Alef Magazine Issue 6
Alef is the premier indigenous fashion, lifestyle and culture title for and from the Middle East with a mission to showcase a modern and progressive Arab world and to celebrate the cultural contribution of people from the region.
Alef magazine SPRING GLEAMING GOTTA HAVE IT So many bags, so little time DUBAI’S ART ELITE The powers behind the scene EMBROIDERED STORIES Saudi Arabia’s tribal textiles IM Pei’s Qatar masterpiece THE JEWEL OF DOHA ISSUE MARCH/APRIL 2008 ISSUE 6 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 001_AL_Cover_ROW_CSHW 1 11/3/08 19:33:50 IFC_AL_Rolex Ad 1 11/3/08 18:44:45 001_AL_Rolex Ad 1 7/2/08 16:17:49 002_AL_Gucci Ad 1 1 11/3/08 15:32:03 003_AL_Gucci Ad 1 1 11/3/08 15:32:39 004_AL_Gucci Ad 2 1 11/3/08 15:33:25 005_AL_Gucci Ad 2 1 11/3/08 15:33:00 006_AL_Dolce&Gabbana 1 11/3/08 15:38:18 007_AL_Dolce&Gabbana.indd 1 11/3/08 15:34:12 008_AL_Prada Ad 1 11/3/08 15:54:31 009_AL_Prada Ad 1 11/3/08 15:54:44 dubai wafi city tel. 050 6511750 burjuman centre tel. 04 3525244 012_AL_CK Ad 1 6/2/08 15:34:16 C.M.I. TEL: +39 02 550 50 1 013_AL_CK Ad 1 6/2/08 15:35:42 014_AL_Dior Ad 1 18/2/08 12:52:37 CONTENTS Alef magazine 156 ART DUBAI 122 SOCIETY STANDARDS 22 27 28 182 184 Editor’s letter Alanoud’s desert story Deena’s fabulous journey Shopping directory Object of desire: The art ticker DISPATCHES 30 32 34 36 38 40 A round-up of the Middle East’s style, retail and fashion news Libya’s totally Green Mountain Villa Moda’s 21st century souk Lebanon’s not-so-small beer Nobu debuts in Dubai Iraq’s House of Fashion reborn The return of the boutique SOUK 44 68 ARCHITECTURE Hot property: the brightest and the best of this season’s accessories, framed by John Short March/April 2008 ALEF MAGAZINE 13 013-016_AL_Contents.indd 1 1/4/08 12:33:49 016_AL_Bogetta V 1 11/3/08 16:15:28 017_AL_Bogetta V 1 11/3/08 16:14:48 CONTENTS CONTRIBUTORS John Andrews John Andrews is a consultant editor for The Economist where he worked for 24 years. Prior to joining The Economist, Andrews spent six years with The Guardian and led the paper’s coverage of OPEC during its 1979 to 1982 heyday. A graduate of Cambridge University in classical and modern Arabic, he came to The Guardian after living for seven years in the Arab world, ﬁrst as an academic and then as a journalist. Working for NBC News he covered the Middle East peace shuttle of Henry Kissinger and the ﬁrst year of the Lebanese civil war. See page 122 96 MODE I BEAUTY 54 58 60 The culture of cosmetics Spring’s smartest products Cultivating übersex appeal 138 140 144 150 156 164 172 176 177 ART The Miami Beach art invasion Saatchi Online, Middle East bound The pioneers before the art rush Sara Rahbar’s vision of oppression Six Art Dubai stars in proﬁle CULTURE 64 68 72 74 76 78 79 80 82 Design, architecture, ﬁlm, music, media and books IM Pei’s Doha masterpiece Yemen’s original architecture Design at the crossroads in Qatar The Arab home in perspective A budding reading revolution The Joubran Trio, oud masters Lumi’s Düsseldorf adventure Captain Abu Raed wows Sundance A choice of Spring reading Chrystel Garipuy Chrystel Garipuy was born and raised in Paris. She studied political science and then taught herself photography eight years ago. She was selected for two studio residencies at the School of Visual Arts in New York, where she ended up living. Garipuy began with metonymic ‘portraits’ of architecture, surroundings and people. Now she mainly photographs people. See page 96 TRAVEL Awash with history in Alexandria From Damascus to Tehran by train Oman’s Six Senses spa Topping off The World in Dubai FOOD & DRINK 178 Lebanon’s ﬁrst farmer’s market shows the unifying power of food CLASSICS 180 Café Riche and the Abbasi Hotel Ana Finel Honigman Alef’s art editor, Ana Finel Honigman is a New York, Berlin and London-based critic. A Sarah Lawrence graduate, Finel Honigman has completed a masters degree and is currently reading for a D.Phil in the History of Art at Oxford University. She regularly curates exhibitions and writes about contemporary art for fashion and art magazines. She is also the senior art writer for Style.com and senior London correspondent for the Saatchi magazine website. See page 156 PROFILES 84 90 92 The movers and shakers behind the Dubai art scene A day in the life of an Oxonian Nadim Karam’s favourite things FASHION 96 A love story in New York City, by Chrystel Garipuy 106 Why retro rocks this Spring, by Jean