture. A typical Sana’a qat session features a motley mix of characters: at one, I meet Hagage aj Masaed, aka ‘AJ’, a hip hop artist; Abdul Salaam, a high-ranking official from the Ministry of Electricity; an American tourist who makes a living as a performance artist back in Los Angeles; and the host, Kyle Foster, a development worker from Nebraska who is writing a historical novel about a World War II-era German lost in southern Arabia. Abdul Aziz, the jambiya-sporting qat seller, also drops in for a delivery. ‘hoteliers have converted a number of aged buildings into guesthouses. the ambience befits the Queen of Sheba, if the luxury does not.’ ‘Everything has gotten so Westernised in these other Arabic countries,’ says AJ, a wad of qat bulging through his cheek. ‘The one thing about Yemen is that you can feel the traditional values.’ He tells how he re-evaluated his life after being injured in a drive-by shooting in Buffalo, New York. Born to Yemeni parents in Youngstown, Ohio, he now has four CDs his credit, mixing hip hop rhythms with Arab instruments – especially the mizmar, the high-pitched reed pipe often played at weddings. He splits his time between Sana’a and Oakland, California, where he runs a liquor store and deli. The city is filled with such characters, says Jon Rooney, a resident journalist who talks of chewing qat with, for in- 154 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 This page and opposite: A view of the Old City from the top of the Dawood Hotel. Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 155 travel 1 stance, an exiled Saudi poet. We meet up at Bab al-Yaman, the ancient city gate, and head to a nearby café for tea and foul. You might also meet Abu Jandal, Osama Bin Laden’s one-time bodyguard and personal secretary, Rooney adds. On the wall of the café, a sign depicts an automatic rifle with a slash though it: No Kalashnikovs allowed. if sana’a is a city of stories, then expat author Tim Mackintosh-Smith is one of its master storytellers. Now in his third decade as an adopted Sana’ani, Mackintosh-Smith is working on the sequels to his two published volumes following the footsteps of Ibn Battuta, travels with a tangerine and Hall of a Thousand Columns. At his home in Old Sana’a, I ask Mackintosh-Smith what so captivates him about the city. We’re overlooking the ancient cityscape from his mafraj, the belvedere at the top of a traditional Sana’a house. ‘I just feel I’d be bored anywhere else,’ he says. ‘Look at this view: To my mind it’s utterly beautiful. I always sit here in the afternoon, so I’m used to it in a certain light. I opened the curtain [that morning], and I saw it in that different light, slightly smoky and blue – slightly different from what I’m used to. And I thought, “Wow, it’s like suddenly seeing a new city.”’ and it is that kind of place,’ he continues. ’I’m very lucky living here. My friends who’ve been to stay write emails, and they say, “How are you? And how is your view?” Like it’s a kind of living creature. And it really is: You’ve got this wobbly line of four minarets’ – he points them out, rattling off the names of four mosques – ‘and I’m sure one of them is leaning over more than it was before. Either that or I’ve started leaning over in my house.’ Here in placid Old Sana’a, the violence that grabs foreign headlines seems a world away. Poets, expat novelists, gun-toting militants, the Queen of Sheba seduced by Solomon – war, poverty, poetry and romance seem to coexist here, against the backdrop of a city at once strange and hospitable. Sometimes it seems the only thing missing is Ingrid Bergman asking the bar pianist to play ‘As Time Goes By’ – just once, for old times’ sake. But for the Yemenis, this is reality, not romance. In a region where progress often trumps tradition, it would indeed be a tragedy if Sana’a remained a secret guarded by those who prefer their frankincense mixed with the whiff of sulphur. Left behind by the current oil boom, the impoverished nation has much to offer the world – not the least the magical streets and sitting rooms of a city that maintains a contemplative stillness as the centuries pass it by._end This page and opposite, clockwise from top left: Men in traditional gard at Bab al-Yaman; buildings in Old Sana’a; Dawood Hotel interior; passers-by outside Bab al-Yaman; European tourist, not as rare as one might assume. 