Francois Carly 114 To have and to hold: irresistible ‘it’ bags, by Philip Karlberg Nadine Kanso Nadine Kanso was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1968. She spent her entire childhood there and later gained two degrees from the Lebanese American University. Nadine majored in Communication Arts and Advertising Design; these degrees laid the foundation for her work in design and photography today. Having worked in various design-related ﬁelds as well as dabbling in journalism, Nadine took it a step further last year by trying her hand at jewellery design, resulting in her ﬁrst collection, Bil Arabi. See page 38 SOCIETY 122 Mansoojat’s textile treasure trove from Saudi Arabia’s rainbow tribes COVER PHOTOGRAPHER: JEAN FRANCOIS CARLY STYLIST: BETH DADSWELL MODEL: GABRIELA @ INDEPENDENT MAKE-UP: NATSUMI @ CAREN.CO.UK HAIR: ADRIAN CLARK @ CAREN.CO.UK PHOTOGRAPHER’S ASSISTANT: KIM CURTIN STYLIST’S ASISTANTS: ELIISA MAKIN & AIMEE GRUNDELL DRESS BY GUCCI YELLOW VINTAGE HAIR COMB BY SHEILA COOK REPORTAGE 130 A voyage of rediscovery to Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier March/April 2008 ALEF MAGAZINE 16 013-016_AL_Contents.indd Abs1:1 1/4/08 12:34:01 019_AL_YSL 1 6/2/08 16:16:04 020_AL_MiuMiu Ad 1 8/2/08 14:11:02 021_AL_MiuMiu Ad 1 8/2/08 14:11:58 Alef magazine E D PAUL DE ZWART firstname.lastname@example.org E E OLIVIA SNAIJE email@example.com A D HERBERT WINKLER M E ELAINE WALDRON firstname.lastname@example.org C F E NIKI BRODIE email@example.com D A E YVONNE COURTNEY (Dubai) firstname.lastname@example.org A E ANA FINEL HONIGMAN email@example.com B E RENATA SEMBA firstname.lastname@example.org C E DEENA ABDULAZIZ (Riyadh) · ALIA ABU NOWAR (Amman) · ALANOUD AL SHAREK (Kuwait, London) · CAROL CORM (Beirut, Damascus) LAURA HOUSELEY (Design) · REEM KATTAN (Amman) · TAHIR SULTAN (Kuwait) C E CHRISTIAN SMITH E A MARIAM EL SAYED email@example.com I D MISHAAL NORRIS C P C Anoush Abrar & Aimee Hoving · Jens Boldt · Nadim Bou Habib Jean-Francois Carly · Coolife · Chrystel Garipuy · Aitkin Jolly Nadine Kanso · Philip Karlberg John Short · Claude Stemmelin I John Andrews · Elisa Anniss · Eiman Aziz · Diana de Gunzburg Andrew Humphreys · Nadim Karam · Zain Masud · Arsalan Mohammed Hanan Nasser · Maryam de Ricaud · Rasha Shaath S Farah Behbehani · Simon Dovar · Rosie Irvine · Alice Stevenson Mona Khashoggi · Ana Finel Honigman · Mitra Khoubrou · Coda P A P PAUL DE ZWART firstname.lastname@example.org M E S M D SARA AL HAJI (Kuwait, Dubai) email@example.com, +965 449 0311 A O Italy CESANAMEDIA Sales Manager: Sergio Cariati. Sales Executive: Paolo Anghileri (firstname.lastname@example.org, +39 02 844 0441) Germany & Switzerland WOLFRAM WERBUNG Peter Wolfram (email@example.com, + 49 89 9392 6711) P R RICKY LEE firstname.lastname@example.org · Telephone + 00 1 917 438 7015 The Alef Caps font was designed on commission by Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFares (the Khatt Foundation) and Pascal Zoghbi For editorial and subscription contact information please visit www.alefmag.com or email email@example.com. 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 except ME: COMAG (Elliott Spaulding +44 1895 433 600, firstname.lastname@example.org). ME: Levant (Tiﬀany Balmain, +33 1 53 70 10 90, email@example.com) Repro: Tapestry (Tapestry.co.uk), Printers: Southernprint (www.southernprint.co.uk) Alef is published six 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 020_AL_Masthead.indd 1 10/3/08 17:54:43 MOD. DG 3043 502 DOLCEGABBANA.IT 023_AL_Dolce Eye Ad 1 6/2/08 15:18:58 Editor’s Letter Dear Reader Welcome to our ﬁrst issue of 2008. Not only is this our ﬁrst themed issue, it is also our biggest so far and the ﬁrst of ﬁve that we shall publish this year. (In case you missed it, Alef has gone from being a quarterly publication to a bimonthly one). The last few months have witnessed turmoil in the international ﬁnancial markets, renewed troubles in the Palestinian territories despite an active but elusive peace process, a typically precarious political stalemate in Lebanon, an uncertain Iranian situation despite the recent National Intelligence Estimate report, a thankfully quieter Iraq, record oil proﬁts and massive outward investment by Gulf states that have rushed to prop up ailing Western banks. Nothing new, then, some would say, and indeed life goes on, the skyscrapers still rush towards the skies and sea is being turned into land. Whether they bring good