156 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 157 Travel 2 where the wild flights are Christina Lamb takes off from Dubai’s Terminal 2, a strange environment altogether apart from the glitz of Terminal 1, and with which you’ll only be familiar if you travel to or arrive from the ‘Bad Places’. if you know a Dubai, it is probably the Dubai of sky-scraping towers of glass rising from the desert, of highways clogged with Maseratis and of glitzy shopping centres crammed with designer brands such as DKNY, Armani and Christian Dior; a fantasyland of architectural wonders and pleasure palaces such as the seven-star Burj al-Arab and the Emirates Mall, literally the world’s largest fridge where one can ski at -4°C while outside the mercury tops 40°C. As the foreign affairs correspondent for London’s Sunday Times, I regularly pass through an entirely different Dubai. It’s called Terminal 2 of Dubai International Airport, and it’s where you go to catch planes to the Bad Places. The destination board lists Kabul, Baghdad and Mogadishu, and the airlines have names you’ve never heard of like Chelyabinsk, Don Air, Kam Air, Ossetia, Mahan and Samara Airlines. These are airlines so dodgy that they are not allowed to land at the proper airport. Many, like Ariana Afghan Airlines or Reem Air of Kyrgyzstan, are on a list banning them from European airspace and describing them as ‘flying coffins’. Their planes are old Tupolevs bought second- or third-hand from Aeroflot or Air India. The name ‘Terminal 2’ might lead one to presume it is attached to the main airport; in fact, it lies a half-hour taxi ride away. It seems to exist in another country entirely compared to that gleaming glass temple of capitalism of Terminal 1, where sunburnt tourists in shorts and miniskirts shop for Rolex watches and Fendi handbags and buy US$100 tickets to enter the lottery for a Jaguar X-type. In Terminal 2 there is just one shop, and people stuff baskets with Mars bars, batteries, tampons and biscuits, for they know not what they will get at the other end. Mostly, they are bounty hunters, Afghan moneychangers, aid workers, private security guards and journalists. Instead of shiny Samsonites on wheels they have battered kitbags and rucksacks, black plastic crates of survival equipment or, in the case of the Afghans, large bundles tied up in chequered cloths. The few with suits and briefcases are consultants being paid thousands of dollars per week for something called ‘capacity building’, but they will get on a special United Nations plane. Sometimes there are long plywood boxes containing dead bodies being flown back from comfortable exile to be buried in harsh homelands. most people have grimly resigned expressions, particularly if, like me, they are flying Ariana. For the airlines of Terminal 2, departure times mean nothing and it is common to turn up day after day before a plane finally arrives. Besides, we all know that the Ariana pilots prefer staying in Dubai to piloting their ‘coffins’ back to a destroyed country. We debate with those holding tickets for flights on Afghanistan’s Kam Air whether it’s safer to fly with an airline that has already crashed (Kam) or one that always seems about to crash (Ariana). Passengers who make a fuss and try to find non-existent airline representatives are exposed as newcomers. Some might be committed do-gooders; others are only doing it for money. ‘George Bush has paid off thousands of 158 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 photo: Scott MacMillan Opposite, left: display screen at Dubai Terminal 2 listing a typical few hours’ worth of destinations. Opposite, left and this page, left: Outside the arrivals hall. Below: Making do with Terminal 2’s lack of creature comforts. mortgages,’ says a Scottish ex-para on his way to be a $1,000-a-day security consultant in Afghanistan after a long stint in Iraq. There are a few people who have a look on their faces that I recognize. It’s a sort of suburban restlessness – not in a grass-is-always-greener kind of way, but a search for adventure. These are the people whose eyes gleam when they see the name Kish on the destination board. Where is that? Kish Island in Iran, someone tells me. It sounds intriguing. I know one day I will try to go there. It will mean flying Kish Air, which last crashed two years ago. ‘The destination board a better expression might be what Palestinians call going on a sarha. It means roaming freely, and comes from the verb used to signify letting cattle out to pasture early in the morning to meander and graze at will. Raja Shehadeh, in his book Palestinan Walks, explains the concept of sarha as wandering aimlessly, not restricted by time and place, going where the spirit takes one to nourish the soul and rejuvenate the self. After my last return