or bad tidings, we at Alef have always sought to look past the headlines and focus instead on the sometimes rapid, sometimes gradual change that is occurring on the ground. Our aim has always been to highlight and nurture the creative and cultural movement that is shaping the modern-day Arab discourse, and bring you original insights, images, writing and creative expression from all over the Arab speaking world, and this issue is no exception. To coincide with Art Dubai, the contemporary art fair now in its second year, we have given this issue an art theme. We have devoted our proﬁle section to Dubai’s movers and shakers on the art scene. We also bring you an historical perspective to today’s contemporary market, and we showcase six artists who are participating in the fair. Elsewhere, our fashion takes inspiration from 1970s and 1950s inspired SS08 collections, ‘it’ bags take centre stage in our accessories feature, and we bring you a romantic love story set in NYC. For our society rubric, we explore the world of the beautiful traditional Saudi tribes costumes from the Mansoojat collection, whilst a new section devoted to reportage takes you into the mountains of Peshawar. Those who have been attentively reading previous issues of the magazine will notice more extensive travel coverage, more beauty writing, the return of a feature dedicated to food and drink, and an ever more insightful and delightful culture section. Design aﬁcionados amongst you will notice our newlook section openers, more illustrations and a bespoke Alef Caps font, all of which aim to keep the magazine looking unique, distinctive, and, most importantly, rooted in an Arab design aesthetic. Outside the world of our editorial pages, we are looking forward to welcoming you at our ﬁrst Alef-curated art show at the Creek Art Fair (which runs parallel to Art Dubai), so if you’re in the city on 15 to 31 March, make sure to come and see us. Finally, a glance at our masthead will reveal an expanded editorial team. Do get writing and let us hear from you, and if you wish to subscribe or check up on stockists where you live, visit us online at www.alefmag.com. Sincerely, PAUL DE ZWART Publisher and Editorial Director 22 ALEF MAGAZINE March/April 2008 022_AL_Editor.indd 1 10/3/08 17:55:08 023_AL_B&B Italia Ad 1 13/3/08 12:19:40 HUGOBOSS1.indd 1 BOSS 0166/S firstname.lastname@example.org 11/3/08 12:17:21 HUGOBOSS_LHS.indd 1 11/3/08 12:17:56 DUBAI ALEF 1 1 30_AL_Tod's Ad Mar-Apr08.indd 1 TOD’S BOUTIQUES • DUBAI: BURJUMAN CENTRE, LEVEL 2 TEL. 04.3554417 - MALL OF THE EMIRATES, FIRST LEVEL TEL. 04 3413033 • ABU DHABI: MARINA MALL, TEL. 02 6816562 • WWW.TODS.COM 7-01-2008 15:14:49 6/2/08 15:11:28 Alanoud Al Sharekh My friends and I have decamped for a long weekend at a soulful spot where desert meets sea to enjoy the brief and wonderful GCC winter. As the waves break and the stars twinkle and the ﬁre roars, I inhale the silence and meditate on how lovely it would be to carry this stillness into our hectic everyday lives. I turn around to share this thought with my companions… who are not remotely aware of any of it. Even though there is no Internet connection for miles, the brilliantly resourceful M continues to exchange ﬂirtations and whatnot on Facebook via Blackberry. On the other side of the smoky logs, another is risking serious thumb cramps as she furiously texts what can only be angry responses in her serial breakup saga, an ongoing drama unfolding over several weeks. In the far corner, hunched deep into her sheepskin bisht, which our wandering ancestors relied on to survive this very weather, another girlfriend is staring intently into her laptop DVD player, catching up on the latest Stateside episodes. My sense of nature’s majesty deﬂates, as does my desire to share with the group. I pick up a nearby magazine and pretend to riﬂe through it, lest my urge to converse is deemed antisocial. It wasn’t always this way. As desert people, the nomadic tribes of the GCC came up with epic nature poetry that would give the Romantics a run for their money. They were also masters of the long and convoluted conversation, involving rituals of greeting, weather commentary, parental health, etc. This they exchanged with others over market stalls, on long camel rides, and after duelling with their cousins over water-well rights. Sitting around in tents, drinking cupfuls of cardamom-brewed coffee, there were plenty of opportunities for soul-baring, and the hours were wiled away with news, trials and dreams for the future and beyond, or elaborate plans to avenge the dead; either way, there was a lot of discussion going on. Nostalgic portrayals of both the ﬁctional and the documentary kind involve single-sex groups sitting in a U-formation drinking tea, crunching sunﬂowers seeds and talking, talking, talking, talking. Every winter, hoards of us depart to the desert each weekend in an attempt to channel our inner Bedouin, albeit with modern conveniences, entertainment and distractions. Some camps have a mind-boggling array of equipment that makes it hard to remember that you are supposed to be getting away from it all, and not, in fact, taking it with you. Brooding over this subject I take a walk on the wild side and emerge from our guarded enclosure. Dirt bikes, roaming dogs, fancy dress, it’s all there, and yet not a single bonﬁre conversation seems to be taking place in the very chilly dunes, and not, as far as I can tell, in the tents beyond. In more recent historical terms, just a generation ago, you couldn’t stop people talking, and during the annual weeklong desert holidays of my childhood there was hardly a moment’s lull in conversation in any tent, as the most personal issues would be dug out and discussed openly, be it ﬁnancial, marital or medical. Very little was deemed too painful or too invasive, for in a strictly regulated social system there were no secrets to keep, ever. And should an elephant drift into the room, well, complete denial of the issue worked very well, and the conversation kept ﬂowing. Heading back to our little posse, I wonder if it’s technology that has corrupted the conversation of our desert journeys. I remember in the 1980s, the snaking phone lines trailing outside tents as lovers wiled away the hours; and then when mobiles arrived, they were almost welded to people’s ears. Now the written word seems to rule, and emoticons replace The lost art of conversation Even in the companionable silence of the winter desert, virtual chit-chat rules. March/April 2008 ALEF MAGAZINE 27 027_AL_Alanoud.indd 1 ILLUSTRATION: ALICE STEVENSON ideas, mimicking our speedy lifestyles. When the pace of life itself was slow and languid, like walking in the sand, people were not so caught up with their own unseen, unshared stories that they couldn’t talk directly to you. Conversations by nature need lingering: they are composed of meandering avenues into other subjects which ignite the soul, and maybe, just maybe, a lack of other options. And here I brighten up and hunker down and enjoy the silence, glad that I can enjoy my surroundings without having to worry about entertaining those around me with endless chit-chat. __ END 10/3/08 17:55:44 Deena Abdulazziz My job gets me around. Buying clothes for DNA involves regular trips to Paris, London, New York – and any other place where fashion is happening, for that matter. I observe the way people wear their clothes and how fashion affects the world. I’m a forager. I search everywhere for interesting and beautiful things, which I take back and display in my home. I think of it as my own personal temple to style. Fashion is ﬁckle and recurring. But seeing things that I have always liked taking their turn in the spotlight never fails to make me feel joyful. Everywhere I went on my last trip, I was delighted to see neon colours being celebrated – especially bright orange, which I have a particular fondness for. Even more delightful is my new travelling companion: an Hermès tricolour 28cm croco Kelly bag. I ﬁnally got the call to pick it up late last year. I had ordered it as a special treat to mark the birth of my twins – which was six years ago. But it was worth the wait. When I went to Moscow to attend the International Herald Tribune luxury conference last winter, I carried my new pride and joy to the opening of a store owned by a girl called Aizel. I like to think of her as my Russian alter ego, since we always bump into each other at buying appointments and we are often carrying similar pieces. There I was, thinking I had the best thing ever hanging from my wrist, beaming away, only to realise that Moscow ladies don’t just share my penchant for Hermès, they take it to a whole other level: their croco Birkins and Kellys are encrusted with diamonds. The conference room was ﬁlled with the people who make fashion happen. This was a behind-the-scenes view of the industry, and all of a