through Terminal 2, on the way back from a particularly hazardous trip in southern Afghanistan, I decided to stop for once and take my own sarha in the city I knew only from its two (soon to be three) very different air terminals. as always, i marvelled at the buildings and at the quantity of vast cranes, many of which are gathered around what will be the world’s tallest tower. But for once I had no flight to catch, and time to spare. My taxi took me past signs to Media City, Internet City, Knowledge Village, Studio City, International Academic City, Sports City … When the relentless construction had become too much, I escaped for breath to the narrow lanes of Bastakiya, Dubai’s only historic district. Over a refreshing lime and mint juice in the shady courtyard of the XVA Gallery, I realised that I could not resist the idea of skiing in the desert. Kish Island could wait._end adapted from christina lamb’s Small Wars Permitting: Dispatches from Foreign Lands (harper press, 2008) are so dodgy they’re not allowed to land at the proper airport.’ Biographers of Alexander the Great used the Greek word pothos to describe his endless yearning to be somewhere else, whether it was to cross the Danube, go to the oracle of Ammon, sail the ocean, see the Persian Gulf or untie the legendary knot at Gordium. I liked that description. But then I read that the longing for something unattainable expressed by pothos could also signify a desire to die. For pothos is also the Greek word for delphiniums, the flowers traditionally placed on tombs in Greece. lists Kabul, Baghdad and Mogadishu; the airlines Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 159 Travel spa Thyme and Lavender Make time at the Four Seasons Terre Blanche resort, for rejuvenation amidst the surrounding scents wafting throught the hills of Provence. lavish and natural at once, the Four Seasons Terre Blanche, nestled in the hills of Provence, combines luxurious comfort with mountain vistas, medieval villages and fragrant fields of thyme and lavender – all within reach of the hyperactive Côte d’Azur. The resort boasts 110 large suites and villas decorated in Provençal style with natural wood and stone finish. The largest villa is 300 m2 and features a private swimming pool and whirlpool on the terrace. Golf is an option all year round, and Terre Blanche’s spa is one of the loveliest in Europe. A path leads to the spa, located in a separate villa perched on a hillside and surrounded by poppies, lavender and rosemary bushes. Broom and myrtle trees sway above the villa, where seven signature treatments include local natural ingredients such as honey and lavender. The two-level building features twelve treatment rooms (four with private terraces) as well as two VIP suites for couples that include a double whirlpool bath, steam shower and a large outdoor terrace with a private cabana. The resort has four restaurants – one of them with a Michelin star – and, of course, a spa café._end www.fourseasons.com/provence ‘the spa is perched on a hillside surrounded by poppies, lavender, thyme and rosemary bushes, broom and myrtle trees.’ Above: Spa interior; left: The Four Seasons Terre Blanche from the outside. 160 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Travel news Kuwaitis’ summer destination of choice Recent figures show that Singapore remains high on the list as a popular family destination for Kuwaiti travellers on their summer break. In 2007, the island city-state logged more than 98,000 visitors from the Middle East, breaking records from previous years. Over the summer, Singapore offers a host of festivals, including the Singapore Arts Festival, the Great Singapore Sale, and the Singapore Food Festival. New attractions include the Singapore Flyer, the world’s largest observation wheel; favourites remain Sentosa Island, Underwater World and the Singapore Zoo. www.visitingsingapore.com 02 include eighty-nine suites and fourteen bungalows in sizes varying from 1,600 – 9,500 sq. ft. The hotel will target a top-tier clientele and will boast a 10,000 sq. ft swimming pool as well as one of Dubai’s most exquisite spas. Brad Pitt and his green team do Dubai Actor Brad Pitt is to design an environmentally friendly hotel and leisure project in Dubai. The developer, Zabeel Properties, has said that Pitt, along a team from the Los Angeles-based architecture firm Graft, have been appointed as design consultants for the project, which will include an 800-room, five-star hotel. Pitt says the project would reflect his values for environmentally conscious architecture. The twice-daily fourteenhour nonstop flight from Dubai to JFK Airport marks the A380’s first commercial service to the US. Powered by Engine Alliance’s GP7200 engines, Emirates’ A380s can fly up to 12,000 km with full passenger load and, according to its manufacturer, makes less noise and has a smaller carbon footprint than similar models. www.emirates.com Dubai unveils budget airline Dubai’s new low-cost airline will be called FlyDubai and will offer ‘no-frills flights’ within the Gulf and surrounding countries. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, also the chairman of Emirates Airline, said the name had been approved from a shortlist by Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The airline, which will operate from the new Al Maktoum International Airport in Jebel Ali, is on course to launch its first flights by mid-2009. Elie Saab to design Dubai hotel 01 Elie Saab is branching out by designing his first hotel in the Middle East, starting with an exclusive AED 600 million hotel in The Tiger Woods Dubai that will reflect his unique style. Overlooking the world’s first golf course designed by golf superstar Woods, the 360,000 sq. ft luxury boutique hotel will ILLUSTRATION: SIMON DOvAR Emirates inaugurates A380 service to US 02 Emirates Airline will launch its inaugural A380 service to New York 1 August. 01 Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 161 Food & drink One-way ticket to London Algerian-born entrepreneur Tony Kitous is riding a wave of success with four Moroccan and Lebanese restaurants, and has big plans to open more. Olivia Snaije gets a taste of delicious things to come for Middle Eastern cuisine in the West. twenty years ago, Kitous had just finished his baccalaureate and was sitting outside his house with a friend in Tizi Ouzou, the capital of northern Algeria’s Kabylian province. ‘We decided to come to London on holiday with £70 in our pocket,’ says Kitous, seated outside his fanciful Moroccan restaurant, Pasha, in South Kensington and dragging on a nargileh. Six months later he was still in London, working in a bar and loading newspapers onto vans. Unlike many of his Algerian compatriots, such as Mourad Mazouz – another star on the London restaurant scene who started a business in Paris and then moved on to London – Kitous skipped Paris altogether. ‘Paris just never did it for me,’ says Kitous, who is more comfortable expressing himself in English now than in French. He struggled at first, working double shifts and learning on the job. ‘At home I had been rather lazy. I never knew I had it in me. But I was determined and responsible.’ At the age of twenty-two, Kitous made a bid for a restaurant on Bond Street. Before meeting the landlord he bought his first suit, and asked the shopgirl to help him with his tie. Underneath Kitous’s genial manner is a steely determination that got him twice through the toughest foot race in the world, the Marathon des Sables. The six-day endurance race across the Sahara in Morocco ‘is really a mental challenge’, he says. ‘Day Four is a make-or-break day; lots of people give up at that stage. That’s when your inner strength kicks in. At some point around midnight I was on top of a dune, and I could see the finish line. I started to sprint. It was one of the best experiences of my life.’ In 1997, North African cuisine entered the realm of London chic when Mazouz opened his restaurant, Momo. Kitous knew Mazouz was onto something and, indeed, two of Kitous’s restaurants are Moroccan – but he wanted to go ‘more Middle Eastern … I saw how Indian food had gone from being cheap to glamorous. With Chinese food it was the same until [restauranteur] Alan Yau came along.’ while in paris Lebanese cuisine is generally considered highend, in London it was still confined to Edgware Road, where Londoners, unsteady on their feet, went to eat cheap shawarma at 3 am after a night on the town. Lebanese cuisine was unknown territory in the UK. British journalist Toby Young, albeit famously provocative, wrote quite seriously in a restaurant review in 2004: ‘The Lebanon, after all, isn’t known for its great culinary tradition. Indeed, I’m not sure I could distinguish Lebanese food from any other Middle Eastern cuisine.’ This attitude, coupled with the events of 11 September 2001, spurred Kitous on. Not only did he see a wide gap in the market where Lebanese restaurants were concerned, but he was galvanised into promoting Arab culture and creating what he thought dining should be about. 