sudden the hierarchy somehow started to make sense. That said, the people who run fashion aren’t always representative of it. There I sat, listening and watching, in a bright pink dress, amidst an army of conservative black and navy suits. I could have been a UFO. Hearing Donatella Versace speak was a revelation. She has often been mocked for her appearance, yet she sparkled during her open interview with Suzy Menkes, whose Herald Tribune style column is the holy book of the fashion world. It changed my view of her completely. I admit I get a kick out of seeing and meeting the cream of the fashion world: the people you mainly only see or hear about in magazines. It was nice to see Tom Ford again after meeting him at the Valentino party in Rome last summer. He was true to his glossy dashing self: very James Bond. And Julien Macdonald has an adorable Welsh accent, which made me smile. And, of course Moscow, was wonderful. Red Square was everything I had expected it to be, with that glorious Dr Zhivago feel to it. And at Café Pouchkine I had the best caviar I could ever have hoped for. My next stop was St Petersburg, which was vividly snowy and romantic. The amount of art housed at the Hermitage is extraordinary, and Katherine the Great’s palace is breathtaking, particularly the Amber Room. Now there is a woman who lived an exceptional life. Finally, I ﬂew to London, and made a beeline for the V&A to see ‘The Golden Age of Couture’ show. At last, all the outﬁts that I’d read about so often were right before my eyes. I had to stiﬂe a gasp when I saw the dresses worn by Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret. Were they really that slim? These dresses demonstrated the French phrase taille de guêpe – a wasp’s waist – to perfection. For dinner that night, I strayed from the beaten Knights- A princess’s progress In search of ideas and all things fabulous in Moscow, St Petersburg and London. 28 ALEF MAGAZINE March/April 2008 028_AL_Deena.indd 1 ILLUSTRATION: ALICE STEVENSON bridge track and ventured into the East End. It was well worth the adventure. After a superb meal at Les Trois Garcons, the owners courteously invited me for a peek at their sumptuous apartment just above the restaurant. It was quite an experience; a space ﬁlled with every kind of interior style you can think of. Art nouveau mixed with chinoiserie, baroque and deco; ﬂea market ﬁnds with museum-quality antiques. But nothing clashed. It felt just right. For those who might not be lucky enough to make it to the top ﬂoor, there’s always Loungelover, an eclectic bar just behind the restaurant which gives a hint of what these talented guys can do. They create spaces you crave to go back to. I returned to Saudi buzzing with new ideas, ready and raring for the new season. __ END 10/3/08 17:56:22 033_AL_Coty 1 7/2/08 14:26:01 DISPATCHES A. Arab literature showcase The Arab World will be the ‘Market Focus’ at this year’s London Book Fair in April, with a three-day cultural programme celebrating the strength and diversity of Arabic literature. Consisting of a series of talks, discussions, debates and workshops, it aims to encourage collaboration between UK and Arab publishers and translators by showcasing some of the best contemporary writers and writing from the Arab world. www.londonbookfair.co.uk creative balance between Nubian inﬂuences and modern design, the pieces are available in silver and the Azza Fahmy trademark combination of silver and 18ct gold. The range builds on the trend for geometric and ﬂoral shapes, with matte or lightly polished ﬁnishes, and richly detailed metalwork which includes intricately hand cut and pierced motifs. The new range is available at Azza Fahmy stores across Egypt and the Middle East, and through her new London stockist, Kabiri, on Marylebone High Street, W1. www.azzafahmy.com B. Egyptian enchantress It’s been a busy year for Azza Fahmy. Her jewellery has appeared twice at London Fashion Week, alongside British designer Julien Macdonald, and she has launched a book called The Enchanted Jewellery of Egypt. And she has just introduced a new 18-piece handcrafted collection of bracelets, necklaces, earrings and rings. Striking a C. Voices from the past Bainee wa Bainak, or Between You and Me, is a three-CD collection of classical Arabic interviews recorded in the 1970s and 1980s with icons of Egyptian culture in literature (Naguib Mahfouz, Salah Abdel Sabour, Salah Jahin, Noaman Ashour, Hussein