162 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Left, clockwise from top: interiors of Kitous’s restaurants Pasha and Kenza; Tony Kitous; Pasha interior. Below, clockwise: the offerings at Pasha; Levantine interior; the ‘Dar Chabane’ alcove at Pasha. ‘londoners will be able to begin their mornings with zaatar croissants. “i want to glamorise lebanese street food,” kitous says.’ ‘i wanted to get away from the formal, stiff side of dining. I wanted it to be a vibrant experience; the décor and ambiance had to be amazing.’ Indeed, Kitous’s restaurants are for the most part lavishly decorated, resembling film sets – rose petals strewn about, embroidered pillows piled up in alcoves. He works with Moroccan artisans and has designed chandeliers for his restaurants himself, drawing inspiration from Moroccan, Syrian or Egyptian designs. When it comes to the cuisine, Kitous feels there are no rules either. ‘I started to play with things. I thought, why don’t we serve marinated tomatoes with halloumi cheese and mint instead of basil and mozzarella? Why not sauté some chicken livers and put them on top of hummus with some fried onions? Who says you can’t make sambousek with prawns?’ It was only natural, then, for Kitous to hook up with Karim Haidar, a Paris-based Lebanese chef intent on innovating traditional Lebanese cuisine. Kitous had heard about Haidar when he was in London in 2003 to help with the makeover of the Lebanese Fakhreldine restaurant, which included a more contemporary take on Lebanese dishes. ‘I thought he was ahead of his time then. But now London is ready.’ besides updating the Lebanese menus at Kitous’s restaurants Levant and Levantine, Haidar has been working with him on several Lebanese-themed projects. Le Comptoir Libanais, about to open near Oxford Street, is a high-end Lebanese delicatessen designed by Rana Salam, featuring hot and cold dishes that clients can eat in seated areas. Londoners will be able to begin their mornings with zaatar croissants, segue into mezze at lunchtime and smoke a nargileh after work while relaxing with a beer. ‘I want to glamorise Lebanese street food and make it accessible,’ says Kitous. Shawa, his upcoming project with Haidar, is all about ‘revolutionising’ shawarma. Kitous envisions a Wagamama-type chain of organic, high-quality, affordable shawarma (including fish shawarma) eateries. One senses that Kitous is feeling slightly restless in London, and although he part-owns a restaurant in Marrakech, he may be heading farther West. ‘For anyone in the restaurant business, New York is the ultimate challenge. I would love to conquer the US.’_end Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 163 CLASSIC 1 Beit al-Sissi Aleppo, SyriA Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Armenians, Persians, Greeks, Romans and Ottoman Turks all left their mark on the mouth-watering cuisine of Aleppo, Syria. What distinguishes Aleppine gastronomy, perhaps, is the Persian-influenced use of fruit in dishes such as meats flavoured with pomegranate syrup or grilled meatballs with black cherries. Aleppo is also said to be the capital of kibbeh, with no less than sixty different recipes for the ground lamb and bulgur mix. One of the best places to tuck into Aleppine specialties (as well as a few Armenian ones) is in Garo Narbekian’s restaurant Beit al-Sissi, a seventeenth-century building with a lovely courtyard surrounded by wood-panelled rooms. Converted from an old Arab house to a restaurant in 1994, Beit al-Sissi is a longstanding favourite amongst locals (Syria’s president and his wife regularly drop in), but also with travellers such as Catherine Deneuve and Lord Sainsbury. Beit al-Sissi’s menu lists five different types of kibbeh and seven kebab dishes including the famous lamb kebabs in a tangy cherry sauce. www.sissihouse.com 164 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 CLASSIC 2 Locanda Corsini NAAS BikfAyA, leBANoN Situated 1,000 m above sea level but only 25 km from Beirut, one of Lebanon’s smallest luxury hotels is an ideal place to experience a cool summer. Run by an Italian-Lebanese household, Locanda Corsini is inspired by family-operated country inns in Italy. Cinzia Corsini Abi Farah and her musician husband Elias Abi Farah teamed up with Cinzia’s father, mother and sister to run the Locanda with love and meticulousness. The two-storey, ochre-coloured stone house built in the traditional style of the region has graceful arched windows and doors. There are eight individual suites, decorated in a modern-yet-retro style; each room is given a personal touch, though the Frette sheets are for everyone. There are terraced areas and secluded gardens