Fawzi), music (Mohamed Abdul Wahab, Riad El Sonbati, Mohamed El Mogi), and theatre and ﬁlm (Youssef Wahby, Tahia Karioka, Mohamed Tawﬁk and Yehia Shaheen). It will be made available to Egyptian libraries, universities and cultural institutions for research and instruction. It is just a taster of the 1600 hours of recordings archived by the now defunct VOA’s Arabic Service. The US Embassy in Cairo and VOA are exploring how to share this entire treasury with the public. egypt.usembassy.gov/voa/ Distinctively BTurk Turkish art director Reha Erdogan has now expanded his BTurk project into the fashion world, introducing a line of T-shirts with designs inspired by Turkish culture, such as ﬁgures from Ottoman Empire history and religious symbols. The motifs are transformed into minimalist, modern forms and applied on to T-shirts to create a distinctive style that has become popular with Istanbul’s urban youth. Erdogan plans to expand the BTurk project to broader concepts in due course, but for the moment his fashion designs are doing beautifully. www.bturk.com.tr G D. Something old, something new Described as Breakfast at Tiffany meets Sex and the City, Felix Rey accessories offer a fresh, feminine take on vintage, mixing modern ﬂair with an old-fashioned sensibility for style. Designed by Lily Raﬁl and Sulaika D B H 30 ALEF MAGAZINE March/April 2008 030-031_AL_DispMezze.indd 2 10/3/08 18:26:39 Zarrouk, speciality items include evening bags, beach bags and belts. The latest spring bags were inspired by sweets, with candy colours such as magenta and citrine sprinkled among the foil-wrapper-style silver and platinum leathers and high-shine metallics. Leopard print is also a staple at Felix Rey: this season they even have a leopard canvas diaper bag for fashionable new mums. www.felixrey.com island, it will combine fashion resort, themed villas, and high-end boutiques and hotels. DIH aims to help diversify the UAE economy and is particularly committed to innovative, non-conventional investments with highgrowth potential. ‘Isla Moda will be acknowledged as the fashion district of the entire Middle East,’ says Samira Abdulrazzak, CEO of DIH. Internationally renowned fashion designers will design different elements of the project and work begins in late 2008. E. Three of a kind E The luxury Angsana Resorts and Spa recently opened a trio of riads in Marrakech. Riad Bad Firdhaus – the name means ‘gateway to heaven’– is the most luxurious, ﬁlled with traditional artefacts and custommade furniture. Riad Aida is a 19th-century six-room guesthouse, once home to the architect who built Marrakech’s Bahia Palace, while Riad Si Said, located in the heart of the medina, is decorated with zellig (mosaic tiles) and has its own hamman. www.angsana.com/marrakech/riads.html GCC united The six Gulf monarchies became a common market this year. Besides allowing the free ﬂow of capital, the new arrangement aims to allow GCC nationals to move, reside and work freely in any of the six countries. With a combined economy of $715 billion, the GCC common market is now one of the largest economies in the world. G. Future perfect Inspired by the principles of traditional Arab city planning, British architectural ﬁrm Foster + Partners has revealed its UAE Pavilion design for Shanghai’s Expo 2010. Twenty meters high with 6000 square metres of exhibition space, the pavilion will be one of the largest at the Expo, with a display that showcases an Arab city that is both traditional and committed to an environmentally sustainable future. F. Fashion island In a drive to establish Dubai as a global style destination, Isla Moda will be the world’s ﬁrst dedicated fashion island. Developed by Dubai Inﬁnity Holdings (DIH) on a World C H. Painting history MF Husain, India’s best-known artist, has been commissioned by the wife of the Emir of Qatar to create 99 paintings for Doha’s new Museum of Islamic Art. Husain, a Muslim Indian, lives in self-imposed exile in Dubai and London after controversy broke out in India over paintings he made of Hindu deities in the nude. Husain has begun work on the series, which will be called ‘History of Arab Civilisation’. A F Green, Green Mountain Saif Al-Islam Gaddaﬁ, Colonel Gaddaﬁ’s son, recently announced ambitious plans to build the world’s largest eco-friendly tourist resort in Green Mountain, an area in eastern Libya along the Mediterranean coast, which includes the ruins of the ancient Greek city of