around the property; dining al fresco surrounded by pine trees is de rigueur. The cuisine is Italian, prepared by Mrs Corsini; she often uses organic produce from the garden. The Corsinis and Abi Farahs are intent on doing everything themselves, and the result is a personal, innovative and very beautiful place to stay. www.locandacorsini.com Summer 2008 Alef mAgAzine 165 Ferretti LONDON (UK) 205 Sloane Street SW1X 9QX Tel: +44 20 72352349 DUBAI (UAE) Saks Fith Avenue Burjuman Centre Tel: +971 4 332511 KUWAIT Al-Thuraya Mall Tel: +965 572 922/3/4 BEIRUT (LEB) Joseph Eid Femme Karam Building Tel: +9611 203300/1/2/3 www.albertaferretti.com Alexander McQueen LONDON (UK) 5 Old Bond St London, W1S 4PD Tel: +44 20 73550088 DUBAI (UAE) Emirates Tower Shopping Boulevard Tel: +917 4 319 8999 www.alexandermcqueen. com Alice Temperly LONDON (UK) 6-10 Colville Mews Lonsdale Road London W11 2DA Tel: + 44 207 229 7957 www.temperleylondon.com DUBAI (UAE) Emirates Tower Shopping Boulevard Tel: +917 4 319 8999 KUWAIT Al-Ostoura Sahab Tower Salhiya Complex Tel: +965 246 7871 LONDON (UK) Harrods 87-135 Brompton Road London SW1 Tel: +44 20 7730 1234 www.harrods.com Beatrix Ong LONDON (UK) IV BURLINGTON ARCADE MAYFAIR W1J 0PD Tel: +44 207 499 4089 www.beatrixong.com/ Betsey Johnson LONDON (UK) 106 Draycott Avenue Ground Floor SW3 3AE United Kingdom Tel: +44 207 591 0005 KUWAIT Al Ostoura Laila Galleria, 1st Floor Salem Al Mubarak Street Salmiya MANAMA (BAH) Seventh Heaven 1st Fl. Bld. 471 Rd. 3209 Kuwaiti Ave. Tel: +4417 582717 Bodyamr RIYADH (KSA) DNA Tel:+966 14199966 LONDON (UK) Harvey Nichols 09-125 Knightsbridge Tel: +44 20 72355000 www.bodyamr.com Bottega Veneta LONDON (UK) 15 Old Bond Street Tel: +44 207 838 9394 KUWAIT Villa Moda Tel: +965 482 7004 DUBAI (UAE) Emirates Towers Shopping Boulevard Tel: +971 4 330 0449 RYADH (KSA) Kingdom Centre Browns LONDON (UK) 24-27 South Molton Street Tel:+44 207 514 0016 www.brownsfashion.com Alberta Bulgari DUBAI (UAE) Mall of the Emirates Tel: + 971 434 106 62 LONDON (UK) 168 New Bond Street London W1 Tel: +44 20 7314 9343 www.bulgari.com Burberry Prorsum DUBAI (UAE) Deira City Centre Tel: +971 4 295 347 Mall of the Emirates Tel: +971 4 340 5559 ABU DHABI (UAE) Marina Mall Tel: +971 2 2681 5419 KUWAIT Arraya Mall Tel: +965 299 7622 LONDON (UK) 21-23 New Bond Street London W1 Tel: +44 20 7968 0000 www.burberry.com KUWAIT Salhiya Complex Tel: +965 2408471 DOHA (QATAR) Royal Plaza Tel: +974 4 131 381 BEIRUT (LEB) 71 al-Moutrane Street Tel: +9611 972600 ABU DHABI (UAE) Hamdan Street Tel: +917 2 627 00 00 DUBAI (UAE) Emirates Towers Tel: +917 4 33 000 34 Burjuman Centre Tel: +917 4 355 35 33 www.cartier.com Cesare Paccioti LONDON (UK) 8A Sloane Street Tel:+44 207 2353393 DUBAI (UAE) Burjuman Centre Tel: +971 43519292 DOHA(Qatar) Landmark Shopping Centre Tel: +974 4887227 Chanel LONDON (UK) 173 New Bond Street London, W1S 4RF Tel: +44 207499 0005 DUBAI (UAE) Wafi Mall Tel: +971 3240464 KUWAIT Villa Moda Tel: +965 4827 004 www.chanel.com Chopard DUBAI (UAE) Burj Al Arab Tel: + 971 (4) 3489 595 SHARJAH (UAE) Seddiqi Sharjah City Cent Tel: + 971 (6) 5326 668 LONDON (UK) 12 New Bond Street London, W1 Tel: +44 20 7409 3410 www.chopard.com Christian Dior DUBAI (UAE) Saks Fifth Avenue Burjuman Centre Tel: +917 4351 5551/980 KUWAIT Villa Moda Tel: +965 4827 004 DOHA (QATAR) Villa Moda Tel: +974 444 3939 www.dior.com Christian Louboutin LONDON (UK) 3 Motcomb St, Tel: +44 02 72456510 KUWAIT AlOthaman Maryam Complex Salem Al Mubarak Street Salmiya 22057 Tel: +965 5754954 RIYADH (KSA) DNA Tel:+966 14199966 Corto Moltedo LONDON (UK) Joseph 305 Brompton Road Brompton Cross SW3 2DY Tel: +44 20 7581 5211 DUBAI (UAE) SAKS FIFTH AVENUE Burjman Centre Unit 201 Tel: +97143515551 www.dinosaurdesigns.com Dolce & Gabbana DUBAI (UAE) Mall of the Emirates Tel: +971 4 341 0626 KUWAIT Villa Moda Tel: +965 482 7004 LONDON (UK) 6-8 Old Bond Street Tel: +44 (0)20 7201 0980 www.dolcegabbana.it D&G LONDON (UK) 53-55 New Bond Street London, W1S 1DG Tel: 020 7495 9250 Dries Van Noten www.driesvannoten.be DSquared2 www.dsquared.com Saab DUBAI (UAE) Boutique 1, Emirates Tower Tel: +971 4 3304555 DOHA (QATAR) The Ritz Carlton Tel: +974 483 3556 KUWAIT Salmiya 22057 Tel: +965 5754954/5 www.eliesaab.com Emanuel Ungaro KUWAIT Mariam Shopping Mall Salem Al Mubarak Street Salmiya Tel: +965 574 4332 DUBAI (UAE) Burjuman Centre Tel: +971 3557922 BEIRUT (LEB) Rue Omar Daouk Minet El Hosn Bad Idriss Tel: +961 1974 640 Etro LONDON (UK) 14 Old Bond Street London W1 Tel:+44 207 495 5767 DUBAI (UAE) Burjuman Shopping Mall Tel: +971 3513737 KUWAIT Villa Moda Tel: +965 482 7004 www.etro.it LONDON (UK) 20-22 Sloane Street SW1X 9NE Tel: +44 207 8386288 JEDDAH (KSA) Al Khayyat Shopping Centre Tel: +966 2 2842803 DUBAI (UAE) Burjuman Centre Tel: +971 4 35511833 www.fendi.com www.gemmakahng.com Giambattista Valli LONDON (UK) 24-27 South Molton Street W1K 5RD Tel: +44 20 7514 0016 www.giambattistavalli.com Gina LONDON (UK) 9 Old Bond Street London W1S 4PJ Tel: +44 020 7409 7090 www.gina.com Giorgio Armani DUBAI (UAE) 20, G Floor, Emirates Tower Shopping Boulevard at Jumeirah Tel: +971-04-3300447 BEIRUT (LEB) Allenby Street, Central District Solidère Tel: +045223363 Givenchy DUBAI (UAE) Mall of the Emirates Tel: +971 4 340 0347 KUWAIT Salhiya Complex Tel: +965 240 6771 LONDON (UK) Harvey Nichols Tel: +44 20 7235 5000 www.givenchy.com Graff LONDON (UK) 6 & 7 New Bond Street W1S 3SJ Tel: +44 207 584 8571 KUWAIT Salhiya Complex Tel: +965 246 4091 DUBAI (UAE) Wafi City Tel: +971 4 351 1980 www.graffdiamonds.com De Grisogono KUWAIT Salhiya Complex Tel: +965 243 2222 www.degrisogono.com Gucci LONDON (UK) 34-36 Old Bond Street, London W1 Tel: +44 207 629 2716 BAHRAIN Al A’li Shopping Complex Tel: +973 1 758 1800 KUWAIT Villa Moda, Shuwaikh Tel: +965 482 7004 DOHA (QATAR) Villa Moda, The Ritz Carlton Tel: +974 483 3556 DUBAI (UAE) Emirates Towers Tel: +971 4 330 3313 Mall of the Emirates Tel: +971 4 341 0669 www.gucci.com Guiseppe Zanotti LONDON (UK) 206 Walton Street London SW3 2JL Tel: +44 207 591 3900 www.giuseppe-zanottidesign.com Bounkit LONDON (UK) Merola 195 Fulham Road Tel:+44 207 351 9338 www.bounkit.com Hermes LONDON (UK) 144 New Bond Street Tel: +44 207 4998856 179 Sloane Street Tel: +44 207 823 1014 DUBAI (UAE) Burjuman Centre Tel: +971 4 351 190 Hussein Chalayan KUWAIT Al Osutura Tel: + 965 574 2793 LONDON (UK) Liberty 214-220 Regent Street Tel: +44 20 7734 1234 www.husseinchalayan.com LONDON (UK) Harrods 87-135 Brompton Road London SW1 Tel: +44 20 7730 1234 DUBAI (UAE) Boutique 1, Emirates Tower Tel: + 971 4 3304555 KUWAIT Al Othman Tel: +965 266 3366 www.issalondon.com Gaultier LONDON (UK) 171-175 Draycott Avenue SW3 3AJ Tel: +44 207 584 4646 www.jeanpaulgaultier.com/ Jewels Accessories DUBAI (UAE) S*UCE The Village Mall Tel: +971 4 344 7270 www.jewelsaccessories.com Julien MacDonald LONDON (UK) Harrods 87-135 Brompton Road London SW1 Tel: +44 20 7730 1234 Kuhne www.kaikuhne.com Khadda New York www.khaddany.com DUBAI (UAE) Emirates Towers Tel: +971 4 330 3500 AMMAN (JORDAN) Al Khair Shopping Complex Tel: +962 566 2444/3777 KUWAIT Arraya Complex Tel: +965 299 7702 LONDON (UK) 108 New Bond Street Tel: +44 (0)20 7499 2929 www.lanvin.com Leila Kashanipour LONDON (UK) Mathilde 107 Walton Street, London SW3 2HP Tel: +44 20 7823 8735 www.mathilde.co.uk Le Silla DUBAI (UAE) Mall of Emirates Tel: +971 4 355 4897 www.lesilla.it Loewe DUBAI (UAE) Bur Juman Mall Tel: + 971 4355 8860 LONDON (UK) Harrods 87-135 Brompton Road London SW1 Tel: +44 20 7730 1234 www.loewe.com Louis Vuitton LONDON (UK) 11-12 Clifford St London, W1S 2LL Tel:+44 20 73994050 KUWAIT Salhia Commercial Complex Tel: +965 2455801 DUBAI (UAE) Mall of the Emirates Tel:+971 43414462 ABU DHABI Marina Mall Tel: +971 26812166 www.louisvuitton.com Jean-Paul Wafi Mall Tel:+971 4 327 9002 KUWAIT Habchi & Chalhoub Salhiya Complex Tel: +965804077 Miu Miu LONDON (UK) 123 New Bond St Tel: +44 (0)20 7409 0900 London W1 www.miumiu.com Zeinah BEIRUT (LEB) Tel: + 961 03984812 Tel + 961 01566151/ 01560361 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Noel Stewart LONDON (UK) Tel: +44 7974 434 385 www.noelstewart.com LONDON (UK) Tel:020 7262 1775 www.pebblelondon.com Pierre Hardy LONDON (UK) Harrods 87-135 Brompton Road London SW1 Tel: +44 20 7730 1234 www.harrods.com DUBAI (UAE) Boutique 1 Emirates Towers Tel: +971 4 330 4555 www.pierrehardy.com Prada KUWAIT Villa Moda, Shwaikh Tel: + 965 482 7004 LONDON (UK) 43-45 Sloane St London SW1 Tel: +44 (0)20 7235 0008 www.prada.com Pringle DUBAI (UAE) Boutique 1 Emirates Towers Tel: +971 4 330 4555 LONDON (UK) 111-112 New Bond Street Tel: +207 297 4580 Lauren DUBAI (UAE) Burjuman Centre Tel: +971 4 352 5311 KUWAIT Al Fanar Complex Kuwait City Tel: 965.5754260 LONDON (UK) 1 New Bond Street Tel: +44 20 7535 4600 www.ralphlauren.com Roberto Cavalli LONDON (UK) 181-182 Sloane Street Knightsbridge London SW1X 9QP Tel: +44 020 7823 1879 DUBAI (UAE) Mall of Emirates Tel: +971 04 3414341 www.robertocavalli.com Roger Vivier LONDON (UK) 188 Sloane Street SW1X 9QR TEL: +44 207 2458270 www.rogervivier.com Ferragamo LONDON (UK) 24 Old Bond Street Tel: +44 207 629 5007 www.salvatoreferragamo.mc Sergei Grinko DUBAI (UAE) Memories @Wafi Centre Tel: +971 4 324 3001 Sergio Rossi LONDON (UK) 207a Sloane Street London SW1 DUBAI (UAE) Emirates Tower MANAMA (Bahrain) Al Ali Mall www.sergiorossi.com Nada Sonia Rykiel DUBAI (UAE) Majestic Palace Al Maktoum Street Tel: +971 4222 6160 KUWAIT Salhiya Commercial Complex Tel: +965 247 2851 BEIRUT (LEB) Rue Omar Daouk Minet El Hosn Immeuble Zein Tel: +961 1974642 Stella McCartney LONDON (UK) 30 Bruton Street London. W1J 6LG Tel: +20 7518 3100 DUBAI (UAE) Harvey Nichols Mall of Emirates Tel: +971 4 2011 249 www.stellamccartney.com Swarovski LONDON (UK) Swarovski (Knightsbridge) 39/41 Brompton Road Tel: +44 20 7823 9111 Dinosaur Designs Kai Cartier Lanvin Pebble Tods Balenciaga Elie KUWAIT Salhiya Commercial Complex Tel: +965240 754 JEDDAH (ksa) Al Khayyat Centre Tahliya Street Al-Andalus District Jeddah 21583 Tel: +966 22842682 LONDON (UK) 174 Sloane Street Tel: +44 207 8231 448 KUWAIT Salhiya Complex Tel: +965 574 4332 DUBAI (UAE) Burjuman Centre Tel: +971 4 3596450 ABU DHABI (UAE) Marina Mall Fax: +971 26616025 www.valentino.com Van Cleef & Arpels LONDON (UK) 9 New Bond Street Tel: +44 207 493 0400 DUBAI (UAE) Burjuman Shopping Centre Tel: +971 4 351 0001 DOHA (QATAR) Royal Plaza Al Sadd Street P.O Box 75 Tel: +974 442 99 00 BEIRUT (LEB) Wadih Mrad Qauntum Tower Chares Malek Ave Achrafieh Tel:+961 1 975 333/444 www.vancleef-arpels.com Vaza DUBAI (UAE) Boutique 1 RIYADH (KSA) DNA Tel:+966 14199966 KUWAIT Villa Moda, Shuwaikh Tel: +965 482 7004 Jewels LONDON (UK) 14 St Albans Grove W8 5BP Tel: +44 207386 6367 Saint-Laurent KUWAIT Villa Moda, Shuwaikh Tel: +965 482 7004 DUBAI (UAE) Emirates Towers Tel: +971 4 330 0445 LONDON (UK) 32-33 Old Bond Street London, W1 Tel: +44 (0)20 7493 1800 www.yvessaintlaurent.com Posen www.zacposen.com Valentino Ralph Hassan Fendi Marcus LONDON (UK) 170 New Bond Street London W1 TEK: +44 207 2906500 Matches LONDON (UK) 60-64 Ledbury Road Notting Hill Tel: +44 207221 0255 www.matchesfashion.com Max Mara DUBAI (UAE) New Burjuman Center Tel: + 971 4 351 3140 KUWAIT Salhiya Center Court , Tel: + 965 241 1131 LONDON (UK) 19-21 Old Bond Street Tel: +44 (0)20 7499 7902 Mikimoto LONDON (UK) 179 New Bond Street Tel:+44 207 399 9860 DUBAI (UAE) Water Salvatore Gemma Kahng Yves Issa Zac 166 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 Save 20% Alef magazine Subscribe to Alef, the leading lifestyle magazine for and from the Middle East at www.alefmag.com. As a subscriber, you will: Save 20 percent off UK and Middle East cover price Get your issue before anyone else Middle East United Kingdom 4 Issues GBP 24 USA Canada 4 Issues GBP 39 Europe 4 Issues GBP 35 Rest of the World 4 Issues GBP 53 (All prices are based on airmail postage. Alef will be published 4 times in 2008). Alef ’s mission is to showcase a progressive vision of the Middle East and to spotlight the cultural contributions of people of Middle East origin. Alef is sold on newsstands across the GCC, Levant, North Africa, Europe, North America and Australia. Ask your local newsagent for a copy or e-mail us at email@example.com for information on stockists. Next issue on sale 3rd week of September. Thank you for joining us. object of desire Wallyhoo The WallyIsland project was launched in 2007, but we think it’s such an extraordinary-looking yacht that it deserves a 2008 summer outing. The mega-yacht was developed with the premise of maximising its usable length rather than height, resulting in a huge forward deck area of 1,000 m2 (10,764 sq. ft) that can be devoted to different uses (tennis court, mini-football field, garden with swimming pool, helipad, etc). It is characterised by a ‘commercial’ look, with no fairing and paint; it resembles a tanker, and the rough finishing contributes to the yacht’s unique appeal. Amongst the yacht’s many features are a 200 m2 owner’s suite and up to twenty-four guest suites, plus space for forty or more crew members. The huge fuel tanks (750,000 l [198,129 US gal.]) are located in the lower part of the yacht and provide up to five years’ worth of navigation at cruising speed. For getting about to visit friends on a nearby yacht or to pop into a harbour, the aft cockpit deck is dedicated to the outdoor storage of the tenders (two 47 WallyPowers – 13.6 m / 45’) and all the water toys. The area has enough space for two sailboats and two or more tender cars. The price is on request, but for this ultimate floating luxury island, we’re sold. www.wally.com 168 Alef mAgAzine Summer 2008 illustration: Christey Johansson HAUTE JOAILLERIE COLLECTION Exclusively available at Chopard Boutiques