Cyrene. Foster + Partners are leading the development and preliminary designs show natural ventilation, passive solar strategies and the use of natural local materials, all resulting in minimal impact on the landscape. The plan is to avoid turning the coastline into a resort; rather, all buildings will be at the foot of the hills. The Libyan government has teamed up with a private company led by Hassan Tatanaki to ﬁnance the project, which, should it come to fruition, might become an ecological model for tourism beneﬁting the local community. www.fosterandpartners.com March/April 2008 ALEF MAGAZINE 31 030-031_AL_DispMezze.indd 3 1/4/08 16:08:23 DISPATCHES A. Brilliant ideas Tucked away from the main street of Kuwait’s traditional clothing souk lies a series of Uzbek/Afghani shops perfect for the discerning explorer of ethnic wares. Here is everything from traditional robes with exquisite beadwork to whimsical tablecloths embroidered with ﬂowers of the most vibrant hues. While the goods are cheap there is still bargaining to be done, and the vendors are helpful, multicultural and multilingual. A thoroughly worthwhile cultural experience. Mubarikiya Souk Heritage Shops 41-45, tel: +965 946 6217 The sign of 4 You can’t miss 4’s frosted glass facade, with its number melting into it. Nouf Al Bahar’s new über-chic concept store just opened in Kuwait’s industrial area. The textured white walls, black ceilings and visible air ducts create a streamlined background, allowing the clothing, bags, books and artefacts to stand out. The products at 4 have all been carefully chosen to provide sophisticated and cosmopolitan shoppers with one-of-a-kind items, such as Issac Sellam leather jackets, Jimmie Martin’s reworked antique chairs, Vintage Rolex watches or Aristolasia python bags. 4 also offers books, CDs and vintage posters of Oum Kalsoum, Hind Rastoum and Omar Sharif, to name just a few. Last but not least, there is a lounge, Wi-Fi equipped, of course, where most days a live DJ is on hand to accompany the snacks, meals or just a cup of coffee. 4, Mahdi Habeeb Building Block 7, Street 12, Shuwaikh, tel: +965 492 5444 B. Buzz on toast Adding to the buzz on the ever-hipper street opposite the sprawling white Seif Palace, Prime and Toast is a high-end bistro that serves comfort food with a gourmet ﬂair. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner – brunch at weekends is particulary busy – the food is eclectic and international, with staples like steak and salads for the less adventurous. There is both indoor and outdoor seating, and home delivery for those who really can’t get up from the couch. Prime and Toast, tel: +965 241 1252 Flower power With two new shops in (Al Beda) Argaan and Tilal-Shuwaikh, Au Nom De La Rose is now providing an upmarket Kuwaiti clientele with beautiful bouquets. As its name suggests, this international ﬂorist franchise is a rose specialist, and was originally the brainchild of French pop singer Dani. The current owner has developed the business, while a team in Paris continuously researches and develops new concepts, such as an organic line of rose-essence products for the face and body. Au Nom de la Rose, tel: +965 225 3157 A C E D. Edilila Kuwait’s Shuwaikh Industrial area is the ﬁrst to be mapped for an innovative new series of hip graphic business directories. The Edilila Visual Directory series – the name refers to a traditional Kuwaiti word for a guide – was conceived by two young Kuwaiti architects, Maisa Al-Bishar and Asma Al-Othman. They describe the guide as a tool that will lead customers ‘through a treasure hunt towards their goal’, be it a corporation or a simple crafts shop. They aims to expand to cover the surrounding region in due course. B www.edilila.com C. Style by Kynn Created by Design Squared, the recently opened Kynn stands out amongst a plethora of luxury furniture boutiques in the center of the booming Shuwaikh industrial district. The interior juxtaposes reclaimed steel and wood with smooth concrete ﬂoors, ﬂowing metal coil drapery, and sleek mirrored surfaces. Products range from indoor and outdoor furniture to design-inspired ﬁxtures and furnishings by international designers, including award-winning pieces from Studio JSPR, Ochre, Casamania, Piet Boon Zone and Afroditi Krassa. Kynn, G48 Al Tilal Luxury Living, Shuwaikh, Kuwait, tel: +965 240 6616; email@example.com D E. Villa Moda’s new souk The British architectural and design ﬁrm Sybarit